Older cats and dogs don’t get adopted as readily as young animals. Big dogs don’t get adopted as easily as small dogs. We can figure out why. But why do black dogs and black cats seem to be the last to be adopted? Is it because they look scary? Is it because of old legends of bad luck and witches cats? That may have something to do with it, but there are other, more concrete reasons. It could be because facial expressions are harder to read against black fur. Or because they are hard to photograph.
Most shelters feature photos of their animals on a website in an attempt to entice adopters; black dogs are difficult to photograph, and their personalities are often masked in darkness. A 1992 Animal Welfare study presented participants with photographs of different colored dogs: 65% preferred dogs with lighter coats. Anthrozoos published a study in 2013 that found “participants rate yellow dogs significantly higher that black dogs on the personality dimensions of Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Emotional Stability.” The same study found that participants considered black dogs the “least friendly” -- based solely off of a photograph.
Cats suffer from the same photography problems. I have a black cat, and as sweet and smart as she is, she’s never taken a picture that makes her look anything but terrifying. Pricenomics has more on black dogs and cats, and why they suffer from lack of adoption more than other pets that are just like them on the inside.