For fans who have watched the blockbuster HBO fantasy series “Game of Thrones”, have you wondered where they got those adorable and fluffy direwolves in the show?
They were in reality Northern Inuit breed, which is a relatively new dog breed founded in the 1980s by U.K. breeder Edwina “Eddie” Harrison. Experts claim that these dogs are actually a mix of several rescue dogs of unknown origins, along with the Alaskan Malamute, German Shepherd and Siberian Husky. The result was a dog breed that is not only exquisitely beautiful; these pooches have great temperaments and make wonderful pets, provided that they are adopted by the right people.
At the start of the series, which is based on the first of an epic series of books “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R.R. Martin, the Stark family came across a slain dire wolf mother and six puppies. The initial order is to kill the puppies so no more dire wolves exist in the kingdom, but the children take it as a sign since the House Stark emblem is a wolf. The five legitimate children got a wolf pup each and later a sixth puppy is found, a runt, which is given to John Snow (the bastard son).
The makers of the show (on which the animal training duties are headed by the legendary Jim Warren) initially considered using actual wolves. But this idea was nixed because wolves present certain dangers – plus they’re illegal in the U.K., where the show is filmed – especially since they would be working with child actors.
Direwolves are actual species of Pleistocene megafauna that once existed on real-life Earth, like the mammoth and sabertooth cat. They are unusually large and intelligent species of wolf. An adult direwolf is as large as a small horse, and can rip a man’s arm from its socket. Even a juvenile direwolf is quite capable of killing a man by ripping out his throat. Physically, they are not simply larger versions of wolves, but have slightly different proportions than their smaller cousins: their heads are larger with a leaner, more pronounced muzzle; their legs are longer in proportion to their body, and they have proportionately larger teeth that are often used to crush bones.
The children of House Stark adopt six orphaned direwolf cubs found in the Wolfswood. They are as follows:
- Grey Wind, adopted by Robb Stark. Currently with the main Stark army in the South, used by King Robb as a ferocious war dog.
- Lady, adopted by Sansa Stark. Lady is killed under orders of Robert Baratheon, at the urging of Cersei Lannister. Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa in the series, adopted Lady as her own pet when the series wrapped.
- Nymeria, adopted by Arya Stark. Fearing for Nymeria’s life, Arya chased her away after the wolf cub attacked Prince Joffrey Baratheon to defend her owner. She is now loose somewhere in the Riverlands, the first direwolf seen that far south (other than Grey Wind) in many centuries.
- Summer, adopted by Bran Stark. Fled Winterfell with Bran following the castle’s sacking.
- Shaggydog, adopted by Rickon Stark. Likewise fled Winterfell with Rickon.
- Ghost, adopted by Jon Snow. An albino with red eyes, Ghost followed Jon to his service with the Night’s Watch at the Wall and beyond.