Black dog breeds are intriguing to many different people and for many different reasons. They’re beautiful, eye-catching, and even somewhat mysterious.
In different cultures, black dog breeds even symbolize different things, making them all the more interesting.
While we don’t always recommend choosing a dog based solely on its coat color, we know that the appearance of a dog can play a big role in the type of canine you choose to invest in. So, whether you’re here looking for a new four-legged family member or you’re just curious to learn more about black dog breeds, you’ve come to the right place.
We have done the legwork and found 20 black dog breeds that are sure to amaze you. But before we begin, let’s talk about the many myths and facts surrounding coat color and especially surrounding black dog breeds.
Myth Vs Fact – What You Should Know About Black Dog Breeds
Black dogs are surrounded by myth and legend. But what is really fact?
For dog lovers, the idea that a coat color could play a role in a dog’s temperament seems preposterous. But the truth is, there is a phenomenon known as Black Dog Syndrome that pegs black and dark-colored dogs as being scarier and even more aggressive than dogs of other colors.
So, what gives? Is there any truth to this?
The answer is absolutely not! Black Dog syndrome is not a true syndrome – it’s simply a term used to describe a common belief amongst certain individuals that black dog breeds should be feared because they are more likely to bite or are otherwise more unpredictable than their other colored counterparts.
Sadly, Black Dog Syndrome has led to black dogs suffering from breed biases and unfounded fear-based avoidance. In shelters, black dogs often find it more difficult to get adopted than lighter colored dogs, and in pop culture, black dogs are often depicted as evil, scary, and ferocious.
Some cultures even see large black dogs as an omen of death or bad luck, further complicating things for our four-legged friends.
In truth, there is no scientific evidence proving that black dogs are more aggressive or unpredictable than any other colored dog out there.
In fact, the only things that are really going to impact a black dog breed’s temperament are going to be genetics, how the dog is raised, and whether he is properly trained and socialized at an early age.
Furthermore, black dog breeds are not more prone than others to suffer from unique health complications.
The same cannot be said for other colored dogs, and especially white, merle, or piebald colored dogs, who carry a gene that can make them more prone to suffering from deafness.
If you’re looking for a black dog breed, this is great news! So, without further ado, let’s move on to talk about 20 of our favorite black dog breeds.
1. The Black German Shepherd
German Shepherds are incredibly popular and the Black German Shepherd is no exception.
First on our list of black dog breeds is the Black German Shepherd. The Black German Shepherd is a color variation of the traditional German Shepherd, and he has all the same characteristics as his regular colored counterpart. As such, this is a beautiful, intelligent dog known for his devotion to his owners.
German Shepherds in general are easy to train and a joy to work with, though they tend to do best with more experienced dog owners.
This is also one of our black dog breeds that is going to require early socialization and training, and without the proper care, time, and attention, these dogs can be prone to behavioral issues.
2. The Black Labrador Retriever
The Black Labrador is one of several color combinations of the poplar Labrador Retriver.
Black Labs are considered one of the most popular dog breeds in the world and especially in the United States. In fact, according to the American Kennel Club, the Black Lab is the top ranked family companion to date!
This adorable dog has built his reputation on being family-oriented, playful, intelligent, and cute. He does excellent with children and other pets and enjoys outdoor activities as much as he loves laying beside his owners on the couch.
Black Labs are excellent dogs for first-time dog owners and families, but they may be a bit too energetic for more laid back owners looking for a dog who wants to lounge more than he wants to play.
3. The Portuguese Water Dog
Portuguese Water dogs are intelligent dogs bred for water rescue.
The Portuguese Water Dog is a breed of dog that originated in Portugal. This is a beautiful, curly-coated dog that comes in a few colors including black, brown, black and white, and black and brown. The most common and popular variety, however, is the black-coated Portuguese Water Dog.
Originally, this breed was used as a fishing dog and a water rescue dog. They have winning temperaments, love the water, and are highly energetic.
His enthusiasm can be a bit much for very young children, although this dog makes an excellent companion for active families with older children as well as singles and active couples.
4. The Black Poodle
Poodles come in several colors and different size varieties.
The Poodle is an incredibly popular purebred dog famous for not only his fabulous haircut, but also his amazing intelligence. Poodles come in a number of colors outside of black, but the black Poodle is one of our black dog breeds that is sure to stun you the moment you see it.
This dog is gorgeous and clever, and will be eager to please owners who train him with play-like enthusiasm.
