You can credit America's youth and their love of counter culture slang for the
connection between the two seemingly unrelated words "dogs" and "feet."
According to Tom Dalzell, author of Flappers 2 Rappers: American Youth Slang
(Merriam Webster, October 1996), it was during the Jazz Age of the 1920's
that "dogs" was used as a noun to indicate feet.
For example, "my dogs are barking" in 1920 speak translates to "my feet are
hurting" in 2002 speak. These days "dog" is still a noun, although its slang
meaning has changed. Here's the current definition from The College Slang
Page's Top 20 list:
dawg/dog/dogg (noun) A friend (usually male). Often used to replace a name.
These guys were my dawgs since grade school. Hey, how have you been, dog?
As for the *why*, it seems that you'll have to buy Dalzell's book to get the
It includes a chapter titled, appropriately enough: "Cool expressions change
with each generation, dog, dig?"
There are excerpts of Dalzell's book available online,
but none of them deal with the words of the 1920's. It is interesting to note
that in the 1940's, "feet" were called "hocks" and "plates."
Here are some sites that will give you a more thorough understanding of the
evolution of "dog" and its role in the 1920's:
Bartleby's dictionary definitions of dog
The College Slang Page from CSU Pomona
The Internet Guide to Jazz Age Slang
Flappers 2 Rappers
I found this to be the most useful search term on Google:
dog and slang and feet