Mythology/English Mythology/Phantom Black Dogs

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Across Britain there are many accounts of phantom black dogs. The beasts are often said to be monstrous goblin-dogs with huge teeth and claws.

The name for these spectre-hounds vary from place to place:

  • The most famous is probably the Barghest of Yorkshire, a nocturnal beast who's appearance is regarded as an omen of death.
  • The Demon of Tedworth, the Black Dog of Winchester and the Padfoot of Wakefield all shared the characteristics of the Barghest of York.
  • In Lancashire the spectre-hound is called Trash or Striker.
  • In Cambridgeshire and on the Norfolk coast it is known as Black Shuck or Shock.
  • In the Isle of Man it is styled Mauthe Dog. People believe that anyone who sees the dog clearly will die soon after the encounter. It is mentioned by Sir Walter Scott in The Lay of the Last Minstrel--
"For he was speechless, ghastly, wan
Like him of whom the Story ran
Who spoke the spectre hound in Man."
  • In Jersey folklore, the Black Dog of Death is called the Tchico, but a related belief in the Tchian d'Bouôlé (Black Dog of Bouley) tells of a phantom dog whose appearance presages storms. The story is believed to have been encouraged by smugglers who wanted to discourage nocturnal movements by people who might witness the movement of contraband.
  • In Wales its counterpart was Gwyllgi, the Dog of Darkness, a frightful apparition of a mastiff with baleful breath and blazing red eyes. A Welsh variant is the Cwn Annwn, or dogs of hell.