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Three black labradors on a wet deck

Breed, size, and temperament are all important considerations when looking for a canine companion to welcome into your life. But often, coat color or pattern ends up being a major factor when aspiring owners first lay their eyes on a dog whose coat they just can’t resist.

This especially rings true when it comes to black-coated dogs. Whether they’re large or small, short-haired or fluffy, energetic or mellow, these often beautiful and majestic pooches have earned a special place in the hearts and homes of many owners across the globe. Here are some important facts to know about some of the most popular black dog breeds.

1. Labrador retriever

For over three decades, Labrador retrievers held the title of America’s most popular dog breed, before being dethroned by the French bulldog in 2022. Labs come in three different colors – black, yellow, and chocolate – and those with black fur are especially popular. A friendly personality combined with high intelligence makes the Labrador retriever a common choice for those seeking service or emotional support dogs. These playful and energetic pups also make a great fit for families with restless children up for the task of tiring them out. Bred to aid fisherman in the icy waters of Newfoundland, Labs are natural swimmers with a thick double-coat to fare well in colder climates.

Black Labrador on a bridge

Facts about the Labrador retriever

  • Breed group —  Sporting group (American Kennel Club)
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — When necessary
  • Lifespan — 11-13 years

2. Great Dane

This breed conjures images of Scooby Doo hunting ghosts with a ragtag team of teenagers. And although that beloved cartoon character was mostly brown with black spots, Great Danes commonly come with solid black coats. As one of the tallest dog breeds, their sweet demeanor and affinity for cuddling has earned them a reputation as “gentle giants.” Though considered moderately intelligent, they are eager to please their humans, making them easy to train. Nonetheless, caution should be exercised around small children as the large breed could knock them over when feeling rambunctious.

Black Great Dane standing outside

Facts about the Great Dane

  • Breed groupWorking group (AKC)
  • Intelligence — Average
  • Barking — Moderately vocal
  • Lifespan — 7-10 years

3. Belgian sheepdog

The Belgian sheepdog is one of four recognized varieties of the Belgian shepherd, a cattle-herding group of dog breeds from Belgium with roots in dairy farming. Their thick double-coats are often solid black or black and white with spotted markings. They are considered loyal companions and are still used for guarding, making them a bit standoffish when it comes to strangers. But above all, the Belgian sheepdog is loving, energetic, and easily trained.

Closeup of a black Belgian sheepdog outside

Facts about the Belgian sheepdog

  • Breed groupHerding group (AKC)
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — To alert
  • Lifespan — 12-14 years

4. Affenpinscher

Weighing just 6-11 pounds, the affenpinscher is a toy breed whose name translates to “monkey terrier” in German, a name derived from their ape-like appearance. Although their black wiry coats can get knotted up easily and require a good amount of grooming, their low shedding makes them a good companion for owners with allergies, despite the fact that they, as with all dog breeds, are not truly hypoallergenic. Affenpinschers are not especially high-energy and will prefer couch cuddle sessions to long outdoor hikes. That said, they’re also very playful and love any activities that stimulate them both mentally and physically.

Black Affenpinscher in the snow

Facts about the affenpinscher

  • Breed groupToy group (AKC)
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — When necessary
  • Lifespan — 12-16 years

5. Portuguese water dog

Solid or bicolor variations of black and white are the norm for these active dogs known for their incredible swimming abilities, and made popular as presidential pets to the Obamas. As with the smaller affenpinscher, the PWD is a popular choice for people with canine allergies. But in lieu of shedding, their thick coats grow continuously, so owners will need to brush and groom them regularly to keep them from becoming too shaggy. If you’re looking for a dog who loves a ton of outdoor play and exercise, you may be looking for a ​​Portuguese water dog.

Portuguese water dog walking on a pier

Facts about the Portuguese water dog

  • Breed groupWorking group (AKC)
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — When necessary
  • Lifespan — 11-13 years

6. Flat-coated retriever

Flat-coated retrievers are not only one of the happiest dog breeds, but may be among the happiest creatures in the animal world. Their high energy levels paired with their goofy personas provides endless entertainment for their humans and visitors. They get along well with kids, strangers, and other pets, making them easy to bring along with you. What sets flat-coated retrievers apart from other retrievers is their shiny and slightly wavy black (or liver) coats with no patterns or makings.

