The Surprising Origin Story of ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’


“Who Let the Dogs Out” is an infectious dance song that became a worldwide hit and pop culture phenomenon in 2000.

Originally written and recorded by veteran calypso and soca artist Anslem Douglas in Trinidad and Tobago in the mid-1990s, the song was popularized and made mainstream famous by the Bahamian group Baha Men in 2000. With its catchy hook of “who let the dogs out? woof, woof, woof, woof”, the track became an inescapable party anthem that summer and remains one of the most recognizable songs of the era.

Original Release

The song “Who Let the Dogs Out” was originally recorded and released by the Bahamian group Baha Men in 2000. According to the Wikipedia article on the song, it was released as a single on July 26, 2000 through the S-Curve Records label ( The Baha Men had covered the song from its original version, which was written and recorded by Anslem Douglas in 1998 ( Though Anslem Douglas was the original artist behind “Who Let the Dogs Out,” it was the Baha Men’s 2000 version that went on to become an international hit single.

Writing and Composition

“Who Let the Dogs Out” was written by Anslem Douglas, a Trinidadian musician and composer. Douglas originally wrote the song for Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival season in 1998. Carnival is an annual festival and parade celebrated in Trinidad, where calypso and soca music are hugely popular. Douglas was well-known in the Trinidadian music scene, having performed with a number of popular soca bands over the years.

anslem douglas performing his song who let the dogs out

According to sources, Douglas wrote “Who Let the Dogs Out” intending for it to be a lighthearted song for Carnival revelers to dance and party to. The lyrics, which ask “who let the dogs out” and “who brought the dog in,” are meant as a playful metaphor about men behaving badly or letting loose at Carnival celebrations. Douglas’ original version had a distinct calypso/soca sound popular in Trinidad and other Caribbean nations.

The original version by Douglas was first professionally recorded by Trinidadian soca and chutney music band Baha Men for their album Junkanoo in 1998. The Baha Men’s cover brought “Who Let the Dogs Out” to popularity in Trinidad and Tobago that year. The song then grew in prominence abroad through Visa credit card commercials and coverage of sporting events, before reaching widespread global popularity in 2000.

Initial Success

Who Let the Dogs Out was originally recorded by Trinidadian-Canadian artist Anslem Douglas as Doggie in 1982. However, it gained little recognition. In 1998, Anslem Douglas re-wrote and re-recorded the song as “Who Let the Dogs Out” and included it on an album of the same name. The remake achieved modest success in the Caribbean and Europe that year. The song first became popular at the 1998 West Indies Cricket competition in England, where it was frequently played during rain delays. It then gained popularity in European nightclubs in places like France and the Netherlands. The song caught the attention of producer Jeffrey Abbott, who recommended it to the Baha Men. The Baha Men then decided to cover the song and release it under their name (Who Let the Dogs Out).

US Popularity

Although “Who Let the Dogs Out” was originally released in 1998, it didn’t catch on in popularity in the United States until 2000. The song was featured in the animated children’s film Rugrats in Paris: The Movie, which debuted in November 2000. The appearance of “Who Let the Dogs Out” in the popular kids’ movie helped increase the song’s visibility and airplay on US radio stations (Wikipedia). After being featured in Rugrats in Paris, the song steadily climbed the charts in the US throughout late 2000 and early 2001. “Who Let the Dogs Out” ultimately reached #40 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in February 2001, over two years after its initial release (Mental Floss). The song’s catchy hook and popularity with kids help explain its breakout success in America long after being recorded.

the song who let the dogs out featured in the movie rugrats in paris

Billboard Hot 100

“Who Let the Dogs Out” reached the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in September 2000. The song debuted on the chart at number 36 on August 12, 2000. Over the next several weeks, it steadily climbed up the chart until hitting the top position in its 15th week, remaining at number one for 3 consecutive weeks. The infectious dance hit marked the first and only number one Billboard Hot 100 single for Bahamian group Baha Men. The song’s dominance of pop radio and strong digital sales propelled it to the coveted chart summit. “Who Let the Dogs Out” ended up spending an impressive 40 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100.

who let the dogs out at #1 on the billboard hot 100 chart

Grammy Nomination

“Who Let the Dogs Out” was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2001 for Best Dance Recording. The song was one of the most popular and successful singles of 2000, topping charts worldwide. The nomination recognized the Baha Men for their breakout hit and demonstrated the widespread popularity and impact of the song. Despite its catchy beat and meme-worthy lyrics, “Who Let the Dogs Out” ultimately lost the Grammy to “Beautiful Day” by U2. Still, the nomination itself marked a significant achievement for the Baha Men and further cemented “Who Let the Dogs Out” as a quintessential party anthem of 2000.


“Who Let the Dogs Out” remains an iconic song from 2000 that is still widely referenced in pop culture over 20 years later. Though initially written by Anslem Douglas and released by his band the Junkanoo Boys in the late 1990s, it was the Baha Men’s 2000 cover that brought the song to mass popularity. The catchy tune, quirky lyrics, and silly premise of trying to identify who released the dogs made it incredibly memorable. Even decades later, “Who Let the Dogs Out” is still frequently quoted and parodied in TV shows, movies, commercials, and internet culture. For example, in 2018 the song was referenced in the horror-comedy film The House with a Clock in Its Walls. The uniqueness and ubiquity of “Who Let the Dogs Out” has cemented its status as a turn-of-the-millennium time capsule that continues to endure in the public consciousness.

Covers and Parodies

“Who Let the Dogs Out” has inspired numerous covers and parodies over the years. The catchy tune and silly lyrics made it a popular song to recreate. Some notable covers include:

artists performing parody covers of who let the dogs out

In 2005, the Kidz Bop Kids released a kid-friendly version on their album Kidz Bop 7. They changed lyrics like “Fine girl, who let the dogs out?” to “Hey girls, who who who?”

The comedy group The Baha Men put out a parody version called “Who Let the Cows Out?” in 2000. Their version pokes fun at the song while maintaining a similar style and tempo.

The song has been covered across various genres, with artists like the Blue Man Group and the Vitamin String Quartet performing instrumental versions. Its popularity and energetic vibe have appealed to many different musicians and comedians.


“Who Let the Dogs Out” made a major impact on pop culture despite its short-lived chart success. While today, some look at the song as little more than a novelty, in 2000 it was an inescapable smash hit. The Baha Men’s reggae/dancehall-inspired version brought the song to the masses and made it a worldwide phenomenon. Its popularity stemmed from its catchy “Who? Who? Who?” chorus that was easy for people to join in on. Though the song itself faded quickly, it left a lasting legacy through parody versions, references in TV and film, and its status as a party anthem and staple of 2000s pop culture.

In the end, “Who Let the Dogs Out” transcended novelty song status to make a legitimate mark on pop music history. For a brief period in 2000, it was nearly impossible to escape this earworm of a track. Though many grew tired of it at the time, it remains a nostalgic capsule of Y2K pop mania. The story of “Who Let the Dogs Out” is a testament to the unexpected journeys some songs take to achieve pop culture immortality.

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