View Full Version : Is it possible for a dog to be racist?

2nd Jan 2009, 15:44
I own a Jack Russell, lovely little thing most of the time, but he has developed some rather worrying behaviour.
I should say that he is now almost 4, and we have had him since he was 8 weeks old, and have not moved house during this time.

Now, he has developed what can only be described as a patological hatred for the following:

Postmen (no idea why) - he will sit looking out of the upstairs window waiting for the postman to appear at the end of the street, then bound down the stairs 5 at a time, and launch himself at the inner porch door (we have to keep this closed until the postie has been). Once the inner door is opened dog will insert snout into letterbox, and snap his way along (think cartoon characters eating corn on the cob).

Teenagers - by this I mean anybody between the ages of 9 and 15 (either sex), outside of these ages he will walk on by without giving a second glance.

Any non white person - This is where I am really worried, as he will tend to bark/try and jump on any non white person of any age - and I have no idea why.

Anybody got any ideas? I dont know what he would do if we got a non white doing a weeks work experiance with the post office...

2nd Jan 2009, 21:54
SLF - The prognosis is not good I'm afraid. Yer mutt is either a Tory or a Jet Blaster - or worse still.....both:E:E:E

I would suggest blocking his access to Pprune and perhaps neutering to see if his attitude changes. That's assuming you want it to;)

Hope this helps

2nd Jan 2009, 22:00
I think his aversion to Postmen should be your biggest worry.

Beatriz Fontana
2nd Jan 2009, 22:00
Drat, you beat me to it, McDoo. I was going to suggest that you ban the dog from reading the Daily Mail. It's not good for the poor thing.

2nd Jan 2009, 22:04
My mate Boycey rescued a bitzer pup in France & raised it with all the love you could want if you were a doggy. Boycey runs a hotel in the alps & whenever a Frenchman comes in, which as you might imagine is daily, many times over, Bungle bear has a go.

Good lad.

2nd Jan 2009, 22:06
I do not know about dogs being deliberately racist. Unfortunately I seem to remember that back in the land of H. Vervoot in the bad old days of apartite, the law enforcement brigade did condition by training, their rotties to attack black skinned people if prevoked. I'm sure someone on PPRUNE will correct me if I'm wrong on this.

Has your Jack russel been to see the Vet ? - A change in behaviour like this can indicate an underlying problem. Yes I'm a jack russel / Corgi cross owner and their great little dogs.


2nd Jan 2009, 22:11
Whatever you do, don't try and mate it with any descendant of Guy Gibson's Labrador :eek:

tony draper
2nd Jan 2009, 22:18
SWH has developed a habit of late of growling in a very threatening manner at anybody who passes close to us when out at night,he's still a friendly little cove with most people during daylight hours, but in the dark steer well clear, one suspects he thinks at night anyone within ten yards intends to attack us and he is getting his licks in first,strange this behavior only started this last year.

2nd Jan 2009, 22:22
When looking out of the window my yellow labrador bitch only ever barked or growled when a coloured person passed the house.

Certainly nothing that my wife and me taught her.

2nd Jan 2009, 22:23
Can a dog be racist?

Ever met a Ridgeback?

2nd Jan 2009, 22:29
Ridgebacks are absolute sweeties - check out the owners.....

2nd Jan 2009, 22:33
This one hates brown dogs ever since one attacked him recently. Mind you, being a Jack Russell, he asked for it. :hmm:


He also hates postmen and the spaniel next door. His nuts are coming off the tree in a couple of weeks time. :ooh:

2nd Jan 2009, 22:40
When Karma first came to me (aged 4, I was his 4th pet home and he had been in rescue and back to his breeder in between each home) he used to stop and really stare at non-white humans of any age. I just used to say, its OK and a couple of times the humans in question wanted to stroke him (as a furry Shiba Inu he has a fabulously plush coat which is very strokable!) and he was OK.

I asked around about this odd behaviour and was told that because dogs don't really see the full range of colours that humans do, they don't really see non-white humans in the same way as they do white ones. Also, if they (the dogs) have grown up in a mostly white area then they won't have had a chance to become used to dark skinned humans so they will just see shadow or something like a shadow.

I should add, though, that Oriental types didn't phase him at all - just very dark skinned individuals.

Now he is older and wiser (was 14 in October) he is fine and very relaxed in his world, both outside and indoors, and because he is becoming deaf the sounds that used to trigger concern (he came to me with a bunch of fears) don't bother him either!! :ok:

2nd Jan 2009, 22:52
It is hard to know what goes on in the mind of a dog. We have two dogs, a Great Pyrenees and a Malamute. The Malamute loves everybody, cats, other dogs, people, especially children, if it moves and breaths she loves it. The Great Pyrenees loves little children, most adults and is tolerant toward other dogs. However, she hates UPS drivers, but loves the Postman/woman and never barks at the FedEx drivers.

