Skip navigation

Myths About Black Pets

Share article on Facebook Share article on Pinterest Share article on Twitter (opens new window)
black dog and black cat resting next to each other at home

Black cats and dogs make up a large portion of all pets in the world, but they often face difficulties other animals don’t. Between long-held superstitions, myths, and stereotypes, black felines and canines are unfortunately looked over when it comes to adoption.

Are Black Dogs and Cats Less Likely To Be Adopted?

There’s a chance you’ve heard the saying that black cats and dogs are adopted less, but many pet parents wonder if there’s any weight behind this statement. Unfortunately, there is. For instance, if someone is interested in adopting a kitten but believes in the superstitions around black cats, they will most likely be more apt to adopt the white or orange feline over the black one.

However, a part of the underlying issue of there always being black cats and dogs up for adoption is that there are usually more in animal shelters.* For example, there could be an influx of three black dogs and one brown one. Though in one day, both the brown dog and one of the black ones could be adopted, meaning they had the same adoption rate for that day. Since more black pups need a home, more will remain at the shelter.

Why Are Black Cats Considered Bad Luck?

Everyone is familiar with the well-known image of a black cat with an arched back, yellow eyes, and frizzed tail often portrayed around Halloween. In many scary movies, black cats will run across someone’s path, representing an omen of bad luck. This is just one example of black cat myths that have swirled around for years.

Throughout stories, legends, and myths, cats are frequently equivalent to supernatural beings. Black cats are used in films and shows, such as Salem from “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” Binx in “Hocus Pocus,” and Jiji in “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” where they are each associated with witches. Though in these particular examples of media, the midnight-colored felines are portrayed positively, many people who aren’t fans of Halloween may not want a pet that’s so heavily represented with those related topics.

Most ironically, perceiving black cats as bad luck is a belief more heavily based on Western culture. In other countries such as Scotland and Japan, black cats approaching you are seen as a sign of good luck. Not to mention, white cats are seen as the carriers of poor luck in the United Kingdom—not black felines.

Black Dog Myths

Just as black cats carry myths surrounding their association with being a sign of bad luck, black dogs are also looped into preconceived notions. Perhaps some of these perceptions originated with black dogs in mythology. In Greek mythology, Cerberus is a gigantic, black-haired, multi-headed dog that worked alongside Hades, guarding the gates to the underworld. Britain has many folklore tales centered around mysterious or dangerous black dogs. These range anywhere from black dogs that are said to haunt the ruins of castles to canines that supposedly roam different areas of the countryside or particular roads.

Outside of Britain, there are various stories in France, Normandy, Belgium, Germany, and many others throughout Latin America. Even in North America, there are multiple myths, including one about truckers spotting a black dog with red eyes on the side of the road, signaling that a fatal crash may occur.

Even in popular forms of media, black dogs have been portrayed as a negative omen. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the well-known Sherlock Holmes story “The Hound of Baskervilles,” and J.K. Rowling included the Grim in the “Harry Potter” series.

Ironically, it is at night when most people report the sightings of these mythological black dogs. However, it’s also during the darkness of evening that people often feel most scared, and due to the lack of light, nearly any animal spotted will appear black.

Aside from all of the myths surrounding black cats, there are also some black cat stereotypes. This can include the idea that black cats are more challenging to take photos of or that they don’t have as nice of a personality.

There are many similar black dog stereotypes that also still exist. People have misguided ideas that black dogs aren’t as nice as other dogs or aren’t unique in any way. Among the animal shelter and rescue community, there’s even a term for these canines consistently being overlooked—Black Dog Syndrome.

To help combat the stigma surrounding these darker-colored animals, special events are regularly held at various adoption centers. For instance, during their campaign to raise awareness that black cats and dogs make just as good a pet as any other, the facility might offer discounts on adoption fees for any black animal.

black dog outside with pet parent

Benefits of Adopting a Black Pet

Adopting black dogs or adopting black cats can be accompanied by a long list of benefits.

  • Help an animal in need

    By choosing to adopt, you are helping provide the love and care these animals no doubt deserve. Plus, you are giving them a forever home where they can comfortably live the rest of their lives. When you adopt, chances are you will also be paying an adoption fee to the shelter or rescue, which will, in turn, help offset the costs of caring for the animals. By adopting your pet, you are also opening a spot in their facility, allowing them to take in another cat or dog needing a home.

