The color black resembles strength, power and authority. There may be no color as significant as black. In fact, black is often regarded as a prestigious or elegant color. It’s also probably why black is one of the most common dog colors (along with white and brown).
There are few dog breeds as mysterious yet mesmerizing as a solid black-colored dog. That said, we’ve found 34 of the best black dog breeds the canine kingdom has to offer. We also organized them by size, from small to medium and large.
It’s worth noting that not all of these dogs are solid black. As long as they’re mostly black, then we think they should qualify for our list of black dogs. So, let us know in the comments section: which black dog is your favorite?
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Small Black Dogs
Dogs come in all shapes, colors and sizes – including toy-sized. For some owners, the only thing better than a black dog is a small black dog. Here are the smallest bunch of little dogs sporting a beautiful black hue.
1. Miniature Pinscher
Highlights: Proud, Brave, Lively
The Miniature Pinscher has been appropriately nicknamed the “King of Toys” because of their dignified and courageous demeanor. These mini dogs may be small, but their personalities are huge. Plus, they won’t back down to bigger dogs.
Though the black variation isn’t solid black, their coats are mostly black with tan/copper marks around the ears, mouth, chest, eyebrows and legs.
What makes them stand out is their “hackney gait.” This gait resembles that of the high-kicking or stepping behavior of the Hackney horse, hence, the name.
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Highlights: Brave, Positive, Comical
The Affenpinscher is the toy variation of the Pinscher group. However, they don’t look like your average Doberman or Miniature Pinscher. Rather, they have a long and fluffy black coat.
They’re famously known for having a humorous personality. With an Affenpinscher, there really is never a dull moment as they’re some of the most amusing dogs you’ll ever met.
These little dogs are also as loyal as they come. With the right family, they’ll shower them with affection and love. As long as they remain the center of attention, the Affenpinscher will thrive in any household.
Highlights: Confident, Alert, Obedient
Originating from rural regions of Belgium, the Schipperke is a small black dog that made its name as a top barge (or ship) dog from hundreds of years ago. On ships, they served jobs such as catching rats and guarding supplies.
For this reason, they’ve been called the “little captain dog.” Today they’re just fantastic companions. If you’re looking for a unique dog that provides a lot of fun with its confidence and lively personality, then the Schipperke may be for you.
Highlights: Active, Lively, Independent
The Jagdterrier is a German terrier that few have heard of, probably because of the pronunciation of their name. It’s actually pronounced YAHK-terrier. Despite the name difficulties, these dogs are quite clever and may be a little mischievous for that reason.
They have a lively personality with high energy levels, so get them plenty of daily exercise. I would not suggest these dogs for anyone. Though they’re small, they have what seems like an endless amount of energy. Plus, they do best with one person and/or without other dogs.
5. Scottish Terrier
Highlights: Independent, Bold, Fearless
The Scottish Terrier is like any stereotypical terrier dog – independent, spirited and energetic. Scotties are also very proud dogs and some owners have described them as “human-like.” They’re very much their own dog, and enjoy the company of humans.
Because of all these qualities, they’ve earned the nickname the “Diehards.” As for appearance, they look very much like a terrier. Scottish Terriers tend to have the dense (but soft) undercoats, erect ears and a set of intense eyes.
These Scottish bred dogs may be a little difficult to train. However, with a little patience and consistent training using only positive reinforcement, you’ll have a great companion.
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6. Lancashire Heelers
Highlights: Adaptable, Loving, Smart
Lancashire Heelers are rare dogs with a good amount of energy and a lively personality. They’re always on high alert and eager to learn. Because they’re such intelligent and responsive dogs, training won’t be too difficult.
Don’t let their small size fool you, these small black dogs are excellent herding dogs. In fact, they tend to specialize in herding cattle, despite being just 12 inches tall at the shoulder. After all, they’re called “heelers” because they nip at the cattle’s heels during herding.
The water resistant black coat makes them highly versatile dogs that can also do a little bit of many dog jobs. Plus, they’re fantastic companions and have a certain charm to them too.
Medium Sized Black Dogs
Those that are looking for a black dog that’s not too small, but big enough for various jobs like guarding and herding – look no further. Here are 10 awesome medium sized black dog breeds.
7. Australian Kelpie
Highlights: Active, Alert, Devoted
Unlike the Australian Shepherd, the Australian Kelpie is actually from Australia. What makes them unique is their seemingly unlimited amount of energy. These dogs are extremely active, so be prepared for it if you plan to bring one home.
