The Ship's Dog

The Ships Dog

...the dog had an important role as a rat catcher.

The skull and skeleton of a small adult dog were retrieved from an area in and around the Carpenters cabin on the Mary Rose.

This is the only dog that was found on board. Apart from companionship for the carpenter who lived permanently on board the dog had an important role as a rat catcher.

The skeleton is almost complete; this hypothetical reconstruction is being reconsidered because the dog’s posture is thought to be untypical.

The whole skeleton is at the moment at the Royal Veterinary College in London being examined. DNA analysis could indicate hair colour and the genetic background; bone density is also being examined.

The dog was small to medium-sized and stood about 47cm at its shoulders and has a similar bone configuration to a whippet, although it is unlikely to have had a special pedigree.

Research is continuing at the Mary Rose Trust on all aspects of the ship and life on board.

Quick Facts

  • Artefact numbers #81S444 and #81S1294
  • Dimensions Height 47cm
  • Dog died July 1545
  • Found on The Mary Rose


  • The dog was a young adult, perhaps eighteen months to two years old based on the fusion of the skull bones and lack of wear on the teeth. The animal may have been a female.
  • The teeth and bones of the dog are perfectly healthy except for one rib and the second left metacarpal which both have a thickening of the bone around their proximal ends.

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