Sawk's English name was originally going to be 'Sawkem', but was changed late in the process of English localization as a result of possible copyright infringement. Sawk's counterpart (Throh) was to have the English name 'Rawkem' (which, when read in Pokédex order, would read 'Rawkem Sawkem'). This is a play on the famous 80's toy franchise Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots. Even more of a coincidence, are the matching red and blue colors shared between the Pokémon and the game's characters.
Sawk along with Throh may be based on the Ashinaga-tenaga, a pair of yokai one of which has long arms and the other has long legs with Sawk representing the longed legged of the pair.
Sawk first appeared in M14, but its first appearance in the anime was BW043, where Stephan used it to battle Iris and her Emolga in the Battle Tournament.