Polar Record

Research Article

The use and abuse of dogs on Scott's and Amundsen's South Pole expeditions

Carl Murraya1

a1 Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 77, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia


In the century since Roald Amundsen and Robert F. Scott led the first and second expeditions to reach the South Pole, commentators have frequently passed judgement on the different means of transport that the two explorers employed. In hindsight, and since he ‘won,’ they have consistently praised Amundsen for using dogs exclusively and criticised Scott for not doing the same. Surprisingly, however, almost no attention has been given to the experience of Amundsen's dogs, whose extreme suffering seems to have vanished into a collective blind spot. Here, with the aim of restoring balance to one part of the vexed historiography of the two explorers, that record is set straight. Amundsen's troubled and contradictory attitude towards his animals is also explored and common misconceptions about Scott's views on the use of dogs for transport are confuted.

(Received January 2008)