Animal Color Stereotype YKTTW Discussion

Animal Color Stereotype
Tropeworthy? Motion To Discard
(permanent link) added: 2013-10-03 15:11:12 sponsor: EdnaWalker edited by: Ednawalker (last reply: 2014-12-07 05:59:50)

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This is about the various personality, wealth, gender, ethnic, and moral and societal standing stereotypes connected to the fur, feather, scale, or skin color or colors—white, black, or otherwise—of animals. Note this trope covers natural colors, as well as somewhat exaggerated colors (e.g., the bright yellow body and orange legs of Looney Tunes' Tweety Bird), but is different from Typical Cartoon Animal Colors, which is the unrealistic stock coloring of a given species of animal in a cartoon or other fictional work (i.e., pink pigs, yellow-beaked crows and ravens)."

For example, white-furred cats, rabbits, and mice and white feathered doves and geese tend to have stereotypes such as innocence, elegance, purity, and being wealthy and high class attached to them. They are often portrayed as female. White-furred dogs, unless they have powderpuff-looking fur, seem to be an exception to this general kind of portrayal of white-colored animals for the most part.

Many animal colour conventions follow human Hair Colors neatly.

Male animals also tend to be darker than female animals in fiction. Also, Dark Is Evil and Light Is Good can generally be applied to most species; a dark-coloured individual will be mean, the light-coloured will be nice. Polar bears are often an exception to the Light Is Good tendency, as they are often dangerous.

Different countries and cultures have different stereotypes for a particular color of a given species of animal.

Supertrope to the fur color side of Cat Stereotype, White Bunny, and Pale Females, Dark Males. Compare Color-Coded for Your Convenience. Can run into Unforfunate Implications when black or dark-colored animals are portrayed as bad and white or light-colored animals are portrayed as good. Not to be confused with Typical Cartoon Animal Colors. Subtrope of Animal Stereotypes.
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White Fur, Feathers, Scales, or Skin

Indicates innocence, elegance, purity, being peaceful, and being wealthy and high class. Can also represent an ethnically white character.

  • Mostly averted in Blacksad, where fur color is based on the animal's Real Life location. White furred/feathered/scaled/skinned animals represent white people and black furred/feathered/scaled/skinned animals represent black people. Hence there is the "Arctic Nation", a Neo Nazi/KKK Expy group which only recruits white-furred/feathered/scaled/skinned animals. They are only pure in the sense of Pure Is Not Good and being an obvious allegory of racial purity.
  • In The Last Unicorn, the unicorns are white and represent good, nature, fantasy and wonder.

Dark or Black Fur, Feathers, Scales or Skin

Indicates evil or a villainous character. Also indicates an aggressive or predatory character.

  • Scar the villainous lion in The Lion King was significantly darker than the other lions and has a black mane. The hyenas who side with Scar are also dark in color. Subverted with Kovu, he is dark in color like Scar, but he is on the side of good. note 
  • Blacksad also features "The Black Claws," an Expy of the real life black nationalist group, The Black Panthers. "The Black Claws" likewise only recruited black furred/feathered/scaled/skinned animals. Subverted with the titular black cat with a white muzzle though.

Rabbits and Hares

White, Albino, or Light Grey Fur

Indicates innocence, gentleness, and purity. Can be evil or vicious as a deliberate subversion. White is mostly a domestic rabbit fur color, though the winter fur color of the snowshoe hare is also white. See White Bunny for examples.

Grey or Brown Fur

Indicates a Rascally Rabbit. Brown, orange-brown, or grey-brown is the typical color of wild rabbits and hares and the summer fur color of snowshoe hares.



See Cat Stereotype for examples, breed stereotype descriptions, and detailed color and pattern stereotype descriptions.

White or Silver Chinchilla-Colored Fur

Indicates wealth, prestige, elegance, and purity. Often good. Often longhaired Angora or Persian cats. Usually female, especially when paired with an orange cat.

Orange Fur

Indicates a humble and/or heroic cat, or alternately a fat and lazy one. Often male, and usually male when paired with a white cat.

Black Fur

Indicates bad luck in the US and Catholic Europe. This begets either an evil black cat or an unlucky one. Indicates good luck in the UK, Australia, and Asia. Often magical, mysterious, or a witch's familiar.

Black and White Fur

Indicates either a brave or hopeful but unsuccessful cat or a snarky cat. Can play black cat stereotypes if a tuxedo or mitted cat.

Tabby-Patterned Fur

Tabby cats have much the same kind of significance as orange ones, heroic and/or humble. However, the cat can be either male or female.

