Questions and Answers:
1) Is Black Pearl Dogs an Internet Hoax?   A hoax is defined as "an act intended to trick people into believing something is real that is not". That is not why or how Black Pearl Dogs came to be in November of 2004. It came about as the end result of a very real attempt to help a dog sitting in a rescue (now our current pearly dog, Jake) find a home. We were told good luck as he was a BBD! It was affirmed by other rescues and shelters that Big Black Dogs are harder to place and they didn't know why, they  just were. So we did some Internet research to find that many shelters nationally were stating this on their homepages, some coined it "Black Dog Syndrome". Petfinder made a banner specific to the issue "Did you know that large black dogs are the last to be adopted?" This was made for their listing shelters to use to promote the awareness of this overlooked/underadopted dog. This got our attention: even one of the larger Internet pet listing agencies felt the need important enough to necessitate attention to this concern.
In all the attention given to so many educational platforms with regard to the unwanted pet population, we decided to be inspired by the Petfinder banner and attempt to find the reason(s) why and additionally respond to the shelters who viewed it as an issue for their locale through a website entitled "Contrary to Ordinary: The Black Pearls of the Dog World" in hopes it would help dogs like our Jake avoid being overlooked while waiting for a family.
2) So,why is it called Black Dog Syndrome? The first two words of that phrase seem self explanatory: black + dog.  A syndrome is defined as "a group of things or events that form a recognizable pattern, especially of something undesirable".  The title seems to fit the bill: we have an observable occurence that many (not all) are experiencing in a recognizable way: dark coated canines being euthanized more frequently and adopted less. So now the question: why? Until November 2004 no one had publicly labeled any reasonings for this dilemma. Based on the research at the time we came to the conclusion it had to do in part with the way our adoption process is set up and also falling into categories like 1) Stigmas sometimes associated with dog breeds, folklore or negative labels 2) Just too ordinary and blending into poorly lit kennel runs 3) photographed poorly and 4) some folks who adopted BBD's found they overheated quicker in the sun-filled outdoor canine sporting activities and this became a hassle factor they didn't want to deal with again.
3) Are there statistics to prove this really exists? None that we have seen or provided by a professional, objective statistician collected at the national level presented in a variety of terms.  Some rescue people will say that by ratio there are more black dogs available in the shelters because black is a dominant  gene color thrown in the canine pool of genetics. A result of this reality is more black dogs are not adopted or are euthanized in higher numbers because they outnumber the other coat colors on mere ratio.  We have yet to find any stats done nationwide to prove this true for the waiting and unwanted mix bred dog.  If you are reading this and can cite the source please let us know.  Additionally, we have been trying to find any stats to help us understand better what this is all about within the kennel/shelter setting.
4) One reason you cite for dark coated dogs being overlooked is a bad photograph. If someone is a bad photographer they are going to take a bad picture of all the dogs, light or dark.

To some degree that is true. 

First of all "the photo" in todays internet search to find a new pet is the first impression (usually) and it is the foundation for Petfinder among the other internet based ads for pet finding. People no longer have to go to a shelter and walk the lines. They can look at the photos and read the write ups before making an appointment to meet a prospective pet. This has led to fewer impulse adoptions. In addition, as it is commonly said, "A picture is worth a thousand words."  So yes, some people will just point and shoot the camera and the position of the subject is not eye appealing or clearly seen  in its final printed outcome for that picture.

Yet, darker colored subject material needs special attention to lighting to show details and to avoid the shadowing that will cause it to appear as a blob. According to Ed Halley: photograhers notebook "Light (L) refers to the actual illumination from the scene which enters the camera. Our brains are very good for adapting to different lighting conditions, so it may not be intuitive to realize the importance of illumination. A camera must adapt to the incoming light in much the same way, whether through manual adjustments or automatic electronics. The available light is quite different between night-time, indoors, cloudy and sunny conditions. In addition, the illumination which enters the camera is also affected by light-colored or dark-colored subject matter".  If someone is only pointing and shooting the camera, the lighter colored subject is still going to show more refined in its illumination vs. the darker colored  subject matter.  The internet has many professional photographers that have written self-help and tip pages for amatuer folks to take a descent photo, including the digital cameras (nice article on Seeing the Light) that most work with in animal rescue.
5) The real issue is spay and neuter, don't let the media confuse or make the agenda here!
We are in total agreement that spay and neuter is one of the top important agendas to help curb the unwanted pet population.  It is considered the glue that holds all rescue and shelters together despite their other differences. Plainly speaking, if we had less unwanted births we would have less homeless, unwanted and euthanized animals period. These stats we have through the Humane Organizations. Yet the fact also remains until those issues are "solved" (wouldn't we love it if there were no unwanted animals? Every rescue workers dream) there are still sub-level issues during the adoption process and one type of dog is regularly overlooked and underadopted: the big black dog.

