The Black Dog Research Studio
The Black Dog Research Studio

Providing critical research on Black Dog Syndrome and other animal welfare issues

Shadows In The Shelter

Big Black Dog Syndrome is the extreme under-adoption of black dogs and cats in American animal shelters. 

The Black Dog Research Studio was created to distribute research on Black Dog Syndrome to animal welfare professionals in order to help them place black dogs and cats into new and loving homes.


Download my paper, "The Plight of 'Big Black Dogs' in American Animal Shelters: Color-Based Canine Discrimination."

Seminars and Webinars Available

Interested in having your organization learn about Black Dog Syndrome?  If so, I am happy to host an exciting interactive in person seminar or online webinar for your organization.


I also offer seminars on how and why humans project their concepts of gender onto their companion animals, and how that in turn impacts spay/neuter rates.


If you are interested in having me present at or to your shelter or organization, please fill out our contact form.

The Plight of 'Big Black Dogs' in American Animal Shelters: Color-Based Canine Discrimination
Kroeber BBD paper.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [287.4 KB]

Criticism of Black Dog Syndrome and the need for Quantitative Research

The  journal article about Black Dog Syndrome (BDS) that I published in 2011 is a qualitative look at an issue that I discovered while working at The Washington Humane Society.  I did not coin the term nor first identify Black Dog Syndrome.


Since my article's publication there have been a number of studies published on Black Dog Syndrome, some of which seem to prove BDS and some of which seem to disprove BDS.  Criticism has been leveled against BDS in so far as it is trumped up, entirely untrue or simply a misconception of anecdotal evidence as fact.  I will let you be the judge.  I have included links to the articles published since my journal article came out, as well as a well written online piece. 


As a final word, I caution that perhaps we are going down a rabbit hole by conducting study after study.  I'm not sure that we will ever reach a definitive conclusion one way or another.  In the end, anything that can be done to improve the adoption rates of a black pet, will improve the adoption chances of its kennelmate, be it adoption events that bring people into the shelter, colorful bandanas, better lighting in the kennel runs, better photography, etc.


Black Dog Syndrome Teaches Us a Crucial Lesson About Science


Four peer reviewed studies that have been conducted since the publication of my article can be found below: 


Brown WP, JP Davidson, and ME Zuefle

2013  Effects of phenotypic characteristics on the length of stay of dogs at two no kill animal shelters. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science : JAAWS. 16 (1): 2-18.


Delgado M.M., Reevy G.M., and Munera J.D.

2012  Human perceptions of coat color as an indicator of domestic cat personality". Anthrozoos. 25 (4): 427-440.


Goleman, M, Drozd, L, Karpinski, M,Czyzowski, P. "Black Dog Syndrome in Animal Shelters." MEDYCYNA WETERYNARYJNA-VETERINARY MEDICINE-SCIENCE

       AND PRACTICE 70.2 (2014): 122-7.


Woodward L., Milliken J., and Humy S.

2012. Give a dog a bad name and hang him: Evaluating big, black dog syndrome. Society and Animals. 20 (3): 236-253.

Catch the Buzz -- Check out my Blog Series!

For more interesting information about Big Black Dog Syndrome, you can follow my blog series on the Humane Research Council's blog, Humane Thinking.  


I also have a blog post on called "Black dogs and cats have a tough time in shelters"  


Check out all my posts on Petfinder's blog by clicking here

Read my blog posts! 




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Baltimore , MD
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