General Question

buster's avatar

Why are some animals racist?

Asked by buster (10239points) May 19th, 2009

Okay my buddy had a dog that growled at black people. The dog never growled at a person with a light complexion. But if a black Fed-Ex guy came to the door he went off like he wanted to kill they guy. If he was being walked and a black person passed by the dog growled. The other day my grandfather who has alzheimers and I went to the park to feed the ducks. We are sitting on a bench close to the pedestrian path and parking lot by the lake. There is these two geese we are feeding old bread. A white couple walk by the geese ignore them. A couple of white kids walk by the geese ignore them. Two black ladies start to walk by us and the geese. The two geese start hissing and literally chase the black ladies all the way to their car before they get in and escape.

Have you noticed behaviour like this from animals? Why are they like that. I know not all dogs are that why. Geese I don’t know about though.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

55 Answers

Blondesjon's avatar

best question ever

oratio's avatar

Man, I feel so conflicted. I just laughed a good long minute, and I feel bad about that.

Why are some animals racist? Priceless
There are so many things wrong with this question, I don’t know what to say.

Aethelwine's avatar

I would say “dominant” not racist.

Hopefully Syz will answer.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Might have something to do with how much gradation of color the animals can see while they’re scanning human expressions, maybe the darker people aren’t as easy for the animal to study.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I don’t think they are racist. With dogs, it can be learned behavior. My grandma, who was definitely racist, had a little dog that was constantly by her side. Whenever my grandma was around black people and the dog was with her, my grandma reacted differently. If a black man scared her, for instance, my grandma’s dog picked up on it and had a natural protective reaction.

Geese I don’t know about. But dogs definitely learn it from their owners.

MrGV's avatar

hahahahha all my dogs hates black people. EVERY dog that is owned by an asian person i know of hates black people.

Aethelwine's avatar

My dog hates stupid people. Is that racist?

DeanV's avatar

My dog buttdrags on the carpet, but not on the kitchen floor. Is that rascist?

chyna's avatar

@dverhey No, he is a carpetist.

DeanV's avatar

Maybe a floorist?

wundayatta's avatar

I always assumed that dogs were reflecting their owners feelings.

Jokerlover's avatar

My friends and I was recently talking over this matter at lunch. Depending on what type of household the animal has lived in Might be the reason. Or if they were abused by a certan type of person be
Of black white or Mexican might be the reason for there racism.

Kayak8's avatar

Dogs have to be socialized with other animals and with the variety of people they may encounter. With my search dogs, I make sure, from the time they are puppies, that they have the opportunity to be around all different races of people, kids and adults, people on crutches and in wheelchairs.

The dogs become comfortable with what they know. Something outside the realm of what is familiar to them may cause them to react to the unfamiliar (be that color, gender, wheelchairs, etc).

The more opportunities a dog (and probably other animals as well) have around a diverse group of people, the better.

You also have history to contend with. Dogs have been used as weapons against Blacks in the south. As a result, it is not surprising that some Blacks may have a serious discomfort around dogs (some breeds more than others) and the dogs will sense that discomfort but not understand it.

So just as people react to breeds based on lack of familiarity, dogs react to different stripes of people for the same reason.

DeanV's avatar

Removed by me…

archer's avatar

drives me crazy when people ascribe human characteristics to animals, as in this case, and as in, “dogs love you unconditionally”. please, people! not only do dogs not love unconditionally, they are incapable of love.

in this case it has to do with familiarity. if a dog was raised by pygmies you can be damn sure they are going to freak if a maasai comes stepping in the hood.

[good answer, kayak. looks like i’m echoing your response but it was actually composed prior to the arrival of yours… i had some login problems]

gymnastchick729's avatar

maybe it was just a coincedence,
natural behavior or instinct taking over. obviously felt the need for extra protection…

crisw's avatar

@Kayak8 Is that a Spinone in your avatar?

crisw's avatar

As to the original question, dogs have a socialization window as puppies. Whatever they get used to during that window, they accept as adults. If they aren’t socialized to black people- or kids on skateboards, or slippery floors, or whatever- they may fear them as adults.

Plus, as pack animals, dogs definitely pick up on the emotions and actions of their owners.

crisw's avatar


On what scientific basis do you make the claim that dogs are incapable of love?

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i had a dog who loved archie bunker but hated george jefferson.

this question really made me laugh. i don’t know!