Rats and Mice

White, Very Light Grey, Very Light Yellow, and Albino Fur

Indicates an experimental lab animal (but not The Lab Rat, that's for humans who work in labs) or at least a domestic or "fancy" brown rat or house mouse. The albino and white colors are pretty much confined to domestic mice and rats. Can also be good. In a work populated by mice or rats, there is a tendency for a few white, very light grey or yellow, and albino ones to show up among the brown and/or grey furred majority.

  • Pinky and the Brain are white, as are most of the other lab mice that ever show up in the show.
  • Muggle, a former lab rat from Capitol Critters is white.
  • The Rescuers: Bianca and Bernard are a heroic white mouse and very light grey mouse respectively.
  • The Great Mouse Detective: In a movie with mostly brown mice in it, there is white-furred Miss Kitty Mouse and two other white-furred female mice performing with her.

Brown, Light Brown, Tan, Grey, or Light Grey Fur

Indicates an average or mundane mouse or rat, as medium and light brown or grey fur is the typical color of wild mice and rats. Also indicates a friendly, nice, or otherwise not evil mouse or rat. When contrasted with a white mouse or rat, the brown, tan, or grey mouse or rat is shown as the wild or "pest" one.

  • The Rescuers: The other mice in the movie are varying shades of brown and tan.
  • The Great Mouse Detective: Most of the heroic, good, and Nice Mice in the movie are varying shades of brown. The mouse lackeys to Ratigan and the thug mice in the bar are also varying shades of brown, so the brown coloring is symbolizing mundaneness rather than goodness.
  • The An American Tail movies have brown mice that are portrayed as good, nice, or at least mundane.

Dark Brown, Dark Grey, or Black Fur

As far as rats are concerned, this indicates evil, treachery, or propensity to violence. Mice with the same color fur are often as friendly, nice, or otherwise nonevil as those with light or medium brown or grey fur, however.


Bears (Except Polar Bears and Giant Pandas)

Dark Grey, Dark Brown, or Black Fur

Indicates a mean or dangerous bear.

  • Mor'du the dangerous bear from Brave is pitch black. Subverted with Elinor and Merida's triplet brothers as bears as although they are also pitch black, they are friendlier.
  • The dangerous bear in The Fox and the Hound is dark grey, almost black.
  • Br'er Bear from Song of the South is a dark-brown, mean but stupid bear. He may be Beary Funny, but he isn't Beary Friendly.
  • The evil bear in Fun and Fancy Free, Lumpjaw is dark brown.
  • Subverted with Lotso the evil stuffed bear in Toy Story 3, he has strawberry pink colored fur instead of dark fur.
  • Disney's Pete was originally (before Steamboat Willie) an antagonistic black bear with a white muzzle known as Bootleg Pete.

Brown, Light Brown, Grey, or Light Grey Fur

Indicates a Beary Friendly and/or Beary Funny one.

  • Yogi Bear and Boo Boo, who steal pic-a-nic baskets but are friendly, are brown and light brown respectively. Cindy Bear, Love Interest of Yogi, is also a light brown, friendly bear.
  • Winnie-the-Pooh the friendly bear is honey yellow in keeping with his Trademark Favorite Food.
  • Nacho Bear from Cartoon Network's "Wedgies" series is yellow-orange, like nacho cheese. He's Beary Funny and usually simply in support of eating nachos, but is heroic when circumstances warrant.
  • Fozzie Bear the funny and friendly bear from The Muppet Show is light brown with a shade of orange.
  • Baloo the friendly and funny sloth bear from The Jungle Bookand TaleSpin is medium to light grey.
    • Rebecca Cunningham and Kit Cloudkicker the light brown bears and Molly Cunningham the yellow bear are also generally Beary Friendly.
  • In Fun and Fancy Free, Bongo, the nice bear is brown, his girlfriend Lulubelle, who is also nice, is light brown.
  • WordWorld has a friendly, medium-brown bear named Bear.


White Feathers

Symbolizes peace. Often a carrier pigeon. Tends to be on the side of good because of the peace symbolism.


Wild-Type Feathers

Plumage usually has a grey or blue-grey base color, but can occasionally has a light brown base color. Indicates a feral or street pigeon.

Crows and Ravens

Black Feathers, Beak, and Feet

Symbolize death, evil, discord, or a bad omen and indicates Creepy Crows and ravens.

Black Feathers with Yellow Beak and Feet

Indicates Clever Crows in cartoons and are depicted more positively.


Blue Feathers

Symbolize happiness or are happy. See Bluebird of Happiness for examples.

Birds in General

Yellow Feathers

Indicates a cute and childlike bird. Chicks in fiction will almost always be yellow and fluffy, regardless of species.

