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Hair of the Dog that Bit You

Dogs playing poker. hair of the dog
Ugh.. throw me a bone. Will yuh Ralph?

Hair of the Dog that Bit You Definition

Hair of the dog: An alcoholic drink taken to lessen or avoid the effects of a hangover. Fur would be a better word in modern English

Hair of the Dog that Bit You Examples

  • “Bill passed out on the couch with half a bottle of rum in his hands.” “Well, what did he do when he got up?” “Ha ha, well he held his head for a minute, then noticed the bottle in his hand and had a little hair of the dog that bit him!”
  • I was so hungover I thought it was Sunday. When i realized it was Saturday well i cracked open a beer and had some hair of the dog.


A Shining Example

the shining movie poster.

Jack Torrence: “It’s good to be back, Lloyd”

Lloyd: “What’ll it be, sir?”

Jack Torrence: “Hair of the dog that bit me.

Lloyd: “Bourbon on the rocks.”

Jack Torrence: “That’ll do her.”

The Shining

In a scene from The Shining, a famous Stanley Kubrick film based on the popular Stephen King novel, Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) answers “the hair of the dog that bit me” when Lloyd the bartender asks what he’ll be having.

Stanley Kubrick’s methodical filming style led to many very long days on set and tons of script changes. Joe Turkel who portrayed Lloyd the bartender claimed it took six weeks too rehearse just the above mentioned scene, and that a shoot day would last from 9:00am to 10:30pm.[1]


Amusement park attraction fat caterpillar from a bugs life. hair of the dog
Heimlich the caterpillar

Fly: “Yo! Two Black Flags over here!”

Bartender: “All right.

Cockroach: “Hair of the dog you bit.”

Server Roach: “Hey, who ordered the pu-pu platter?”

Server mosquito: “Here ya go, slick. Enjoy.”

A Bug’s Life

The 1998 Pixar film A Bug’s Life contains a colorful scene set in a bug-run-bar made from an empty tin can. Punny moments fill the scene. Like a pupu platter with real poo and a “bloody mary” meal for a mosquito, O positive!

Steve Jobs as you may know was the CEO and co-founder of Apple. What you may not know is he was also a chairman of Pixar!

A Bug’s Life was Pixar’s second feature film after Toy Story. Toy Story happens to be the first ever full feature film made entirely by computer animation.

During production of the film, Pixar’s big names John Lasseter and Steve Jobs got into a major dispute with Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenburg. The reason? The movie Antz, a work in progress at the rival company, had a suspiciously similar theme. Lasseter did claim to have bounced ideas off of Katzenburg early on in the movies concept. Katzenburg would later deny having heard anything about the film. Both movies released the same year and both were fairly successful. But it would years of hostility between the two computer animation giants.

Cassic cocktails known as ‘corpse revivers’ mean to lessen your morning woes with a little hair of the dog. They go by names such as the Eye-opener, Gloom-chaser and the aptly named Hair of the dog.[2]

Hair of the Dog that Bit You Origin

The phrase hair of the dog that bit you appears to have a quite literal origin. It comes from a time long before modern medicine. A time when a potential treatment to a rabid dog bite was to pack the wound with dog’s hair or ashes of the dog’s hair to prevent a rabies infection. It’s shown sometimes that only hair from the dog that BIT you would work. I would think more often than not that getting the hair would only lead to more bites. Which means more hair. Until your eaten alive by a very angry, very bald dog.

Literal Origin

“When a person has been bitten by a mad dog, he may be preserved from hydrophobia by applying the ashes of a dog’s head to the wound. … or insert in the wound ashes of hairs from the tail of the dog that inflicted the bite.”

The Natural History, Pliny the Elder, AD 77-79[3]

Pliney the Swell

Pliney the Elder

Gaius Plinius Secundus better known as Pliny the Elder was a Roman author, avid natural historian and a naval/army commander of the early Roman Empire. Pliney never married and had no children, but adopted his nephew Pliney the Younger who lived with him. He later wrote much of what is known of his uncle’s life. Pliney the Elder joined the military and rose to the rank of praefectus alae (commander of a wing) in charge of a battalion of about 480 men. He wrote many of his books while under the rule of the Roman Emperor Nero, a mad ruler similar to Caligula. Any independent literature at the time could be deemed dangerous, and the writers executed.

Around 77 AD Pliney completed Natural History a work of 37 books considered one of the largest to have survived from the ancient Roman Empire. The book covers everything from botany, astronomy and geology to mineralogy and zoology and is his only surviving work.

In AD 79 Mount Vesuvius had a great eruption that buried Pompei. Across the bay of Naples in Misenum (modern Miseno) Pliney the Elder is stationed. He receives a message from his friend Rectina to rescue senator Pomponianus at Stabiae about 4.5 km from Pompei. He left quickly on a light sailing vessel and It was during this rescue mission he became stranded under the volcanic fumes unable to sail back against the winds and never returned alive.

Raving Rabies

angry dog and unperturbed dog. hair of the dog

“Thus the hair of the dog that gave the wound is advised as an application to the part injured. But as the reason given for its efficacy is a very bad one, it deserves no further notice. It is, that every animal carries about it an antidote to its own poison ; therefore the the hair of a mad dog is fo to its own venom.”

A Treatise on Canine Madness, James R., 1760[4]

Another example of taking the hair of the dog as a literal cure. Although written much later confirms it’s absurdity.

Both The Natural History and A Treatise on Canine Madness discuss the symptoms of hydrophobia or ‘dread of water’ leading to canine madness. Rabies is a virus that causes muscle spasms especially in the throat making it hard to swallow and as a result very difficult to drink without choking. The throat swelling as well as a symptom of producing excess saliva is what leads to the “foaming at the mouth” effect associated with rabies victims.

Spiritual Origin

“I pray thee let me and my fellow have
A hair of the dog that bit us last night
And bitten were we both to the brain aright.
We saw each other drunk in the good ale glass.”

A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue, John Heywood, 1546

Our idiom patron John Heywood appears to have one of the earliest texts using the phrase ‘hair of the dog that bit __’ in an idiomatic way.