Swansea Jack

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Swansea Jack
Swansea Jack memorial.jpg
Swansea Jack memorial
BreedRetriever, locally called a "Newfoundland dog" (see text)
Possibly Newfoundland, Canada (see text)
DiedOctober 1937(Aged 7)
Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom
Resting placeSt Helen's Rugby Ground
51° 38' 0" North, 3° 58' 0" West
Nation fromWales
EmployerNorth Dock
Years active1931-1937
Known forRescuing 27 people
OwnerWilliam Thomas
AppearanceBlack retriever-type, longish hair, similar to a Flat-Coated Retriever
AwardsLord Mayor of London: Silver Cup; National Canine Defence League: bronze medal (twice); Publicly funded burial monument: Marble and Bronze; more (see text).

Swansea Jack (1930 – October 1937) was a famous Welsh dog who rescued 27 people from the docks and riverbanks of Swansea, Wales.[1]


Swansea Jack was a black retriever with a longish coat. He was similar in appearance to a modern Flat-Coated Retriever,[2] but was instead identified at the time as a Newfoundland dog, despite being considerably smaller and lighter in build than the typical modern Newfoundland dog, possibly because he was reported to have been born in Newfoundland.[3] He lived in the North Dock / River Tawe area of Swansea with his master, William Thomas. Jack would always respond to cries for help from the water, diving into the water and pulling whoever was in difficulty to safety at the dockside.[4]

His first rescue, in June 1931, when he saved a 12-year-old boy, went unreported. A few weeks later, this time in front of a crowd, Jack rescued a swimmer from the docks. His photograph appeared in the local paper and the local council awarded him a silver collar. In 1936 he had the prestigious 'Bravest Dog of the Year' award bestowed upon him by the Star newspaper in London.[5]

He received a silver cup from the Lord Mayor of London and he is still the only dog to have been awarded two bronze medals by the National Canine Defence League (now known as Dogs Trust). Legend has it that in his lifetime he saved 27 people from the Docks / River Tawe. Swansea Jack died in October 1937 after eating rat poison. His death was reported by the press across the UK and the press claimed he had saved 29 lives (for example, Nottingham Journal 5 October 1937).[6]

His burial monument, paid for by public subscription, is located on the Promenade in Swansea near St Helen's Rugby Ground. In 2000, Swansea Jack was named 'Dog of the Century' by NewFound Friends of Bristol who train domestic dogs in aquatic rescue techniques.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Wales Online: Swansea Jack". Archived from the original on 2008-05-10. Retrieved 2007-07-26.
  2. ^ "(untitled image)". Swansea City. Archived from the original on July 10, 2010.
  3. ^ "10 Most Fascinating Dogs". Eamazings.com. 2009-10-30. Retrieved 2011-06-17.
  4. ^ Woodward, Hamish (2021-06-10). "Who Was Swansea Jack? The Heroic Dog from Swansea". Atletifo Sports. Retrieved 2021-10-13.
  5. ^ "History of Swansea City – Swansea City Supporters' Trust". www.swanstrust.co.uk. Retrieved 2021-06-09.
  6. ^ "Dog Which Saved 29 Persons from Drowning". Nottingham Journal. 5 October 1937. p. 1. Retrieved 20 June 2021.

Further reading[edit]

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