I don’t know about you guys, but I’m getting awfully tired of this cold. Doesn’t mother nature realize it’s Spring, and that Easter is only days away? Either way, we all have our ways to describe the cold, and so do Spanish-speakers. Simply to say “it’s cold” would be “hace frio,” but 45 degrees can still be “hace frio.” What about when it’s really cold? When it’s snowing and the wind chill is below ten degrees? Well, there are idioms for that. One of them is “hace un frío de perros, or “it’s a cold of dogs”. Similarly, you can also use “hace un frío que pela,” or “it’s a cold that peels.”
We have all sorts of sayings to describe the cold. “It’s freezing.” “I’m chilled to the bone.” Or, as my roommate says, “We’re in an ice cube.” Saying something like this means more than just “it’s cold.” It’s colder than cold.
But back to the Spanish- a cold of dogs? What does that mean? Good question. What makes dogs get the cold? In general, Spanish speakers use “de perros” to refer to something unpleasant. Maybe it’s an unpleasant smell, an unpleasant situation, or, as in this case, unpleasant weather. My guess is that it goes back to when dogs were wilder, and you didn’t find one as the common household pet that cuddled on the couch and earned a stocking at Christmas time, or even traveled in a purse wearing a sweater. Dogs used to be dirty and smelly, and while loved, were often viewed as working partners, instead of the beloved members or our families.
So, no, dogs are not literally cold, but there was a time when they were unpleasant. And the cold that’s been going on for multiple months now is DEFINITELY unpleasant.
Just for fun…