Skip to content

Dog

A snarling bulldog is the British burglar alarm’s best friend, but there are some friendlier mutts too

Cerberus, Bristol: hades

Cerberus "Cerberus" burglar alarm, Bristol • Weird blank arched alarm named after the three-headed guard dog to the entrance of Hades, also known as a constellation and a dark spot on Mars, amongst other astronomical things. There's a very tiny logo on there, but I can't work out what it is: it looks like a  a book, a shield and a knight stumbled into the telepod machine that turned Jeff Goldblum into The Fly.• Spotted: John Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2013 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
Cerberus, Bristol: hades

B.D. Security, Fulham: barking

BD ChelseaHarbour Hamm&Ful nr SW10 0XD 6118_800 "B.D. Security" burglar alarm, Hammersmith and Fulham • I have long been waiting to show this excellent cartoon logo, in which which I think B.D. stands for 'barking dog'. There weren't any guard dogs in earshot when I photographed it, though; maybe the firm is based in Barking. • Spotted: Chelsea Harbour, Hammersmith and Fulham, London, SW10, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Chelsea and Fulham
B.D. Security, Fulham: barking

“Ambassador”, Old Coulsdon: dog-head

"Ambassador" burglar alarm, Old Coulsdon • More cockles, and a dog prancing on someone's head. Loads of these heraldic alarm shields have helmets on top, and this is a bit like Hadleigh – maybe they all copied the same piece of clip art. They all look like logos for local government rather than burglar alarms, anyway – I could see this over the entrance arch of an LCC council estate. Heaven knows what LPC stands for here, or how it relates to an ambassador. • Spotted: Court Avenue, Old Coulsdon, Surrey, CR5, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Croydon South
“Ambassador”, Old Coulsdon: dog-head

“GD Security”, Southwark: un-describable wedgie

"GD Security" burglar alarm, Southwark • Another wedgie sounder with an un-describable shape, from the prolific GD Security, whose bulldog I've already featured here in the dogs category. While their guard mutt never changes, GD use a wide variety of box designs, usually in silver. This however is in blue and white, which I always think of as subliminal "police" colours. • Spotted: Morocco Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“GD Security”, Southwark: un-describable wedgie

“Pointer”, Derby: pocket dog

"Pointer" burglar alarm, Derby • I've already featured a couple of Pointers, but this is by far the most recent – and the only example of this slightly "pocketty" shape of sounder I've ever come across. I still like the cute mutt logo, now in a smart silver roundel. • Spotted: Town centre, Derby, Derbyshire, DE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Derby South
“Pointer”, Derby: pocket dog

The mystery of “Dogs Full of Money” – solved

How I went in search of a Banksy, and ended up with a Dog Full of Money. Links to DFM Flickr gallery A few days ago I posted a burglar alarm from Bristol with a sticker of a funny dog on it. It looked a bit like a Banksy, so I decided to research it – and what I came across, via the magic of Google, was the phenomenon of “Dogs Full of Money”. Known as DFMs for short, these were a spate of photocopied stickers which appeared internationally in 2006, all bearing mutated variations on the outline of a dog-shaped charity collecting box with three coins dropping into its head, as above. The dog on the burglar alarm was too decayed to guess its author; what led me to hope it was a Banksy was its confident style, and the witty way it made the Shorrock branding read “Shock”. So I worried away like a terrier at the world of DFMs, chasing clues down a maze of ever-older and obscurer web-holes. [More]
The mystery of “Dogs Full of Money” – solved

“Pointer”, Glasgow: a discreet “vandal” sticker

"Pointer" burglar alarm with "Vandal" sticker, Glasgow, 2010"Pointer" burglar alarm with "vandal" sticker, Glasgow, 2010 • A very discreet vandal indeed must have placed this tiny sticker. It's on an updated version of the ancient Pointer alarm from Hull I posted a while back. This design tames the bonkers dog logo within a circle, and replaces the stonking stencil font with tasteful Officina, the Helvetica of the 1990s, designed by type god Erik Spiekermann. The alarm's designer appears to be channelling a 1990s CD sleeve (presumably current at the time), and probably had to fight for that lower case "p" – it's an exciting life in the world of graphics. I still prefer the original naive design, though. • Spotted: Merchant City area, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, G1, Scotland, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Glasgow Central "Pointer" burglar alarm with "Vandal" sticker, Glasgow, 2010
“Pointer”, Glasgow: a discreet “vandal” sticker

“Shock”, Bristol: is this dog sticker a Banksy?

"Shorrock" burglar alarm with dog sticker, Bristol, 2006"Shorrock" burglar alarm with dog sticker, Bristol, 2006 • This charming dog-stickered burglar alarm is my all time favourite – and, just possibly, a Banksy. At first I thought those were butterflies above the dreamy labrador's head, but they're coins dropping into a slot: it's a drawing of an old-fashioned guide dog collection box, cleverly positioned on a Shorrock burglar alarm to make it read "Shock". So, why do I think it's a Banksy? Firstly, the style and pose of the dog's head – that confident line and slightly wistful, upwards-tilted look is something I associate with a lot of his figures. Secondly, I found it in Bristol, which is where Banksy is from. Thirdly, Banksy often depicts dogs. And fourthly – well, there is no fourth, but I've just always just half-thought it was a Banksy, and enjoyed the mystery. I've now discovered that there was spate of these photocopied dog stickers in 2006, all with their bodies redrawn in strange ways (this is the least mutated I've found) – and one of them did have a Banksy logo on it. However these other versions looked amateur, and any fool can xerox a Banksy logo, so the jury remains out. It's an interesting story, on which I'll post a separate visual essay shortly. In the meantime, I still don't know if this is a Banksy, but it's certainly a one-off, and I'm glad I spotted it. (Update: I later discovered it wasn't a Banksy – the full story is here.) • Spotted: Clifton area, Bristol, Avon, BS8, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West "Shorrock" burglar alarm with dog sticker, Bristol, 2006
“Shock”, Bristol: is this dog sticker a Banksy?

“Bulldog Alarms”, Sheffield: naive triangular teeth

"Bulldog Alarms" burglar alarm, Sheffield, 2010"Bulldog Alarms" burglar alarm, Sheffield, 2010 • I found this above a boarded-up kebab shop on Wicker, a dreary strip of fast food joints surreally terminated by an immense Piranesian viaduct. The road is situated by a bend in the River Don, and its unusual name may derive from wick, meaning angle. This nicely echoes the angular Bulldog Alarms logo, a naive yet artful monogram whose jagged triangles form a rhythmic pattern which conjures up both houndstooth check and early 20th century geometric abstract art (both possibly unintentionally). It has exactly the same casing as the preceding entry, Kudos, and the outdated phone code and accretion of guano suggest it is of the same pre-1995 vintage. In fact, it could be even older: judging by the yellow-and-black Street Sounds records-style colourway and constructivist bent, its logo was designed in the mid to late 1980s. • Spotted: Wicker, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S3, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Sheffield Central "Bulldog Alarms" burglar alarm, Sheffield, 2010
“Bulldog Alarms”, Sheffield: naive triangular teeth

“Kudos”, Bath: soppy superannuated Alasatian

"Kudos" burglar alarm, Bath, 2008"Kudos" burglar alarm, Bath, 2008 • I love this soppy Alsatian alarm in so many ways. It's on a poncey pink-painted wall in the genteel Romano-Georgian city of Bath. It has a snobbish classical name – "Kudos", meaning glory or renown in Greek – and depicts a potentially vicious dog as a delicate, doe-eyed supplicant. Its logo is a sensitive ink drawing, rare on a burglar alarm, and is printed on an ill-fitting sticker, not guaranteed to inspire confidence. The alarm casing looks like a 1980s clock radio, while the dial-phone symbol is probably not ironic, because this area code went extinct in 1995. The whole contraption is spattered in mud, which complements the pointillist style of the drawing and adds to the general air of pathos. And finally, it's from a Lib-Dem constituency, which makes it a definite underdog in numerical terms. Sad superannuation, pompous overstatement, a cuddly creature, naive design, an attractive architectural setting – it ticks all my favourite boxes. • Spotted: Town centre, Bath, Avon, BA2, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bath "Kudos" burglar alarm, Bath, 2008
“Kudos”, Bath: soppy superannuated Alasatian

“Pointer”, Hull: poignant poetic port dog

Pointer burglar alarm"Pointer" burglar alarm, Kingston upon Hull, 2005 • The isolated north-eastern city of Kingston upon Hull has been regularly voted Britain's worst place to live, but it suited resident poet Philip Larkin, who described it as having "a different resonance". I found the ex-fishing port to be wistful and atmospheric, which is reflected in this charming burglar alarm. The pointer is not a vicious or scary dog: in fact it is noted for its friendliness, intelligence and loyalty. What it can do is find prey once it's been shot down by a hunter – which makes one wonder about burglar-catching strategies in Hull. The design is unusual, and one of my favourites: a robotic-looking stencil dog with tea-crate lettering – apt for a port – that reminds me of an early 1980s record sleeve design (if I could be bothered to search my old vinyl collection, I'd find the precise one I'm thinking of). I've found later variations of this logo elsewhere in the north, but though the typography changes, the stylised pointer remains. Perhaps Philip Larkin would have appreciated it, because he was fond of animals, and waxes lyrical about both dogs and Hull in his famous poem "Show Saturday" – though he fails to mention burglar alarms. • Spotted: Town centre, Kingston upon Hull, East Yorkshire, HU1, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hull West and Hessle Pointer burglar alarm
“Pointer”, Hull: poignant poetic port dog

“Scaff Guard”, Kensington: a very gory bulldog

Scaff Guard Ltd burglar alarm"Scaff Guard Ltd" burglar alarm, City of Westminster, 2010 • The word slavering could have been invented for this comically rabid beast, my final Tory dog for now. Appropriately for such a hammy performer, I found him by the Royal Albert Hall on Kensington Gore (which is also the name of a famous make of stage blood, as seen in Hammer Horror films). He wasn't even protecting a house – just some scaffolding. And there wasn't a real guard dog in sight. • Spotted: Kensington Gore, City of Westminster, London SW7, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster Scaff Guard Ltd burglar alarm
“Scaff Guard”, Kensington: a very gory bulldog

“GD Security”, Kensington: mystery bulldog from 1984

GD Security burglar alarm"GD Security" burglar alarm, Kensington and Chelsea, 2005 • Another smart royal blue silhouette, another Conservative borough: namely affluent Kensington, home to some of the most expensive property in the world, and where Madonna was burgled twice, despite having a burglar alarm. The initials are unexplained, but by having a fairly recognisable bulldog image above them, we're invited to surmise that GD stands for Guard Dog, though it could be Good Defence, General Dynamics, Gold Digger, God, or whatever you fancy. Google research suggests it doesn't actually stand for anything, but the firm was formed in 1984 – an excellent year for surveillance. • Spotted: Gloucester Road, Kensington and Chelsea, London SW7, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Kensington GD Security burglar alarm
“GD Security”, Kensington: mystery bulldog from 1984

“Securipol”, Westminster: dodgy duo behind MI5

Securipol Systems burglar alarm"Securipol Systems" burglar alarm, City of Westminster, 2010 • I have a soft spot for silhouettes on burglar alarms, with their suggestions of shadowy activity. Despite having so little detail, they are often extremely poorly drawn, and this is no exception: note the Bunny-girl ears on the presumed Alsatian, and the awkward pose of the security guard, with his hint of jackboot on one side, and what appears to be an amputated stump or penile malformation the other. More successful is the equally bodged-up name: Securipol. It's a naive, unsubtle construction, but one with etymological power, because what instantly springs to mind? Security. Police. Loaded words with classical roots: Latin "securus" (without care) and Greek "polis" (city). It's rendered in navy and white, which also have police connotations (a trend I've noticed on other burglar alarms too), implying that somehow this potato-headed freak and his rabbit-eared mutt are state-sanctioned protectors of the national security. Appropriate then that I found this alarm in Westminster, the heart of British government, on a building situated right behind the HQ of MI5,  the UK's internal security service. Make of that what you will. • Spotted: Horseferry Road, City of Westminster, London SW1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster Securipol Systems burglar alarm
“Securipol”, Westminster: dodgy duo behind MI5

“Bulldog”, Derby: logo as abstract leg wound?

"Bulldog" burglar alarm, Derby, 2010 • Somehow, you feel the designer was not entirely in tune with the image that the word "Bulldog" normally conveys. With its popular "initial as logo" device and cheesy sci-fi-style fonts, this alarm's stickered livery resembles the cuff of a jaunty sports sock rather than a fierce beast. Maybe the way the B is formed by an absence of ink represents the chunk of flesh the bulldog will remove from an unwise intruder's leg, and the buzzing red-and-white stripes the raw blood and bone that will result. But I think not. It's on nice bricks, though: and I can recommend Derby as a repository of many fine historical buildings. • Spotted: Town centre, Derby, Derbyshire DE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Derby South
“Bulldog”, Derby: logo as abstract leg wound?

“Warren Bannister”, Derby: Ena Sharples meets bulldog

"Warren Bannister Partnership Gloucester" burglar alarm, Cirencester, 2007 • Printed on what appears to be a photocopy, this label is peeling from an elderly alarm in the West Country, where life moves slowly. Thus, rather than snarling, this decaying bulldog has an expression of quizzical disapproval; he looks less likely to take anti-burglar action than to harrumph and go back to reading his Daily Telegraph (or maybe it's a she: add a hairnet and you've got a dead ringer for Ena Sharples). Design-wise, it's a rare example of a black alarm, and features enjoyably retro 1970s disco typography. Closer inspection shows that the doughty mastiff has the initials WBP emblazoned on his collar. It's meant to honour his ambiguously-named organisation, the Warren Bannister Partnership (one person? Two? A spy ring perhaps?) – but it's also just a slip of the tongue away from the acronym for waste paper basket. Which is where this old dog looks like he's heading next. • Spotted: Town centre, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cotswolds
“Warren Bannister”, Derby: Ena Sharples meets bulldog

“Watchdog”, Newham: the Cyclops of Olympic Park

"Watchdog" burglar alarm, Newham, 2010 • As if the gazillions of CCTV cameras watching us weren't enough, now we've got burglar alarms with eyes too. And despite being on public land, I was heavily hassled by a bunch of G4 "security operatives" simply for snapping the one here. That's because it's in an area where most alarms – along with the rotting industrial buildings they were attached to – have been swept away to make way for London's glossy new Olympic Park. I was once terrorized by a monstrous, crazed watchdog while exploring the Olympics area pre-demolition, and to me, this device resembles a blue-nosed dog with one mean, narrowed eye: the face of a wary Staffie with its ears flattened back, ready for combat. If the designer intended this, by the placing of the logo in relation to the snubby bulb below, then it's deceptively clever; it makes me think of the plastic debris masks by African artist Romuald Hazoumé. It's an all-seeing cyclops of the Olympics, a one-eyed Cerberus of the Bow Back Rivers. Or maybe that's just my bad memories kicking in. • Spotted: Marshgate Lane, Newham, London E15, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of West Ham
“Watchdog”, Newham: the Cyclops of Olympic Park

Essay: Do Conservatives prefer bulldogs?

Dodgy statistics show that 50% of dogs on British burglar alarms are bulldogs – rising to 75% in Conservative wards. I have only come across 10 unique dog-themed burglar alarms so far, not a lot for an allegedly mutt-loving nation, but they employ a good range of styles. Exactly half bear that stereotypical British emblem, the bulldog; two more portray alsatians (or what look like them); one is a non-specific watchdog; one a soppy Pointer; and one pointed graffiti. Since there are so few, it makes a good test-bed for my "alarms reflect their area" theory. You can see how they break down by political constituency below... [More]
Essay: Do Conservatives prefer bulldogs?