What Do Dogs Symbolize in Dreams and How to Interpret the Meaning

Updated on September 7, 2018
EsmeSanBona profile image

Esme is a published writer who writes extensively on the subject of dream interpretation from the standpoint of Jungian psychology.

Learn the symbolic meanings behind dreams about dogs.
Learn the symbolic meanings behind dreams about dogs.

What do canines symbolize in dreams? This article seeks to give the reader background into the mythological history of dogs and to provide insight into their common usage as a symbol. That being said, the reader should bear in mind that when it comes to interpreting the meaning of a dream about dogs, the final authority is one's own self. No dream guide, not even this one, should ever be used as a substitute for one's own intuition and wisdom.

What Do Dogs Mean in Our Dreams?

To see a dog in your dream symbolizes intuition, loyalty, generosity, protection, and fidelity. The dream may suggest that your values and good intentions will bring you success. Canines in dreams can be viewed as guardians, guides, symbols of fidelity, and death omens. On the other hand, seeing a dog in your dream may also indicate a skill that you may have ignored or forgotten. It could indicate an inner conflict or a betrayal.

Below you can read about the main interpretations of dogs in dreams and also explore how different cultures have imagined dogs in their mythologies.

Different Canine Breeds in Dreams

Breed
Meaning
Chow Chow
If you see a Chow Chow in your dream, this may highlight a sense of unwavering loyalty. Perhaps you are also a little overly protective.
Dachshund
To see a Dachshund in your dream highlights your sense of loyalty and devotion. You are most likely well grounded and rational in your thinking.
German Shepherd
Seeing a German Shepherd in your dream highlights your protective instincts. Perhaps you are very attentiveness to a situation. However, this is no time for you to be nervous. To dream that you are training a German Shepherd means that you are open to new ideas. Maybe you are seeking some reassurance.
Bulldog
To see a bulldog in your dream signifies that some protective force is helping you move forward in life.
Golden Retriever
Golden Retrievers are considered one of the friendliest and most loyal dogs. Dreaming of Golden Retrievers is most likely a good omen about an important friendship.
Doberman
Doberman Pinchers symbolize your fears. It may also represent someone in your waking life who is giving you orders. Alternatively, the dream could indicate that you have your guard up. Perhaps you are protecting yourself from a painful situation.
A pack of dogs
Perhaps you are searching to belong. Perhaps you are being reminded about the need to reconnect with your family.
Great Dane
Great Danes symbolize an easy going, strong-willed nature. He may appear in your dreams to remind you not to let people walk all over you.
Poodle
The Poodle is a highly intelligent dog and can visit your dreams to remind you there is nothing wrong with expressing your individuality.
Siberian Husky
These dreams are reminders to accept that life is a journey. They show you how to make the right choices along the way. How to avoid conflict and obstacles in your path.

Dogs as Guardians

The Chinese Fu Dogs, whose statues often sit outside temples in China, are perfect examples of dogs as guardians. If the dream dog is one associated with comfort, and it appears calm and at peace, then the dream may indicate that the dreamer is enjoying similar feelings. He or she feels safe and satisfied. Perhaps, in the waking world, the dreamer feels particularly secure.

Dogs are not only mythological guards but are also trained by everyday people to guard homes and their owners. Some dogs are trained to guard by force, others guard by barking.

Check to see what the dog is doing in the dream. Is it barking? If so, the dog dream may be trying to call attention to something awry in the subconscious or it might be calling attention to an unsafe situation in the waking world.

Temple Fu Dog
Temple Fu Dog | Source

Dogs as Guides

In waking life, dogs are often used as assistance animals. In dreams, the dogs that help guide in waking life can become entities that help one navigate the subconscious.

Just like dogs who can alert one to seizures or sniff out tumors in the waking world, dream dogs can help one to see what is hidden in the realm of the unconscious.

That which is hidden can be surprisingly pleasant, such as unused gifts or talents. Alternatively, dream dogs can help point out the unpleasant aspects of the personality, or the subconscious ways in which the dreamer is engaging in self-sabotage.

Guide dogs in training— taking a breather.
Guide dogs in training— taking a breather. | Source

Dogs as Fidelity Symbols

As previously stated, faithfulness and dogs go hand in hand. When dreaming of dogs, check to see if the dog has a companion. If so, and if the dog is healthy, that person can be symbolic of someone the dreamer has abject faith and trust in. Make sure that trust is well-founded.

