Happy black dog with text above that says National Black Dog Day

October 1 is National Black Dog Day!

Lindsay Katz | September 15, 2022

BOO! It’s spooky season. That’s right. You know what that means? Black cats are the talk of the town this month; what with their superstitious history and all. 

But not so fast! Dog parents, you will be pleased to know that October 1 is National Black Dog Day! They match the season just as well as black cats, so now it is time to celebrate our furry friends and all of their beauty. 

Unfortunately, black dogs have gotten a bad rap in English folklore, often regarded as sinister or malevolent. On October 1, we challenge this misrepresentation and celebrate the adoption of black dogs. All dogs deserve equal amounts of love and a safe home, regardless of their fur color.

Where in mythology have black dogs been cited as evil?

We see a lot of examples of this throughout the 16th and 17th century. One reference to the “evil black dog” is seen as early as 1577 in Norfolk, Suffolk, Lincolnshire, and the northern parts of Essex. The black dog is cited as the “Black Shuck.” This figure is seen as malicious, with stories ranging from: the dog scaring people to death, attacking churchgoers in the market town of Bungay, killing two people in a nearby church in the village of Bylthburgh, leaving claw marks on all of its victims. See image below from the account of Rev. Abraham Fleming’s citing of the “Black Shuck” at the church of Bungay, Suffolk in 1577.


Gurt Dog
Rev. Fleming's account of a "Black Shuck" in A Straunge And Terrible Wunder, 1577

Wow, that’s intense! Is there any folklore about black dogs that’s good?

Fortunately, it isn’t all bad and Halloween-type scary. The black dogs of Somerset, also known as Gurt Hounds, were seen as benevolent canines with a fierce instinct to protect. As legend has it, mothers would allow their children to play unsupervised in the Quantock Hills because they believed the Gurt Hound would protect them. Essentially, the Gurt Dog was the guardian dog. They protected children, travelers, and the local community. 

What’s the best way for me to celebrate #NationalBlackDogDay?

The best way is to welcome a black dog into your home as your forever friend. Visit a shelter and look for a potential companion. Black dogs are the least likely to get adopted, so the best way to celebrate the idea is to challenge what dogs are deserving of love. 

Now, do you already own a black dog? Perfect! The best way to celebrate the day would be to give your black dog some extra love and attention. Take them on a longer walk than normal (in this gorgeous Autumn weather!), or buy them a new chew toy. You can show how much you love your black dog today by posting them on social media with the tag #NationalBlackDogDay. Celebrate with your fellow black dog parents. (PS: tag us too, @chickensouppets, so we can celebrate your dog with you, too!) 


Works Cited

Barton, Oliver. “The Gurt Black Dog of Somerset .” The Gurt Black Dog of Somerset (Oliver Barton) - ChoralWiki, https://www.cpdl.org/wiki/index.php/The_Gurt_Black_Dog_of_Somerset_(Oliver_Barton).

“Black Dog (Ghost).” Parapedia Wiki, https://parapedia.fandom.com/wiki/Black_Dog_(ghost).

Fleming, Abraham. Straunge and Terrible Wunder. 1820.