The Black Dog Myth

by Houndstooth on

When we first started getting involved with Greyhounds, we heard that a lot of times people don’t want the black dogs for a variety of reasons.  Some people think they look scary, have a mean temperament, aren’t as pretty, shed more and make it impossible to wear white clothes.  Of course, there are myths about other Greyhound colors, too.  Blue dogs are often thought to be more quirky and a bit odd.  I wrote these things off, because I reasoned that surely in this modern age, people know better than to believe such things.  It’s not like we’re living in the Middle Ages anymore or anything.

Black Is Handsome -- Tales and Tails

Black Is Handsome

Of course, our first personal experience with a black dog has been bringing Küster home as a puppy.  We had an online friend with a solid black Shepherd for a while and I had been admiring him for ages.  I was secretly hoping that when it came time for us to get our puppy that he’d turn out to be a black Shepherd, and I lucked out.  When Küster was really little and still looked like Toto, I didn’t notice much bias.  As those spectacular ears of his started to stand up, though, a lot of people began to step back.

Now that Flattery has come to join us, I have seen it a little differently.  I’m very surprised by how many people tell me stories about people stepping back from their black Greyhounds.  I can understand a little fear if you meet a high prey dog whose ears stand up at attention, making her look like a tiny Doberman with a long tail.  However, I can’t imagine that impression lasting long.  She couldn’t maintain an scary face for more than two seconds if she tried.  The only thing in danger of our girl are the rabbits.  Well, cats and squirrels should probably beware, too, but we haven’t tested that theory yet.  Toys and tennis balls are also endangered in her presence.  I am sure that humans are completely safe around her, though.

Portrait of Flattery -- Tales and Tails

Portrait of Flattery

I guess I’m surprised that some people can look at black dogs and see something scary, because that’s not what I see at all.  Küster and Flattery are both works of canine art in my eyes.  They actually have a lot in common.  As the two youngsters here in the house, they both have a penchant for mischief.  Both of them were blessed with a spectacular set of ears.  Toys are not safe in their presence, especially tennis balls.  Each of them has strong drives, although of different natures.  They’re both very affectionate and soak up attention from people.  Neither of them has ever met a stranger.  The funny thing is, none of those things have anything to do with them being black.

People have told me through the years that black dogs are really hard to photograph, and I admit that was my biggest reservation about adopting Flattery.  I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to keep capturing that Greyhound spirit in a way that would make people out there want a Greyhound of their own.  I took a few test pictures of her when we met her at the kennel, and when I looked back at those pictures, what struck me the most was her incredible eyes.  So now, maybe between the two youngest members of our family we can start a new mission to make everybody out there want a black dog of their own.

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32 Responses to "The Black Dog Myth"
  1. Goose says:

    My MOM ‘s heart dog, Pete, was a 140lbs lab great dane mix. But was he sweet sweet. He was so sweet that often the little neighborhood kids would come over and ask if Pete could come out to play. Oh yes there were those who were scared of the big guy, but mostly he won people over with his smile and gentle way. That is not to say he did not have his protective side. Twice he literally saved my MOM’s life or at least saved her from dreadful harm. We have a dog rescue place around here called Black Dog. They exists because people don’t want to adopt black dogs. We are going to see them today at the Farmers Market where they walk the black dogs around to show people how wonderfully beautiful they are. I think Kus and Flattery are beautiful and would love to mean them.

  2. SlimDoggy says:

    I haven’t really experienced that prejudice and we’ve had a couple of black dogs…it might just be because they are Labs and so the Labness might overshadow the wariness. It’s too bad though, cause their color doesn’t really matter…just like with people! I agree about the difficulty in taking photos – and I’m a lousy photographer,s o getting good ones of Maggie is a challenge.

  3. Sharron Brittingham says:

    We’ve wanted a black greyhound since the beginning but always end up with brindles 🙂 Really hope we can adopt a black greyhound next time – I don’t think they are scary at all 🙂 Love the pics of Kuster & Flattery!