If the dream dog is injured in some manner, this can indicate betrayal, a breach of trust, or a damaged relationship with the dog's companion.

If the injured dream dog has no companion, the dreamer should check to see if he or she is engaged in self-sabotage.

The Black Dog Legend
The Black Dog Legend | Source

Black Dogs in Dreams: A Symbol of Death and Change

Dogs not only inhabit a place in the heavens, as in the cases of Orion's Sirius and the constellations of Canis Major and Canis Minor, they are also figures of the underworld as the fearsome three-headed Cerberus who guards Hades's entrance and the Cŵn Annwn. The dogs of the Celtic Otherworld, Annwn, will attest.

Since the dog is associated with the underworld, and since the color black is often used to symbolize grief and death, it may only be natural for the coupling of black and dogs to end up as harbingers of death.

This is in fact the case in both Irish and British folklore. Variously called the "Churchyard Beast," "Padfoot," and "Cu Sith" amongst other names, "The Black Dog" is an entity whose encounter means that death is on the way.

Usually, tales of encounters involving this entity occur during waking life, happening in much the same way that reports of ghostly encounters are reported. The experience is usually of an eerie nature. The dog is usually reported as being of a monstrous size with glowing red eyes.

While dogs symbolize loyalty, black most commonly symbolizes mourning or depression. Therefore, dreaming about a black dog might symbolize a disloyal friend. Perhaps your are mourning over this betrayal, or perhaps you are mourning over a lost or unfaithful lover. One might even do well to consider it a warning.

Even if it is heralding death, it is most likely a symbolic death. Death symbolizes radical change, the leaving behind of that with which one is comfortable and familiar with in favor of the complete unknown. Black can symbolize the void, or the unknown.

Change and transition often involve loss. If, for instance, one is moving to a new location in favor of pursuing a career or relationship, the loss of friends that will result from the change might be interpreted as a black dog.

What is encouraging, as dour as dreams of death may sound, is that death is actually a natural occurrence. Therefore, this can indicate that the transition may be a more natural state of change, rather than an out-of-the-blue jolt.

Meaning of Different Colored Dogs in Dreams

Color
Meaning
White
White is a positive color and a dog symbolizes friendship and happiness. When these dogs appear in your dreams they indicate that your relationships with your friends or family are entering your subconscious mind.
Brown
Are you in control of your relationships? The brown dog normally appears when we are feeling out of control in relationships, or if a new friendship is on the horizon.
Multicolored
Multicolored dogs often represent a mixture of the interpretations related to each color. They tend to be more difficult to interpret.
Golden
Goldens are considered one of the friendliest and most loyal dogs. Dreaming of them is a good omen about an important friendship.

Mythological Canines

Since dogs, like cats, have a rich mythological heritage, they are also symbols with deep roots in the collective unconscious. When dogs appear in dreams, the message they symbolically carry can have deep meaning for the dreamer.

Each of these mythological dogs is an embodiment of archetypal imprints left on the psyche through the collective unconscious. Unraveling the meaning of that blueprint will yield information valuable to uncovering the meaning of a dream involving dogs.

Some important mythological canines include:

  • Sirius: The hunter, Orion's, faithful. Sirius is so important in Greek mythology that he has his own constellation
  • Anubis: Egyptian mythology's god of the Underworld, who is pictured with a jackal's head.
  • Fu Dogs: China's part dragon, part lion guardian dogs, whose statues are often found guarding temples.
  • The "Black Dog": Known as "Black Angus," according to Irish and British folk tales, this dog visits just before death.

The Constellation Canis Major—Orion's Dog Sirius
The Constellation Canis Major—Orion's Dog Sirius | Source

