Dogs Aboard the Titanic.


The tragic sinking of RMS Titanic in April 1912 took the lives of more than 1,500 people. However, there were also pet dogs aboard, as well as the ship’s cat and her kittens. In total, there were 700 survivors of the shipwreck and three small dogs. In this Holidays4Dogs article we find out more about the dogs aboard the titanic.

dogs aboard the titanic

The Titanic.

When the Titanic set sail from Southampton on April 10th 1912 it was bound for New York City carrying 2,200 passengers.

This included twelve pet dogs belonging to people with first class tickets aboard the Titanic; costing in the region of $2,500.

The White Star Shipping Line built two of the largest and most luxurious ships in the World – The Titanic and The Olympia. The company intended to take advantage of an increase in trade following the discovery of gold in Australia.

The White Star Line moved their operations from Liverpool, to Southampton in 1907.

This move transformed the city of Southampton into the most important passenger port of the time.

In 2012, during the anniversary of the sinking of the titanic, the U.S. Widener University Art Gallery, highlighted the special bond between people and their pets in their centennial exhibition. 

While many dogs were left behind, or drowned alongside their owners, three dogs managed to survive the sinking of the Titanic. Most of the dogs onboard ship that fateful April, were kept in kennels.

However, those belonging to first class passengers stayed in the cabin with their owners. These small dogs were the ones that had more chance of survival once the ship began to sink.

Lady, was a Pomeranian dog owned by a woman called Margaret Bechstein Hays. She was returning to New York  with two friends and her little dog, after having spent time travelling around Europe.

The dog was allegedly saved because Margaret wrapped the dog in a blanket as she entered the Titanic’s lifeboat.

She escaped into the lifeboat without anyone realising she even had a dog – many may even have assumed the bundle she was clutching was a baby.

A second Pomeranian, owned by the New York clothing tycoon of the time, Martin Rothschild and his wife, also survived. While Mr Rothschild unfortunately did not make it to the lifeboats, his wife did. She too made it aboard a lifeboat carrying the small dog hidden in her clothing.

dogs aboard the titanic

Titanic survivors aboard the Carpathia, 1912.

Nobody claimed to have seen the dog, until the following the morning, when rescuers onboard the Carpathia initially refused to accept the dog onto the ship.

Mrs Rothschild insisted that she would not leave the dog. Both of them were able to make it back home to New York.

The third dog to survive was Sun Yat-Sen, another small dog owned by Henry Harper, son and heir to Harper & Row publishing company in New York City.

Sun Yat-Sen, the Pekingese, Henry and his wife Myna were returning from Europe. They were also able to get onboard one of the lifeboats without anyone seeing the small dog they were carrying.

Some canine casualties of the Titanic were never identified. Some claim there may well have been more than a dozen dogs on board.

Perhaps, one of the most heart wrenching tales of the bond between human and dog was that of Ann Elizabeth Isham, who allegedly refused to leave the Titanic without her Great Dane. A dog of that size in a lifeboat, incited panic stricken objection amongst those trying to clamber aboard. Tragically, both were recovered from the ocean, where they had drowned together.


Such a powerful relationship between people and their pets, compelled dog owners of the Titanic not to abandon their animals, even when they were under such duress themselves. The canine human bond is indeed, remarkable.

The understanding of  this relationship between people and their companion pets is perhaps nowhere more apparent then in disaster situations where, it seems, people will risk danger to themselves in order to ensure the well-being of their beloved pets.