Claire Randall first meets Dougal MacKenzie, war-chief of the Clan MacKenzie in a small cot where she's been taken by Murtagh Fraser. Dougal questions Claire who tells him her name is Claire Beauchamp and he asks her why it's not pronounced the French way. Murtagh tells about Randall thinking Claire was a whore, but he tells Dougal he doesn't think she is. Dougal doesn't have time for it. They have to do something about Jamie before they can continue riding. Jamie dislocated his shoulder when he was shot off his horse. When Claire stops them from forcing the joint back in
Upon their return to Castle Leoch, Dougal orders Jamie to help Auld Alec as a means of keeping Jamie under cover.
During Colum's Hall, he formally presents Claire to the MacKenzie as a woman of Oxford in need of succor and refuge until her English connections may be apprised of her whereabouts and provision made for her safe transport. During the same Hall, when Jamie offers to take Laoghaire's punishment for disobedience, it's Dougal's contribution that settles the issue if can stand in her place as he's not a MacKenzie.
Dougal takes Claire to Cranesmuir village to visit with Geillis Duncan. Dougal explains that the home of the procurator fiscal, Arthur Duncan, is located in the center of the village because it is near the pillory, a simple wooden stake used as a whipping post, maypole, flagstaff and horse tether.
During the Gathering, Dougal is the first to offer his fealty and swear his oath to Clan MacKenzie. Later that night, after the rowdy men are well into their cups, a group of them chase after Claire, but she crashes into Dougal who shoos them away. Also inebriated, Dougal kisses Claire as a penalty for him saving her, then he lets her go.
The next day, during the boar hunt, Claire is tending to Geordie who was gored by the boar. Dougal arrives on the scene and kills the charging animal. He then kneels in the bloody mud and cradles the wounded man in his arm. He asks Claire if Geordie could live and when she says no, he unties the tourniquet around the man's wounded thigh and holds him while he dies. After, back at the castle, he tells Claire that she's seen me die violent deaths before. She agrees that she has, many of them.
Later, Dougal informs Jamie and Claire that he will be taking them when he go out to collect the rents from the tenants and tacksmen who couldn't attend the Gathering. Jamie to take care of the horses and Claire to bring to the garrison commander at Fort William. Later, during the rent collecting, Dougal's real purpose for bringing Jamie along becomes clear. Dougal uses Jamie's scarred back as a way of enflaming the villagers against the English into donating money to the Jacobite cause. Claire tells Dougal she doesn't care for his collection methods. Later, Claire overhears Dougal and Jamie arguing. Dougal reminds Jamie he gave an oath of obedience as long as he is on MacKenzie land. Dougal orders him to comply with showing off his back.
Later, Dougal orders Clare to accompany him to Brockton to see the garrison commander. Dougal meets with him first, then grimly allows Claire to meet alone with Jonathan Randall. After realizing Randall struck Claire, Dougal argues with him, but then grabs Claire and they take off from the town at a gallop. Dougal takes Claire to St. Ninian's Spring where asks her if she's a spy for the English or the French. She says neither. He tells her the story of how Jamie came to be flogged both times. He offered a bribe to Randall to stop the second flogging, but Randall refused. Dougal describes the beatings in nauseating detail as a way to illustrate to Claire just what kind of men Randall and Jamie are.
He then tells her that Randall ordered him to produce the English subject, one Claire Beauchamp, at Fort William for questioning. Claire nearly faints at the news. Dougal says the only way out of it is for them to change Claire's status from an English subject to a Scottish subject by her marrying a Scot, Jamie specifically. Despite her protests, he says she will be married. Claire asks why he suddenly believes she's not a spy and he motions to the spring saying that anyone who drinks from it cannot tell a lie.
Dougal has the lawyer Ned Gowan draw up the marriage contract and he and Rupert witness the signing of it. The next day, he and Murtagh drag Claire to the same church her and Frank had been married in. Dougal is dismayed at Jamie's appearance in a full Fraser tartan and then equally indignant when Jamie gifts his mother's pearls to his new bride. He and Murtagh stand as witnesses to the wedding with Dougal binding their cut and bleeding hands together.
Later, during the wedding feast at the inn, Dougal takes Claire aside and says he expects the marriage to be consummated with no chance of annulment. He keeps his men drinking all night in the common room of the inn to bear witness to the consummation.
Jamie tells Claire it was Dougal who told him that his sister Jenny had a child by Randall and later had taken up with another English soldier, which is why he never returned to Lallybroch.
With the impending arrival of the Duke of Sandringham, Dougal returns to Leoch with Jamie and Claire. Not long after they arrive, Dougal gets word that his wife Maura has passed away of a fever at their estate of Beannachd.
Dougal has an affair with Geillis Duncan which results in a pregnancy. When Dougal goes to Colum with the news, Colum assures his brother he would take care of it. When Geillis is accused and convicted of witchcraft, she threatens to kill his newly born son unless he saves her from death. He agrees and arranges for a newly deceased corpse to be substituted for her and then ensures her passage to Paris.
After Jamie's capture by the English, Dougal hears word of Claire's small fame as a gypsy and summons her to a cave where he has store goods and funds intended for Prince Charles. He tells her that Jamie is alive and being held in Wentworth Prison, that he was tried and condemned to hang. Claire assumes that Dougal will help her, but he says it's a lost cause. He tells her that Geillis Duncan is dead and that he saw her child placed in a good home. He also admits that he is Hamish's father, with the consent of Colum. He also proposes to marry Claire and father children on her.
Murtagh forestalls further advances Dougal might make on Claire, and Claire bargains for money and men from Dougal to launch the rescue of Jamie: if she can convince Dougal's men to go with her, she'll take them and the money. She ends up persuading five men to join her, including Rupert. Before they part, he tells Claire he has a message from Geillis. First, that she thought it was possible, but didn't know, and a set of numbers Claire takes to be the year Geillis left: 1-9-6-8.