More Mythological Dogs

Name
Description
Culture
The Adlet (or Erqigdlet)
The lower part of the body of the canine Adlet is like that of a dog and their upper part is like a man's. All Adlet run quickly, and their encounters with men usually end with man as the victor.
Inuit mythology of Greenland, as well as the Labrador and Hudson Bay coasts.
Aralez
Dog-like creatures, or spirits, in Armenian cultural beliefs or in the Armenian mythology, who live in the sky, or on mount Massis (Mount Ararat). Aralezes descended from the sky to lick the wounds of dead heroes so they could relive or resurrect.
Armenian
Bulgae
One of the realms of heaven, the kingdom of darkness, was called Gamangnara (the Dark World). The king of Gamangnara got weary with darkness and desired the light of the sun and moon. He sent one of the gigantic fiery hounds, the Bul-Gae, belonging to one of his dark world subjects, to chase the sun and bring it to his realm.
Korean mythology
Cadejo
There is a good white cadejo and an evil black cadejo. Both are spirits that appear at night to travelers: the white to protect them from harm during their journey, the black (sometimes an incarnation of the devil) to kill them.
Central American
Dip
In Catalan myth, Dip is an evil, black, hairy dog, an emissary of the Devil, who sucks people's blood.
Spain
Failinis
a hound-whelp owned by Lugh Lámhfhada of the Tuatha Dé Danann in the Mythological Cycle of Irish literature. The hound was invincible in battle, caught every wild beast it encountered, and could magically change any running water it bathed in into wine.
Irish
Waheela
The waheela is a wolf-like cryptid reported from Nahanni Valley in the Northwest Territories of Canada.
Midwest U.S. and Canada
What does that who ran into your dream mean?
What does that who ran into your dream mean? | Source

Common Nightmares About Dogs

If the dog is vicious and/or growling: This indicates some inner conflict within yourself. It may also indicate betrayal and untrustworthiness.

To see a sick dog in your dream: This symbolizes a neglected friendship. If the dog is dead or dying, then it means a loss of a good friend or a deterioration of your instincts.

Dreaming that a dog bites you on the hand: symbolizes disloyalty. To dream that someone is bitten by a dog indicates a betrayal. You feel that you have been wronged by this person. To see a happily barking dog in your dream symbolizes pleasures and social activity.

Dog Fight: To see a dog fight in your dream implies that you are desperately rejecting an aspect of yourself. You are feeling ashamed.

To dream of fighting dogs signifies a conflict of interest between you and someone close to you. You need to step away from this situation.

Killing a dog in a dream: Dogs can represent immoral issues which are trying to overtake you. Sometimes the dogs can be immoral people that you know. But killing the dogs with your hands represents you taking the initiative to put certain issues that are plaguing you to death.

What Does It Mean to Dream About Puppies?

A dream of a puppy may suggest there are basic instincts which are just beginning to emerge or grow within you. This may represent an aspect of yourself that needs to be trained or developed further. This may also represent a new friend in your life. A puppy in a dream may symbolize a brash or conceited young man.

What Is Dream Interpretation?

Dream interpretation is the process of assigning meaning to dreams. In many ancient societies dreaming was considered a supernatural communication, or a means of divine intervention. The dream's message could be interpreted by people with spiritual powers.

In more modern times, many schools of psychology and neurobiology have offered theories about the meanings of dreams. From Freud to Jung, and all the way to present day thinkers, psychology's ideas on why we dream, and what their evolutionary purpose is, continue to evolve.

People do not attribute equal importance to all dreams. People are more likely to view dreams confirming their waking beliefs to be more meaningful than dreams that do not. Regardless of whether or not we have a clear answer for why we dream, we can't help but to assign importance to the experience. That should definitely tell us something vital about ourselves.

Trust Your Own Dream Interpretations

In dreams, dogs mean far more than just loyalty. However, dogs still retain characteristics they have in waking life.

To discern what a dog means in a dream requires one to be completely honest with one's self and always use one's own personal associations rather than blindly adhering to what is written in a dream encyclopedia.

Articles, such as this one, should only be seen as a starting point.

I Love My Dog! My very own beautiful, beautiful boy, Oisin the Wonder Dog
I Love My Dog! My very own beautiful, beautiful boy, Oisin the Wonder Dog | Source

We Dream, but Do Dogs Dream?

Most dog owners have noticed that at various times during their sleep, some dogs may quiver, twitch, or even growl at something. During sleep, a dog's brain wave pattern is similar to that of person's. Actually, it would be a greater surprise if dog's didn't dream, since animals much simpler than dogs experience dreams.

