Large moon covering a Victorian house on a haunted hill on all Hallows Eve.

Little Known Halloween Facts for Dogs

For You and Your Favorite Doggo

Halloween is a holiday that comes on one day every single year, but you wouldn’t know that based on how we celebrate it. By late August, stores are filled with exciting Halloween goodies that are perfect for decorating and dressing up in celebration that will make you wish that you could celebrate Halloween every day. Of course, this isn’t how we have always celebrated Halloween.

An adorable  dog smiling at the camera wearing bat ears and a Halloween cape.
What do you say, spend Halloween with me?

The Halloween that we know and love has a long history that spans back thousands of years, and you might be surprised by what haunts await in its tale of origin. Let’s discuss Halloween, its history, and the cultural relevance of dogs in spooky spaces!

The History of Halloween is Not What You Think

Large moon covering a Victorian house on a haunted hill on all Hallows Eve.
A Halloween Haunting on all Hallows Eve!

While modern renditions of the Halloween season often involve spooky stories, fun costumes, and loads of candy, this wasn’t always the case. Halloween fun as we know it is a very modern take, and to fully understand it, we have to travel back thousands of years to discuss Samhain.

Samhain was a festival held by the ancient Celts, a people who were known to spend their time in Ireland, the UK, and some parts of France. For these people, their new year was on November 1st, not January 1st like so many of us follow today. For the Celts, this day—and the day before it—held sacred value. They believed that November 1st marked the beginning of winter, and this was a surprisingly bad thing.

Most of us have some kind of feeling about winter, but in ancient times, things were different. The Celts weren’t worried about having to wear a coat or boots—they were afraid of dying. Back in their time, winter was a very dangerous time that claimed lives every single year.

For this reason, they felt that October 31st was a particular point of concern. It was on this day that they believed that the lines between our world and the world of the dead would grow hazy, allowing for the dead to walk among us.

A deeply spiritual people, they also believed that this crossover empowered their priests to predict the future with a higher level of accuracy. They would do anything and everything to commemorate this day in order to bring good tidings, including making bonfires and sacrificing animals. But, the common people also had their own practice of wearing costumes and making their own predictions.

Following this, Celtic territories were overtaken by the Roman Empire, which brought its own celebrations to the table. Two celebrations, Feralia and a festival to honor the goddess, Pomona, were brought together with Samhain. Feralia was used to honor the passing of the dead, and Pomona’s day was focused on her symbol, the apple. Many believe that this is where we got our trend of bobbing for apples at parties during the Halloween season.

More time passed and Halloween’s origins began to come together with other stories. At one point, a push from the church attempted to change the celebration into a day to honor the dead with All Souls’ Day. At some point, the day became known as All Hallows Eve, which eventually became Halloween.

Trick-or-Treating was Never a Halloween Practice

A cute pitbull mixed dog dressed up for Halloween, ready for trick or treating.
Treat, definitely I pick treat!

Most of us have fond memories of Halloween fun growing up, and we can all agree that it holds some extra benefits for young children. We all lament the day that we become too old to trick-or-treat, but did you know that trick-or-treating was not a traditional Halloween practice at all?

Back in the day, Halloween fun was a lot more about mischief in older renderings than it ever was about asking for treats. In fact, the practice of asking for candy on Halloween is rooted in the holiday’s reputation for mischief in a modern twist on older practices.

During Samhain, it was common to leave out food and treats to appease unwanted spooky guests. With ghosts walking the streets, no one really wanted to meet one if they knew what was good for them. It became a common practice for celebrators to dress up in costumes and leave out treats to ward off ghosts—and somehow, those ancient terrors became today’s children.

Likely born from the ancient practice of mumming, a process where people would dress up and perform for treats, trick-or-treating was born. While today’s children don’t perform for their candy other than shouting trick-or-treat in perfect unison, the original trick-or-treaters actually used the practice as a form of extortion.

The silent agreement was that homeowners that offered up candy and treats would not be the target of mischief from disgruntled kids who wanted their sugary payments—and this is where the story may shock you. Modern trick-or-treating was not truly documented until 1951 when it appeared in a Peanuts comic. Since then, children have been marching door-to-door while demanding candy—but we can all agree that this is hardly an ancient practice.

Dogs Run Rampant in Horror and Literature

Adorable jack russell terrier dressed as a pirate for Halloween.
Are you looking for me?

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, manners, and temperaments. But, today’s dogs are a little different than the dogs of the historical record. While dogs have commonly been known for their loyal and sometimes endearing demeanor, the truth is that we have completely changed the way that we view them for the better.

Even though modern dogs are often known for their cute outfits, adorable tricks, and endearing antics, this wasn’t always the case. Before the idea of treating dogs like precious little house pets was born, dogs were known to be a point of concern—and this is why they have such a notable place in horror history.

You might look at your pup and see a slightly furry and lovable potato, but dogs are also incredible predators. Throughout history, dogs were often kept for protection and hunting, which is a pretty big stretch from the furry friends that we see on Instagram. Of course, on Halloween, anybody can be dangerous—even if it’s only a costume. Let’s learn about your doggo’s spooky predecessors.

Cujo

Movie poster for the classic horror film Cujo written by Stephen King and directed by Lewis Teague.
Nows there's a new name for terror.

In 1981, Stephen King changed the world forever when he wrote his psychological horror novel Cujo. The story focuses on a Saint Bernard with rabies, which might not seem like a huge point of concern in today’s world where our pups can get their vaccines and a pawdicure at the same time, but back then, it was a pretty big deal. In areas where stray dogs are still common, this threat still exists.

