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Hatch – the ship’s dog

Who was Hatch?

Hatch was the ratter on board the Mary Rose, responsible for catching rats – although he may also have acted as an unofficial mascot.

According to DNA analysis on his teeth, he was a young adult male, between 18-24 months old, with a light brown-dark brown coat.

He may have spent his entire life on board the Mary Rose.

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What breed was Hatch?

Hatch can’t be attributed to a specific breed, most of which were developed after 1545.

DNA analysis undertaken by the University of Portsmouth looked at which modern breeds he was most closely related to. They classed him as a terrier-type, most closely related to the modern Jack Russell terrier.

He also shows similarities with whippets, so we refer to him as a terrier/whippet mongrel, or a lurcher.

Where was Hatch found?

Despite stories claiming he was trapped in the door of the carpenters’ cabin, but he probably died just outside this, with some of his remains being pulled inside the cabin post-mortem (after death) by marine scavengers.

Because of where he was found, we refer to him as the carpenter’s dog, and he shares a display case in the Mary Rose Museum with the master carpenter’s chest and personal belongings.

Why a ship’s dog?

While today we think of the ship’s cat as being more traditional, dogs were used on board ships for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, contrary to popular belief, cats aren’t that good at ratting, as many rats are big enough to fight back. Dogs such as terriers were considered to be much better at ratting, and many modern breeds were selectively bred for that task.

Secondly, Pope Innocent VIII had declared cats to be unholy in 1484, and the companions of witches, so owning one was generally considered unlucky – not to mention likely to get you in a lot of trouble. This opinion ended in England around 200 years later.

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