The Black Dog Research Studio The Black Dog  Research Studio

Welcome to The Black Dog Research Studio!

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

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


The Black Dog Research Studio has been created by Amanda Leonard to put her research on Big Black Dog Syndrome into the hands of animal welfare and shelter staff so that they may be armed with the knowledge needed to place black dogs (and cats) into new and loving homes.


The Black Dog Research Studio presents rigorous research on Big Black Dog Syndrome, as well as suggestions on how best to combat the Syndrome. 


Amanda has published "The Plight of 'Big Black Dogs' in American Animal Shelters: Color-Based Canine Discrimination" in the Kroeber Anthropological Society Papers.  To download the article, click below.


Criticism of Black Dog Syndrome and the need for Quantitative Research

The  journal article about Black Dog Syndrome 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 I have been very interested in the need for a quantitative/statistical study to go along with my qualitative research. There is a huge need for statistics to either confirm or refute BDS.   


There have been a few studies done on the topic, (see additional academic resources), but I think there is a huge need for more research and even one large study conducted by multiple animal welfare groups/organizations in partnership with one another.  It would be a benefit to both the animal welfare and scholarly communities to have the statistics that either confirm that BDS is an actual occurrence, or deny its existence.  If the later is true, that brings to bare another interesting question: If BDS isn't borne out quantitatively, then why are so many involved in rescue reporting the issue?


Three 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.


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.

Seminars & Webinars Now Available!

Are you interested in having your organization participate in an exciting interactive seminar or webinar on Big Black Dog Syndrome?


If so, great!  I am happy to host a customized seminar in person, or by webinar for those shelters that are too far away to visit. 


I also can present a seminar or webinar on the topic of how and why humans project their concepts of gender onto their companion animals, and how that in turn impacts spay/neuter rates.  For the full summary of this seminar as well as the Big Black Dog Syndrome seminar, click here.


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

Contact Form

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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The Black Dog Research Studio

Glen Burnie, MD 21061


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News & Updates

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Scroll down the page to "Like" us on facebook and follow us on Twitter so you can hear all of the interesting news from us as well as interesting tidbits (like the top 50 animal photos of the year) from the animal welfare community. 


Debunking Black Cat Myths

Check out two great postings from the ASPCA and The Best Friends Animal Society on re-homing black cats and whether or not it is safe to adopt black cats around Halloween.

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