In the superstitions of the Middle Ages, black dogs were often seen as an ill omen or the familiar of a witch — but today we recognize that whether or not a dog is black just comes down to genetics. Still, some studies indicate that black dogs are harder to adopt than dogs with other patterns or coloring — and in other instances, black fur may have been advantageous to specific working and hunting breeds. Today, most dog breeds may have black fur though it’s likelier in some breeds more than others. Here are six of the most unique and iconic black dog breeds recognized today along with six of the most popular black dog names.
#6: Dachshund — A Surprisingly Fierce Small Dog Breed
The standard Dachshund stands less than a foot tall and weighs less than 30 pounds, but this small dog breed knows what it wants and isn’t afraid to share it with you. And despite their diminutive frames, these dogs were bred for hunting. Their name translates into “badger dog”, and their uniquely short but long bodies allow them to chase game like badgers, rats, and raccoons into their burrows. Packs of Dachshunds have even been used to take down wild boar.
Dachshunds are also available in an even smaller miniature breed, and both varieties can come in several different colors and patterns. Black tends to dominate as a base coat, and black bases mixed with tan or cream variants are some of the most recognizable members of this breed. Despite that, pure black dachshunds are a rarity that can cost as much as $4,000.
Suggested Black Dog Name: Onyx
Onyx is a rare gemstone that appears in hauntingly black hues. It’s a glittering name for a dive black dog that sees itself as the center of the universe.
#5: Belgian Shepherd — The Black Sheep of the Belgian Families
Belgium is home to four different breeds of shepherd dogs, but the one that bears the most common name — the Belgian Sheepdog — is the only one to come exclusively in black. Also known as the Groenendael, they followed a similar career trajectory to German Shepherds. After decades of service throughout the hills and fields of Belgium, the Groenendael gained attention throughout the world as exceptional police dogs, and they’d further prove their accolades outside of the pastures as military dogs employed in a wide variety of different roles.
This big dog breed continues to be a diligent worker today. The Groenendael is an exceedingly hard worker even by the notorious standards of sheepdogs, and they don’t have the quick tempers or bossiness that shepherd breeds are sometimes known for. They’re notably gregarious dogs who don’t require constant activity but do seek out affection from their human companions. A mutual sense of love and respect is necessary for their happiness to a greater extent than some other breeds. All Belgian shepherds are primarily black, although some may have spots or even masks of white.
Suggested Black Dog Name: Panda
An especially fitting name for Belgian shepherds with white spots, Panda is a choice that draws a clear line of connection between your pup and one of the cutest animals on the planet.
#4: Black Russian Terrier
The Belgian shepherd and the Black Russian terrier are the rare black dog breed that doesn’t have significant color variations and for being enormous canines with incredible work ethics. But the Black Russian Terrier is unique for the short period over which it was established as a breed as well as for the political implications behind its breeding. Out of a sense of national pride, the relatively newly established Soviet Union set out in the wake of World War II to establish a local dog breed for military usage. The Black Russian Terrier would be introduced in the USSR in the 1950s after mixing several large breeds including the Rottweiler and Newfoundland.
When the breed would finally find its way over the Iron Curtain in the 1980s, the rest of the world would discover a delightful breed that typified some of the best traits of the Russian people. Their fluffy coats make them a heavy-duty breed that’s capable of braving even the colds of Siberia, but they can also be quite agile despite their huge frames. All members of this fluffy big dog breed are primarily black, but they may have white or tan accents and still meet breed standards.
Suggested Black Dog Name: Espresso
The work ethic of a Black Russian Terrier is the type most humans can only achieve with a strong cup of coffee. It only seems fitting to name these black dogs after one of the darkest and most powerful roasts on the planet.
#3: Chow Chow — Black Fur and Black Tongues
With a heritage that spans somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 years, the Chow Chow is one of the oldest recognized breeds on the planet. That long history is a reflection of both their value and their adaptability. These are some large and sturdy dogs, but they have a sometimes distance nature that people often compare to the personalities of cats and small dog breeds. But they’re gentle and amiable giants who have adapted well to the needs of urban life — and their hesitation around strangers is counterbalanced by their strong affection for their regular human companions.
Black is only one of the five club-recognized colors for the Chow Chow, but there’s one unusual trait that these dogs all share regardless of their fur coloring — a uniquely colored tongue. While Chow Chow puppies will be born with a pink tongue, they’ll change color over time — and most will eventually develop into a dark blue or black tongue. There’s no need to worry, as this is just due to pigments that developed as an unusual quirk somewhere in their breeding history.
Suggested Black Dog Name: Kuro
As a literal translation of the Japanese language for black, this name draws on the Asian heritage of the Chow Chow, but it can make a pretty name for black dogs of any breed and either gender.
#2: Great Dane — Built Like a Stallion
The German Mastiffs that Great Danes are descended from were once used to guard royalty and hunt boars, and Great Danes continue to be enormous dogs that are frequently used as guard dogs — although they’re accessible to far more than just royals these days. A fully grown Great Dane can reach three feet at the shoulder and weigh nearly 200 pounds. Fortunately, they’re generally sweet dogs that love to cuddle close with their human companions.
While Great Danes with black in their fur are common, pure black Great Danes are relatively rare. Black is one of nine different colors that are recognized as American Kennel Club breed standards, and they can only qualify as black if there isn’t even a single mark of white or coloring on them. Fortunately, these dogs are every bit as playful and likable even if they aren’t quite fit for show.
Suggested Black Dog Name: Black Beauty
One of literature’s most famous horses offers a suitable name for a dog as big as a Great Dane, but it can be a great tongue-in-cheek choice for a fluffy or small dog breed as well.
#1: Labrador Retriever — America’s Favorite Dog
Out of the three different recognized fur colors in the Labrador Retriever — chocolate, yellow, and black — blacks represent nearly half of the population. This is largely the result of both historical preferences and the Labrador’s history as a hunting dog. Yellow and chocolate labs were generally bred towards the preferences of show breeders, while black Labradors were more traditionally bred to function as hunting dogs. Black fur can also help hunting dogs like Labradors better blend in when hunting at night. The high ratio of black labs is also reflective of the fact that black fur is a dominant gene in the breed.
To qualify as a black Labrador by the standards of the American Kennel Society, a dog of the species must be both purebred and completely black. Even the smallest white blemish on a coat of black fur can be a reason for disqualification. An exception is made for the spotted tongue of the Labrador. While black tongues and spotted tongues can both be found in members of the breed, spotted tongues also sometimes naturally appear in roughly 30 other breeds. Today, Labrador retrievers of any color are more likely to be house pets than hunting dogs. They’ve been the most popular dog in America for over three decades.
Suggested Black Dog Name: Licorice
Black Labs are some of the sweetest dogs you’ll ever find, especially once they’ve bonded with you and your family. What better inspiration is there than a world-famous black candy?