Because of their intelligence and work ethic, they take training very well. Australian Kelpies are eager to learn, but require plenty of mental stimulation, such as obedience training or playing dog games. Don’t forget about physical activity too.
These dogs are not recommended for novice owners. Only if they’re provided with the necessities will these dogs be happy and healthy.
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8. Portuguese Water Dog
Highlights: Fearless, Loving, Active
Few dog breeds will outwork the Portuguese Water Dog. They have a work ethic that rivals some of the most popular working dogs. And as their name may suggest, these dogs were bred to be multi-purpose dogs for fishermen.
The water dogs are highly intelligent and always eager to learn, making obedience training a breeze. Don’t be fooled by the curly coat. They may look like goofy dogs, but they’re sneaky athletic and quite agile dogs, especially in the water.
Because of the jobs they were bred for (water jobs), these water dogs have a water resistant coat that’s hypoallergenic and curly – similar to that of a Poodle.
9. Puli Dog
Highlights: Intelligent, Agile, Loyal
It’s hard to mistaken the Puli dog for another breed, except for maybe a small Komondor. They may not be common, but when you spot one, they’re unforgettable. Pulis are famously known for the dreadlock coat and have been called small “mop dogs.”
They may look silly, but these dogs are powerful. Underneath those chord-like fur, hides a deceivingly athletic and agile dog that excels at herding. Their frame is surprisingly sturdy and they have a good heft, which is the source of the power.
Thanks to their natural gifts, they’ve been nicknamed the “acrobat of the dog world” – and rightfully so. Combine this with their high IQ and you have an outstanding dog breed.
10. Barbet Dog
Highlights: Loving, Cheerful, Sweet
Bred in France, the Barbet dog is a medium sized black dog found primarily in the rural regions of the country. They been around since the 16th century, as evident in the artwork around France during the period.
Barbets are excellent ice-breakers or conversation starters. They’re well known for their dense and curly black coat, along with a very distinctive “beard” under their chins. In addition, they have a rectangular muzzle and a long curved tail.
Because Barbets were bred to flush out and retriever birds, they’re definitely more athletic than they look. They’re some of the most loyal dogs you can find too.
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11. Smaland Hound
Highlights: Energetic, Active, Smart
Bred out of Sweden in the 16th century, the Smaland Hound is a black dog breed that few have heard of. In fact, even in their home country, less than 100 Smaland Hound puppies are registered per year. And in other countries, they’re even more rare.
These dogs are believed to be the oldest and first scent hound to originate out of Sweden. After being recognized by the Swedish Kennel Club in 1921, Smaland Hounds slowly made their way throughout Europe, and few into the far west.
In Sweden, they’re still relatively popular hunting companions and are known to develop a strong bond with the owner. It’s worth noting that they require much more physical activity than your average dog.
12. German Pinscher
Highlights: Brave, Smart, Lively
The German Pinscher is pretty much your prototypical “pinscher” dog. In fact, some people call them as such. Physically, the German Pinscher looks a lot like a smaller Doberman Pinscher. They have a sleek and shiny black coat with long and erect ears.
Not only are they energetic, but also very intelligent dogs that excel with obedience training. Once bred to be skilled ratters, these confident German dogs are up for any challenge and can surprisingly “do it all” with the right training.
13. Black Norwegian Elkhound
Highlights: Affable, Brave, Reliable
The Black Norwegian Elkhound was bred in Norway to help take down some of the biggest and baddest game in town. Despite their relatively small size, these dogs help in hunting down elks, bears, moose or wolves.
When they’re not on the field, they make superb watchdogs because of their high dog intelligence and alert nature. Even when it comes to herding and agility, they thrive because they’re so athletic.
The Black Norwegian Elkhound is nothing short of a versatile and amazing dog breed. They can do it all if that’s what you want. And if properly trained and socialized, they’ll be great canine companions in your home.
14. Croatian Sheepdog
Highlights: Alert, Lively, Devoted
The Croatian Sheepdog has been around for many centuries, making them one of the oldest beers ever. For example, they’ve appeared in manuscripts by the Bishop of Djakovo in 1374. Despite this, they didn’t become an official FCI breed until 1969.
These dogs are quick and athletic, as with most sheepdogs. When assigned to guard the flock, they take their jobs very seriously. If you plan to bring one home, it’s best that you give them a “duty” such as guarding the home, for them to be content.
Thanks to the loyalty and fearlessness of the Croatian Sheepdog, they were some of the best and skilled sheepdogs. They’re relatively rare, but certainly deserve a spot on our list.
