Would you adopt a black dog?

Black Dog Syndrome is a phenomenon Spanish Stray Dogs has observed, with black dogs often struggling to be adopted.


Black Dog Syndrome (BDS) refers to a common problem at rescue centres around the world, where dark-coloured dogs are often overlooked for adoption.

Why are black dogs often less likely to be adopted?

One theory is black dogs are less photogenic than lighter canines. While a black dog may be stunning in real life, it is harder to get a good photograph of a black dog without good lighting or an expensive camera. The darker the dog, the harder it will be to photograph well.

A dog’s photograph is an important factor in rehoming. A potential adopter will often choose to make an appointment to meet it based on seeing its photograph on the organisation’s website or social media pages. Plus when adopting a dog from abroad, where you cannot visit the pound or shelter, the decision to adopt a dog is based on its photograph alone. When you cannot make out a dog’s features in a photo, it’s harder to make the emotional connection which will drive you to adopt it.

Black dog in ‘The Omen’ movie remake(2006)

Another theory is people are put off adopting black dogs by their negative representation in movies, television programmes and literature. Black dogs — especially larger breeds — are often portrayed as aggressive or evil. In ‘The Omen’ black dogs are the servants of Satan sent to protect Damien, ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ features a supernatural killer black dog and the ‘Harry Potter’ series features a giant jet-black dog called the Grim, which is an omen of death.

Black Dog Syndrome & Spanish Stray Dogs

Although some experts dispute BDS, it is a problem Spanish Stray Dogs has observed at one of the pounds we work with in Southern Spain — where black dogs can wait a long time to find loving homes.

Relampago has been at the pound since Summer 2012, after being abandoned by his owners.

Our current Stray of the Week, Relampago could be struggling to find a home due to BDS. Although his name means ‘Lightening’ in English, he hasn’t been fast to be adopted. He’s been at the council pound waiting for his forever home since August 2012, after being abandoned by his owners at just 12-months-old. He’s a very friendly boy and loves interacting with people, but he’s been overlooked by potential adopters with lighter-coloured dogs quicker to be adopted.


All of the former Spanish strays currently being fostered in Scotland (Harold, Rovira and Mambo) are black and their chances of adoption could be hampered by Black Dog Syndrome.

Out of all the dogs we’re helping, Harold is probably the most likely to be cast in a horror movie due to his jet-black colour and large stature, but he’s a gentle giant, who is really friendly and loves children.

Harold is a gentle giant.
Rovira in foster home.

Although Rovira and Mambo are adorable in real life, they are difficult to photograph in home settings - as these photos show.

Mambo in his foster (and now forever) home.

Luckily for Mambo, his foster family fell in love with him and have just decided to adopt him.


In our experience, black dogs are just as loving, caring and grateful to be adopted as their lighter canine counterparts.

When looking to adopt your new best friend, please don’t overlook a black dog.

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