Poodles are excellent companions for a number of different owners, thanks to the fact that they come in three different size varieties. These sizes include standard, miniature, and toy. Their coats are also hypoallergenic, meaning they make great companions for those who struggle with allergies.
5. The Doberman Pinscher
The Doberman Pinshcer is a friendly, intelligent dog with a unique history.
Doberman Pinschers may look intimidating, but they are another one of our black dog breeds who get a bad rep due mainly to their appearance. These elegant, intelligent dogs were once bred as guard dogs, but today they make wonderful family companions.
They are known for their devotion to their owners and affectionate nature, and do well with children and other pets when well-trained and socialized at an early age.
While the most popular Doberman Pinscher dogs are known for their sleek black coats, this breed can actually come in several colors including brown, red, fawn, and even white!
6. The Rottweiler
The Rottweiler was once a popular guarding dog but is now a wonderful companion.
Rottweilers are large, stocky dogs with square heads and muscular bodies. Their bodies are primarily black with patches of brown on their chest, paws, and eyebrows.
Beautiful to look at, many Rottweilers have struggled in the past due to Black Dog Syndrome, although they, like most of our black dog breeds, are friendly, social, and gentle giants when raised, trained, and socialized properly.
Rottweiler dogs were originally bred to pull carts and herd livestock in Germany, which is no surprise considering how strong and intelligent they are!
7. The Schipperke
Active and outgoing, Shipperke dogs are cute, loyal, and clever dogs.
Schipperke dogs are not as well known in the United States as they are in some other regions, though these dogs have been around for as long as the 1600s. Highly intelligent, curious, and focused, the Schipperke is known in Belgium as “the Little Captain”.
Due to this black dog’s appearance, many argue that he belongs in the Spitz family. However, in Belgium, he is considered a small herding breed.
The Schipperke stands about 12 inches high and weighs just 20 pounds, but his personality and confidence make up for what he lacks in size. And, like many black dog breeds on this list, he not only comes in black but also in several other colors and combinations including cream, apricot, tan, blue, and more.
8. The Newfoundland
The Newfie is known for being sweet natured and devoted.
Also known as the Newfie, Newfoundland dogs are some of our sweetest black dog breeds. Their large size only means they are gentle giants, and one can easily see that simply by looking into this dog’s adoring face.
Newfoundland dogs come in many colors and combinations, but perhaps the most striking is the black Newfoundland.
This dog is massive, standing up to 28 inches tall and weighing up to 180 pounds. Newfoundland dogs are heavy shedders, which is no surprise considering their long, double coats.
Newfoundland dogs are the heroes of the dog world, bred specifically as water rescuers for fishermen and boaters. In many regions, these black dog breeds still perform this service today.
9. The Black Russian Terrier
The Black Russian Terrier was bred primarily as a military dog.
Sometimes known as the Chornyi Terrier, the Black Russian Terrier is one of our black dog breeds that only comes in two colors and color combinations including black and salt and pepper. This is a large breed dog famous for his beautiful, curly coat.
He was created in the 40s and 50s in Russia and used primarily as a military and working dog. As such, this dog has a disciplined temperament and is famous for his bravery and confidence. He may be standoffish with strangers and requires an owner who is dedicated to ensuring he is properly raised, trained, and socialized.
For this reason, Black Russian Terrier dogs are one of our black dog breeds best suited for more experienced dog owners.
10. The Affenpinscher
The Affenpinscher is an adorable and unique looking little black dog breed we love.
If you think you’ve seen this adorable face before, you’re probably right. This little black dog breed was made famous thanks to the 1997 movie As Good As It Gets starring Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt.
And if his appearance doesn’t melt your heart, his temperament is sure to do the trick. Affenpinscher dogs are small but mighty, with a fun-loving, mischievous, and outgoing personalities.
They make excellent dogs for families with older, more gentle children, but can also fit in well with seniors and retirees. They come in several coat colors outside of black, including tan, gray, red, beige, and silver.
11. The Neapolitan Mastiff
If you’re looking for a massive dog, the Neopolitan Mastiff may be right up your alley.
Most of us already know that Mastiffs are famously huge, and there is no exception to this rule when it comes to the Neapolitan Mastiff. This is one of our black dog breeds popular not only for his stunning appearance but also for his incredible size.
Standing up to 30 inches tall and weighing up to 150 pounds, the Neopolitan Mastiff is an Italian-bred dog created specifically for guarding his home and family.
