I'd like to know what is the earliest reference for Black Dogs such as Black Shuck, Hairy Jack, Barghest, etc. Is there anything before the 1577 Black Shuck of Blythburgh in worldwide folklore? And are there any recent "sightings" or articles referring to it? I need to precise that I don't mean in ancient mythology as in Cerberus or Geri and Freki, but more like in legends and folklore worldwide.

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    Which folklore? Your examples are British and European, is that your desired locale?
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Sep 16, 2020 at 17:34
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    I suppose that like with most legends there must be similar accounts of black dogs apparitions worldwide, I would like to know those as well. So worldwide if possible. Outside of the UK I could only find Gaueko (Basque), Oude Rode Ogen (Flanders), Tibicena (Canary Islands) and Dip (Catalonia). Maybe there are some similar stories on other continents.
    – Alex
    Commented Sep 17, 2020 at 7:57
  • Are you saying your own research led only to Hairy Jack, Barghest and a 1577 Black Shuck of Blythburgh? What, exactly, is is left out in that "etc"? Commented May 14, 2022 at 23:43
  • You may find Mark Norman's book Black Dog Folklore of interest.
    – user4244
    Commented Oct 16, 2022 at 22:39

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure about black dogs off-hand, but Welsh folklore has the Cŵn Annwn or "fairy hounds" which are white dogs with red ears and eyes, and have very similar legends other than that, of being omens of death or taking the dead to the afterlife. Annwn, the "otherworld", is the home of fairies and the dead in Celtic mythology.

The Cŵn Annwn appear in Pwyll Lord of Dyfed, one of the stories in the Mabinogion - the earliest known copy of this is from the 1300s, but it's thought to be much older even than that. That story doesn't mention any connection with the dead, though, apart from the mere fact that it mentions Annwn (although it spells it "Annwvyn" for some reason). Their only role in the story is that Pwyll encounters a pack of them while out hunting, and steals a stag which they've killed. Their master turns out to be Arawn, the king of part of Annwvyn, who sets Pwyll a task to make amends for stealing the stag. I don't know whether the association with death was already around then, or, if not, when it started.


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