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Behavioral psychology might suggest that the owners actions might be influencing the dog.

Geese however are vile, spiteful creatures and might just be racist.

Kayak8's avatar


My best friend has a Spinone, named Bella. The avatar is my chocolate Labradoodle, Bender. When you see the two dogs together, there are a number of very strong similarities!

archer's avatar

@crisw, the evidence was presented in a famous study which also found them incapable of hating their masters for neutering them.

good grief some people need a scientific study to come to a conclusion about the obvious.

gymnastchick729's avatar

is this like imprinting?

oratio's avatar

@archer Famous huh? Ok. You want scientific studies? Show your study and I will show you several showing the opposite. Have you ever had a dog?

Come on. Do it!

archer's avatar

see what i mean? that there is no such study should have been obvious

archer's avatar

i’ve had several dogs

archer's avatar

people think and do a lot of silly things that make them feel good. having the illusion that your dog loves you is relatively harmless, but still an illusion.

chyna's avatar

I see proof of my dog’s love every day. Is that a study? No, but my observation.

oratio's avatar

@archer Aha.
Just like a spouse loves you.

I see. It’s not real.

I stand corrected.

archer's avatar

glad i could help. it’s always refreshing to have an “aha!” experience.
@chyna, what you experience is instinctive behavior anthropomorphized

chyna's avatar

@archer Seriously? You’ve been to my house, watched me and my dog together?

Kayak8's avatar

And we digress . . .

My dogs certainly know me and respect my position in the household, and they may actually love me in a codependent sort of fashion as I am the food, the water, the walker, the playmate, the source of all things.

It would be hard to differentiate what emotions they might attach to anything and doubly difficult to prove exactly what emotion that might be.

I would like to think that they are responding to my cheery personality and general like-ability, but it could just be because I am the source of all things in their world.

I can call their behavior/response any name that I wish to call it including love (which, in fact, is my preference).

archer's avatar

now that, is rational

archer's avatar

as far as your cheery personality goes, a dog will be just as loyal to a despicable wretch.

i’ll amend my “that’s rational” response by excluding your attributing emotions in any human sense of the word to animals

archer's avatar

anyway the important thing is that having and interacting with dogs is extremely rewarding for both animal and human.

Kayak8's avatar

You only have my word for the cheery personality thing and, in fact, I may be the despicable wretch you describe. And I agree with your last statement! LOL

archer's avatar

right. carry on then

oratio's avatar

@archer I will go as far as I agree to that animals doesn’t share the same level of complexity of our human emotional spectrum, but all pack animals have the basic emotions you call human. Maybe you don’t believe in biological evolution, but if you do, where do you think we got our emotions from in the first place? Emotions for bonding – like love – developed long before humans. Here are some sources that show that animal feelings are actually quite complex in their feelings.

[1] [2] [3]

If you believe pack animals don’t share our feelings, it is only because you want to believe it.

3or4monsters's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic “Geese however are vile, spiteful creatures and might just be racist.”

Ok, I laughed out loud. Geese are total assholes!

Darwin's avatar

One of our dogs gets very upset when faced with middle-aged black men wearing overalls. However, I doubt that he is racist.

The dog was a Katrina refugee who had been badly treated by his former owner (embedded collar, carries a bullet, has many scars). I can only assume that the owner was a middle-aged black man who wore overalls. The owner may also have been a fisherman because the first time I brought salmon home to cook after the dog came to live with us he acted that same way, growling and barking with the fur on his neck standing up.

However, Boudreaux doesn’t mind black women or children or elderly black people. And then he discovered that he gets the cooked fish skin that my kids won’t eat so now he jumps for joy when I bring salmon home. He hovers while it cooks.

I suspect that an animal that selectively attacks one group of people has either learned that people like that can hurt animals, or senses something else that triggers an alert action other than skin color.

wildpotato's avatar

I thought my dog was racist at first, because she is scared of a friend of mine who is black for no apparent reason. But then she spent time around other of my black friends and liked them just fine. It clicked when she acted scared in the same way when she was confronted with white man with a large build, similar to the build of the first friend I mentioned: this dog is not racist, she is afraid of large men. I suspect this stems from the time she spent as a stray puppy before I got her. So I don’t know about the geese, but the dog may be reacting to other aspects of the people he is aggressive to than their skin color – or, as people above suggest, it may be that he has indeed become sensitized to skin color due to past bad experience. It is hard to pinpoint exactly what is causing a dog to behave in a certain way because of the tendency to anthropomorphize, as @Kayak8 points out.

syz's avatar

There are many layered and faceted things that could be going on.

