The Meaning of Baha Men’s “Who Let The Dogs Out”

The nostalgia is real when it comes to Baha Men’s “Who Let The Dogs Out.” Most 90s kids remember hearing the song in Rugrats in Paris, which is how it achieved fame, and nowadays it’s used as a pump-up song in sports arenas everywhere.

However, when shouting back the boisterous “who, who, who, who, who!” at sports games, most don’t consider the meaning of “Who Let The Dogs Out.” And we certainly weren’t thinking about it as kids.

Looking at the lyrics today, we can see that they are actually quite feminist. They depict a bumping party where everybody is dancing and having a good time until the men start aggressively hitting on the women.

This is depicted in the first verse:

Well the party was nice, the party was pumpin’ (Hey, Yippie-Yi-Yo)
And everybody havin’ a ball (Hah, ho, Yippie-Yi-Yo)
Until the fellas started name callin’ (Yippie-Yi-Yo)
And the girls respond to the call, I heard a woman shout out

First verse to “Who Let The Dogs Out” by Baha Men.

As we can see, these fellas showed up at the party and started catcalling the women, who were previously having a ball.

However, these women look out for each other, so they shout out in response and refer to the disrespectful men as dogs. Hence the chorus:

Who let the dogs out?
Who, who, who, who, who?
Who let the dogs out?
Who, who, who, who, who?
Who let the dogs out?

Chorus to “Who Let The Dogs Out” by Baha Men.

The lyrics to the first bridge are fairly hard to make out, and are listed differently in different places, but the important part is that she calls this dog, named “Gruffy” or “Scruffy”, a “flea-infested mongrel.”

Below is the first bridge as listed on Genius:

I see ya’ little speedboat head up our coast
She really want to skip town
Get back gruffy, back scruffy
Get back you flea-infested mongrel!

Bridge to “Who Let The Dogs Out” by Baha Men.

Clearly these men are not doing themselves any favors with the women at the party, though to them it is just part of the game.

In the second verse we can see that the singer himself is playing that game, and he’s trying to tell himself not to be upset when a woman calls him a dog, because this is the game that he signed up for.

Baha men promotional shot from 2000.

His goal, at the end of the night, is to have a woman in front of him while he’s behind her. If you’re thinking of doggystyle, then you’re on the right track:

Gonna tell myself, “Hey man no get angry” (Hey, Yippie, Yi, Yo)
To any girls calling them canine, hey! (Yippie, Yi, Yo)
But they tell me “Hey Man, It’s part of the Party!” (Yippie Yi, Yo)
You put a woman in front and her man behind (Yippie, Yi, Yo), I heard a woman shout out

Second verse to “Who Let The Dogs Out” by Baha Men.

Next up is another hit of that booming chorus, and then a short section with repeated lyrics stating how a doggy is nothing without his bone. Of course, this is yet another innuendo.

In the third verse, we can see that the singer has accepted his status as a dog, and has decided to stop thinking about it and just enjoy the night:

Well if I am a dog, the party is on
I gotta get my groove cause my mind done gone
Do you see the rays comin’ from my eye
Walking through the place
That Diji man is breakin’ it down?
Me and my white short shorts
And I can’t see color, any color will do
I’ll stick on you, that’s why they call me Pitbull
Cause I’m the man of the land
When they see me they say Woo!

Third verse to “Who Let The Dogs Out” by Baha Men.

We’re offered a visual of the white short shorts that this dog wears when he’s on the prowl, and he’s got rays coming from his eyes as he searches around the place for somebody to go home with.

He says that he doesn’t see color, meaning that he isn’t too picky about the woman he goes home with, and he’s ready to stick on the next willing participant like a pitbull.

“Who Let The Dogs Out” was not written by the Baha Men but rather by the Trinidadian composer Anslem Douglas, who first recorded the song as a single called “Doggie” in 1998.

Soon after, it was covered by Jonathan King with his project Fat Jakk and his Pack of Pets. King showed the track to record producer Steve Goldberg, who gave it to the Baha Men and “Who Let The Dogs Out Was Born”.

Listen to versions of the song by Baha Men, Anslem Douglas, and Fat Jakk and his Pack of Pets below.

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