The Black Dog. Representative of Bad Omens +10 Facts

Discover with us the figure of the Black Dog. A being that is associated with bad omens and that wants to indicate our future.

black dog

¿What is the Black Dog?

The black dog representative of bad omens, mythological being that many people fear to stumble upon, according to mythological tales and legends one night, on the dark moors of Scotland. An old man walks, with the lapels of his jacket pinned to his collar or unicorns appearing out of nowhere.

He hears a distant howl and pulls his coat tighter. Then he hears it again, closer, almost at his neck. Too late for the protection of the jacket he turns around and sees the red eyes in the fog. Frozen in place, he watches as a huge dog steps out. It stares at him for a moment with its burning coals, then lets out a bloody howl.

The man closes his eyes in disgust, then dares a glance. The beast is gone. Breathing a sigh of relief, he hurries home, unwilling to face anything else that might come out of the shadows. Tearing off his jacket, he hurries to tell his wife of the encounter he now only half believes he had.

Hell Dog

He finds her by the fire, staring, blank-eyed, seeing nothing anymore. One more howl howls from outside, an acknowledgment, a wail and a moan, all wrapped up in a mournful sound.

Origin of the black dog

The most common stories of the black dog originate in the British Isles, and are associated with impending death or disaster. In addition to the British Isles, it has been seen in continental Europe, the United States and Latin America. Most of these appearances probably have their roots in colonization and expansion, as descendants from the Islands moved to new places, much like the stories of the banshee, originally the Bean Sidhe in Ireland.


The Black Dog appears as a spectral animal, usually with a coat so pure black that it does not glow in the moonlight. While this is the most commonly reported appearance, some versions are white, some are brown or yellow, and some are spotted.

They all have the characteristics of fiercely glowing eyes, sharp claws and long teeth; an overall terrifying countenance. They are larger than any dog, often the size of a calf or even a horse.

Sometimes said to be a guardian rather than a harbinger of doom, often lord of secret treasure. In this capacity it will generally leave people alone, provided they in turn leave it alone and make no attempt to retrieve what the Black Dog is protecting.

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In even rarer cases, it is said to be benevolent, helping people rather than attacking them or warning them of death or danger. Unlike many creatures of myth and legend, clearly the Black Dog is not a single entity, but rather a species. As such, different versions have emerged in many different places.

Benevolent barking

Instances of the Black Dog being benevolent are few, but it is said to be a personal guardian at the time. In Somerset, England, it is said to watch over unattended children, making parents more likely to allow their children to play unattended. Also in England, in Leeds, a black dog known as Padfoot is known to help those who are kind to him.

In the United States, in the Hanging Hills of Connecticut, there is a Black Dog that is a good omen…. if only seen once. A successive encounter will bring sadness, and then death on a third encounter.

Vigilant Guardians

There are some cases where the Black Dog is seen as a guardian of ancient treasures, sites or traditions. The most common cases of this type occur in Scotland. More commonly they are known as guardians of the dead, protecting them from being disturbed by the living who might try to rob the graves. These legends originate throughout the United Kingdom and spread to the United States, probably through colonization.

Death, Warned and Given

As mentioned, the most common form of Black Dog is the harbinger of death. There are many cases, ranging from the United Kingdom to Europe to the United States. There are even some of these legends outside of these areas, in places that apparently have no connection to the originals in the UK.

In some of the legends, the imminent death of a loved one is foretold, such as the Bean Sidhe. But the Black Dog can be an omen of death for the person witnessing it as well. One would think that its very appearance of being able to cause someone to die of fear!

In some of the more insidious legends, the Black Dog is not a harbinger of death, but the deliverer. In 1577, a Black Dog appeared during a violent storm in Suffolk. It ran into a church, causing fear and panic. As it passed between two parishioners who were kneeling on the ground and praying, they died immediately. Nearby, in the same storm, the Black Dog appeared in Blythburgh. This apparition caused the death of three people.

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Black Dog Current Influence

To this day, the Black Dog haunts places that have superstitions or legends surrounding them. So whether this apparent species is a ghost, a demon or a very real animal, its danger is ever present in remote places, steeped in superstition or associated with death.

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