Superstitions and ghost stories play a big part in our history as humans, so it’s little surprise most of the more elaborate myths are about dogs. It was once believed that dogs would lead us to the afterworld – whether that was the path to Heaven or Hades.
They also guarded the gates of the afterworld. In both Greek and Roman mythology, the guardian of Hades was a three-headed dog named Cerberus – and a Greco-Egyptian god known as Hermanubis guided souls to Heaven. Even the Aztec worshipped a dog-headed god called Xolotl.
These legends have sparked quite a few superstitions and myths that many still believe. Here are favorites along with some history about how they showed up.
We all know that the moon holds sway over our lives and it’s little wonder that most superstitions about dogs are mostly derived from wolves and the moon.
Howling dogs are not only spooky, but they were thought to foretell death. Pay careful attention to the number of times a dog howls and where the dog is located – these two things will tell you how unlucky it is… Here are a few myths about howling dogs:
- When the howl of a dog breaks the silence of night, it’s an omen of death.
- If a dog howls for no reason, it means he sees unseen spirits.
- If a dog howls outside of the window of a person who is ill, that person will die. Especially if the dog was driven away, then returned to howl again.
- If a dog howls at a crossroads, it means the goddess Hecate is near (and that is rarely a good thing).
- If a dog howls an odd number of times (for example, 1 long howl or 3 howls), he is marking the death of a person nearby.
- If a dog howls four times while under the front porch, it is a harbinger of death.
Dogs and their Colors
Black dogs have long gotten a bad rap with superstitions. In ancient myths and legends, they were considered unlucky due to some believing they were the “spectral” dog, otherwise known as a “barguest”. This mythical black dog was monstrous with huge teeth and claws. But pay no heed, if you read the Harry Potter books, you know the spectral dog is actually a pretty nice guy!
Even throughout history, black dogs haven’t ALWAYS been unlucky. In fact, many cultures believe black dogs are the ultimate symbol of good luck! For instance, if you happen across a greyhound that is black with a white spot on his forehead, it’s just about the same as winning the superstition lottery – you’re virtually assured of good fortune.
Black dogs can also turn bad luck around. For example, seeing an ambulance is considered very unlucky – unless you hold your breath until you see a black or a brown dog cross the road.
Spotted dogs, especially Dalmatians, are considered very good luck across most cultures.
British lore is primarily responsible for our history of dogged superstitions. But then again, they brought us The Hound of the Baskervilles, Black Dog of Bouley Bay, and the Beast of Bodmin Moor that helps remind us that the superstitions surrounding dogs are just that – superstitions.