  4. Jen says:

    Your photography is fantastic with every dog you turn a camera on, black or otherwise.

    I’m prejudiced towards black dogs, in that I prefer them! It amazes me that people would fear your little Flatter….but I guess it shouldn’t. There’s no telling what ideas will take hold with the general public, and which won’t.

  5. harrispen says:

    We were surprised that our Millie wasn’t adopted sooner and think it might be because she is mostly black. We love our black beauty and she too has those beautiful light brown eyes that really show up against her black face. Before we had Walter and would take Millie for walks she we be wiggling and smiling at everyone we passed, but very few would stop to pay her any attention. She was very sad when people would just walk by and ignore her. We tried to counter act it some by putting a pink bandanna on her and it seemed to soften her up to some people. I say Black it Beautiful!!

  6. jan says:

    I would never have believed that a black dog photographed against a black background could result in two such amazing pictures. You certainly disproved the “they don’t photograph well” with those shots.

    Jan, the Poodles and dogs

  7. Emma says:

    It is amazing how people feel about a dog depending on color. Mom had my sister Katie who is solid white and her other dog Trine that was solid black. Everyone was hesitant to go near Trine, yet they would go right up to Katie’s face. Trine was a loving Newfie/Lab mix and harmless, Katie is a Kuvasz, a breed that is considered a dangerous dog in some places but because she is white no one was scared. Sad really but it shows what humans are taught to do. Another comment from mom…she says white dogs are about as difficult to photograph as black ones but she doesn’t care, since it is the dog that really matters, not the perfect photo. Your Flattery photos so far are flattering 🙂

  8. Patty says:

    I think black dogs are beautiful! Just look at those shiny coats.

  9. Sue Dyer says:

    Well I am biased with Polly being black, but I think black dogs rock. A black dog of any breed in good condition with a shiny coat can look so majestic.

  10. Lynn Gaulding Delage says:

    People feel the same way about black cats. It is incredible how the superstition about black has endured over the centuries. I have owned black cats and dogs and have found them to be not inherently different from any other color of animal.

  11. Hazel says:

    Your dog Power (oops! I meant Flattery! They are so alike) is such an ambassador for dogs of all colors due to his(her) beauty, friendliness, and gentleness, that I cannot believe anyone would have a prejudice against black dogs!

  12. Pat says:

    On September 11, 2011, the greyhound group I volunteer with took an entire load of black greyhounds from Florida, for the very reason that they were hard to place and other groups didn’t want black one. We found them happy homes. The story is here:

  13. Mango Momma says:

    I do find my black dog very difficult to photograph. So often he is in a great pose, but looks like a blob. It also makes him much harder to find at dusk or dark (and I am extra careful to decorate him with reflective gear when we are out). But those are minor compared to how wonderful he is. I’ve never understood the anxiety about black dogs, but it is true that black dogs and cats are often overlooked at shelters. Pity.

    Mango Momma

  14. Dennis the Vizsla says:

    hello houndstooth its dennis the vizsla dog hay i do not at all unnerstand wot peepul hav got aginst black dogs!!! trixie is the most bestest dog i no and she is a black dog!!! mostly!!! ennyway i think flattery fotografs just fine plus enny dog wot is as hard on stuffeez as she seems to be is ok in my buk!!! ha ha ok bye

  15. Lori - What Remains Now says:

    They say this is true with kitties too.

  16. jet says:

    the people who came to see Olive actually requested a black greyhound!! There are a lot of black ones in WA so one would think that would be an easy request to satisfy, but they also have a cat and a boisterous young Visla, so it is going to take a while to find them a match anyway!

  17. Wyatt Airedale says:

    Black is ALWAYS in style. Kuster and Flattery are proof of that!

    Wyatt and Stanzie

  18. Dory and the Mama says:

    We love black dogs and just can’t understand some people

    …it is a definite problem at the shelters tho (at least where I use to volunteer in Texas).

