Hellhounds lore: Are there really black dogs that will drag you to hell?

Photo credit: Supernatural/The CW bySergei Bachlakov, Aquired via CW PR
Photo credit: Supernatural/The CW bySergei Bachlakov, Aquired via CW PR /

Supernatural introduced the idea of hellhounds in Season 2, Episode 8. The creatures have continued to “show up,” remaining mostly invisible to the human eye.

Unless you’re going to hell, you’re not going to see the big black dogs known as hellhounds. Well, okay, demons may be able to see them too. However, it requires special glasses for normal humans to see them, and even then the picture isn’t entirely clear.

Hellhounds have always been creepy creatures in Supernatural. A lot of lore was created in the first time they were introduced and here’s a look at how the show lore and real mythology mix or differ.

More from Supernatural

Supernatural hellhounds to drag people to hell

Hellhounds are described as big black dogs, but they weren’t seen on the series until later on. Sam and Dean needed special glasses to see them, allowing the audience a chance to see what most other people see.

The creatures weren’t originally made to drag people to hell. God made them as companions for himself, but they became dangerous and vicious, so God had no choice but to destroy them. All but one pregnant one was destroyed, which Lucifer found and saved. Since then, all hellhounds have been raised as hell’s creature.

Most hellhounds will appear to drag a soul to hell. However, they can be used for other needs and Crowley and Meg have often used his hellhounds to help stop the Winchesters or to help the Winchesters in some way. They can also be used to hunt down demons that have gone rogue.

They are much larger than regular dogs and are extremely vicious and strong. Their sense of smell is so good that once they get the scent of someone or something, they will never stop hunting. While goofer dust can keep them at bay, a little like salt against a spirit, this is only temporary and they do find a way around this.

The real lore of the black dogs

Most cultures have some folklore about big black dogs, sometimes referred to as hellhounds. This is something Sam Winchester mentions in the series. Hellhounds usually have black fur that’s mangled and red eyes (very much like the red eyes of a crossroad demon). They are exceptionally strong and fast, with some phantom characteristics. Something that the show hasn’t focused much on is the scent. The hellhounds in real lore often smell of death.

The dogs usually appear at the entrances of the Underworld, so they are extremely common in Greek and Roman mythologies, with the Greek mythology’s Cerberus the most famous hellhound in the world. They appear in burial grounds and graveyards too in the majority of lore, and the sound of a dog’s howl in European mythology has been linked to death omens.

Photo credit: Supernatural/The CW bySergei Bachlakov, Aquired via CW PR
Photo credit: Supernatural/The CW bySergei Bachlakov, Aquired via CW PR /

However, there is another use for hellhounds. They can protect the supernatural world. The idea is that they attack those who have stumbled across or purposely look for supernatural beings to protect the supernatural beings for danger.

Dogs have often been viewed as vicious partially because of the lore. Many fictional shows will use dogs, especially three-headed ones like Cerberus, as the creatures of death and danger. Black dogs are regularly viewed as the creatures that will suck out souls and take people to Hell.

Supernatural has stuck to most of the original lore, just missing out the idea of the foul odor.

Next: Death Omens in Supernatural and the Real Lore

Did you know the real lore about hellhounds? What about the creatures do you enjoy from the series? Share in the comments below.

Follow SPN Hunters on Twitter for more lore from Supernatural.