Ellie Blackburn leads her team onto the field ahead of the R5 match between Western Bulldogs and St Kilda at Whitten Oval on September 29, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

WESTERN Bulldogs skipper Ellie Blackburn has signed a four-year deal with the club, extending her contract until the end of the 2027 season.

It's an enormous show of faith in the club, which has undergone significant on and off-field changes in the past 12 months, after finishing last in 2023.

Blackburn, a five-time best and fairest who captained the club to a flag in 2018, turned down a significant offer from Sydney ahead of the second season in 2022.

The 29-year-old will provide some stability for new coach Tam Hyett, new head of women's footy Patrice Berthold and a very young list, with four first-round picks selected in last year's draft.

Just three of the Dogs' 31 players (Eleanor Brown has received special dispensation by the AFL to be returned to the primary list after missing 2023 for personal issues) are over the age of 30.

"Being able to sign a long-term deal and commit to the club is something that I'm really proud of, and something that I'm really excited by," Blackburn said.

Ellie Blackburn celebrates after the AFLW R9 match between Western Bulldogs and West Coast at Mineral Resources Park on October 28, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

"I'm really embedded here and I love the club – what it is and who we are here. I really like the way we represent that and want to be part of that for the long term.

"I love the way we operate as one – particularly in the women's program being one of the first teams (in the AFLW competition). To be part of that is what drives my want to have more success here.

"I think the want for me is that premiership success again, and I want to do that with a group of people I've been playing with for a long time and particularly at this football club."

Blackburn is the only inaugural Bulldog still at the club, while Deanna Berry also started in 2017 but with Melbourne.