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Choosing the Perfect Shutter Dogs for Your Exterior Shutters

For traditional charm and visual appeal, few things enhance your home’s exterior like window shutters. Whether they are fully functional or purely decorative, outfitting them with the proper hardware is essential. In addition to hinges, shutter dogs are vital to making your shutters look and feel authentic.

Georgetown style shutter dog

What are shutter dogs?

Also called shutter holdbacks or shutter tiebacks, shutter dogs are designed to keep your window shutters tight to the wall when open. Mounted directly below the open shutter panel, they pivot horizontally, allowing you to release and close the shutters when needed. The designs are intentionally asymmetrical, so the shutter dog naturally rests in a vertical position. Even purely decorative shutters affixed to the wall are visually enhanced by this charming hardware feature.

Used for centuries, shutter dogs were originally hand-forged by blacksmiths in simple bent or curved shapes, often with a hammered surface or edge. Rat-tail, scroll and Georgetown are popular early styles still being made today.

With the development of cast iron in the nineteenth century, ornamental designs like shells, flowers, and grapes were introduced. These new styles gave homeowners an opportunity to add a bit of personality or whimsy to the exterior of their homes.

Hand-forged shutter tie-backs Hand-forged shutter tie-backs
Decorative cast iron shutter tie-backs Decorative cast iron shutter tie-backs

Shutter dogs are also available in several different materials. Traditional hand-forged and cast iron remain popular, although they must be painted periodically to prevent rust. Galvanized iron, stainless steel, and cast aluminum are good options for environments where weather resistance is critical or simply desirable. Regardless of material, most of our shutter dogs have a black powder-coated finish to guard against rust and other signs of weathering.

So why are they called shutter dogs? In antiquated hardware terms, a "dog" can be defined as "any of various usually simple mechanical devices for holding, gripping, or fastening that consist of a spike, bar, or hook." (Websters) Thus, it makes sense that a device designed to fasten shutters in place would come to be known as a shutter dog!

What type is right for you?

Shutter dogs are categorized by mounting method – lag, post, or dummy. Each method corresponds to the wall surface to which they are attached. Read below to determine which type is right for your home.

Scroll design lag mount shutter dog

Lag Bolt Mount

Lag-mount shutter dogs are designed for homes constructed of brick, stone, or stucco (and wood if the material is thick enough). The tieback is mounted on a 4 1/2 inch lag bolt, which screws deep into the surface of the wall (longer replacement bolts are available). Pre-drilling with a masonry bit is required prior to installation, and masonry screw anchors are highly recommended.

Cast iron rat tail lag mount Cast iron rat tail lag mount
Dolphin design lag mount Dolphin design lag mount
Propeller style lag mount Propeller style lag mount
Cast iron grape design post mount shutter dog.

Post Mount

Post-mount shutter dogs are best for houses with flat wood siding or shingles. The tieback is mounted to a post, which is attached to a round or square base. The base will typically have 3-4 mounting screws that secure it to the wall.

Classic scroll plate mount Classic scroll plate mount
Cast iron flower post mount Cast iron flower post mount
Cast iron hammered rat-tail design Cast iron hammered rat-tail design
Scroll design dummy mount shutter dog

Dummy Mount

Dummy shutter dogs are purely decorative, but give your shutters a more complete and authentic appearance. Rather than mounting to the wall of your home, faux tiebacks are invisibly mounted to the bottom rail of your shutter with a wood screw. They are, therefore, compatible with any type of exterior wall surface - brick, stucco, or wood.

Regardless of mounting type, shutter dogs should be positioned towards the outer edge of the shutter, about ¼ of the width back (e.g., on a 16" wide shutter place the shutter dog about 4" from the edge). They should be far enough below the shutter to allow it to swing past when the tieback is in a horizontal position.

Find More Shutter Hardware & Accessories

Shutter dogs are just one element in creating authentic-looking shutters for your home. Browse our site for a wide selection of strap and clarks tip hinges, hurricane bolts, hook & eye fasteners, ring pulls, and more - everything you need to outfit your operational shutters. If your shutters are purely decorative, you’ll also find a full range of faux hinges and dummy shutter dogs. For help with shutter hardware questions, call our Hardware Specialists at 888-223-2545.

Exterior shutter hinges Shop Shutter Hinges
Shutter fasteners and accessories Shop Shutter Fasteners & Accessories
dummy shutter hardware Shop Dummy Hardware

Looking for quality exterior shutters?

Well-crafted shutters are key to creating a home with authentic period charm. For a wide range of materials, styles, and custom sizes, we recommend Shutterland. On their site, you will find essential information regarding measuring and installing shutters made just for your home.