The Dogs On The Titanic
April 15, 2012, marked the 100th anniversary of the sinking of
the RMS Titanic.
On 14 April 1912, four days into the crossing and about 375
miles (600 km) south of Newfoundland, she hit an iceberg at 11:40
pm. Passengers and some crew members were evacuated in lifeboats,
many of which were launched only partly filled. Just before 2:20
am the Titanic broke up and sank bow-first. Over 1500 people plus
an unknown number of dogs and possibly cats perished. The 710
survivors were taken aboard from the lifeboats by RMS
Carpathia a few hours later.
The exact number of dogs on the ship is unknown, but based on
eyewitness accounts and the ship's records there were at least 12
dogs on board, only three of which survived.
It was not unusual for dogs to accompany their rich owners on a
sea cruise. Only first-class passengers brought dogs on the
Titanic and most were kept in the ship's kennels on the 3rd class
The kennel facilities on Titanic were excellent and the dogs
were well taken care of. Each day a member of the crew would take
the variety of dogs for a walk. Among the many breeds were a
champion French bulldog owned by Robert Daniels and insured for
$750, a huge amount at the time, and the Astor's, the Titanic's
most prominent passengers, Airedale named Kitty. The parade was
quite a spectacle and a dog show had been planned on board the
Titanic for the owners for Monday April 15th.
Mr & Mrs Astor and their Airedale
The three dogs that survived stayed in their owners' cabins and
were so small that it's doubtful anyone even realized they were
being carried to the lifeboats where pets were not allowed.
The three canine survivors were:
The nine dogs confined in the onboard kennels all died. It is
documented that a passenger went below and released all of them
before Titanic disappeared below the waves. Among these dogs
- Lady, a Pomeranian that had recently been purchased
in Paris by Margaret Bechstein Hays. The 24-year-old New Yorker
was returning home on the Titanic from travels in Europe with
friends. When passengers were evacuated, Miss Hays wrapped Lady
in a blanket. Crew members allowed her to get in lifeboat 7
with the puppy because they assumed it was a baby.
- Another Pomeranian, whose name isn't known, owned by New
York clothing magnate Martin Rothschild and his wife, Elizabeth
Jane Anne Rothschild. While Martin Rothschild didn't survive
the shipwreck, his wife made it to lifeboat 6 with her dog,
which she kept hidden. No one else on the lifeboat remembered
seeing the dog until the next morning, and rescuers on the
Carpathia initially refused to take it on board. But Mrs
Rothschild insisted, and both made it back to New York. Not
long after his salvage, the Pom died after a fight with another
Yat-Sen, a Pekingese owned by Henry S. Harper, heir to New
York's Harper & Row publishing firm, and his wife Myra
Harper. The Harpers were returning from a tour of Europe and
Asia, joined by an interpreter they had picked up in Egypt. All
three, plus Sun Yat-Sen, entered lifeboat 3 on the Titanic's
starboard side. When asked later about saving the dog, Henry
Harper explained that there seemed to be lots of room, and
nobody made any objection. The Pekingese died half a year
One particularly sad story involves a Great Dane owned by Ann
Elizabeth Isham. Miss Isham visited her dog at the ship's kennel
daily and when she was evacuating, asked to take him also. When
she was told the dog was too large, she refused to leave without
him and got out of the lifeboat. Several days later, the body of
a woman clutching a large dog was spotted by crew of the recovery
ship, Mackay-Bennet, and dinghies were dispatched. Eyewitness
accounts by crew and ship's log confirm the sighting and
recovery, and the body recovered is assumed to be Miss Isham.
- Frou-Frou, a toy poodle belonging to Helen Walton
- A Fox terrier named Dog, owned by William Dulles, an
attorney from Philadelphia.
- Millionaire John Jacob Astor's Airedale named Kitty. He led
his pregnant wife Madeleine to the lifeboat but was not allowed
to follow her. Women and children first! He went off to let
Kitty out of her kennel and perhaps also the other dogs.
Madeleine Astor said later that she saw Kitty running to and
fro on the deck.
- Robert Daniel's French bulldog Gamin de Pycombe. When the
ship began to sink Mr Daniel collected his dog from the kennel
but had to leave him behind when he went to save himself. So it
could also have been him who released the other dogs. Later,
Richard Norris Williams, another passenger who was swimming for
his life in the cold water, suddenly found himself face to face
with Gamin. When he was pulled on board a lifeboat he was
convinced that he had been subject to a hallucination.
- Two dogs belonging to American coal magnate William Carter,
who reassured his worried children that their pets were safe as
they clambered into the lifeboats. His daughter Lucy was later
compensated $100 by Lloyds of London for her King Charles
spaniel, while his son Billy received $200 for his
The two photos of dogs on board were taken by amateur
photographer, Frank Brown, who disembarked the ship in
Queenstown, Ireland before she embarked on her transatlantic
showing the ship's captain Edward Smith with a Borzoi was
taken on board the Titanic the day before sailing. The dog
was a gift from Benjamin Guggenheim who did a lot of
travelling, often on ships skippered by Capt. Smith, so he
knew him and his family well. Guggenheim, although
originally scheduled to sail on another vessel, ended up on
the Titanic, and brought a large Russian wolfhound as a
gift for the captain's daughter. The dog remained
overnight, but was taken home to his daughter the next
morning, so he was not on board when the ship got
What about cats?
Crew often had at least one cat on board each ship to help keep
the rat population down.
It's said that there was a cat with young kittens aboard the sea
trials of the Titanic but when the ship arrived in Southampton
from Belfast, she was seen disembarking. Up and down the
gangplank she went, retrieving one kitten at a time that she
deposited on the dock. She and the kittens quickly disappeared
and it was later said that she must have had some sort of
premonition that the voyage wasn't going to be a good one.