Shutter dogs, also called tie backs, are an example of a functional and utilitarian piece of hardware that also added ornamentation to the home. Unlike modern house shutters, which are often fixed open and only used decoratively, colonial shutters were opened and closed daily to help protect from heat and sunlight and to offer security. They could be locked from the inside, and when open, needed to be held back to keep them in place.
Shutter dogs differ regionally in style, mate-rial, and mounting method. The style on the summer kitchen at Graeme Park are known as “rat tail,” a style which was first forged from steel in Williamsburg, VA. Philadelphia shutter dogs often had decorative motifs such as stars, shells, and grapes.
The abundance of iron in the Valley Forge area resulted in cast iron shutter dogs being the most common material and method from Maryland up to New York. While the shutter dogs on the summer kitchen at Graeme Park are mounted into the stone, the usual method on stone houses was to have the mounting arm attached to the sill.