The Strange Michigan Connection To ‘Who Let The Dogs Out’
Love it or hate it, the song 'Who Let The Dogs Out' will stuck in your head for days if you let it, but did you know it has its origins with a West Michigan high school football team?
The 2000 pop hit by The Baha Men was a huge international success, selling millions of copies, but who wrote it?
On a podcast I listen to semi-regularly called '99% Invisible', they did a deep dive into the origins of the song, and it stumbled right through Southwestern Michigan!
The Baha Men, who rejected recording the song for a long time because they thought it was beneath them, finally caved in the the pressure of their record company executive and sang what they believed to be a cover song that was a late '90s hit in their home country of The Bahamas.
Good choice for The Baha Men, for the song not only became their biggest hit by far, it won them the Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording in 2001!
Since the song hit it big, and was making tons of money, several people claimed copyright to the hit, including some reggae DJs in Canada, a girl group from Chicago called Gillette, and two guys in Miami who could prove they had the chant on floppy disc in 1992.
But when investigative journalist Ben Sisto started to seek out the roots of the popular chorus, it let him to Southwestern Michigan and a small town just north of South Bend.
It turns out the Dowagiac football team had begun chanting about the dogs being let out as early as 1990.
When Ben Sisto dug a little deeper, he discovered “Who Let The Dogs Out” may have an even older inspiration. Sisto was contacted by a man named John Michael Davis from Dowaigic, Michigan who informed him the lyric had its roots in his hometown, which is sometimes referred to as “the dog patch.” Davis says the term came from a high school football game where the hometown team, the Dowagiac Chieftains, threw a Hail Mary pass and people in the stadium began chanting, “Oooh, let the dogs out!” The Chieftains won that game, and soon became the state champions with this chant as their motto.
Joe Gonzalez of Miami Boom doesn’t remember ever seeing the Chieftains play, but he says it’s not out of the question he heard the phrase growing up in Michigan. Even still, it turns out variations of a “who let the dogs out?” chant pop up in regional high school sports even earlier. Sisto was able to trace one all the way back to Austin Reagan High School in 1986, which sounds remarkably like the popular “Who Let The Dogs Out” we all know today.