OK—dogs clearly don't have the emotional capacity to truly hate anyone, but some owners may have noticed that their pooch becomes particularly aggressive around people of different ethnic backgrounds.
Speaking to Unilad, animal behavior specialist Janetta Smith explained why this behavior occurs. The issue is rooted in the fact that dogs, like humans, may not respond well to strange or uncomfortable environments.
"What I have observed on many occasions is that dogs react to ‘strange or unfamiliar’ situations, as well as people’s negative and positive body language reactions."
Smith notes that while Western society as a whole tends to treat canines as cuddly companions, they are used solely for security purposes as guard dogs in other cultures.
"This results in many people from different cultures and colors being frightened or fearful of dogs, and results in a change of body language around dogs," Smith explained.
"This in turn causes the dog to pick up on this vibe, often feeling threatened or scared, and can make them feel the need to react in an often negative way by shying away, barking, growling and, in some cases, making physical contact."
Essentially, the dog may just be reacting to the body language and discomfort of someone who isn't accustomed to being around dogs as pets, which may be more common among those from other ethnic backgrounds.
That is all to say that dogs are not racist. If they're acting up, Smith suggests owners work to socialize them properly so the dog becomes comfortable with different people, surroundings and locations.
After all, you wouldn't want this to happen: