10 Legends About Dogs from Myth and Folklore - Pet Hub USA

10 Legends About Dogs from Myth and Folklore

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Dogs have been with humans for thousands of years. As such, our myths and legends have a lot to say about these four-legged friends. From towering monsters to faithful companions, here are ten dogs from mythology.


adult black Schipperke dog
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The two-headed, snake-tailed Orthrus might sound familiar even to those with a passing knowledge of Greek mythology. He’s the lesser-known brother of Cerberus and the father of the Nemean Lion and Sphinx. Like the Nemean Lion, Orthrus was also slain by Heracles.


adult tan and black German shepherd
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Norse myths regarding the terrifying dog Garmr might be related to myths about Cerberus and Orthrus. Like his Greek cousins, Garmr is the guardian of the underworld. He’s a grim figure, associated with both Hel and Ragnarök. He’s said to be the one who will slay the god Tyr during the final battle of Asgard.

The Black Dog

black dog on seashore looking at ocean during daytime
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English folklore attests to the existence of one or several spectral black dogs that is alternatively seen as an incarnation of the devil or as a symbol of death. There are a number of individual tales of these otherworldly hounds, and they’re all varying degrees of creepy to outright hostile toward humans.

Mauthe Doog

short-coated black dog
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Legend has it that a spectral, black canine called either Mauthe Doog or Moddey Dhoo haunts Peel Castle on the Isle of Man. Though he sounds a bit spooky, local folklore holds that he’s harmless, just a bit scary to glimpse out of the corner of your eye!


Black Short Coated Dog With Snow on the Fur
Photo by Ivan Babydov on Pexels

In Norse mythology, Fenrir was the child of Loki and the eventual slayer of Odin during Ragnarök. The monstrously large wolf is the parent of Skoll and Hati, the twin wolf deities that chase the sun and moon across the sky.

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Black German Shepherd
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The spectral Okuri-Inu is a demon dog of Japanese mythology who follows travelers as they journey overland. This is no friendly companion, though! If the Okuri-Inu spots you missing a step by stumbling, it will pounce and devour you. To avoid this fate, you must announce that you stumbled on purpose, avoiding stepping in a puddle or on a rare bug.


A Bloodhound Standing on a Snow Covered Ground
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The faithful hunting companion of Odysseus waited for his master for twenty years while he was away at the war with Troy. When Odysseus arrived back in Ithaca, he found his home overrun with suitors seeking to wed his wife, Penelope. Argus was the only one at the home who recognized his old master in his disguise.


adult white German shepherd standing on wood branch during daytime
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Central American legend tells of a duo of canine spirits: the Cadejo. The white Cadejo protects travelers and wards off evil spirits. The black Cadejo, in contrast, leads travelers astray and even attacks them on their journey. In some legends, their roles are reversed, making things even more confusing!

Read More: 10 Heartwarming Stories About Dogs Saving Humans


Black Labrador Retriever Lying on Grasses
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The Chinese myth of the Tiangou is an ancient explanation for solar eclipses. One story holds that the flying spectral dog views the sun as a tasty snack and eats it periodically, plunging the world into darkness. To scare him off, the god Zhang Xian shoots arrows at Tiangou until he gets scared and spits the sun back out!

Read More: 10 Black Dog Breeds You’re Sure to Love


a statue of a man sitting on top of a stone bench
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Cerberus, who originates from Greek myth, is perhaps the most well-known mythological dog. The brother of Orthrus and the guardian of the Underworld, he’s a three-headed dog  with snakes all over his body and a massive serpent for a tail.

Read More: Ten Mythological Pet Names

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