Regimental Mascots, Pets and ‘Pat’ the Dog

Whilst auditing our picture store some of our volunteers rediscovered this oil painting of ‘Pat’ the dog, a regimental mascot of the 72nd Highlanders (which later became the Seaforth Highlanders).


On the back of the painting is pasted an article from a newspaper dating from March 1888 detailing Pats’ life and service to the regiment.

Newspaper article from 1888 pasted onto the back of the oil painting 'Pat the Dog'

It reads:

“Pat by E.B
April 1887
Death of a Regiments Pet
A Correspondent writes: – Few regiments are without their pets, and the Seaforth’s is-or rather was, for within the past few days he has been removed by death – no exception to the rule. Pat, the canine favourite in question was well known wherever the 72nd went, by his quaint appearance, extreme intelligence, and funny tricks. He served throughout the Afghan and Egyptian campaigns with the Regiment, and was frequently under fire. Originally he belonged to Captain Frome, of the Seaforth’s, who was killed at the battle of Kandahar, and he then became the property of another officer of the regiment, with whom he was in India, Aden and Egypt. Pat shared in the march to Kandahar. He now finds an appropriate resting place beside the remains of other regimental pets on the summit of the little cliff immediately beneath Mons Meg” [in the Pet cemetery at Edinburgh Castle].

The tradition of regiments having mascots or pets is thought to have developed from a variety of different situations that have occurred over time. These include individual troops taking their domestic pets onto the battlefield with them, regiments adopting a pet at the place they were stationed or being presented with one as a gift. Animals that have been adopted as pets or mascots in British regiments have included dogs, cats, bears, ponies, goats, monkeys and lions. The earliest recorded regimental mascot is thought to be a goat from the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, who was present at the American War of Independence in 1775.

British Army mascots can be classed as either regimental pets or regimental mascots. Regimental pets are seen as unofficial mascots since they are not formally recognized by the Army and receive little or no official military provision. Regimental mascots on the other hand, once they have received official recognition from the Army, are entitled to the services of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, issued with a regimental number, assume a proper rank (with prospects of promotion) and receive appropriate army rations and accommodation.

The official criteria that must be met for an animal to be awarded official mascot status are as follows:
• The regiment must meet the welfare guidelines issued by the Army Veterinary Corps to ensure that the mascot is properly fed and housed.
• The Commanding Officer of the regiment must give approval before the case goes to the Army Honours and Distinctions Committee.
• The Committee will consider whether the mascot is “appropriate”, can take an active part in army life – including ceremonial occasions – and have a symbolic and historic connection with the regiment.

The current regimental mascot of the Royal Regiment of Scotland is Lance Corporal Cruachan IV (Shetland pony). He continues a tradition that began in 1928 when HRH Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll (and Colonel in Chief) presented a Shetland Pony to her Regiment. The name Cruachan originates from the war cry of Clan Campbell. On formal occasions  Cruachan leads the regiment on parade and represents it at events across Scotland. Why not follow him on Twitter at:

Lance Corporal Cruachan IV, mascot and ‘Pony Major’ of The Royal Regiment of Scotland

Other countries which have official military mascots include:
• Sir Nils Olav (a penguin which currently resides at Edinburgh Zoo), mascot of His Majesty The King’s Guard, Norway.

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Sir Nils Olav, mascot of His Majesty The King’s Guard, Norway.

• The mascot of the Spanish Legion is a goat. It usually appears at parades, wearing a Legion cap and accompanied by a Legionnaire, alongside the legion’s marker guard (gastadores) at parades and ceremonies, leading the marching troops.

Image result for spanish legion goat
Mascot of the Spanish Legion accompanied by a Legionnaire.

For more information on animals in the military (both past and present) please see:

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