JULY 2007  
Pethealth inc.

Do Adopters Care about Color When Choosing a Dog?

A major US magazine recently ran an article about the "Big Black Dog Syndrome" in which the writer inferred that, while no actual figures existed, adopters show a prejudice against big black dogs when choosing which dog to adopt. The reality is that actual figures do exist. With close to 700 PetPoint users representing approximately 380,000 adoptions done through PetPoint, we can sort and analyze these figures by any number of variables. This week we have chosen to focus on color to see whether adopters really do care about hue when choosing their new canine companion.

Please be aware that all figures in this research are based on the input of the participating PetPoint organizations and that the decision over the color of a dog (e.g. tan versus beige, smoke versus grey) is at their own discretion.

For simplification purposes we have broken the color groups down into five core groups Black, Blue, Brown, Red and White, in each case the core color is the dominant color of the dog e.g. a pure white dog and a white dog with black spots will both go into the white color group.

For general interest we have also compared the adoptions of mix breed and purebred dogs. Information was also collected on adoption trends during Instage* (*not yet available but requested for adoption).

Breakdown of Adopted Dogs Mixed Breed VS. Purebred

It is interesting to note that as a percentage, significantly more adopters of purebred dogs are willing to adopt an animal before it is deemed adoptable than adopters of mix breed dogs.  As expected, there are significantly fewer purebred dogs up for adoption than mixed breed dogs.

Breakdown of Adopted VS. In Stage Available dogs by color

This chart reflects the general norm in terms of color for both purebred and mixed breed dogs. The blue and red categories are significantly smaller.

It comes as a surprise perhaps that mixed breed dogs spend, on average, only 1 day more at the animal welfare organization than purebred dogs before being adopted out.


With regards to color it appears that it takes longer for dogs falling into the Blue color group to be adopted than any other group. This color group is not a traditional dog color, being more closely associated with cats and perhaps adopters gravitate to the more traditional colors when choosing a dog. It is interesting to note that the color group with the lowest number of dogs (Blue dominant/Red secondary) took on average 31 days before they were adopted out.

So...are black dogs harder to adopt out then others? There does appear to be a marginal delay in the adoption of dogs falling into the black color category and given that this is also the largest group of dogs up for adoption, it is enough to have an impact on adoption rates. The good news is that all of these figures are based on animals that have been adopted and while it may take a day longer for those black dogs to find their future family, they did finally go to a good home.

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