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Where does "Hair of the Dog" come from?

After a long night of drinking (hopefully at a dog friendly brewery) you make your way home and hit the hay. The next morning, you wince as you open your eyes which are greeted by harsh sunlight. You feel the throb of a headache as you rouse yourself and make your way to the bathroom. With a sigh of resignation, you look at your haggard face and disheveled hair and try your best to make yourself presentable so you can face the day. Upon arriving at work, a colleague takes a cursory look at you and quickly determines that you’re hungover. He says, with a sneer “Looks like someone needs some ‘hair of the dog.’” This isn’t the first time you’ve heard this expression as you nod in agreement and hope you don’t say something embarrassing, and it probably won’t be your last. Even so, this is the first time you stop to ponder “Where does the term “hair of the dog come from?”

It is our job, here at A Dog Walks into a Bar, to try to talk about all things dogs and drinking. As such, it is our civic duty (okay, that might be pushing it) to explore where the expression “hair of the dog” comes from, considering it includes both dogs and drinking. We have conducted research so that you don’t have to search any further than this post to understand the expression’s meaning, and origin story!

The original expression was a bit longer than what it currently is. In fact, it used to be “A hair of the dog that bit you,” according to the Oxford Dictionary of Word Origins.

The part that’s missing from today’s expression is important from an origin and meaning standpoint. “That bit you,” is in reference to a rabid dog. Rabies is transferred through bodily fluids including saliva. If a rabid animal bites a person or another animal, there’s a chance the individual that has been bitten will contract the disease.

It was a belief, in medieval times, that a cure for rabies could be made by putting some of the hair of the infected dog on the infected wound. This sounds like a horrible idea, and I doubt it was tried very often. Even so, the concept of a cure for something originating from the thing that caused the ailment is what continues today with the current interpretation of the expression.

While there’s no medical evidence that applying the hair of a rabid dog may help with treating rabies, there is some research that shows that the symptoms of a hangover can be alleviated by drinking alcohol. Sometimes, symptoms of a hangover are derived from alcohol withdrawal, which can be why some people experience relief after drinking alcohol in light of suffering from a hangover.

Our recommendation is a bit more simple, which is, don’t drink enough to get so drunk that you’ll get a hangover in the first place. We’re all about drinking to appreciate the drink, here at A Dog Walks into a Bar, NOT about drinking to get drunk. That’s no fun!

So, there you have it. You now know where the expression “The Hair of the Dog,” comes from. Now, go share your wisdom with others while frequenting a dog friendly brew pub!

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