Black Dogs


Photo from Eric Edwards Collected Works

What is a Black Dog?

According to Wikipedia, a Black Dog is a “spectral or demonic entity found primarily in the folklore of the British Isles. The black dog is essentially a nocturnal apparition, some of them shapeshifters, and are often said to be associated with the Devil or described as a ghost or hellhound.” (Wikipedia)

Black Dogs are supposed to be bigger than normal dogs and have glowing eyes. Sometimes Black Dogs are associated with electrical storms. They are also associated with places of execution, crossroads, and ancient pathways. (Wikipedia) The Black Dogs are thought to have a coat so black that it does not shine at all. They have also been described to have sharp claws and long teeth. (Mythology)


The Black Dog myth is believed to have first appeared in British culture. It is of Celtic or Germanic origin, it is difficult to tell which. In European mythology, dogs are often associated with death. (Wikipedia)

“Mark Norman, who has been researching the legend of black dogs in England for many years, has traced the earliest accounts in English literature dating back to 1127.” – Ancient Origins

In some versions, it is said that Black Dogs could be more of a guardian rather than representing death. They are believed to be protecting some kind of hidden thing, maybe treasure. The idea is that if you leave this particular kind of Black Dog alone, it will leave you alone. (Mythology)

This particular myth is associated with the names “Black Dog,” “Ghost Dog,” and “Hellhound.” In some versions they could be considered the same thing and in others they may not be. (Ancient Origins) It is important to note that the “Black Dog” is considered a species and not just one particular dog. There are many different versions of the Black Dog out there. (Mythology)


Photo from Monsters Vault

The most common version of the Black Dog, is that they are harbingers of death. Some say it can warn someone of the death of a loved one. But one of the most popular stories is that it can mean death for the person who sees the Black Dog themselves. Some believe that it’s very appearance could frighten someone to death.

There are more sinister versions where the Black Dog actually brings death. There is a story from 1577, where a Black Dog ran into a church in Suffolk. There was a raging storm that night. It caused fear and panic among the people in the church. The appearance of this particular Black Dog supposedly caused the deaths of three people. (Mythology)

In a lot of versions of the story there is nothing you can do to stop a Black Dog once it has set out to do you harm. In Christian faith, they say it can help wearing a cross or carrying a picture of a saint, doing these things may keep the Black Dog away. There are superstitions saying you can carry a coffin nail, sprinkle fresh water on the ground behind you as you walk, or carry a pair of iron scissors. The superstitions say you should avoid bodies of water, crossroads, and long stretches of field.

There are a few versions where the Black Dog can be a protector too, not just a sinister ghost. In one of these stories, a man claimed he was followed by a Black Dog one night while walking in the woods. He said it followed him until he came out from the wooded area. Later on, two prisoners admitted they were in the woods watching that man that night. They said they wanted to rob and murder him but they were afraid to after they saw the large Black Dog walking by him. (Ancient Origins)

“Many scholars have attempted to explain the reasons behind black dog legends and their popularity across the globe.” – Ancient Origins

One reasoning behind the Black Dog myth may be that wolves have been thought to be a danger to humans, especially earlier in our history. Another reason is that it is thought to be a cautionary tale. It could have came from a story that was meant to warn children not to wander into dangerous places. (Ancient Origins)


Photo from Romale Alejandro

The Black Dog is something that has been around a long time and has generated many different versions of stories over the years. This is no surprise though, considering how popular this particular animal is. Even though the majority of the stories say that Black Dogs are sinister creatures, it would make sense that there are some versions to counter these claims. I think one of these reasons is because of how much people love dogs. They are considered man’s best friend and for the majority of the time they are. But animals can be vicious so I think it’s still safe to say that if you see a random dog behaving strangely then you probably shouldn’t approach it. It might be best to avoid it and then hopefully it will avoid you. If it really bothers you that much, maybe you could call a vet or animal control. I wonder if they’ve ever picked up a Black Dog. I highly doubt it but as always I’ll let you believe what you want.





Ancient Origins


December, 2016



March, 2018



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