During the course of a dream, dogs actually begin to execute the actions that they are performing in their dreams. Thus, researchers found that a dreaming pointer may immediately start searching for game and may even go on point. A sleeping Springer Spaniel may flush an imaginary bird in his dreams. A dreaming Doberman pincher may pick a fight with a dream burglar. There may be odd muscle twitches, and you can even see the dog's eyes moving behind its closed lids. The dog's eyes are moving because the dog is actually looking at the dream images as if they were real images of the world. These eye movements are most characteristic of dreaming sleep. When human beings are awakened during the REM sleep phase, they virtually always report that they were dreaming. Dogs are no different on this issue.

Fun Songs About Dogs

Song
Artist
Release Year
"Hound Dog"
Elvis Presley
1969
"Who Let the Dogs Out?"
Baha Men
2000
"Ol Red"
Blake Shelton
2001
"Seamus"
Pink Floyd
1971
"Maga Dog"
Peter Tosh
1983
"Dogs"
Pink Floyd
1977
"Chasing Cars"
Snow Patrol
2006
"Dogs Are Everywhere"
Pulp
1987
"King of the Dogs"
Iggy Pop
2009
"Old Shep"
Elvis Presley
1956

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    • profile image

      Margaret 

      3 weeks ago

      I dreamed that i found a dog zipped up in a bag i pulled him out he was weak i was getting ready to pick up phone to call the police my phone rang and wroke me up what does this mean

    • profile image

      Maryam 

      7 weeks ago

      I had dream about helpless and white dog who was abused ,I feed him and he was happy ,but seems like the orgional owner showed up and the dog who was scared ,joint to the guy and disappeared..

    • profile image

      SmokkaQveen 

      3 months ago

      A few nights ago I had a dream about a black wolf and from what I remember it was chasing me but I wasn’t exactly afraid. Last night I had a dream that a black dog roughly the size of a German Shepherd with a brown spot on its chest was just staring at me from the end of my lot as I was looking through the window. There was no fear, it wasn’t barking, just staring. I’m afraid what that means when all I keep reading is mostly about death. Can anyone help me out please?

    • profile image

      Cristy 

      4 months ago

      I recently woke out my sleep and a dream of a black dog with wings. He look hurt and sad. The dog was just sitting there. Harmless and depress.

    • profile image

      Rose Marie 

      4 months ago

      I had a dream of a being that had the body of a praying mantis & a dog head. & it bit me. It was holding my hand biting me but it did not bite hard. I of course was screaming! I was screaming for a friend to help me & he took off. Than I said to myself my ex boy friend would’ve killed it for me.

    • profile image

      Liana 

      5 months ago

      I was dreaming with 3 dogs and they were trying to get in trough the window crazy and freaky

    • profile image

      Hermione granger 

      5 months ago

      WOW!!!!! I had no idea thats why that happens!!!

    • profile image

      Mackenzie Casey 

      6 months ago

      I dreamt of a black wolf creeping up behind me. I heard it's soft foot on the earth and turned around quickly, only to see it had been trying to sneak up on me to make me it's lunch. It was swiveling it's head and inching closer sniffing the air around me. It didn't look everly menacing...just as if it wanted to test out how close it could come. The next day I got layed off from work, and the morning after found out the first love of my life had died with unexplainable causes.

    • profile image

      Diane69 

      11 months ago

      I used to dream of a pack of black dogs, as soon as I looked and saw they are running towards me, I would run as fast as I can, but they catch up every time, then I would awaken, heart pounding, gasping, scared....

    • profile image

      Michelle 

      2 years ago

      I just had a dream that a large black dog came into my room while i was sleeping. I was with my two siblings and daughter, (for some reason) and they could see the dog also. We all reacted fearfully, but the dog didn't seem evil, however it did seem god like or spiritual. It just stood over me and stopped me from moving. I'm not sure if protecting me, or just to keep me still.

      I rarely dream. And this one was vivid.

    • profile image

      London 

      2 years ago

      I was going out of a church/church area and looking for my parents. I went around the corner and suddenly I was on the edge of the building (the church area was up high inside a building). The building seemed to be floating above the clouds, and it was so bright. Anyway, I saw my parents but then I knelt down and a large black dog came and bit into my right shoulder. It had a strong grip on me but it didn't seem to want to HURT me. Still, I was scared. I moved my left foot and it slid off the edge. Nearly dangling, I held onto the dog's head as my parents were in the distance yelling for me to let go of him/get him away. I'm afraid of large dogs and heights, and I knew I would fall and die if I let go of the dog. I woke up right afterwards.