15. Mudi Dog
Highlights: Loyal, Smart, Energetic
The majestic Mudi is the versatile dog breed originating from Hungary. Though they were first used as herding dogs, they do so much more than that. But that’s not to say they don’t still retain the instincts to be great herders.
Because Mudi dogs are such agile and athletic dogs, they make great working dogs for all types of jobs around the farm. They’re very versatile, which is why they were considered the ultimate all-purpose dog for Hungarian farmers.
Researchers speculate that these dogs naturally evolved from a mixture of the Puli, Pumi and various German Spitz breeds. Today, there are no more than a thousand of these dogs left.
16. Swedish Lapphund
Highlights: Playful, Cheerful, Active
The Swedish Lapphund is a spitz-type dog breed originating from Sweden. They’re one of three Lapphund dog breeds bred from the old dogs used by the Sámi people.
They’re everything you would want in a family dog. These Lapphunds are energetic, positive and loving. With their superb work ethic, they make great herders and tracking dogs too.
They do best when involved with family activities. Swedish Lapphunds love their people and would go to far lengths to help and support them.
Large Black Dog Breeds
Large black dog breeds are perhaps the most notable and popular breeds on this list. Well be covering the best big black dogs, from the Rottweiler to the Hovawart, on this list.
Highlights: Brave, Loving, Loyal
The Rottweiler is without doubt my favorite black dog breed, regardless of size. They’re known to be top working dogs, but famous for their loyalty. And with their massive strength and high intelligence, they can really work many jobs.
Because of these qualities, they’re some of the most popular guard and watch dogs for families in the USA. Standing up to 27 inches at the shoulder, few intruders would dare to mess with a loyal Rottweiler, especially a determined one.
What’s surprising is that their looks may be deceiving. Rottweilers are actually calm and loving dogs in a loving environment. They are courageous yet confident, but at the same time not overly aggressive.
18. Labrador Retriever
Highlights: Friendly, Lively, Sociable
Black Labs are fantastic dogs, period. It’s why they’ve been the most popular American family dog for over 28 years straight. No one has come close to touching this record until recently, when the Frenchie took the top spot after decades.
As you may already know, Labrador Retrievers are some of the friendliest dogs around. I mean, there’s a reason why they’re so popular with families. With high spirits and a people-oriented personality, Labs know nothing but love and fun.
If you bring home a Labrador, you can expect the dog to develop strong bonds with the whole family in a quick timeframe. However, I wouldn’t consider them low maintenance. They require a lot of exercise as with most energetic big dogs.
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19. Great Dane
Highlights: Patient, Reliable, Friendly
The Great Dane is nothing short of “great.” These massive dogs stand 30 inches in height and weigh up to a staggering 180 pounds. As a matter of fact, they’re the biggest dog breed in the world. But don’t be afraid of the Great Dane!
Despite their incredible huge size, Great Danes are calm and mild dogs. They make great “nanny dogs” because they play extremely well with kids. Though I never suggest leaving your dog with kids alone, the Dane is a great second pair of eyes.
Thanks to their patient attitude, they’re able to handle the rowdiness of little children. And being as big as they are, they can easily withstand the rough play.
20. Black and Tan Coonhound
Highlights: Carefree, Happy, Brave
The Black and Tan Coonhound is a highly adaptable large dog breed that’s both confident and smart. On the field, they’re athletic and agile hunters with great work ethics. But at home, they’re calm and easy-going dogs.
Black and Tan Coonhounds have some of the best noses in the canine kingdom. In fact, researchers will insist that their sense of smell is comparable to that of the Beagle. For this reason, they’re best known to be highly skilled trackers.
Keep in mind that they’re sociable dogs. They love to be around family and leaving them alone for long hours at a time is not a great idea.
21. Dutch Shepherd
Highlights: Active, Sturdy, Smart
Dutch Shepherds are herding dogs known for their athletic build and lively personalities. Though they’re multi-purpose farm dogs, they can be very independent minded dogs. That said, they may be a handful for the novice owner.
There’s no doubt that a Dutch Shepherd is highly intelligent, excelling with both instinctive and adaptive IQ. However, their independence and stubbornness make them difficult to train. They know they’re very smart, and act that way.
But with patience, training and socialization, Dutch Shepherds can still make excellent loyal companions. Provide them with jobs and they’ll flourish as family dogs.
