15 Stunning Black Dog Breeds That Deserve a Place in Your Heart
Labrador Retriever (Lab)Labrador retrievers, or Labs as many know them, are an ideal combination of friendly and active, making them one of the most beloved family pets. Read on for more information about this most popular dog breed.
SchipperkeSchipperkes are intelligent, playful dogs who love tons of attention and play well with children and other pets. Learn more about this lovable little dog breed.
AffenpinscherAffenpinschers are intelligent and playful dogs with unique faces you’re not likely to forget. They love socializing and learning new skills—though sometimes on their own terms.
Giant SchnauzerGiant schnauzers are loyal, intelligent, and hard-working dogs who are great companions for those willing to train this high-energy breed. Here's hoping you have the time for long walks and playtime in the yard.
Scottish Terrier (Scottie)The Scottish terrier is among the oldest, best established, most recognizable breeds in the world. Tenacious and intelligent, these dogs can be great companions to the right owner.
Portuguese Water DogIf you're looking for an exercise companion or a velcro family dog, the fluffy, exuberant Portuguese water dog might be your new best friend.
PugPugs are known for their squishy faces and their charming demeanor. A bit mischievous but beloved by owners, this breed is ideal for laid-back homes and those who like to dote on their pet. But pugs come with common health challenges too. Here’s what you need to know about living with and caring for pugs.
NewfoundlandFew dogs fit the description of majestic but gentle giants as well as the loving, sweet, and mild-tempered Newfoundland. Easygoing with children and loyal to their families, they’re devoted pets you’ll want to learn more about.
Standard PoodleStandard poodles are energetic, intelligent dogs who thrive with lots of activity, learning, and time with their human. Learn more about these cute, curly companions.
Neapolitan MastiffHuge and abundantly wrinkled, mighty Neapolitan mastiffs can be sweet, loyal companions requiring little exercise. Learn more about living with Neapolitan mastiffs.
German ShepherdThe ever-loyal German shepherd consistently ranks at the top of the most popular dog breeds in America, and it's easy to see why. With their calm, confident demeanor, these protective pups are eager to please and quick to learn.
Dutch ShepherdOriginally bred for farm work and sheep herding, the Dutch shepherd is an active, intelligent, self-sufficient dog.
Afghan HoundAfghan hounds are aristocratic and loving dogs who can run up to 40 mph and require a serious grooming routine. Learn more about caring for an Afghan hound and if she’s the right dog for your family.
Doberman PinscherSleek, athletic, and incredibly loyal, Doberman pinschers are some of the best watch dogs in the world. But don’t let their reputations fool you.
Belgian Sheepdog (Belgian Shepherd)The Belgian sheepdog (also called the Belgian shepherd or Groenendael) has a long black coat, confident strut, and craves human attention. A herding dog with lots of brains and even more energy, he thrives in active households.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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!
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!