      Does this bring about any thoughts for anybody?

    • profile image

      Tyler 

      3 years ago

      Ok, I had a dream...

      In my dream me and my gf where sleeping, in our old house; we heard noise from the other room over, scary noise's like someone breaking and making hole's in the walls... Also voices of someone talking to him self in our old house., next room over sounded like someone with a hammer breaking walls and talking -

      - I assume probably a GHOST because, I always lock my house and no one could off gotten in/ anyway thinking it was a ghost, I send my black medium-size guard dog to go check and possibly scare the bad spirit away. I figure if it's a really bad spirit the dog would cry or bark none stop a lot or sound in pain, I listen and nothing... The dog was quiet he didn't make a sound and the noise's and voices had stopped SO "everything" was back to normal so I return to bed.

      In the morning my dog Rex at the moment "I don't have a dog but I my dream I did, his name was Rex". I found Rex frozen In that room, all the noise came from- the night before, he was motion less alive but very very scared., he seemed like he was dieing Very scared wouldn't move, Frozen looking at one corner in the hole room...

      That was my dream can anyone help?

    • profile image

      val 

      3 years ago

      Just had a dream bigger black dog biting smaller black dog on the head. I called the aggressive dog's name and for a second he stopped and continued biting the other dog. There was a white towel over the dog month. I don't remember his name.

    • profile image

      Ashin 

      4 years ago

      I had a dream just a few minutes ago..

      There were two dogs one was white in colour which

      was the good dog and it was just standing in the

      corner and one very wild and black and was

      medium in size with a long mouth, upward ears and

      hairy like terrier. It had shiny round eyes and was

      very wild and was trying to bite me and my long

      tied hair every second and it did succeed in biting

      some of my parts of my left hand which was

      painful. After sometime I caught the dog from its

      mouth with a lot of difficulty and poked it's eye wih

      my own finger one by one (At moments I felt pity

      for the dog and thought I shouldn't have done it

      because I'm a dog lover but there was something

      inside me which couldn't stop me). After sometime

      I stabbed the dog with a knife and before I threw it

      I took out it's skin as well. I realized it became

      smaller in size after it died.

      I found out through google that black monstrous

      dogs symbolises death. I'm worried.

    • profile image

      Marzia 

      4 years ago

      In my dreams their was a black dog with red eyes the dog look at me and turn away

    • profile image

      Christina 

      4 years ago

      I keep having dreams that on an aggressive dog barking growling than I bite who ever is coming at me

    • EsmeSanBona profile imageAUTHOR

      EsmeSanBona 

      5 years ago from Macon

      So do you see the black dog as primarily a positive or negative dream symbol?

      Thanks for the comments and up vote!

    • Man from Modesto profile image

      Man from Modesto 

      5 years ago from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California)

      Wow. I voted this up and gave it some props. This is really comprehensive. I have also been interpreting dreams for almost two decades. I have a blog post on black dogs here:

      http://dreamtraining.blogspot.com/2009/07/black-do...

      For me, I find that a black dog (as opposed to some other dog) is the loyal servant of a dark force, a manifestation of its protective and destructive powers.

    • T. Pisa profile image

      T. Pisa 

      5 years ago

      Very interesting! Thank you!

    • profile image

      Reb 

      6 years ago

      I recently dreamed of being in a house and a black dog, large and skinny, shiny hoovered outside the window. I eran out to chase it and found others and forced them back into the night. my bulldog ran out from behind me in the darkness and I called to her and told her she was safe. what does that mean? I felt the black dogs were evil somehow.

    • profile image

      francine 

      6 years ago

      i had the most horriblest dream ever, it was a flashback from a video i watched. it was a dog killing scene and the dog was wimpering so much and then the boy grabbed a flower vase and hit the dog with it until it was dead.what does that mean when i remember stuff i did or watched back then?

    • john2000 profile image

      john2000 

      7 years ago

      Great Hub about Dogs. I love my Dog (Bambi). I also wrote about Dogs in my hub.

    • Seeker7 profile image

      Helen Murphy Howell 

      7 years ago from Fife, Scotland

      As I'm an avid dog lover I found this hub particularly compelling. I often dream about dogs and in particular my dogs that have passed on coming to visit. These are very beautiful dreams but at times a little sad that they end on waking.

      Really interesting hub, loved it!

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