22. Doberman Pinscher
Highlights: Loyal, Vigilant, Brave
The Doberman Pinscher is an extraordinary physical specimen. Not only are they compact and muscular big dogs, but they’re also some of the most intelligent breeds too. Truly, they have both the brains and the brawn.
Like the German Shepherd, they’re well known police and military dog breeds. Even Dobermans that do not “answer to a higher calling” still use their instinctive qualities by protecting their home. Guarding is an instinct that’s instilled in them.
These powerful and fast dogs are great companions, but they will require proper obedience training and socialization. It’s no wonder why they’re some of the most popular big dogs.
23. Giant Schnauzer
Highlights: Alert, Obedient, Devoted
The Giant Schnauzer is the largest of the three schnauzer variations (miniature and standard). They’re big and mostly black, weighing up to 100 pounds and standing as tall as 28 inches.
As you would expect, these dogs are powerful and bold. They may not the smartest Schnauzer but because of their unwavering loyalty, they’re very eager to please. That said, they will be easy to train, but on with an owner they respect and love.
Giant Schnauzers are primarily used as working dogs and companions today. Just like the other size variations, the Giant is known for their harsh beards, fluffy eyebrows and high levels of energy.
Highlights: Proud, Intelligent, Loving
Poodles, including the toy and miniature variation, are highly intelligent dogs. In fact, the big Standard Poodle is ranked the second smartest dog breed for “obedience and working intelligence.” This means they’re excellent at learning commands.
These dogs were designed to retrieve waterfowl in water, such as geese or duck. As a result, these dogs will sport a hypoallergenic coats rarely shed, while protecting important vital organs from the harsh coldness of the water.
Don’t be deceived, the Poodle is an athletic and agile dog breed. They love to please, which explains why they score so high on obedience trials.
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Highlights: Kind, Loyal, Patient
Another fantastic “nanny dog,” the Newfoundland is the perfect large black dog for families with older kids. They can weigh up to 150 pounds and be as tall as 28 inches.
Big black dogs tend to scare people. However, not all big dogs are scary. In fact, there may not be even a single aggressive bone in these dogs. They’re known for their mild tempers and having patience, which works well with kids.
Though they’re not aggressive, Newfoundlands can still be effective watch dogs. With such devotion, these dependable dogs will go far to protect the family.
26. Cane Corso
Highlights: Dignified, Smart, Friendly
There’s a lot to love about the Cane Corso. They can be traced back to the ancient Roman Empire, where they serve as guard dogs for the royalty. Even today, they’re mostly used as guard dogs, if not just for companionship.
These dogs are highly intelligent, very obedient and possess a majestic aura. Confident by nature, the Cane Corso is a fearless protector and guardian. They’re some of the best when it comes to protecting the family.
Although they may look intimidating, but they’re actually calm and affectionate dogs once you get to know them. They will be cautious with strangers and need time to warm up to them. But that’s to be expected from a guard dog.
27. Belgian Sheepdog
Highlights: Sincere, Vigilant, Active
One of the great herding dogs from Belgium, the Belgian Sheepdog is a versatile and obedient dog that loves to work. With that said, they need a lot of exercise to maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle. Do not bring one home if you’re a busy person.
These handsome dogs are not only intelligent, but eager to please the owner. It’s easiest for them when they can be included in family activities. Plus, they’ll likely do your bidding just for the sake of working – similar to many other herding dogs.
They have a long black coat with their iconic fluff around the neck, also known as the dog’s collarette. Give them a meaningful task and let them go to work!
28. Flat Coated Retriever
Highlights: Happy, Confident, Sweet
The Flat-coated Retriever has been affectionately nicknamed the Peter Pan of dogs due to their puppy-like demeanor throughout their life. No matter what age they may be, they’ll be cheerful and playful with the owners.
As the name says, this Retriever has a flat coat that’s usually solid black, but sometimes in liver. They do have some feathering on the legs, ears and occasionally on the tail. Other tan that, it’s hard to tell one apart from a black Lab.
If you’re looking for a big black dog but love dogs in the puppy phase, this is the dog for you. However, they’re quite energetic and would appreciate a lot of physical activity.
29. Black Russian Terrier
Highlights: Calm, Athletic, Smart
The Black Russian Terrier is a powerful large dog that’s capable of working the toughest jobs. They were bred in tough terrain (Russia) and can handle a wide variety of environments. They’re famously known for their confidence, and rightfully so.
These dogs were originally bred to be the guardians of the owner’s home, and they’re some of the best at it. With friends, they’re calm and warm, but are always cautious around strangers.
