It looks like a simple appeal for help finding a missing pet - but a race row has flared up on Twitter over the dog's name.

Twitter user @rebeca_macias18, who lives in Detroit, posted a message on Saturday (20 January) asking for help to find her missing dog, Negro.

Although some users messaged her with words of support, others criticised Negro's name. The owner maintains that she named the dog after the Spanish word for the colour "black" but that did nothing to halt the Twitter storm.

One user said: "You definitely ain't gonna find that dog now with a name like that... It's racist."

Her original post soon blew up into a row between cultures. In response to the message, "Lol y'all don't have black skin so y'all wouldn't understand the offense we take" came the reply, "Y'all don't speak Spanish so y'all don't understand the true definition of the word."

In one post, the dog's owner was advised not to shout out the dog's name while searching for him on the street for her own safety:

The argument continued. One user said: "Still means the same thing" sparking the response, "It doesn't mean the same. the word in spanish means the color. if someone speaking spanish wanted to say the equivalence of the n word, they would say prieto, not negro."

Becky, the dog's owner, who posted that she was getting tired of the row, replied to one critic who called "Negro" a "weird name": "Negro is a color, the color he clearly is."

Mike Yezerski wrote: "*dog goes missing and you ask for help* *ignorant f**ks reach hard as hell and make it a race issue and say they hope you don't find your dog because your black dog is named black in spanish* Jesus Christ."

Another exasperated user said: "I really hope that you have found him already or that you'll be soon. To the people stating that the name is racist please go do something constructive with your lives (eg: go learn spanish or portuguese), the name is perfectly fine for such an animal (a beautiful black pup)."

The dog has still not been found three days later and a $500 reward is being offered.