It takes longer to re-home a Black dog. Is Social Media to blame?
I guest-contributed this article to the PAAW House website www.paaw.house, a not-for-profit social hub for pets and their owners.
Could Social Media be to blame for black dogs waiting in rescue longer than other coloured dogs?
With National Black Dog Day on the horizon, I’m shocked that darker coated dogs generally stay in rescue 70 per cent longer than fairer colours. One common reason they’re snubbed is for not being photogenic.
Perhaps I am bucking trends but all my dogs of 19 years have been predominately black.
Molly my first Miniature Bull Terrier was almost all black. Prudence is a dark tri-colour and Mr Binks is mostly black with tan highlights. Even my cat, Gremlin, is black and white.
Both Battersea Cats & Dogs Home and Dogs Trust revealed that black dogs are being shunned in favour of their fairer counterparts, with some people rejecting them on the basis they won’t look as good on Instagram!
With over 28 per cent all adoptions based on looks, this ‘Black Dog Syndrome’ or BDS as it’s known, is a phenomenon in pet adoption centres across the world.
In 2002 a study published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science of dog and cat adoption in California, pure-black coat colours featured as a negative factor in adoption rates for both dogs and cats.
This shortsighted view of black-coated dogs and cats may stem from history. Since medieval times black dogs have been associated with death and the devil.
Throughout European mythology black dogs have been a portent of death as a nocturnal apparition, a shape-shifter, or a super natural hellhound.
Enshrined in mythology black dogs are also wrongly deemed by some as being more aggressive and as being unlucky.
Cats Protection concurs that black cats are similarly overlooked in rescues too. Having had a long mystical association as ‘Witches’ cats and seminal to witchcraft, its ironic that when a black cat crosses your path, it’s considered a sign of luck!
Since the early 20th century the ‘Black Dog’ was the phase attributed as a metaphor to depression and mental health, which was coined by Winston Churchill despite being a dog lover himself.
Surely if science backs up that black dogs are no more aggressive than other coloured dogs, and that they make great family companions, why are black dogs and cats still disregarded?
Could social media be fuelling the old medieval myths? Or is it just that black isn’t a photogenic colour?
Arguably I know that when Molly, my first Miniature Bull Terrier and I were on ITV1’s The Titchmarsh Show, she didn’t ‘pop’ as much through the TV screen as Matilda her doggy co-star being a white Bulldog.
We all have our personal preferences of the ideal dog. The fact that social media and the virtual world is influencing what coat colours are popular reveals our increasing dependency on technology.
In light of a recent survey by The Kennel Club that revealed owners regularly send an hour a day photographing their dog for social media and only 20 minutes a day walking their dog, its simply to say: A dog is for life, not just for Instagram.
And every dog deserves a second chance and a loving home no matter their colour!
National Black Dog Day -1st October 2020