What are the dog days of summer?

What are the dog days of summer?

Quick Facts

  • Correlates to the Dog Star (Sirius) rising
  • A phrase has several different connotations
  • Most correlate it to the sultry part of summer

With July here and the heat sticking around, the phrase “the dog days of summer” may be heard around the area. It isn’t just a time when the dogs are hotter and panting more. Instead, the phrase has some astronomical background.

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The phrase refers to a star in the Canis Major constellation, Sirius, also known as the Dog Star. In ancient times it was thought that Sirius and the Sun caused summer's horribly hot conditions.

Canis Major constellation
Canis Major constellation

In ancient Egypt, Sirius was used as a “watchdog” for the Nile River’s flood season arriving soon.

In actuality, these "dog days of summer" fall when Sirius rises in with the sun rather than being visible during the night.

Looking back, the average start of the "dog days of summer" falls on July 3rd and continues into early/mid-August. The start is not long after the Summer Solstice, really signifying the heat is about to settle in.

During these hot days when both humans and animals are struggling to stay cool, make sure you are taking care of yourself and your animals.