  • Gain a friend

    When you bring home your new dog or cat, you gain so much more than just a pet. You’ve added a new member to your family and a roommate to your home. You now have a loyal companion, best friend, and partner in crime who will no doubt give you unconditional love. If you work from home, your cat could provide some much-needed company, and if you’re quite active, your new canine pal could become the adventure buddy you’ve been wanting.

  • Going against the stigma

    By choosing to adopt a black cat or dog, you are showing others that you don’t believe in the myths or superstitions surrounding these adoring animals. Not only are you helping to lower the number of black pets in adoption centers, but you can also assist in spreading the word that black animals make excellent companions.

  • Have a cool mini panther

    Although black cats may not have patterned fur, with their sleek, jet-black coat, they have the fun coincidence of looking like a mini panther stalking around your home. Going off the wild, big cat theme, you may be inspired when choosing your cat’s name (i.e., Bagheera) or the style of their cat tower. Plus, think of all the fun Halloween costumes you can do with your cat.

  • They’ll match any collar or bandana

    When shopping for collars, leashes, harnesses, bandanas, or any other types of accessories for your feline or canine friend, you won’t have to give a second thought to what will look good with their coat color. With your pet being black, any design or color will look good and stand out in contrast to their darker color. Having a black colored dog is also the perfect excuse to buy fun light-up leashes and dog collars so you can keep a better eye on them at night.

  • Their hair may not show up as much

    The amount of pet hair that finds its way onto your clothes and furniture may depend on how often you brush your pet and their coat type, but with a black pet, you won’t have to worry about light-colored animal hair showing up all over your black pants.

  • They won’t appear as dirty

    If your best black-coated pal has an affinity for getting dirty and finding themselves in sticky situations, you may have the added benefit that not every little thing becomes stained on their coat. Of course, your pet will still require regular baths, but by having a darker coat, they may be able to go a little longer in between washing days.

  • Pros at playing hide and seek

    With a jet-black pet, your games of hide and seek in the house can become next level—they can hide without even trying. On that note, if you don’t have night lights throughout your home, you may want to use slight caution when moving about at night. You may find that shuffling your feet instead of taking big steps could help avoid accidentally misplaced feet.

  • They are quite photogenic

    Some people overlook black pets because they are deemed not overly photogenic, and it isn’t easy to see their expressions. However, many pet parents would argue that nothing is cuter than looking at your pet and only being able to make out their vibrant eyes—it gives them a cartoon or animated look. When your best bud is sleeping, it’s also humorous when the only features you can make out are their pearly whites or a little fang. Once you become the parent of a black pet, you’ll quickly learn how to use the lighting to your advantage to get even better photos of your pal.

  • They could be good luck

    Putting aside the many myths about black animals, in some countries, black cats and dogs are actually seen as good luck. Why not view your cute little shadow as a good luck charm? It has been repeatedly tested and proven that having a cat or dog in the house can provide many benefits. Dogs can encourage people to be more active and sociable. Cats can help people become more responsible and help people feel less anxious. Having animals in the home can improve people’s mental health and physical well-being, along with strengthening their immune systems.

When the time comes that you are ready to adopt your next cat or dog, you might want to check if your local animal rescue has any black pets up for adoption. Not only will you provide a home for an animal that might otherwise be overlooked, but you will also gain a fantastic, forever friend.

*Is It a Myth That Black Shelter Pets Are Less Likely to Be Adopted? - Vetstreet.

An ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan can help you with eligible costs for covered conditions like surgery expenses for accidents and help provide peace of mind that your pet can receive the care they need. Check out our online resources to learn more about your insurance options and get a free quote today. The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.

(opens new window)


woman holding a white poodle mix dog

How Do You Become a Pet Foster Parent?

Fostering gives pets a loving home while they wait for adoption, opens space for shelters to take in more pets, and can help families decide if a pet is right for them.


happy welsh corgi on a leash at the beach

A Dog’s Guide to Summer

From vacation ideas and how to entertain your pup on a rainy day to homemade treats and sun safety, check out this dog-friendly summer guide.


scruffy terrier dog happily taking a pill

Do Vets Ever Give Pets Placebo Pills?

Get the facts on placebos for pets.