If you are searching for the perfect family pet, be it cat or dog, think twice about the color black. Do you have a pet color prejudice? Read the following before you look, and review your feelings about the color of your future pet.

1. Black dogs and black cats are passed over more than any other color.

Animal shelters are normally bursting at the seams with adoptable pets However, black dogs and cats are routinely passed over for others, so much so that shelters call this phenomenon the "Black Dog Syndrome."The reasons range from fear to preconceived ideas.

The color black in any animal can incite anxiety. Traditionally, black dogs have been cast as the villain, owned by the villain, or owned by strange people (Addams Family Values). Perhaps because some of the smartest breeds (Doberman, Rottweiler) are black, and bred for guarding, those who have only seen them in film know them as vicious, snapping, mean dogs. Can you think of any famous black dogs in books or film that played the lovable hero?

Black cats do not deserve their bad reputation, either. Whereas a fear of black dogs might be understandable, black cats have no such alibi. A cat of any color can be prone to timidity, aloofness, or scratching. Many people avoid black cats because of superstition. Black cats equal spookiness, or bad luck, or a witch in disguise. What would Halloween be without the arching, spitting black cat decor

Black fur does not decide a cat's or dog's temperament; breeding alone can decide that. Yet many black dogs and cats of mixed breeds are rejected strictly because of their color. Their eyes tend to blend in to their fur, making their expressions a little more difficult to read. And if you are an animal lover, you know how the eyes will get you.

Those who are concerned about rescuing a pet should consider a black dog or cat. Those are the animals less likely to find a loving home, and are more likely to be euthanized.

2. Black fur on a cat or dog can be a very good thing.

Just as you might be a little more intimidated by a black dog than a white dog, so will anyone else, including burglars. A dog can play a valuable role in a household by keeping out unwanted visitors. A family, especially those with young children, needs the security of owning a dog that will never harm its members. Guard dogs can be fiercely loyal to the family, but insurance companies view some guard dog breeds as a risk. A few insurance companies will not write a home insurance policy if the family owns a dog in the high risk breed group

However, a black mixed breed is not considered high risk, as long as the dog does not have a history of attack or biting. Because so many people relate the color black with viciousness, especially in dogs, a black dog can be a deterrent against crime just by color alone. Of course, not every burglar will be fooled, but those who are concerned about protecting their homes as well as having a safe pet for their children can start by looking for black dogs with children-friendly dispositions

Black cats have a color advantage as well. According to one scientific study, black cats may be less susceptible to sickness and disease.

3. By passing over a black dog or cat, you may be passing over the best pet for your family.

The point of this article is not to convince everyone looking for a dog or a cat to choose a black one. That would be silly. Choose a dog or cat whose temperament and needs fit your lifestyle. If you have ten dogs or cats to choose from, and five of them are black, try to look beyond the color. Ask the shelter workers (or owner) which animal would make the best pet.

Shelter workers and breeders know the personalities and temperaments of their dogs, and are reliable for recommendations if you explain in detail your lifestyle and what type of dog you are seeking. If there are any concerns because of young children in a home, an experienced trainer can test its temperament.

Choosing a friendly cat is less complicated. Choose the cat or kitten that approaches you, is not afraid to be touched, purrs when you scratch under its chin, and displays signs of playfulness. If a cat rubs against your leg or hand, it's bound to be a good match, because the kitty has chosen you.

Color is often the first criteria used when imagining what type of cat or dog would make a fine pet. Keeping an open mind to color can open the door to a new best friend.