It’s a bit of a stretch, but dogs who have never been exposed to people of a different race may react badly just because they are different that what they’ve become accustomed to.

Animals can be trained to certain behaviors (whether consciously or unconsciously) by their owners. Dogs are extremely acute observers of body language. Even subtle reactions (tensing up when approached by a group of teenagers after dark) can induce protective instincts. You may not be racist, but if those teenagers were black, your dog may make the association.

That same sensitivity to body language means that dogs (and other animals) can pick up cues as to things like social status (dominant vs. submissive), comfort level (people that are afraid of animals vs. the fearless) and general health (people that have a subtle limp and other things that may mean “prey”).

And some things will never be able to be explained. My border collie expresses his anal glands every time my friend Barbara comes over – she weights all of 95 lbs and is completely non-threatening, but she terrifies him. Some things are just inexplicable.

But no, animals are not inherently racist.

elijah's avatar

My one dog hates children and men who are strangers. I guess she is ageist and sexist.

galileogirl's avatar

Dogs can be trained or retrained. Racism is species specific to humans who are often impossible to train.

dlm812's avatar

My parents Jack Russell exhibits the same behaviors as listed in the question… only she also goes as far as to literally attack the window in the car if you are driving and a person of darker skin tone passes you, stops next to you, etc.

It is our belief that she is aggressive towards certain people because of her background. We adopted her from Chicago, and while it is only speculation on our part, a few of her teeth are crooked. We believe that she was probably kicked in the face very hard by a black or hispanic mail man/delivery man/etc.

Either way… she is so bad about her reactions that we are embarrassed (and afraid) to take her into public.

galileogirl's avatar

I have a crooked front tooth and it was the mailman’s fault too. He didn’t kick me in the mouth, he just passed on the small mouth/big teeth gene.

Seriously guys, train your dogs.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic: Geese really are human haters, at least they taste good.

Kayak8's avatar

I debated long and hard about opening this can of worms, but here I go anyway . . .

It seems that to draw the conclusion “I got a dog from [pick someplace] and he doesn’t like [pick some set of human traits] inherently means he must have been abused by people who possess [see above human traits],” may, in fact, be human racism projected onto dogs [geese].

My thinking here is that I have never heard one of my African American friends complain that their dog just doesn’t like white people because a white person must have beat him [kicked him, etc].

Because white folks comprise the dominant culture, most pets owned by African Americans [Hispanics, etc.] cannot avoid seeing [meeting, playing with] white folks. As a result, there seems to be a limit on the tendency of minorities to attribute a pet’s reaction to someone who is different in the same way that white folks reach these conclusions.

Racism can be overt, but it almost seems more insidious when it is hidden even from the person expressing it.

Darwin's avatar

Parts of our family are black, parts white, and parts Asian. Our dog has no problem with any family members or friends of whatever persuasion. But one dog out of our five seems to fear or dislike middle-aged black men in overalls. Since he came from the Louisiana Gulf Coast he could very well have had an owner who met that description.

He also shows a number of signs of past abuse, including an embedded collar, fight scars, and bullet wounds, all received before Katrina caused him to be separated from his owner at the time. The same dog used to display the same reaction to the smell of raw fish. Since we don’t know his background but have some knowledge of the people who live where he is from we have made an assumption.

We assume that for whatever reason this dog has reason to dislike people of that description, and possibly specifically fishermen of that description, because he displays that dislike.

We also had a cat when I was growing up that hated and hid from young men of any race. It her case we found out later that she had been tormented by some male college students. She internalized that experience and thus seemed to hate men.

Again, none of our animals are racist. They do, however, have brains and past experiences that may cause them to fear certain situations or people.

mbubbles's avatar

My BFF had 2 get rid of her beloved dog because he had a previous bad experience before he went to the shelter that she got him at with African-Americans. He was too violent. It’s not racism. It’s just being sensitive to their history.

oratio's avatar

Are there any black people here who has a dog that hates white people? Asian?

What is a BFF?

El_Cadejo's avatar

Best Friend Forever ZOMGSSSSSS

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther