The Dog and the Sparrow Fairy Tale

The Dog and the Sparrow

A dog meets a sparrow and they become best friends. But then a driver disrupts the happiness of the dog and the sparrow…

The Dog and the Sparrow is a Brothers Grimm fairy tale about a dog who becomes friends with a sparrow. A wagoner drives his cart over the dog, killing him. The sparrow takes revenge by destroying his cart, horses, food and house. In the end the wagoner is killed.

Complete text The Dog and the Sparrow

The dog meets the sparrow

A sheepdog had not a good master. No, his master let him go hungry. And so he could not stay and sadly went away.

On the road he met a sparrow who said, “Brother dog, why are you so sad?”

The dog replied, “I am hungry and have nothing to eat.”

The sparrow said, “Dear brother, come into the town with me and I will satisfy your hunger.”

So they went into the town together. When they came in front of a butcher’s shop the sparrow said to the dog, “Stay there and I will pick a bit of meat down for you.”

The sparrow landed on the stall, looked around to see that no one was observing him and pecked and pulled and tore so long at a piece which lay on the edge, that it slipped down. The dog seized it, ran into a corner and devoured it.

The sparrow said, “Now come with me to another shop. I will get you one more piece so that your hunger may be satisfied.”

When the dog had devoured the second piece as well, the sparrow asked, “Brother dog, have you now had enough?”

“Yes, I have had meat enough,” he answered, “but I have had no bread yet.”

And so the sparrow said, “You will have that too, come with me.”

He took him to a baker’s shop, where he pecked at a couple of little buns until they rolled down. As the dog still wanted more, he led him to another stall and again got bread for him.

When that was consumed, the sparrow said, “Brother dog, have you now had enough?”

The dog and the sparrow on the road

“Yes,” he replied, “now we will walk awhile outside the town.”

They both went out on to the highway. It was warm weather and when they had walked a little the dog said, “I am tired, I would like to sleep.”

“Well, do sleep,” the sparrow said, “and in the meantime I will seat myself on a branch.”

So the dog lay down on the road and fell fast asleep. While he lay sleeping there, a wagoner came driving by. He had a cart with three horses, laden with two barrels of wine.

The sparrow saw that he was not going to turn aside, but was staying in the wheel track in which the dog was lying, so it cried, “Wagoner, don’t do it, or I will bring you to poverty.”

The wagoner, however, growled to himself, “You will not bring me to poverty.”

He cracked his whip and drove the cart over the dog. The wheels killed him.

The sparrow attacks the cart and the horses

The sparrow cried, “You have run over my brother dog and killed him, it will cost you your cart and your horses.”

“For sure my cart and horses!” the wagoner said. “What harm can you do me?” and he drove onward.

The sparrow crept under the cover of the cart and pecked so long at the same bunghole that he got the bung out. All the wine ran out without the driver noticing it.

At some moment when he was looking behind him he saw that the cart was dripping. He looked at the barrels and saw that one of them was empty. “Unfortunate fellow I am,” he cried. “Not unfortunate enough yet,” said the sparrow.

He flew on to the head of one of the horses and pecked his eyes out. When the driver saw that, he drew out his axe and wanted to hit the sparrow. The sparrow flew into the air and he hit his horse on the head: it fell down dead.

“Oh, what an unfortunate man I am,” he cried.

“Not unfortunate enough yet,” said the sparrow.

When the driver drove on with the two horses, the sparrow again crept under the cover. He pecked the bung out of the second cask, so all the wine was spilt.

When the driver became aware of it, he again cried, “Oh, what an unfortunate man I am,” but the sparrow replied, “Not unfortunate enough yet.” The sparrow seated himself on the head of the second horse and pecked his eyes out.

The driver ran up to it and raised his axe to strike, but the sparrow flew into the air and the blow struck the horse, which fell.

“Oh, what an unfortunate man I am.”

“Not unfortunate enough yet,” the sparrow said, lighted on the third horse’s head and pecked out his eyes. The driver, in his rage, struck at the sparrow without looking around. He did not hit him but killed his third horse likewise.

“Oh, what an unfortunate man I am,” he cried.

“Not unfortunate enough yet,” answered the sparrow. “Now will I make you unfortunate in your home,” and flew away.

The sparrow attacks the wagoner at home

The driver had to leave the wagon standing. Full of anger and vexation he went home. “Oh,” he said to his wife, “what misfortunes I have had! My wine has run out and the horses are all three dead!”

“Oh husband,” she answered, “a malicious bird has come into the house! It has gathered together every bird there is in the world. They have fallen on our corn up there and are devouring it.”

He went upstairs. Thousands and thousands of birds were sitting in the loft and had eaten up all the corn. The sparrow was sitting in the midst of them.

Then the driver cried, “Oh, what an unfortunate man I am?”

“Not unfortunate enough yet!” said the sparrow; “wagoner, it will cost you your life as well,” and flew out.

The wagoner is killed

The wagoner had lost all his property. He went downstairs into the room, sat down behind the stove, quite furious and bitter. But the sparrow sat outside in front of the window and cried, “Wagoner, it shall cost you your life.”

Then the wagoner snatched the axe and threw it at the sparrow, but it only broke the window and did not hit the bird. The sparrow now hopped in, placed itself on the stove and cried, “Wagoner, it shall cost you your life.”

Mad and blind with rage the wagoner smote the stove in twain. As the sparrow flew from one place to another the same happened with all his household furniture, mirrors, benches, table and at last the walls of his house. Yet he could not hit the bird.

At last he caught it with his hand. Then his wife said, “Shall I kill it?”

“No,” he cried, “that would be too merciful. It shall die much more cruelly.”

He took it and swallowed it whole. The sparrow, however, began to flutter about in his body, and fluttered up again into the man’s mouth; then it stretched out its head, and cried, “Wagoner, it shall still cost you your life.”

The driver gave the axe to his wife and said, “Wife, kill the bird in my mouth for me.”

The woman struck but missed her blow, and hit the wagoner right on his head, so that he fell dead.

The sparrow? The sparrow flew up and away.

Tips for Telling The Dog and the Sparrow

Storyteller Rudolf Roos
  • This starts out as quite a family friendly happy-go-lucky fairy tale. Two new best friends. Imagine for yourself how they walk around in the city. Maybe the sparrow sits on the back of the dog? Who leads the way?
  • In movies you cannot kill a dog. Audiences react to strongly to it. Be aware that the dog being killed in your story might also incite strong emotions in the audience. The same for the horses who are killed later.
  • There is an element of slapstick repetition in the horrific revenge that the sparrow takes. The funny style can make this brutal revenge story lighter and easier to stomach.
A reading of The Dog and the Sparrow

All Questions Answered

Who wrote the story The Dog and the Sparrow?

This fairy tale was published as ‘Loyal Godfather Sparrow’ by the Brothers Grimm in the first edition of their Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Their source: Margarete Marianne Wild.

When was The Dog and the Sparrow written?

The Brothers Grimm included it in the 1812 edition of the Grimm’s fairy tales. They edited it quite heavily in later editions.

More useful information

Fairy tales with a dog

Fairy tales with a horse

Fairy tales with a sparrow

Fairy tales with a wagoner

Photo credits: Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales on this website are based on the authentic translation of Margaret Hunt. They were edited and reformatted for pleasant reading and telling by Storyteller Rudolf Roos.
See the complete list of The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales

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