Stephen King’s novel was turned into a disturbing film in 1983—and while it did haunt the masses, it is also incredibly heartbreaking. We all hate to see a beloved family pet turn into a murderous monster, but this story and movie have terrorized families for generations. In fact, a surprising number of people saw it at a very young age!

Resident Evil

Resident Evil movie poster staring Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson.
It's time to survive the horror.

The majority of us would agree that pretty much everything in Resident Evil is a giant trauma, and that is by design. The movies, based on the popular horror games, are host to a long list of mutated zombie creatures—and at the top of this list are dogs.

The dogs in Resident Evil are not just scary because they harbor that natural killer instinct that some dogs can have, but because they are also zombies! In the end, you end up realizing that zombie dogs are one of the worst things that you could possibly go against—and we can all agree that I Am Legend didn’t help with this narrative either. When dogs go from cute and fluffy to absolutely lethal, it is a big pill for dog lovers to swallow.

The Little Black Dog

The Little Black Dog from the book More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, collected from folklore and retold by Alvin Schwartz.
Maybe you don't see it, but I do.

Made popular by the More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark collection that was designed to offer horrifying stories to children, The Little Black Dog is a tale of vengeance and more vengeance.

According to this tale, two young men got into a fight that turned deadly. One man shot the other, and when the dead man’s dog would not stop barking and growling, the man ultimately made the decision to kill the dog too (a decision that we are very angry about)—but the story doesn’t end there.

From that moment on, the dog’s ghost torments his owner’s murderer like a properly terrifying Good Boy. All-day and night, the man hears the scratching of the dog at his door. He hears it barking and growling every hour of the day. Though he tries to tell himself that he is imagining it, he is horrified when black dog fur begins to appear all over his home. Everywhere he goes, he can’t escape the smell of that dog.

When he complains to others, they brush him off, assuming that he isn’t of sound mind—but the narrative changes when they find him dead and covered with black fur with the lingering scent of a dog filling the nearby area.

Frankenweenie

Frankenweenie is a Black-and-White Stop-Motion Horror/Comedy film directed by Tim Burton.
When you lose someone you love, they never really leave you.

Though there are plenty of truly frightening renditions of dogs in horror history, there are also a few delightful gems hidden in among them. Frankenweenie, a film made in 2012 by creative genius Tim Burton, is the perfect balance of spooky and adorable (which we greatly appreciate).

In this tale, a young Victor Frankenstein has his best friend in the world—a little dog named Sparky. When Sparky succumbs to his inevitable (and devastating) demise, Victor knows that he cannot say goodbye to his friend just yet. Using science and pure childhood hope, he resurrects Sparky much to the delight of us all. Unfortunately, when his peers begin to use his science to resurrect animals of their own, the situation goes from endearing to downright dangerous. Of course, like the majority of Tim Burton movies, Frankenweenie is age-appropriate fun for viewers of all ages.

There is a Modern Push for Dog-Friendly Halloween Celebrations

Adorable english bulldog, haute dog having fun at a Howl'oween Parade.
Come for the festivities, stay for the cuteness.

The modern history of the Halloween season is taking an interesting change of direction. Though Halloween has commonly been considered a point of celebration for humans, the era of the Halloween-loving hound is absolutely upon us. Every year, more people find ways to celebrate with their favorite furry friends in exciting new ways.

Howl-O-Ween Costumes

For ages, humans have dressed up to celebrate Halloween in all of its spooky glory. Mostly reserved for parties and trick-or-treating, this act has long since been reserved for humans—but those days are officially behind us.

Little doodle looking adorably cute in the Deadly Killer Halloween Dog costume from online dog costume shop they made me wear it.
SHOP COSTUME

Friends Till the End

DEADLY CUTE CHUCKY COSTUME

Our Chucky Doll costume was made to help pups celebrate the Halloween season in the best possible way, but it was also made with the comfort of your dog in mind.

Every single year, more people choose to dress up their dogs for this fun celebration. While some families allow their dogs to show off all on their own, others opt to include their beloved pup in an overall Halloween theme for the entire family. More doggy costumes are being made each year, and we are absolutely delighted to play a role in this.

Howl-O-Ween Events

Really cute terrier dog wearing a pointed witch hat, truly in the spirit of Halloween.
Some days you have to put on the hat to remind them who they're dealing with 👻

Growing up, a lot of us got used to seeing trick-or-treat streets and comparable events targeted at children. Now, most of us dog lovers treat our pups like children themselves, so it shouldn’t be surprising that more people are looking to claim the holidays for their furbabies too.

In modern times, Halloween festivities are being created specifically for dogs and their pawrents—and we absolutely love to see it! Our dogs are sick of being left behind, which is why it is so nice to see costume events for dogs, Halloween dog-friendly 5Ks, and pup-friendly viewings of movies like Frankenweenie. Today’s dogs are not simply pets to be left behind. They are a part of the family, and every day, more pawrents are pushing to have inclusive spaces for their canine companions.

The Conclusion

Diabolical cute pug ready for Halloween wearing a pair of black devil horns.
Devilishly handsome, wouldn't you say?

Halloween might have started as a highly spiritual festival, but now we can safely say that this holiday has officially gone to the dogs. Throughout its history, Halloween has changed significantly, for better or worse—but we definitely believe that the push for dog-friendly Halloween events is a turn for the better. As long as you keep your pup safe, happy, and healthy, we think that you should celebrate however you like. Just remember to find them a comfortable costume and keep them well within their comfort zone, and they will be happy to celebrate with you!

Until next time, thank you for reading!