A to Z Challenge Folklore

Cù Sìth: Faery Dogs #AtoZChallenge #folklore

C is for Cù Sìth.

Learn more here.

The Cù Sìth or Faery Dog plays an important role in most of my stories. Most of my heroines have an important task to perform in the future of Faerie – and that makes them targets for the bad guys. So they have a Cù Sìth protector. Before we get to my version of Faerie, let’s check out this wonderful dog in folklore.

Folklore

Carmina Gadelica, Volume 2, by Alexander Carmicheal, [1900]

Cu-sith, fairy dog, dog of the spirit-world. This indicates the belief of the ancient Celts in animals as well as men of the spirit-world.

The Element Encyclopedia of Fairies by Lucy Cooper

(Pronounced coo-shee.) Scottish fairy dog. His dark green color marks him out as distinct from other Celtic fairy hounds. Other fairy dogs are generally described as either white with red ears, or black; the most common type in England are black dogs. As described by J. G. Campbell in Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland (1900), the cù sìth is the size of a young bull, with shaggy coat and a long tail coiled or plaited on his back; his huge footprints can often be seen in the mud or the snow. He runs silently, gliding along in a straight line. Three loud barks, which can be heard by sailors far out at sea, are the signal that the cù sìth is out hunting.

*More can be read in the book.

The Encyclopedia of Celtic Mythology and Folklore by Patricia Monaghan

Cù Sìth

Scottish mythological being. Unlike other fairy creatures, the Highland fairy dog was neither black (see black dog) nor red with white ears, but dark green and the size of a small bull. It made enormous footprints, the size of a large man’s, and always moved in a straight line as it traversed the world hunting for prey, including other dogs.

The Cù Sìth could bark, and loudly, but only three times. On the third, it sprang forward and devoured anyone nearby.

…Also straddling the line between life and death was the ambiguous fairy dog, a fearsome apparition with burning eyes and a terrifying howl…

*More can be read in the book.

Further Reading:

Folklore in a Nutshell by Ronel

The Cù Sìth is a spectral dog found in the Highlands of Scotland. It is similar to the Irish Cù Sìdhe and the Welsh Cŵn Annwn. These fairy dogs are the size of a large calf with the appearance of a wolf and have dark green, shaggy coats (unlike most other spectral dogs that are black, white or red). Their long tails are either curled or braided, and their paws are the size of a man’s hand.

Cù Sìth means “faery dog” and thus the green of their coats is just another connection to the fae (green is traditionally the colour of faeries).

The Cù Sìth is thought to live in the clefts of rocks in the Highlands and to roam the moors and mountains. It is dangerous to meet this silent hunter and even worse to hear its bark: The Cù Sìth lets out three loud barks that can be heard for kilometres around and if you are still around when the third bark sounds, you will die of terror. In that regard this faery dog acts much like the Banshee heralding death, or even as Death itself collecting souls for the Other Side.

Cù Sìth in Modern Culture

The only supernatural dog that fits the definition of the folkloric Cù Sìth I could find in modern culture is Mrs. O’Leary (and the other hellhounds) in the Percy Jackson universe..

Mrs. O’Leary is Percy Jackson’s pet hellhound. She is thought to be the only friendly hellhound in existence.
Mrs. O’Leary was born from Cerberus and Nyx. She was originally Quintus’ hellhound pet. He tamed her and they became very close. According to Quintus, the story of how he got Mrs. O’Leary involves “many close calls with death and quite a few giant squeaky toys.”

Cù Sìth in My Writing

I give all my Cù Sìth gemstone names (or I’ll name them after my Rottweilers). <grin>

amber rottweiler
Amber, Queen of the Faery Dogs.

Origin of the Fae: Cù Sìth

“Cù Sìth” is sometimes interchangeable with “Faery Dog”.
The Cù Sìth is a Faery dog in Scottish Mythology that is usually in the form of a big black-and-tan dog (Rottweiler).
They have amber coloured eyes that burn brightly as they do magic.
They protect those of the Mist – humans with magical ability who are important to the Fae Monarchs and children of both worlds (half Fae and half mortal).
They use mindspeak (a form of telepathy) to communicate and all of them speak without contractions – except modern-day Saphira (and those who have gone rogue).
The Cù Sìth are the most powerful of all Fae. They control the very fabric of time and space. They create the Faery circles that are the most powerful and accurate of all magical teleportation. They can go anywhere in Time to correct or interfere in someone’s life.
Whenever the Cù Sìth protect someone, all who know about them know that the person who is protected is something special.

faery dogs Afrikaans English
sketch of cù sìth
Get it here.

What do you think of the Cù Sìth? Where did you hear about this brand of faery dog for the first time? Any stories about this fae you’d like to share? Do you like the twist that they look like Rottweilers in my version of Faerie? Check out my Pinterest board dedicated to the Cù Sìth.

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16 thoughts on “Cù Sìth: Faery Dogs #AtoZChallenge #folklore”

  1. I want one of these so bad! I am a dog person, and I love large dogs. I have an Old English Sheepie, but at one point I also want an Irish Wolfhound…
    And yes they definitely all need names!

  2. I’d only really heard of supernatural dogs as the bad guys, like harbingers of death or The Hound of the Baskervilles 😉 – it’s nice to see they can be protectors too. Rotties are gorgeous dogs, great choice. Friends of ours have always had rotties, they’re lovely but they do seem to often have health problems. My parents used to have a huge white Alsatian – he was such a sweetie.
    Tasha 💖
    Virginia’s Parlour – The Manor (Adult concepts – nothing explicit in posts)
    Tasha’s Thinkings – Vampire Drabbles

    1. Thanks, Tasha 🙂 Most of my Rotties only live until about six when they start to get various types of cancer 🙁 But Cal is still happy and healthy, so hopefully I’ll have him with me for some time to come!

  3. I confess this is the first time I’ve heard of this particular dog. The Otherworldly hounds in my fiction are the white ones with red ears, including a loveable one who somehow ended up in the mortal world as the pet of a lord, then his page as he searches for his lord. She has puppies after a night of running with the Wild Hunt.

    Green, eh? Fascinating!

    1. I heard of this one when looking up various magical dogs and it just captured me. I love the idea of yours having puppies after a night running with the Wild Hunt! Have you published that one yet? I would love to read it 🙂

  4. Yes, the novel was published by Random House Australia. It’s called Wolfborn. You should be able to get it in ebook or order the print book. (It has gone to Print On Demand). I hope you like it. It’s a YA novel inspired by Marie De France’s “Bisclavret”.

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