  • Tweety Bird from Looney Tunes is cute and childlike.
    • Henery Hawk, also of Looney Tunes fame, is an aversion to the small yellow bird. He's brown in colour and is definitely not innocent and childlike, despite his size.
  • In Sesame Street, Big Bird is, well, big, but his yellow colouring and childlike personality fits with the yellow bird stereotype.


Black, Dark Brown, or Black and Tan Fur

Indicates an Angry Guard Dog or a Hell Hound. Justified, as Dobermans and Rottweilers are normally black and tan.

  • Alpha the Dobermann and Beta the Rottweiler from Up are antagonistic.
  • Cerberus, the three-headed Hell Hound is portrayed as black in Hercules
  • Fluffy the three-headed dog in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (inspired by Cerberus) is very dark brown. The Black Dog is considered a portent of bad luck and evil, but the one that shows up is not evil at all. Fang the Boarhound (played by a Neapolitan Mastiff) from the same movie is a subversion, as he is large and scary-looking, but he's actually a Big Friendly Dog.
  • Black and tan Angry Guard Dogs are the origin of the well known Discworld saying "Never trust a dog with orange eyebrows".
  • The Doberman Pinschers in Oliver & Company, Rosco and Desoto, are Sykes' Right Hand Attack Dogs.
  • Subverted with Nugent the Rottweiler in Over the Hedge as he is just enthusiastically playful.
  • Subverted with Gaspard, the black dog in Gaspard And Lisa as he is a good natured protagonist. The other black dogs in his family are also generally good natured.

Light Brown, Brown, or Yellow Fur

All-White or Mostly White Fur

Indicates an intelligent, on the side of good, or protagonist dog. Most often Male. If mostly white, the dog usually has black ears or less commonly a black patch on its back as well, but is otherwise all-white.

  • Mr. Peabody, protagonist of the Mr. Peabody and Sherman segments of Rocky and Bullwinkle is a very smart, all-white dog.
  • Brian Griffin of Family Guy is a smart, snarky, all-white Labrador retriever.
  • Krypto The Super Dog is a heroic all-white Labrador retriver from the planet Krypton.
  • The titular dog of Bolt is a naive, but heroic white German Shepard.
  • Hemlock Holmes the white bulldog, one of the five main characters in The Dick Tracy Show, is heroic and an aversion of Bully Bulldog.
  • Lisa the white dog in Gaspard And Lisa is a good natured protagonist and her family is also pretty nice and kindly.
  • Snoopy the smart beagle in Peanuts is white with black ears and a black patch on his back. He is often a protagonist in the Peanuts franchise.
  • Dudley Puppy of T.U.F.F. Puppy is white with black ears. He isn't that smart, but he is on the side of good and fights evil.
  • Ahnuld the dog from Tiny Toon Adventures was arrogant and egotistical, but technically good as his job was "security guard".

All-White, Powderpuff-Looking Fur

Indicates a showy, cute, feminine-looking, or powderpuff-looking Poodle, Bichon Frise, or other dog of similar appearance. Often Female, but can be male. Can be on the side of good like the aforementioned white dog stereotype.

  • Snowy from Tintin is the titular character's pet dog and sidekick.
  • Big Fido from Men at Arms is a subversion/parody: he's a small white poodle with Killer Rabbit tendencies.


Pink Skin

Indicates a cute or good pig.

  • Gravity Falls Waddles the pig is cute, good, and afraid of evil character Gideon Gleeful.
  • Charlottes Web Wilbur the pig is good.
  • Looney Tunes Porky Pig is mild mannered as compared to arrogant and obnoxious Daffy (Black) and mischievous, playful Bugs (Grey).


Brown Fur

Indicates a good bat.

  • Ferngully: Batty Koda is a brown fruit bat and is good, if a little screwloose due to having been experimented on.

Black or Dark Fur

Indicates an evil bat.

Examples That Are Specific To A Work

    Video Games 
  • Pokémon usually follows Color-Coded Elements, but there are plenty of exceptions.
    • Ninetails' fur is a pale gold (white when shiny), possibly to symbolize elegance and beauty.
    • While Houndoom is probably just black because it's a dark-type, it's also noteworthy that it's based off of a Hell Hound and has howls so eerie that they send shivers to all surrounding Pokemon.
    • Skitty, Jigglypuff, and Clefairy are basically the poster Pokemon for Ridiculously Cute Critter, and have baby-pink fur to match.
    • Furfrou is a white, powderpuff-looking dog Pokemon and their most unique trait is your ability to trim their fur into different fashions.

    Western Animation 
  • The red bull in The Last Unicorn is... red, representing egoism, madness, obsession, selfishness and evil.

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