In the mist covered hills of Kentucky and West Virginia it is said a beast with very dark almost blue fur, a wolf like body, and paws as big as a man’s hand claims the woods as its hunting ground. And as the people will tell you it feeds on the livestock of any farmer who dare raises them too close to its woods. The locals call it the Hell Hound. So what really is this canine monster?

Facts about the hell-hound also known as the Devil Dog or simply The Black are extremely scarce. What we do know is that it’s said to be much larger than a normal dog, have dark black fur, and it comes out during the night to eat sheep. Oh and if you live in some areas of West Virginia it’s supposed to only have 3 toes. Wolves are usually to blame and red wolves used to populate the area till the late 19th century, but they are a reddish-brown to light grey in color not the deep black of our hell-hound. They also now only live in a small part of North Carolina currently so it’s very unlikely they are the cause of any modern sightings.

So if they aren’t wolves could they be strays or coyotes? Well it’s possible but pretty much everyone agrees that these guys are a lot bigger than your average dog so much bigger than a coyote. Now there is another animal though that could explain the sightings though I admit it’s a bit of a stretch. The Appalachian black bear, if you have ever seen a starving black bear after winter they can look very dog like. It’s possible that early immigrants to the area coming from Ireland, Scotland, and Wales where bears had long been extinct might have seen scrawny black bears in spring and thought it looked more like a giant dog then the big brown things they only saw in story books.

When it comes to the early immigrants to the Appalachian area things also start to get interesting. Many of these people came from England, North Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. These are areas that have a long history of myths of black dogs. In England there is the Black Shuck a large dog with black fur that comes out the fog surrounding grave yards and cross roads. The Welsh have the Gwyllgi which is a large black dog that has flaming red eyes and haunts the back roads of Wales. In Scotland a large dog around the size of a cow called the Cu Sith stalks the highlands though unlike the others the coat is usually described as light green. Last North Ireland where most of the settlers came from has the Puca a rare giant wolf that usually has black fur, can change shape into a horse, a raven, or a man, and is either good or bad luck depending on what mood it’s in. The Puca is a very old Celtic legend dating at least pre Viking and may have actually served as an origin for the other three.

So it could be that these separate people all settling the Appalachian frontier at the same time could have found that they all shared this same legend of large ghostly black dogs hunting the back roads. In an area where all the roads were back roads and the woods were populated by another large beast with four paws and black fur  it’s not hard to think that the hell-hound legend sprang up here as well. Of course the hell-hound could be real. So maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to pack some dog treats with you if you ever plan to hike the Appalachian Trail.

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“Kentucky Hell Hound” Mountain Monsters by Destination America

5 Terrifying Stories And Lore About The Legendary “Black Dogs” To Haunt Your Walks Home

Tales of Pooka