Racist Dogs: Why Do Some Dogs Seem Not To Like Dark Skinned People?

HuffPost Live on Friday hosted a discussion about how some dogs seem to show bias against people with darker skin, an idea explored in popular culture for years, including in the 1982 movie "White Dog," and more recently, in an episode of "Curb You Enthusiasm" and a "Key and Peele" sketch.

Guest Darrell Mashia told HuffPost Live host Nancy Redd that often his white friends' dogs would treat him differently than other lighter-skinned people.

"I have a lot of friends who have dogs and they're typically nice to most of the people that they encounter which I'd say are mostly white folk,"Mashia told HuffPost Live host Nancy Redd, "but -- I wouldn't say all of them but a good chunk, maybe a third ... whenever I enter the room or try to get close to them they growl or snap or just kinda stare and look very uncomfortable."

In a recent Gawker article titled "Why Are Dogs Racist? Canine Experts Speak," a number of experts also sounded off on the topic.

From Gawker's interview with Renee Payne of Walk This Way Canine Behavior Therapy:

The general consensus is that it's because the dog wasn't properly socialized as a puppy, and wasn't exposed to people of all races and ethnicities — or that the dog was abused by someone who "looked" a certain way.


There are certain breeds of dogs that I've noticed don't see well at night, and react poorly to people with darker skin (day or night). I believe that with these dogs, there must be some vision problem, and if a person has slightly darker skin, it can seem as though they appear out of nowhere.

Writing for Newsweek in 2010, columnist Raina Kelly said that dogs simply lack the cognitive capacity to be racist.

"But here’s the thing—dogs can’t be racist because they’re dogs. To be racist is to harbor a belief that a group of people have abilities or personality traits solely because of the color of their skin," Kelley wrote in her article, "Your Dog Isn’t Racist." "Dogs are wonderful creatures, but they simply don’t have the intellectual capacity to develop derogatory judgements about whole groups of people."

Watch the full segment, "Doggone Racists!" below and click over to HuffPost Live for more.