Black Flat-coated retriever close up

Facts about the flat-coated retriever

  • Breed groupSporting group (AKC)
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Moderately vocal
  • Lifespan — 8-14 years

7. Schipperke

Most commonly seen with black coats, this small breed is considered very loyal to their humans – so much so that you’ll want to make sure they’re properly exercised before leaving them alone or they’ll resort to barking, chewing, and other destructive behaviors. The good news is they have a moderate level of energy and will only require around 30 minutes of daily exercise to tucker out. At home, these little furballs will want a lot of attention, and thrive best with owners willing and able to give it to them.

Schipperke in snow

Facts about the schipperke

  • Breed groupNon-sporting group (AKC)
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — More than average
  • Lifespan — 12-16 years

8. Newfoundland

Clocking in at 100-150 pounds, Newfoundlands are one of the largest dog breeds. Newfies come in a variety of colors including all-black, brown, or a black and white variety known as Landseer. Despite their intimidating size, they are total sweethearts and have been dubbed “nanny dogs” for their tenderness when it comes to children. Although they don’t frequently bark, they are considered loyal guard dogs, and will alert you (and probably the rest of your neighborhood) when someone is approaching the home. With a history as fishermen helpers, they have incredible lung capacity and have been used as water rescue dogs due to their ability to swim long distances. Owners will need to use a long toothed comb to prevent their heavy double coats from matting.

Newfoundland dog walking in a meadow.

Facts about the Newfoundland

  • Breed groupWorking group (AKC)
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — When necessary
  • Lifespan — 9-10 years

9. Scottish terrier

The Scottish terrier sports a dual coat with a wiry outer layer and soft undercoat. Bred to drive away badgers, this small breed loves to burrow. But don’t let their tiny stature fool you, Scotties are incredibly tough and considered loyal watch dogs to their humans. Because of their strong prey drive, owners should keep them leashed during outdoor activities so they don’t take off after tiny critters. That combined with their size makes them a good fit for apartment living.

Black Scottish terrier outside

Facts about the Scottish terrier

  • Breed groupTerrier group (AKC)
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — When necessary
  • Lifespan — 12-15 years

10. Doberman pinscher

Black with brown patches around the legs, chest, muzzle, and eyes make up the typical coat color of these big dogs of German ancestry. They make for great family dogs and love to go on long walks and play with their humans. Although they have a reputation as watchdogs, they can be very friendly with visitors so long as they’ve been properly trained and socialized. They shed a good amount for a short-haired dog and will need to be groomed regularly.

Black Doberman pinscher standing standing in a field.

Facts about the Doberman pinscher

  • Breed groupWorking group (AKC)
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Moderate
  • Lifespan — 10-12 years

Black dog syndrome

Unfortunately, many black-coated dogs have trouble getting adopted because of a perceived phenomenon known as “black dog syndrome.” The theory suggests, consciously or not, prospective pet owners overlook black dog breeds up for adoption at shelters due to factors like negative media portrayals and the difficulty to photograph the color black in low-light settings. However, studies on the topic have shown conflicting evidence, and there remains much dispute over whether black dog syndrome truly exists.  Veterinarians and experts agree that coat color alone does not play a role in a dog’s temperament, and most black dog breeds are just as loving and loyal as any others, with many different personality types.

Frequently asked questions

What are the advantages of owning a black-coated dog?

While coat color plays no factor in a dog’s temperament, there are some advantages to black dogs aside from their appearance. For example, their shedding black fur can be less visible on darker clothing and furniture. You will also get to celebrate National Black Dog Day each October 1st with other owners of these darked-coated dogs.

Are black dogs hotter than lighter-colored dogs?

Black absorbs heat, which unfortunately puts your black-coated dog at greater risk of overheating than a light-coated one. Owners will need to provide plenty of water and limit outdoor time on excessively hot days.

What are some large black dog breeds?

Popular large black dog breeds include Great Danes, Newfoundlands, Black Russian terriers, and cane corsos.