15 Stunning Black Dog Breeds That Deserve a Place in Your Heart

With their sleek coats and lovable personalities, these distinguished doggos deserve all the love and attention.
By Tracey L. Kelley
May 07, 2021

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Majestic is the first word that comes to mind when looking at these black beauties. Appearance aside, hardworking, loyal, playful, and affectionate are just a few of their greatest traits.

Despite their lovable personalities and sweet doggie faces, sadly throughout shelters across the country there continues to be a 'coat color prejudice' against black dog breeds, according to Jo Myers, DVM, of Salida, Colo., a telehealth practitioner on Vetster.

"Even though black coloration was favored by the prehistoric humans who first domesticated dogs, those with black coats are more likely to be unfairly assumed to be unfriendly and undesirable," Myers says. "As a result, they tend to spend a longer time in shelters awaiting adoption. Also, quite sadly, they end up being over-represented in the population of dogs who are euthanized when they fail to be adopted out." This is referred to as Black Dog Syndrome, and why National Black Dog Day is celebrated every October 1.  

It's always more important to choose a pet for you and your family who's compatible with your lifestyle, regardless of color, and the beautiful breeds on this list might just make the perfect fit.

The Science Behind Black Dog Breeds

The genetics involved with black dog breeds is rather fascinating, and we could totally geek out on it for days. But for now, we'll just share a few quick facts from Myers:

  • Out of three billion genes total, only eight determine what color a dog might be.
  • These eight genes control the development of only two types of pigment: eumelanin and pheomelanin.  
  • Variation in the amount of eumelanin produces the different black and brown shades. Pheomelanin is responsible for contributing red, orange, cream, gold, and yellow hues.
  • Although there are a few exceptions (Kerry Blue terrier, we’re looking at you!), the vast majority of all black dogs who are born with black coats will stay black throughout their lives, though sometimes when they earn the exalted title of senior dog their muzzles turn white.

This isn't to say that some black dogs won't have a speck of brown, blue, gray, or white. Why? "The trait for a black coat is dominant in some breeds, like Labrador retrievers, but recessive in others," Myers says. "If you think of a breed you're used to seeing in one color variety but that also can occur less commonly in black, black coloration is a recessive trait. German shepherds are a good example of this."

Now that you know the fascinating history of black dogs and why they deserve a lot of love, let's peek at a few!

black dog in grass
Credit: suefeldberg / Getty

Labrador Retriever

For 30 years, the Labrador has topped the American Kennel Club's most popular dog list, and for many good reasons! Friendly, active, and incredibly affectionate, Labs have wonderful personalities, are adaptable to single or family life, and earn their name as retrievers naturally by being top-notch hunting companions.

Three schipperke dogs outside with a red fence
Credit: Aler / Adobe Stock

Schipperke

This poofy cutie is always ready to go! A super energetic playmate for children and other pets (yes, even cats!), a schipperke (pronounced 'skip per kee') has more than a little spunk and curiosity, so positive reinforcement training is a must. He'll jump right into it, though, as he loves spending time with hoomans and learning new tricks.

Black affenpinscher dog stands in grass
Though the breed is most commonly seen with black fur, affenpinschers can be red, beige, black, grey, and a black and beige combo.
| Credit: Yvonne Van der Horst / Getty

Affenpinscher

Fun fact: affen means 'monkey' in German. Look at this toy breed's face: you can totally see the resemblance! Not only are affenpinschers playful and full of mischievous charm, they're exceedingly intelligent. Keep these eager black dogs engaged with training, then prepare for contented snuggles later.

Black Giant schnauzer sitting in grass
Credit: dezy / Shutterstock

Giant Schnauzer

Part of a breed trio that includes miniature and standard sizes, the giant schnauzer is more likely to be the solid black dog among them. Adept as a competitive show champion or a dedicated companion, this affectionate, high-energy good girl is a working dog by nature, so new pet owners need to keep her busy with many tasks and tricks.

black scottish terrier stand in grass
Credit: Dmitri Zoubov / Shutterstock

Scottish Terrier

Although you'll have to keep her wiry coat brushed regularly, a Scottish terrier might be a terrific pooch pal for someone hoping for a more hypoallergenic breed. While sometimes described as 'cantankerous,' Scottish terriers are still beloved for their balance of independence and devotion, even making it all the way to the White House alongside Franklin D. Roosevelt. 

