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What is Dogman in Michigan Lore (and is it True)?

A creature called the Dogman is said to stalk Michigan’s countryside, only appearing to frighten humans before disappearing into the wilderness.

What are the chances the Dogman is real?

Let’s explore the nearly 150-year-old legacy of Michigan’s most terrifying urban legend.

What is the Michigan Dogman?

Picture this. You’re driving through a forest at night. Tall trees line the road, and the only light comes from the moon and stars overhead. Just when you think you’re alone, a creature that looks like a half-man and half-wolf jumps in front of your car.

If you share this story with someone from Michigan, chances are they’ll say you just had your first Dogman sighting. 

The Michigan Dogman has been haunting residents of the state for years. Witnesses describe it as having a man’s body and a dog’s head. Some reports claim the creature is upwards of seven feet tall. Its eyes are said to be blue or possibly yellow. Although it resembles a human, its howl is like that of a dog.

The Dogman is said to leave signs similar to those of other cryptids. As reported in an article on, multiple sightings include mention of large footprints left in snow or dirt. 

Some claim the Dogman also leaves distinctive claw marks on the objects it touches. And like many mysterious creatures, it also has a terrible smell. People describe its scent as foul or stale, like rotting meat or mothballs.

Origins of the Michigan Dogman Legend

Dogman sightings date back to the 19th century. The creature was first spotted in 1887 by a group of lumberjacks working in a logging camp in Michigan’s Wexford County.

Since then, Dogman sightings have occurred primarily in forested or secluded areas across the state. In 1938, a fisherman encountered a group of wild dogs near the Muskegon River. The man fired a round from a shotgun to scare them off. All the dogs retreated except one, who reportedly “stood on its hind legs and glared at the man.”

One hundred years after the first Dogman sighting, a Traverse City, Michigan radio DJ wrote a song about this cryptid called “The Legend.” The song was meant as a good-natured joke. 

However, once it played on the air, the DJ received dozens of calls from people hoping to share their experiences with the Dogman. With so many reported sightings, it’s hard not to wonder if this frightening beast might actually exist!

Pro Tip: Go to Hell! No literally. Give yourself a scare by Spending a Day in Hell, Michigan.

Dogman in dark foggy forest
Rumors of a wild half-wolf, half-man living in Michigan have spread around town for centuries.

Modern Dogman Sightings

Dogman’s appearances didn’t stop after the first sightings in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Today plenty of folks claim they’ve seen this terrifying half-wolf, half-man in the wilderness and sometimes even in their neighborhoods.

One anonymous tipster reported seeing the Dogman near his home in Big Rapids, Michigan, in 1961. This witness worked as a nighttime security guard for a large manufacturing plant across the street from his house. After an evening shift, he reportedly saw someone scale a fence bordering the building. 

Thinking it was a burglar attempting to break into the plant, he went outside to confront the person, only to encounter the Dogman in his own driveway. 

Another anonymous witness claims he’s seen the Dogman not once but twice. The first sighting occurred during the witness’s childhood in 1988. During recess, the boy was exploring a wooded area near his school’s playground when he spotted the creature dashing into a line of trees. 

Years later, in 2008, the same witness claims he awoke to noise on the roof of his house. After running outside, the person spied the Dogman peering directly at him over one of the eaves.

One of the most recent sightings came from a retired policewoman named Laura Love. While driving through Shelby, Michigan, in 2009 with a friend, Love says they “saw a large, tall, dark, and oddly shaped creature run out from the left side of the overpass.” 

The pair described a tall half-man, half-dog with a face resembling a border collie. Love and her friend were so disturbed they didn’t speak of the sighting until they returned to Love’s home. 

Where is the Dogman?

Most reported Dogman sightings are traceable to different areas of northern Michigan. An article on says the majority occur in “the northwestern quadrant of the Lower Peninsula.” 

But reports of the Dogman also stretch west into Wisconsin and even Minnesota. Witnesses say the creature appears in wooded areas and quiet neighborhoods, primarily at night.

Dogman sightings also follow an interesting timeline. According to, the cryptid appears primarily in “a ten-year cycle that falls on years ending in 7.” 

Many sightings do seem to occur in years ending in the number 7. However, plenty more occur during off years, making it clear that the Dogman follows his own schedule.

Haunted forest in Michigan.
Beware of the Dogman when wandering about Michigan.

Is There a Movie About the Michigan Dogman?

Michigan’s Dogman is so legendary that its story isn’t just relegated to sightings anymore. Traverse City-area filmmaker Richard Bauer decided to immortalize the cryptid on the silver screen by creating a Dogman trilogy of films.

Dogman, released in 2012, is the first installment in the trilogy. The movie follows Dorothy and Hanklin Purvis, two Midwestern farmers who end up facing off with the cryptid after a series of bizarre incidents on their property.

The second film, Dogman 2: The Wrath of the Litter, finds the Purvises one year after their first tousle with the monster. But the creature returns–this time with a litter of terrifying puppies!

Bauer filmed the movies in Benzie County, Michigan, giving the films an authentic setting. Bauer’s third Dogman film is currently in post-production.

Dogman on the Radio

Remember that Traverse City radio DJ who wrote the song about Dogman? His name is Steve Cook, and he’s been a huge part of keeping the cryptid’s legacy alive.

In an interview on, Cook explains the song was supposed to be a simple April Fool’s Day joke. Cook says, “I’ve always been a collector of folklore stories; I’ve always loved Big Foot, Loch Ness … So I decided it was time to create a creature unique to Northern Michigan.”

The song was originally a jokey poem written by Cook. He set the poem to music and played it on air. But Cook never anticipated the audience’s response: “We started to get calls from people saying ‘That’s no joke, that’s a real thing. That actually happened. People have seen this thing.’”

Cook’s song remains a popular piece of local lore to this day. Royalties from the song have raised several thousand dollars for animal charities over the years.

Pro Tip: Keep an eye out for the Dogman while exploring these 7 Underrated Michigan Tourist Attractions.

Is the Michigan Dogman Lore True?

Like any piece of urban folklore, it’s impossible to know with certainty whether the Dogman exists. The cryptid’s eerie timing only adds to its mystery. Why do so many sightings occur on the Dogman’s oddly specific ten-year timetable?

Even law enforcement isn’t sure the monster is a myth. Steve Cook says that when he played “The Legend” on air, a Traverse City sheriff’s deputy became convinced that an attempted break-in at a secluded cabin was the work of the Dogman.

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