His appearance is quite striking, with his very large head, loose skin, and serious gaze. Temperamentally, the Neapolitan Mastiff is said to be stubborn, protective, and devoted. This is a dog that is best suited for more experienced dog owners who are ready and capable of meeting this breed’s unique needs.
12. The Black and Tan Coonhound
True hound dogs, the Black and Tan Coonhound is affectionate yet prone to following his nose.
If you’re looking for black dog breeds that are American made, look no further than the Black and Tan Coonhound. As his name suggests, this is a hound dog that is a variation of a hunting breed created in the United States by crossing two similar dogs – the Black and Tan Virginia Foxhound and the very famous Bloodhound.
The purpose of creating this type of hybrid black dog breed was to produce a dog with an incredible sense of smell for hunting and particularly for hunting raccoons.
This is a medium-sized dog with long, floppy ears and a sleek, black coat with tan markings. He has a decent life expectancy of up to 12 years and is known for being gentle, even-tempered, affectionate, and devoted.
All these traits make this one of our black dog breeds that could make a great addition to active families, couples, and singles. However, this dog can be stubborn and prone to following his nose when outside, which can be somewhat frustrating for unprepared dog owners.
13. The Dutch Shepherd
Dutch Shepherd dogs are not always all black, but sometimes brindle like the one pictured above.
One of the most eye-catching black dog breeds on our list is perhaps the stunning Dutch Shepherd. This is a highly intelligent herding breed with Dutch origins, as his name would suggest.
This is an adaptable dog with a stunning black and brindle coat, so while he is on our list of black dog breeds this dog is not an entirely black dog breed once you get a good look.
Bred for herding livestock in the harsh conditions of the Dutch mountains, today’s Dutch Shepherd is famous for his devoted, friendly, and trainable disposition.
He is an active dog breed, however, and is best suited for more active dog owners who enjoy being outdoors and who are able to take the Dutch Shepherd on plenty of walks and outings each day.
14. The Cane Corso
Cane Corsos may look intimidating, and this is no accident. These dogs were bred as guard dogs.
As far as black dog breeds that come with an intimidating air, the Cane Corso takes the cake. This dog belongs to the Mastiff family and was bred specifically for companionship and guardianship. He was also bred to help herd and protect livestock and property.
His origin places him in Italy, and while he can make a wonderful companion to the right owner or family, the Cane Corso’s large size and unique temperament could land him on a list of black dog breeds that are a bit more high-maintenance than most.
Cane Corso dogs are known for their intelligence, devotion, and bravery. They are quiet and trainable, but they can also be wary of strangers.
In order to grow up happy, healthy, and well-rounded as companion dogs, Cane Corso breeds require routine training, socialization, and exercise each and every day in order to grow up well-rounded and mentally sound. For this reason, they are best suited for more experienced dog owners.
15. The Beauceron
The Beauceron is a highly intelligent herding breed.
The Beauceron dog is another herding dog added to our list of black dog breeds, which means he is going to be work-oriented and highly intelligent. Beauceron dogs originated from France, where they were also known as the Bas Rouge or Berger de Beauce.
This breed is stunning to behold, with its sleek black coat, long legs, and lean, muscular form. He has tan markings on his lower legs, ears, and muzzle, and is famous for being incredibly intelligent and trainable.
Because he has such a drive to work, the Beauceron requires a specific type of household and owner who will devote time to keeping him mentally stimulated and who will provide this dog with jobs to do.
Without having a purpose each day, the Beauceron can be prone to destructive behaviors and depression.
16. The Swedish Lapphund
There is debate as to weather the Swedish Lapphund is a herding dog or a Spitz breed.
We love Swedish Lapphund dogs for a number of reasons, but the first is due to his adorable appearance. This fluffy Spitz breed hails from Sweden, as you may have already guessed from his name, and he was originally developed as a herding dog for reindeer.
This is also one of our solely black dog breeds, famous for his jet black coat, erect ears, curled tail, and long fur. Like many Spitz breeds, this dog is social and intelligent, and he enjoys being outdoors and having a job to do.
Protective, intelligent, alert, and friendly, the Swedish Lapphund makes a great companion for active families with children when properly raised, trained, and socialized.
17. The Tibetan Mastiff
The Tibetan Mastiff is massife from his head to his tail.
