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Dog Watch

Posted by Bruce Kahl on August 14, 2000

In Reply to: Naval language posted by Janet Agar on August 14, 2000

: Origin of naval phrase "dog watch" please

A dogwatch at sea is the period between 4 and 6 p.m, the first dogwatch, or the period between 6 and 8 p.m., the second dog watch. The watches aboard ships are:

Noon to 4:00 p.m. Afternoon watch
4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. First dogwatch
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Second dogwatch
8:00 p.m. to midnight 1st night watch
Midnight to 4:00 a.m. Middle watch or mid watch
4:00 to 8:00 a.m. Morning watch
8:00 a.m. to noon Forenoon watch

The dogwatches are only two hours each so the same Sailors aren't always on duty at the same time each afternoon. Some experts say dogwatch is a corruption of dodge watch and others associate dogwatch with the fitful sleep of Sailors called dog sleep, because it is a stressful watch. But no one really knows the origin of this term, which was in use at least back to 1700.