National Black Dog Day is October 1

You may ask, why is this even a thing? Well, it turns out that many people pass up on adopting both dogs and cats simply because they’re black. Can you believe that? You’re probably surprised to hear this, I was! It turns out that Black dogs and cats have the highest euthanasia and lowest adoption rates in shelters across America. This phenomenon is so well known in the rescue communities, that it actually has a name now (like everything else!) Black Dog Syndrome or BDS. The reasons behind it, however; may or may not be what you were expecting.

Let’s start with the most prevalent reason – superstitions! “Uh-uh, a black cat crossed my path, something bad is going to happen to me today!” This fear of black cats has been around since medieval times when an animal with dark fur, or feathers, including crows and ravens, signaled death. In 16th-century Italy, it was believed that death was imminent if a black cat would lay on someone's sickbed.

Today, negative connotations continue to haunt black cats. It’s considered bad luck if a black cat crosses your path, but good luck if a white cat crosses your path. Conversely, in many European countries, it is also considered bad luck if a black dog follows you home. These poor innocent animals just can’t win!

A second reason is that people often find them black dogs intimidating, and even frightening. Big black dogs (BBD) are often associated with danger and aggression. The combination of the dark fur and larger size can make them appear menacing to many, regardless of the dog’s actual temperament. Movies and books have also contributed to this stereotype by casting black dogs to represent the embodiment of evil or a hellhound. Movies like The Omen used Rottweilers as minions of the devil, to the Harry PotterSeries (which we are huge fans of, by the way) portraying a black dog, “Grim”, as a spectral demonic entity.

"The giant, spectral dog that haunts churchyards! My dear boy, it is an omen—the worst omen—of death!" (Sybill Trelawney discussing the Grim with Harry Potter)

Others posture that black dogs are just less “showy” than other dogs, and that in the often dimly lit shelters, they’re more difficult to spot and therefore don’t stand out as much. People may be unintentionally bypassing black dogs simply because they blend into the shadows, or because their facial features are not as discernible as their lighter-colored counterparts. Shelter workers and pet owners alike, often complain that their dark-furred-babies are difficult to photograph, making it harder to capture their natural beauty and unique personalities in photos. Shelter and rescue workers have responded to these suggestions by brightening up their black dogs with colorful scarves and toys, placing them in spaces that are more brightly lit, and hosting black dog events, such as fashion shows and half-price adoption days.

We know that none of these reasons mean that black animals aren’t just as beautiful, loving, and all-around amazing pets, but they do have these myths and obstacles to overcome.

As professional pet photographers, Framed Pets partners with many local rescue groups to photograph future pets that are up for adoption. Many of them are black or have dark-colored fur. And, while it is true that photographing dark fur can often be an insurmountable challenge for the average pet owner, we have a few tips and tricks in our tool bag that allow us to not only photograph dark animals but also capture their beauty.

So, the question is now “what can I do about this?” Well, we have a few suggestions:

Superstition only has the power given to it, and the only thing superstition does is potentially cost these animals their lives. Please help us debunk the myth and welcome a black dog or cat into your home this weekend? It may not bring you luck or prosperity, but it will surely bring you lots of wet kisses and tons of unconditional love.