Although, it is commonly known among many shelter workers through observation that these dogs tend to adopt out less frequently many potential adopters are not. These black dogs are noticed less by those people out searching the Internet adoption sites for dogs or when walking the lines at the shelters if they choose to do it this way. Many adopters need the opportunity to have all the facts and to be educated on how to adopt a dog: based on the dogs personality and as a match to their family lifestyle, not solely on how attracted or not attracted they are. Attraction does eventually play into it but first and foremost the best match needs to be made so animals aren't returned, abused or neglected due to personality or training incompatibility. If these can at all be avoided the goal should be to do just that with a preventative mind set in the initial screening process.

6) So why is the color an issue?

A few reasons: As we stated in #4 dark dogs photograph poorly by those who don't know how to photograph to show their eyes or expression in their faces so they often show up as "blobs" instead of a dog with an expression. People skip over the initial picture because they are not drawn in. (black dog overlooked)

Black dogs blend into their poorly lit kennel runs and
just don't stand out in shelter lines and people walk
right past.... please see BARK magazine February 2007
issue pg 17. There is a link reference to Chris Leavens
who has done a 2 minute sound and visual byte about the
dilemma that shelters face in finding homes for Big
Black Dogs and BARK states "he does a great job getting
the story across" see previous episode 77.
(again black dog overlooked)

Like the black cats, black dogs also carry a fear stigma, some due to legends (more European based if we go worldwide with this) some folklore (could be geographically based) and some due to stereotype or negative tones:

A) The big black dog who is used by the less than caliber individual for protection of illegal          activity (strong appearing dogs attract people wanting power, protection or intimidation)

B) The crazed dog ready to do damage in a movie, book
   or TV show (this can also be breed associated: Rottweiler, Doberman, Pitbulls, note color of     the breeds and head/jawline/body structure). (black dog not adopted or considered)

C) Do your own google search of "Winston Churchill black dog" and a variety of articles arise with their own facts and biases. It appears from a historical standpoint it was Winston Churchill who coined the phrase or is the name most associated with it. But many medical professionals today are taking the label and making it more positive: a dog can be trained, so there is hope for the once "skeleton in my closet" medical label of depression a.k.a "The Black Dog".

According to Wikipedia "There is absolutely no scientific evidence to support the position that color has any bearing whatsoever on temperament, health, or overall quality of any dog, regardless of breed!"

Bottom line: This site hopes to encourage people to adopt a dog based on a personality match for both the dog and the person. Hopefully this will allow the black and darker coated dogs to have the platform to be less overlooked and to receive their needed opportunity to be noticed in the rescue or shelter setting despite their numbers and the flaws we have in our current adoption process and shelter/building set ups.

We also hope we can be an educational resource link for shelters to assist their future adopters to understand the importance of adopting for life and that it starts with the best match right in the beginning. A personality based "match" (human to canine and canine to human) that is founded on responsiblity and committment. To quote a rescue in Madison, MN " before adopting a pet, BE SURE that you are willing to do the ongoing training necessary and that you are committed to the next 5-10+ years of his/her life. A dog should not be a disposable item ! Please do the research on the breed [or mixed breed] you are considering. You will never regret bringing a loyal friend into your life!" 

Ultimately we hope that one day this website will not need to be here for its original reasons stated on our homepage.

We recently have been made aware that there are emails and forum sites questioning the validity and reasoning behind why this site even exists. We attempt to answer them below.  Thanks for reading.
"Contrary to Ordinary"
The Black Pearls of the Dog World
~Making a difference one black dog at a time through education, awareness and action~
(Click on Jake, he will always take you home!)
Click to read Bears story
Photo courtsey of
Photo courtsey of