Whence "dog pile"?

In a recent Pit thread, someone made the following comment:

I’ve seen others here use the term “dog pile” in the same sense: that is, a bunch of people all jumping on someone at the same time. Does anyone know the etymology of this term? I don’t know about others, but I’ve never seen a literal pile of dogs. I’ve seen piles of ferrets, piles of rats, and piles of pigs, but so far it doesn’t seem that piling is a particularly common dog behaviour. Do dogs really organize themselves into piles? If so, is this where the term originated?

I did some Googling and found some people speculating that “dog pile” is actually a scatological reference—i.e., short for “a pile of dog feces”—so the act of dog piling is supposed to evoke heaping doggie doo on someone. Is there any truth to this?

Here ya go.

Foxhounds do everything as a pack. Notice they’re actually well-trained. They don’t eat until the whipper-in says it’s okay.

Yes, especially when they sleep or sometimes when a rogue female is in heat.


Awww doggies…multisquee.

Popular usage of “dog pile” may date from 1947, when Bugs Bunny ran across a pack of street mutts in the cartoon A Hare Grows in Manhattan. The lead dog chanted: “Dog pile on the rab-bit! Dog pile on the rab-bit!” When the dust settled, of course, Bugs was on top of the pile.

I can find a 1934 example in the newspaper. From a wrestling match.

It was a common term in football before that.


Lib I apologize. I didn’t do my homework as well as I should have.

Using the currently earliest cite from the latest draft of the OED, you are correct. They have a football cite from 1921. But it’s pretty hard to find many football cites between that first usage and the 1940’s.

I found another wrestling cite from 1926 when I went back to search using “dog pile” rather than “dogpile.”

And now that I’ve actually taken the time to read the online OED, the original term was “pig pile” and goes back to the 1870’s. Somehow it morphed into “dog pile” in the early 20th Century.