Boat Dogs – 20th Century Nautical Cuteness

On land or sea, dogs are humans’ best friends! Who better to take with you on a long-distance nautical adventure? Boat dogs are a cute companion that can often contribute to the daily duties, including but not limited to adding the poop to the poop deck.

These photos are from the Australian National Maritime Museum, “Australia’s Center for Maritime collection, exhibitions, research, and archaeology”. In the early 20th century, Samuel J. Hood, a boat-loving Sydney photographer, captured these boat dogs on black and white film.

Puppies posed on top of a large boat rope, their parent dogs behind them.
“Seaman on Yahiko Maru with two terriers…” (1950)

This litter of boat puppies was born on the cargo ship Yahiko Maru in 1950. It is an impressive feat for the seaman to wrangle all the animals into one photo! Bonus for any dogs looking to go on the open ocean – ships have lots of rope.

A baby and dog on top the deck of a boat.
“Baby and a dog on a sailing ship

Sam Hood would take a lot of these photos for the passengers and crew to send home to their families. This photo of a dog and a baby sitting on top of the deck house of a sailing boat, I’m sure, made quite the souvenir. The Maritime Museum says it was not uncommon for the captain’s close family to live on board the ship.

If a baby takes its first steps on a boat, does that mean they got their sea legs before their land legs?!

A uniformed man holding his small dog on a boat.
“Ship’s officer with pet dog on…”

This was taken aboard the SS Chindwara. Once again, the dog is a Terrier! I’m not sure what breeds are best for boat dogs, but my dog has webbed toes and hates any water not in his bowl – so it has to at least partially come down to the dog’s preferences.

A dog standing on its hind legs posing with a well-dressed man.
“French captain with his dog”

Well, it is official: this post’s top boat dog breed, dare I say of the 20th century, is the terrier!! Don’t let his civilian clothes fool you, that is the captain (the human).

On a tangent, I did google if any dogs can own or operate a boat and I came across Porter and Monty, who, although they are not boat dogs – they are driving dogs!! Check out Porter and Monty driving! They are terriers too!!

A uniformed man holding his small dog aboard a ship.
Shipmaster of the SS Purely with his…

Well, the terrier boat dog pattern is over, but not forgotten. Here is the shipmaster of the SS Pureley with his spaniel boat dog.

Why don’t any of these dogs have sailor uniforms? Such a missed opportunity.

Dog posing standing up on his owner, both on a ship in front of the ship's steering wheel.
“Ship’s officer with pet dog…”

Here is a Border Collie, majestically posed upon the wheel of the steamer SS Suevic.

Do the dogs just pee wherever they want? There isn’t a place for them to go to the bathroom so that poop deck joke is looking more and more realistic.

Uniformed man posing with his dog on a the deck of a ship.
“Sailing Ship Captain with Pet Dog” (1910)

This last pup is here to see you off on your boat dog adventures! I hope this inspires you to take your pet, pup or otherwise, on grand travels. Just remember to be safe – your dog, and you should always wear protective gear like life jackets or elbow pads.

The images showcased in this post are in the public domain with no known copyright restrictions. Make sure to give credit to the Australian National Maritime Museum, credit is not mandatory, but it would be super rad!

For more vintage maritime photos, check out the Australian National Maritime Museum’s Flickr Account.

Bonus Boat Dog! This is Perlous Jack, the mascot of the HMS New Zealand.

Bulldog posing inside a tube with two navy men aside him.
Perlous Jack” (1914) by Stuart Thompson, from the Library and Archives Canada, under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.
Categories: ,