The word Mastiff should already tell you that this is one of our black dog breeds that is going to be massive, and the Tibetan Mastiff does not disappoint. Standing at a staggering 28 inches tall and weighing in at over 150 pounds once fully grown, the Tibetan Mastiff is sure to turn heads with his large head, long ears, and sweet expression.
Along with coming in all black, the Tibetan Mastiff comes in other colors including black and tan, brown, red and gold, blue and gray, and brown and tan.
Though this dog looks like he is relaxed and laid back, his temperament is actually a combination of stubbornness and intelligence. He is protective of his territory and family and may be aloof with strangers, especially if not properly raised, trained, and socialized.
This dog does best in homes with lots of space and will thrive with active owners who have experience with working breeds who have strong guarding instincts.
18. The Croatian Sheepdog
The Croatian Sheepdog has a unique, wavy shedding coat.
The Croatian Sheepdog is a unique looking dog that almost looks like a mix between a black German Shepherd and a Poodle, though he is neither.
In fact, this is a purebred dog developed in Croatia for herding and guarding sheep. He is known for being self-reliant, trainable, devoted, reliable, and incredibly skilled at his job.
Like most working breeds, this is one of our black dog breeds that does best with a job to do. While black is his most common color, he also comes in black and white coloring, and though he is highly work-oriented, he can make a good companion for families and active owners who are ready to commit time and training to this breed.
19. The Mudi Dog
Mudi Dogs come in a variety of colors, though the most common is black.
With a unique name like the Mudi Dog, you may envision a dog that is the color of mud or dirt, but instead this dog is known for his unique colored coat that not only comes in black, but also comes in white, fawn, ash, merle, and brown.
This is a stunning dog no matter the color, with erect ears, a well-built body, and a docked tail. These dogs were bred and perfected in Hungary, where they were created to help with herding.
Their intelligence and energetic nature have also made them ideal show dogs, and they excel in a variety of dog sports including agility and obedience.
Because they have a high energy level, the Mudi Dog is not recommended for more laid-back owners. However, if you are an active dog owner who lives on lots of land, the Mudi Dog just might be the perfect addition to your household.
20. The Gordon Setter
Gordon Setters look like they are always ready for show with their beautiful silky coats.
Proud, alert, and almost always ready for his photograph, the gorgeous Gordon Setter takes the final spot on our list of black dog breeds. We are in awe of his long, silky fur which naturally looks better than most women’s hair after spending hours at the salon.
This beautiful dog breed may look like it’s ready to be pampered and doted on, but in reality, Gordon Setter dogs are working breeds with roots tying them to Scotland and England.
A mix between the Irish Setter and the English Setter, the Gordon Setter is a popular Gundog used primarily for hunting. As such, he is known for his courageous temperament. He is also known to be alert, clever, and happy.
Best suited for active dog owners, the Gordon Setter can do well with families when properly raised, trained, and socialized. However, he may have a high prey drive, so he is likely not the best fit for homes with other pets like cats or rodents.
Is One Of The Above Black Dog Breeds Right For You? Here’s How To Decide!
Black dogs are beautiful, but not every black dog breed is right for every dog owner.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, picking a dog based solely on the color of his coat is not always the wisest move. However, we also understand that the way a dog looks is a huge factor in why you might want a certain dog breed or mix to begin with.
If you have your heart set on a black dog breed, we encourage you to do your research and take plenty of time to ensure that the dog breed or mix you’re interested is right for you and your family or lifestyle.
Remember, not all dogs are right for every owner, and not every owner is right for every dog.
If You’ve Decided You’re Ready For A Dog, Here’s How To Find A Healthy Puppy Or Rescue Dog
Getting a new dog is exciting, and it can be tempting to want to rush the process. With that said, it’s incredibly important to make sure you go through reputable sources when looking to obtain your puppy or rescue dog, regardless of that dog’s coat color or breed.
If you’re looking for a puppy, make sure you go through responsible and certified breeders who can provide you with health certificates and other paperwork essential to ensuring your puppy comes from quality sources.
Avoid backyard breeders, online sellers, or anyone selling puppies for much more or much less than they are typically worth.
Remember, your dog’s health begins from conception, and a reputable breeder can make all the difference in your dog’s health and quality of life in the long run.
If you are opting to rescue, go through shelters you trust, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Most shelters take care to ensure their dogs are health screened and have undergone temperamental testing before putting them up for adoption.
Regardless of the road you choose to travel when it comes to choosing your puppy or rescue, remember that research, patience, and diligence are key.
Best of luck and thanks for reading!
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.