Mythical Creatures Series
There are many types of black dogs out there, and it helps to know the difference in case you or your character cross paths with one! If the canine walks through walls and is not too aware of its surroundings, then you’re dealing with a ghost-dog. If a mutt locks eyes with you, staring intently, it could be a death omen. But if you hear a dreaded growl that slicks the back of your neck, and you see nothing that could possibly make such a sound, then run for your life, because more than likely you’ve got a hellhound on your heels.
What is it?
A hellhound is a demonic dog of hell, found in mythology, folklore and fiction. They are said to have been created by demons to server as heralds of death. And this very notion makes them beyond terrifying, because they have no ability to reason with us – they are simply carrying out an order. After all they are animals – vicious, relentless and vile, but still an animal at its core.
Hellhound legends date back to the time of Vikings and sightings have been reported throughout history. They show up in most cultures and mythology under various names, including Black Shuck, Cerberus, Garm and Perro Negro, though these are often confused with black dogs in the wild who attack and haunt hikers.
Ability / Power
These beasts are assigned to stand guard at the gates of the dead or hunt down lost souls. Many believe that encountering a Hellhound is a sure ticket to imminent death. Legends says if someone stares in their eyes three times or more, that is a definite confirmation of their death – but come on, if you meet a hellhound once, I’m pretty sure you’re a gonna! They are also said to speak a demonic language.
Abilities include seeing in the dark, controlling fire (hence they are fireproof) and being ghost-like invisible. With super strength, aggressiveness and speed, I doubt anyone can escape them.
This reminds me of the Supernatural episode “The Devil You Know,” where Dean attempts to fight off this invisible hellhound – freaky and very well done.
Features attributed to the hellhound include being unnaturally large, covered in a black pelt with glowing red or sometimes yellow eyes. They have a distinctively putrid odour and poisonous saliva.
Appearances in Fiction
- Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles
- Hellhounds appear in Roger Zelazny’s 1970 new wave fantasy novel Nine Princes in Amber.
- Hellhounds feature in Rick Riordan’s series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians.
- Hellhounds are called ‘The Grim’ in the Harry Potter series and have an important role in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
- Hellhounds feature in Laurell K. Hamilton’s Merry Gentry series.
- Hellhounds are the pets of Harpies in Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels Series.
- In Piers Anthony’s ‘On A Pale Horse”, Satan sends hellhounds to attack Zane (Death) and bring him back to hell. The hounds are immortal but are dispatched by Death’s magical scythe.
- Frank Belknap Long’s Cthulhu Mythos-related ‘The Hounds of Tindalos”
- Hellhounds appear in the motion picture The Omen.
- Hellhounds (called darkhounds) appear several times in Robert Jordan’s fantasy series The Wheel of Time. Darkhounds are a particularly nasty form of Shadowspawn. They look like very large dogs or wolves. Their saliva is deadly poison – a single drop on the skin can kill. They are extremely difficult to kill and once they sense their prey they never give up. The only thing that stops them is rain or running water. They leave footprints in stone but none in soft ground.
- Hellhounds appear in the television show Supernatural. They are used and controlled by demons to drag souls to hell (usually after a deal for the victim’s soul has accrued). Only the person being attacked can see or hear the hellhound, and they are never seen on screen.
- Houndoom, one of the many Pokémon creatures, is based on the concept of a hellhound.
- A Hellhound named Sammael is one of the main antagonists in the first Hellboy film.
- Cerberus movie (2005).
Did you know? The most famous hellhound is Cerberus from Greek mythology – the multi-headed hound. Remember Fluffy in Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone? You got it.
Previous Mythical Creature Posts:
Marchosias: A Kick-Ass Creature, Ningyo: The Deadly Mermaid, Abatwa: Riding Ants To Victory, Cait Sith: It Gets Into Your Mind, Anka: The Goliath Bird, Huldra: Norse Forest Lady, iele: Romanian Nymphs Of The Air, Manticore: The Man-Eater, Hantu Demon: Legendary Spirit, Lich: Undead Necromancer, Joan The Wad: Queen of Piskies, Fomorian: Ancient Gigantic God, Rakshasa: Shape Shifter Demon