There is one breed of dog that she hates, in fact I am afraid if she could get at one she would try to kill it, that is pit-bulls. Now this is the strangest part of all. Our first Great Pyr hated pit-bulls as well. We rescued our first Great Pyr from an animal shelter when he was 8 years old, so we just assumed that he had issues with pit-bulls when he was at the shelter. But when we got our second Great Pyr as a young puppy we knew that she had never been around any pit-bulls. Never the less, when some friends brought their pit-bull over one day, the same one that had set off our male, our new puppy knew that the pit-bull was here before they got to the door. She jumped up and ran to the entry way and hit the glass door so hard I still can't believe she did not knock the door off of its hinges. She was barking like crazy, not the 'oh my I'm so happy' bark, but a 'I'm going to kill something' bark. Our friends took their dog back home, dropped her off and came back. When they got back our Great Pyr just loved all over them.

So who knows.

3rd Jan 2009, 01:48
Some dogs just get it into their heads that a particular behaviour is 'their job' and do it diligently to please you. Our dear departed Border Collie got it into his head to get increasingly aggressive with barking at passing kids, to the point he got terminated, but was it reinforced by the neighbor who use to throw rocks at him? Didn't let birds into the garden either.

Had an aquaintance in Meekatharra who apologised to an Aboriginal in our 'tinny club' for the growls & malevolent looks from his dog. After said Aboriginal had left he admitted he had trained the dog by hanging it from the clothes line in a hessian bag, and beating the crap out of it with a stick. Then getting a black guy to open the bag... PNG trick I believe.

3rd Jan 2009, 02:06
Your dog isn't racist - but you probably are!

Let me explain.

Dogs, particularly those that have been around the same person(s) for any length of time, pick up on all the little nuances that the "pack" of humans exhibit. It's their basic survival technique. Therefore any apprehension, nervousness etc will be picked up by the dog and it will defend.

For example; the postie is because posties generally bring news that we don't like - a bill from the telephone company will do it - and as we don't know what surprises are in the mail then the human will get almost undetectably apprehensive.

Same goes for the other categories. Either the dog is picking up on your vibes or, maybe in all the cases you quote, the dog has experienced a bad time at the hands of someone in these groups and it tars all with the same brush.

3rd Jan 2009, 02:24
Sisemen... I'll add a bit to that myself. I worked for FedEx for over a decade in ground ops and they inquired with various experts. All points of view had a common theme and that was a dogs keen sense of smell, which incorporates what you're saying.

Some believed that it was the combined locations and scents that a driver had been, which was a sort of confusion for a dog as to the 'true' persona, therefore....bark, bark, bark....voracious, I'm serious, bark.

The other school of thought is that drivers/posties are already feeling the undercurrent of being nervous and the dog picks up on it....bark, bark, bark....can I have a bit of flesh, bark.

Final outcome for drivers....carry a box of dog cookies in truck and toss into yard prior to leaving truck. If dog ignores cookie, don't leave truck. Leave address instead!

3rd Jan 2009, 02:48
carry a box of dog cookies in truck and toss into yard prior to leaving truck

Well, that would do it for our two dogs, anybody gives them a dog biscuit they are automatic friends for life. :p

3rd Jan 2009, 05:54
Perhaps you should advise the U.S. President elect of your dilemna, since they are in the process of looking for a White House puppy.

Most Americans would be wary of a president who was disliked by his own dog.

3rd Jan 2009, 11:55
Our cockerel hates the postman - and only the postman. We've had to put up a postbox outside our front gate owing to repeated attacks. I found the poor sod crouched in our porch one Saturday morning covering his face with a handful of letters while the bird continually jumped up at his head.
The cockerel still gets all aggressive when the Royal Mail van pulls up outside, even though the bloke doesn't come into the garden anymore. Weird.

3rd Jan 2009, 13:14
You should arrange for a young coloured postman
to deliver a copy of the Daily Mail through your
letter box VERY slowly so the dog rips the thing up!
I reckon that after a couple of times the SH*T in that
particular "newspaper" will cause the beast to desist! :ok:

Lon More
3rd Jan 2009, 13:28
Place a puffer of ground pepper outside near the mail box with a note for the postie to puff some through the letter box. Aversion therapy for the hound

3rd Jan 2009, 14:30
We've got a West Highland Terrier. If any black newsreader appears on the TV she goes nuts! We're not prejudiced in our house so we can't really explain this one, although there aren't many coloured people where we live.

