Early last year, we had The Dress. Now, with the clock having ticket over to 2016, we have another fashion debate that threatens to divide families and spark mass hysteria. The questions is this – should dog pants have two legs or four?
The image that started this “one, two, three, four I declare a tweet war” dustup came from the Utopian Raspberry – Modern Oasis Machine Facebook page (or, ever keeping it classy, UR-MOM). Admin Norbert created it after seeing a dog wearing pants in his neighborhood and considering alternative options. But, once unleashed, the illustration has caused such a ruckus that even august publications like The Atlantic and New York have felt the urge to critique the details of canine outerwear.
All of it comes down to how many legs you think a dog has. Some, like The Atlantic‘s Robinson Meyer, insist that dogs have four legs and therefore the four-legged option is correct. And they are completely, irrevocably wrong.
Dogs are quadrupeds. They walk around on four limbs. But that does not mean that their hind limbs and front limbs are exactly the same. The front “legs” of dogs are made up of the same bones as our arms – an upper arm bone, the humerus, connecting at a backward-pointing elbow to the radius and ulna of the lower arm and then the bones of the paw and toes. And even though the hindlimb has a similar bony formula, the middle joint of the knee points forward and the bones of the foot – called metatarsals – are elongated.
In other words, dogs don’t have a double set of “legs.” Their front and hind limbs are distinct, just like ours. Or, to pick an example from another quadruped, like those of cats.
If the question was whether cat pants would have two or four legs, it would be a non-starter. Not only because you can’t put pants on a cat without having your flesh torn asunder by feline claws, but because cats use their front limbs to bat at toy mice and push glasses full of water off the desk. Their forelimbs are a little more flexible and like our arms, yet they still walk on all fours. So even though the forelimbs of dogs aren’t as flexible as those of cats, they’re still variations on the theme of “arms” rather than copies of the rear legs. Pants for the hindlimbs, shirt for the forelimbs. That’s not a matter of opinion. That’s Anatomy 101.
And if that doesn’t convince you, Felicia Day has cinched the argument once and for all. “Guys. Pants cover the anus. You don’t crap over a waistband. I have no idea why this image is even an issue.” That’s also useful advice for when you’re getting dressed in the morning, which supporters of the four-legged dog pants camp desperately need to avoid walking around in bare-assed front onesies.