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Racism in the Dog Community: Attack Dogs and Police Dogs

There is prominent racism in the history of the dog world and dog training, and this racism can still be seen today. Pawsible will be posting a series of posts on racism within this industry because we believe the first step to combatting racism is through education and holding one another accountable. We need to take initiative in educating ourselves. Posts will include information on racism through the use of attack dogs and police dogs, within the dog training community, through the privilege of adoption and companionship, and through the service dogs and puppy raising communities. We want to share some of the resources we have read and listened to and encourage our followers to educate themselves and share as well to create awareness.

We believe it is important to celebrate and uplift Black history and Black voices this month and every month, which is something we have been working toward over the last few weeks and will continue to do throughout the year. In celebrating and uplifting Black history and Black voices, we also must share their stories and experiences with racism, as well as acknowledge the racist past and present within this industry.

Image Description: A dark gray rounded square is surrounded by a white square border. In the middle of the square includes white text in all caps: “Racism in the dog community.” Below this text in a teal blue is “Attack Dogs and Police Dogs.” At the bottom of the square in white text is “Trigger Warning: Racial Violence.”

Dogs have been used as a "tool for the intimidation and control of African Americans since the inception of slavery."

Dogs have been trained for racial violence since the mid-1490s, when mastiffs ("war dogs") accompanied Christopher Columbus on his second voyage. Spanish conquistadors used these dogs to track or catch their enemies. People were fed to dogs in front of their communities.

Sources: Charlton Yingling and Tyler Parry in "The Canine Terror" for Jacobin,

Tyler D. Parry in "Police still use attack dogs against Black Americans" for The Washington Post

Dogs are not racist, but people are and can use dogs as a weapon to carry out racial violence. The training and use of dogs to target people of color still occurs today:

A study published in The Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine found that:

"of 32,951 recorded emergency department visits due to police dog bites from 2005 to 2013, 42 percent of those bitten were Black."

Source: Chantal Da Silva's "The Role 'Vicious Dogs' Play in

Police Brutality Against Black People" in Newsweek

Recent Events

August 2019: A police officer threatened to set his dog on 23-year-old Elijah McClain.

April 2020: A Salt Lake City Police officer had his dog attack 36-year-old Jeffrey Ryans.

June 2020: Police dogs were used to attack protestors in California at a protest following the killing of George Floyd.

Sources: The Washington Post, The Mercury News, NBC News

Sources & Call to Action

We encourage our followers to share resources and continue to learn about racism in the dog world (both in the past and the present), so we can make a change. If you or someone you know has seen or experienced racism in the dog community, we want to hear your experiences and amplify your voices. Please leave a comment below or send us an email.

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