3rd Jan 2009, 14:52
I believe that there is ample evidence to believe that many racist Englanders once trained their Jack Russells to attack images, most of whom used the 10 o'clock news broadcast on a weekday evening presented by Trevor McDonald. Many of these same individuals also kept their kids awake long after their usual bedtime, which is why racism in the UK has lasted as long as it has. I'm always surprised when I come across a thread which suggests that animals have a 'thing' about colour of skin. Rottweilers, Alsations, Dobermanns, American bull-dogs and others are always in the fore-front. They ask their more docile compatriots like Dalmations for some clarification, with the response that they might find an answer in listening to Michael Jackson's 'Black or White'...?! :uhoh:

3rd Jan 2009, 14:56
Airship, you forgot Rhodesian Ridgebacks!
You could never take one of those for walkies
in certain ethnic areas! :eek:

3rd Jan 2009, 15:28
UK dog owners, take the test: Trevor McDonald's last ITN newscast (http://news.bbc.co.uk/player/nol/newsid_4530000/newsid_4533600/4533616.stm?)...

...governments should be held to account etc., boowooowoooo, bow-wow, woof woof...?!

3rd Jan 2009, 15:38
:E If he was a Lab you could "Chastise" him :rolleyes:

3rd Jan 2009, 16:04
I am a cat-lover (rephrase that, servant to a cat) but I like most dogs. I've noticed that more English dogs dislike black folk than don't, and no, I can't understand it. I've also noticed how many black folk dislike dogs, for that matter, and can't understand that either ! Seems to be hard-wired in to both humans and dogs.


Squeegee Longtail
3rd Jan 2009, 16:42
..."Your dog isn't racist - but you probably are!"

Are you raving mad? Dogs don't just do things because we do.

My dog hates cats (who would have thought it), and loves chasing rabbits. But I quite like cats and have never knowingly chased a rabbit.

I only piss against trees when I'm drunk. But my dog loves doing it every day.

My dog licks her own arse. But I'm not into that at all.

3rd Jan 2009, 16:55
We got a stray West Highland terrier once. She was a gentle creature. But she hated black dogs. Completely lost the plot when she saw one big or small. One day she attacked a big black dog on a lead as it passed our house. She was vicious. The horrified owner actually kicked her away but she actually rolled over and flung herself again at the now terrified dog. I finally got to her apologising profusely to the owner. I have never seen her so het up about anything. She also disliked men with glasses and barked at them enthusiasically. But never attacked.

It was very strange as she was always one of the most genial and pleasant dogs you could ever hope to have. I suppose she was dogist. I don't know how she would be with black people but back then they were almost non existent in Ireland.

3rd Jan 2009, 17:26
I apologise in advance for veering off topic. My contribution is sort of relevant through word association...

Chapman Pincher, the British journalist and writer on spies (who claimed that Britain's MI5 head Sir Roger Hollis and PM Harold Wilson were KGB agents) was himself described as "a kind of official urinal in which, side by side, high officials of MI5 and MI6, Sea Lords, Permanent Under-Secretaries, nuclear scientists, Lord Wigg, and others, stand patiently leaking in the public interest".

Pincher also wrote a book on rearing pigs. I've got a copy, but have no idea how effective it is.

In a comic strip by Steve Bell there was a character named "Doberman Dogwaste" (read 'Dogsh*t'), obviously Pincher.


3rd Jan 2009, 17:51
Veering off topic to what topic? :confused: pincher and pee?

3rd Jan 2009, 17:52
Airship, you forgot Rhodesian Ridgebacks!
You could never take one of those for walkies
in certain ethnic areas! http://static.pprune.org/images/smilies/eek.gif

My Ridgeback particularly hates orange scouse birds :}

3rd Jan 2009, 18:03
This racist thing works both ways. Our new GP Doctor is from Iraq.

Nothing wrong with him except he refuses to do house calls if there is a dog in the house.


3rd Jan 2009, 19:41

Dogs - Dobermann Pinscher - Chapman Pincher, who I was reading about yesterday.

It's now 6am where I am and due to a deadline I've worked all night, so make allowances for brain fade... :8

Pontius Navigator
3rd Jan 2009, 20:26
SWH has developed a habit of late of growling in a very threatening manner at anybody who passes close to us when out at night,he's still a friendly little cove with most people during daylight hours, but in the dark steer well clear, one suspects he thinks at night anyone within ten yards intends to attack us and he is getting his licks in first,strange this behavior only started this last year.

Our Scottie is also anti some people at night. I have to say that it is the same teenagers we are anti about too but, as far as we know, we have never communicated this to the dog.

Years ago our Scotties made no objections to postman or coalman delivering to the house but would go Harpic if the bin men or window cleaners came.

3rd Jan 2009, 21:24
"My dog licks her own arse. But I'm not into that at all."

Maybe if you ask her nicely she'll let you?

4th Jan 2009, 09:27

You have a great little dog there! I owned a Jack Russell growing up. In my ignorance I did just about everything wrong that I could have. It was not malicious; I just didnít know any better. I am not saying that you have anything wrong.

But sometimes trying to figure it out yourself or ask well meaning acquaintances isnít the best idea. Inadvertently this dog has been rewarded for his antisocial behavior and/or he has become the leader of the pack (in his mind) and will do as he well pleases regardless of how much he embarrasses you. Sometimes you just need to break down and purchase some time with a good flight instructor to get past the troubling spot.

I would recommend getting some professional advice. It is gong to cost you something in time and money, but you donít really want an aggressive out of control dog. Ask around for a good dog trainer and take your Jack Russell in for an evaluation. You may need to sign up for some classes.

I am on my second Airedale Terrier and have taken both of them through several obedience classes. In my book it is money well spent. I would be interested in learning how it turns out. A well trained dog is a happy dog and a joy to behold! Best of luck to the both of you!


4th Jan 2009, 11:27
Any non-abused dog that "develops what can only be described as a pathological hatred" accompanied by snapping agressive behavior towards some people should be either have it trained out of them quickly or (if it can't be) put down, because the list of people will most likely grow.

Dog owners are too often afflicted with a disease whereby they convince themselves they know their dogs as if they could read their canine mind. How can you say your dog reacts agressively only to 9 - 15 year olds (among the other groups), and even if you're right today, that he won't try to attack a 5 year-old girl tomorrow?

Noah Zark.
4th Jan 2009, 20:38
Is it possible for a dog to be racist?

It depends on how good its trainer is! :E

4th Jan 2009, 21:54
I'll take the risk of being totally misunderstood...

There's an ancient (1956) science fiction novel by Frederik Pohl called "Slave Ship". Ridiculous title and totally irrelevant to the story itself, so don't even bother to comment on that.
"How men first learned the language of the animals - and the startling consequences!" is the equally irrelevant blurb.

But the one thing that always remained in my memory from that book, which I think is true: animals - and in this context dogs - do NOT think of us as "humans" at all. They don't have such abstract concepts.

You and your immediate family are "those who are head of the pack, and feed me, and take care of me".
Others may be "those that are accepted by the head of my pack, so they must be OK".
Then others are "those that come to the door, and maybe can't be trusted"... like the postman.

To them, none of them are "humans", not even you. A dog is not capable of such generalisation.
So to a dog living in a 'white' family, coloured people are no different from horses, or people dressed for a country walk with backpacks or coloured dogs such at Rotweilers. They're all outside their "ken", and will get barked at.

Unless, of course, somebody among the immediate family or close friends is coloured!

Hope I made some sense.


4th Jan 2009, 22:52
"I've also noticed how many black folk dislike dogs, for that matter, and can't understand that either ! "

OFSO: Dogs sense fear in others and will exploit it to assume dominance - maybe there's your answer

5th Jan 2009, 08:36
Thanks for all the replies folks. I am certainly NOT racist, (I have plenty of non white friends - I am even married to a Scot:ok:).

Have been to classes when he was a puppy, and he got on well with other dogs etc - I actually think that it may be him just being "all bark and no bite", as these behaviours (except the postman) only seem to occur when he is out on his lead. He once went balistic on seeing the local cat (white and either deaf or VERY brave, as the cat didnt bat an eyelid. I once slowly let my little Jack Russell approach said cat (while firmly on the lead), and and once he got to within 6 inches of the cat, he stopped barking and seemed very bemused that the cat was just sitting there. Cat slowly turned and walked off, and dog started barking again.
Since this incided, the dog has taken to thinking that all white plastic shopping bags are cats, and upon discovering that they are not - cocks his leg and urinates on the bag (probably trying to show his dominance at a guess??)
On vets advise we did get his b*lls off at a very early age, so no exessive hormones flying around in him.

Will try the training route again and see if he just needs a refreasher

Standard Noise
5th Jan 2009, 08:42
Lucyfer had her giblets whipped out as a puppy, made little difference, she's still racist. Black dog who only ever barks at white people and the only people she has ever bitten/nipped at were white.
Conclusive, wouldn't you say?:}