    Dory, Jakey, Arty & Bilbo

  19. Sue Muir says:

    My dog before Frankie was thought to be a staffi x bullmastiff. She was black with a little bit of white on her chest. Because of the type of dog Chloe was she was greatly admired and her colour never came into the equation. It wasn’t until I got into Greyhounds that I heard about the prejudice against black dogs. In a way I can understand it as they do come in so many gorgeous colour combinations, but black is just as beautiful. A good dog can’t be a bad colour 🙂

  20. Sara Blair says:

    Yea, I don’t get that at all, but I hear it a lot – black dogs never getting picked in shelters. I think black fur can be so silky, shiny, perfect.

    I wonder if this is an international prejudice, or isolated to the US, where we have been taught from birth that the good guys wear white and the bad guys wear black.

  21. Casey the Boxer says:

    I think black dogs are just beeYOUtiful. They are a bit of a challenge to photograph, though. Momma always complains about that when we have dark brindle fosters. Fortunately we have a red couch, which makes a good backdrop!

  22. Words With Wieners says:

    I think black dogs are amazingly beautiful! Their jet black fur is just so striking! I really do not understand people’s apprehension about black dogs. When I was growing up, it seems like EVERYONE had a black lab, so I don’t even know when the whole “Oh no, a black dog” thing began. I mean, there’s always been the black cat superstition, but I had never even heard about people being wary of black dogs until the last couple years. I didn’t even know it was a “thing” until then.
    Küster and Flattery are both absolutely beautiful! But Flattery’s eyes – they are the real wow factor. You’ve had no trouble so far bringing out her beauty and I think it will only get better as she gets used to being photographed. Besides, you’re so talented with a camera you could make a blade of grass look like a rare flower… and she’s already a rare flower, so… 😉

  23. BZ Dogs says:

    You definitely make photographing black dogs look easy! I can imagine being afraid of a greyhound – no matter what color s/he is.

  24. I never really realized how many people are scared of black dogs until I got Riley. Of course, as a puppy, everyone wanted to pet her and talked about how cute she is–puppies just do that to people!

    Even though Riley’s not totally black (like Kuster), she is mostly black, and I’ve noticed on therapy visits that people who haven’t met her yet will often prefer petting say, a Golden Retriever or a small fluffy dog, than her. (Plus, she has the pricked ears, which doesn’t help). Of course, once people get to know her, she quickly becomes a favorite!! Hopefully, we’re also being good “Black Dog Ambassadors!” 🙂

    As for photographing her, sometimes it is a challenge since she has the jet black masks around both of her eyes. Pictures outside sometimes make her look like she has no eyes! Luckily, most of our pictures turn out pretty well. 🙂

  25. Jan K, Wag N Woof Pets says:

    I’ve never understood the whole “black dog (or cat) syndrome”. Our first two dogs were black mixed breeds and they were beautiful. Certainly your two black dogs are just gorgeous. We have one black cat now and the only issue with her is that sometimes I can’t find her if it’s dark in a room. But it’s actually pretty cool when all we can see is her eyes! If we are ever to get another dog, I would pick a black one from a shelter just because they say it really is a thing that they get passed over for adoption. Plus I’ve always just wanted another black lab mix like our Maggie.

  26. Michelle says:

    Black dogs get the short end of the stick. We have had so many adopters request “any color but black” over the years. Color does not make a dog who they are or change their personality. It is a shame that people miss out on some great dogs because they can’t look past their color. I am lucky to have owned two black dogs and hope to have many more as the years go by.

  27. Maria Sadowski says:

    People are so shallow. (I wanted to say something much meaner, and remembered just before clicking “post” that I’m on the company account. LOL!)

  28. Jessica Rhae says:

    I DO find it is harder to get a photo of black and tan Chester than of brown Gretel. I never even knew there was a stigma against black dogs (and cats for that matter) until I saw bloggers writing about it last year.

  29. Taryn says:

    Black is Beautiful! And no, I am not biased one bit 😉

  30. Jodi says:

    That’s a great mission!!

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