Portuguese water dog

Portuguese Water Dog

Speaking of the White House, the Portuguese water dog (a favorite of the Obamas) also a snuggly, low-shedding companion, sports his recessive black genes with pride! Known as ideal for families, this intelligent and empathetic pooch is also a terrific service dog and exercise buddy.

Black pug lying in the grass
Credit: Samantha French / EyeEm / Getty

Pug

Although pugs can be scamps, it's only because they think they're smarter than most people. (They might be right!) But when they know they're adored, they're full of charm and affection, preferring plenty of cuddles. Myers says black pug dogs also have less undercoat than fawn-colored ones, resulting in less shedding. Bonus!

Black Newfoundland laying in autumn leaves
Credit: noemie / Adobe Stock

Newfoundland

Truly an awesome sight with mounds of thick, black fur, this gentle giant weighs in with 100–150 pounds of love! Totally mellow and terrific companions for children, a Newfoundland or 'Newf' is also a dedicated working dog, so if you like to fish or have a farm, this exceptional fella will be a great asset and happy to help anytime.

black standard poodle laying in grass
Credit: Tara Gregg / EyeEm / Getty

Poodle

All poodles are loving and super smart, so which one you choose for doggie friendship depends on your needs. For example, a standard is a great companion for active people, toy poodles are great with kids, and miniature poodles provide amusement and daily walk 'n sniff opportunities for seniors (Well, sniffing by dogs ... oh, you know what we mean!)

Black mastiff dog sitting on sunny beach
Credit: Fantasista / Adobe Stock

Neapolitan Mastiff

A black mastiff dog is sweet, loyal, and devoted to their people, but maybe not so interested in others. The best plan is for an experienced dog owner to socialize and train their Neapolitan mastiffs early on so that he's always living his best life. We can't help you control the slobber, though—just keep a beach towel handy.

German shepherd: pickup

German Shepherd

As Myers pointed out, black color is a recessive gene for most German shepherds, as they're more commonly dashing in a sable coat. Still, color doesn't affect some of their best traits, including being an intelligent and adventurous hiking pal, dedicated family dog, and, when trained properly, an all-around friendly buddy to other pets at home. 

black dutch shepherd portrait
Credit: Alex Zotov / Shutterstock

Dutch Shepherd

Hailing from the Netherlands, this smaller, stocky shepherd cousin is just as smart but more likely to be an all-black dog. Once almost extinct, the loyal Dutch shepherd excels at herding and law enforcement duties. So if these aren't part of his daily routine, make sure he's engaged with regular obedience, agility, and scent work training.

black afghan hound posing on autumn park
Credit: Olga-i / Shutterstock

Afghan Hound

Posing like a 1920s silent film star and just as independent and sensitive, Afghan hounds are the epitome of glamorous black long-haired dogs. She doesn't shed much, but as you might imagine, her grooming routine is extensive. An Afghan is athletic, independent, and super fast (some can run up to 40 miles per hour!), which means experienced dog owners make the best prospective pet parents for this majestic gazelle of a breed.

RELATED: 15 Black Dogs Who Are Beautiful, Cuddly, and Charming on Instagram

Pointy eared Doberman Pinscher smiles for camera on sunny day, medium shot
Credit: Tara Gregg / EyeEm / Getty

Doberman Pinscher

Featuring the sleek silhouette of a large black dog, a Doberman Pinscher or 'Dobie' is technically bi-color, but we include him on this list because he's a popular choice for people eager to train a smart, responsive, and affectionate pup. If you're a fan of routine (and have a fenced yard), a Dobie might be a good fit, as he's up for whatever game you want to play!

Belgian sheepdog completes slollum agility course
Belgian shepherds are smart and active, so they need ample mental stimulation and an outlet for their energy. Dog sports like agility are a perfect pastime!
| Credit: s5iztok / Getty

Belgian Sheepdog

Few canines can slink through the shadows as well as an all-black dog with not one, but three, aliases! Also known as Belgian shepherd or Groenendael, this handsome and hardy long-haired pup is known for his herding abilities. But while a Belgian sheepdog might know he has a job to do, he's also quite sensitive and sweet, eager to follow you everywhere!