They’re not all brawn, but have the brains to match too. Black Russian Terriers are intelligent dogs but need a dominant pack leader to respect and follow.
30. Bergamasco Sheepdog
Highlights: Friendly, Stubborn, Happy
The Bergamasco is an underrated family dog that’s fairly rare in the west. Not only are they relatively low maintenance, but they have all the best qualities of a good and loyal companion.
Always willing to please and work, the Bergamasco is highly intelligent, patient dogs, with just the right amount of territorial. So, they make great playmates, guardians and watchdogs.
At home, they can be cheerful, affectionate and as loyal as any breed. They keep a careful eye on the pack, which make them a great extra set of eyes on your kids.
31. Gordon Setter
Highlights: Bold, Lively, Loving
The Gordon Setter may be one of the most versatile breed of the pointer dog group. They’re known for their ability to skillfully track down birds for their hunter owners. When they spot a bird, they’ll lay down or “set,” to signal to the hunter they’ve found one.
The Gordon Setter’s stance screams confidence and boldness, which is how most people perceive the breed. However, on the inside, they’re sweet-natured and loving big dogs. They enjoy themselves on the field and at home.
These dogs love to be in the wild. With that said, I think they’re best for families or single owners that enjoy the outdoorsy lifestyle.
Highlights: Loyal, Gentle, Eager
The Beauceron is a large herding dog with immense power and speed. They’re obedient dogs that tend to enjoy working for as long as they can. Some may even call them “workaholic dogs,” similar to that of a Border Collie.
However when they’re off the field, they can be gentle and sensitive dogs. As a result, they will double as a fierce guard dog, but also a sweet-natured companion. It’s why this breed is so loved by women owners (really).
If you properly socialize and train your Beauceron at an early age, you’ll have an excellent guardian for your young kids, which they do well with.
33. Curly Coated Retriever
Highlights: Smart, Confident, Proud
The Curly Coated Retriever is very similar to the Flat Coated Retriever except with, well, a curly coat. But there is a reason for this type of coat. Because the curls are close to the skin, they act as an extra layer of protection for the dog’s skin.
But why is that important? They’re a gun dog that helps with retrieving aquatic birds. In addition, this dog breed also sports a water resistant coat and athletic build. In this sense, they’re very similar to the Poodle or Labrador.
Like with most retrievers, the Curly Coated Retrievers are affectionate with a sweet disposition. They can be a little stubborn, but that’s because they’re naturally independent dogs.
Highlights: Active, Smart, Loyal
The Hovawart is a working dog that has a lot of useful skills and qualities. In fact, they may not be the hardest working dogs, but they have an outstanding nose and great instincts. Their job just comes so naturally to them.
And because they’re so versatile, the Hovawart has many jobs, such as guarding, watching, search and rescue and more. They’re very confident in themselves and it shows on the field.
These dogs take a little longer to mature, but when they do, they’re an excellent addition to any family. These intelligent dogs are highly dependable if well trained.
The Black Genes in Dogs
Black is not a rare color, nor is it the most interesting one. However, a majority of the world’s most well-known or popular dog breeds are indeed black. But why do dogs come with solid-black coats or with a black-based coat?
According to Dog Genetics UK, black is the default eumelanin color in dogs. In other words, black is the dominant color if the dog doesn’t have the genes for liver or dilution. As a result, this leads to a dog with a black coat and nose, though with brown eyes.
All the solid-black dog breeds you see will have the dominant black genes. In fact, most black dogs with other markings will have it too. But what’s surprising is that even the non-black dogs, such as the gray-ish Weimaraner, can have this same gene.
Just because a dog inherits the dominant black gene doesn’t mean they’ll come out black. For example, with the dilution gene, the black gets diluted into a gray-ish blue tone. This is what both the Greyhound and Weimaraner have.
Recessive Black in Dogs
While dominant black is a common gene, there’s also a less-common recessive black gene. It’s seen in some of the most popular black breeds, such as the German Shepherd, Puli and Schipperke. In fact, the Belgian Shepherds have both dominant and recessive black.
However, most of the dog breeds with this recessive black gene are herding or shepherd type dogs. As such, it’s widely believed that a color gene mutation in a common ancestor led to this recessive black. Likely, a primitive herding breed.
What’s amazing is that a solid white dog, such as the Samoyed, can also have the recessive black. It’s just that all the alleles seen in the Samoyed removes all the pigment, thus leading to a pure, solid white.
Did we miss a black dog breed? Let us know in the comments section below! Also, tell us which black dog is your favorite?
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