Whether you’ve watched it or not, you’ve likely heard of Game of Thrones. It’s a global phenomenon that has been talked about around workplaces and at dinner tables for years. But you may be surprised to learn of the interesting impact the dogs in Game of Thrones have made. In this article, we explore how the popular television show brought Siberian Huskies into the spotlight in both good and bad ways.
Let’s dig in.
What Is Game of Thrones?
Game of Thrones is a popular fantasy television series. Based on George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” book series, the show is set in the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos. It follows the power struggles among noble families vying for control of the Iron Throne.
The story has political intrigue, epic battles, and a richly developed medieval-inspired world. Game of Thrones explores themes of loyalty, betrayal, honor, and the consequences of unchecked ambition. The show’s complex characters, each with their own motivations and flaws, contribute to its unpredictability. It’s a gripping tale of both human nature and the supernatural elements that shape their world.
Over its run, Game of Thrones became a cultural phenomenon, sparking discussions about its intricate plot twists and memorable moments. With watching parties and loyal fans, it left a permanent mark on the landscape of modern television.
What Dogs Are Featured in Game of Thrones?
Several breeds of dogs are featured in Game of Thrones, often playing significant roles that mirror the traits of the noble houses they accompany. The television show features Greyhounds, which portray the elegant hunting hounds of House Baratheon. Mastiffs embody the guard dogs of House Clegane. These canine characters serve as metaphoric extensions of the characters they are associated with, adding to the show’s layers of symbolism and narrative depth.
However, the most prominent dogs in the show are the Northern Inuit Dogs, which portray the fearsome direwolves that belong to the Stark children. Direwolves are mythical, oversized wolves that are native to the northern regions of the fictional continent of Westeros. The direwolves represent loyalty and protection, are larger, stronger, and more intelligent than regular wolves, and share deep bonds with their human companions. They’re woven into the storyline as both companions and symbols of the Stark family’s connection to their ancestral roots.
Game of Thrones Direwolf Names & Owners
Each GoT direwolf was given a name by its Stark owner. Here are the direwolves’ names and their respective owners:
Ghost – Owned by Jon Snow, Ghost is an albino direwolf with red eyes. He is known for his quiet, stealthy nature.
Grey Wind – Owned by Robb Stark, Grey Wind is fierce and fast. He accompanies Robb to war and proves to be a formidable ally.
Lady – Owned by Sansa Stark, Lady is gentle and well-behaved, much like Sansa herself. Unfortunately, Lady meets a tragic end early in the series.
Nymeria – Owned by Arya Stark, Nymeria is wild and independent. After an incident where she attacks Prince Joffrey, Nymeria is driven away by Arya to save her from execution.
Summer – Owned by Bran Stark, Summer is protective and brave. He stands by Bran, especially after Bran loses the use of his legs.
Shaggydog – Owned by Rickon Stark, Shaggydog is wild and untamed, mirroring Rickon’s young and impulsive nature.
Did Any of the Direwolves Survive?
At the risk of revealing any spoilers, all of the Stark children receive direwolf pups in the first episode of the series. However, not all of them survive until the end. By the conclusion of Game of Thrones, two direwolves remain. Ghost is one, the albino direwolf belonging to Jon Snow. Also, Nymeria, Arya Stark’s direwolf survives after being separated from her early on but later returns leading a pack of wolves in the Riverlands.
We believe that Ghost’s survival represents Jon Snow’s resilience and the unbreakable bond he maintains with his Stark heritage. Meanwhile, Nymeria’s presence highlights Arya’s independent and wild spirit. The direwolves’ enduring presence serves as a reminder of the Stark family’s enduring strength despite the trials they face throughout the story.
What Dogs Played the Direwolves of GoT?
In the Game of Thrones TV series, the direwolves were not portrayed by Siberian Huskies, despite popular belief. The direwolves were mostly played by Northern Inuit Dogs, a breed specifically developed to resemble a wolf while maintaining the temperament of a domestic dog. Northern Inuits are a mix of Alaskan Malamutes, German Shepherds, and Siberian Huskies, among other breeds.
Initially, live dogs were used for scenes, especially when the direwolves were puppies in the first season. However, as the direwolves grew and their roles in the story became more complex and sometimes supernatural, CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) was increasingly employed to bring the direwolves to life on screen. The CGI artists used the initial live-action shots as a reference to create more mature and larger-than-life direwolves consistent with the lore of the series. However, Jon Snow’s direwolf Ghost was often played by a real albino Arctic Wolf from Alberta named Quigly.
Although not the breed that actually portrayed the direwolves, the Siberian Husky breed saw a rise in popularity due to the show. Fans grew interested in a dog that looked as close to a direwolf to have as their own. Siberian Huskies were one of the most available breeds that had the closest resemblance to wolves.
Are Huskies Wolves?
Despite their looks, Huskies are not wolves. They’re a distinct breed of domesticated dog with their own unique characteristics and traits. While huskies share some physical similarities with wolves, such as their thick double coat, erect ears, and bushy tails, they are purposefully bred canines. Huskies are part of the working dog group and are known for their endurance, strength, and friendly temperament. They’re often bred for pulling sleds and working in cold climates.
Wolves, on the other hand, are wild animals. While huskies and wolves share a common ancestor, they took separate evolutionary genetic paths and are distinct species. Huskies have been domesticated for thousands of years and have developed a close bond with humans. They’re beloved companions and reliable working dogs.
What Impact Did Game of Thrones Have on Siberian Huskies?
The dogs of Game of Thrones undeniably had a significant impact on Siberian Huskies. Since they have a resemblance to the direwolves in the show, many fans around the globe became enchanted by the idea of having their own “direwolf.”
However, this surge in popularity led to some negative outcomes:
Overbreeding and Puppy Mills
Increased demand often leads to increased supply, and not always through ethical means. Puppy mills and backyard breeders may have seen the increased interest in Huskies as an opportunity to make quick money. This often comes at the expense of the well-being of the animals.
Abandonment and Strain on Shelters
Siberian Huskies are energetic, require ample exercise, and can be challenging for first-time dog owners. Many people who adopted or purchased Huskies on a whim, inspired by the show, later found that they weren’t ready for the responsibility. This led to an increase in Huskies being abandoned or surrendered to animal shelters. This led to a strain on these organizations’ resources, making it harder for them to focus on other animals in need.
Those who purchased a dog due to Game of Thrones may not have realized the full extent of the breed’s needs. Places like the Bay Area Siberian Husky Club saw up to five abandoned dogs a month at one point, according to the American Kennel Club.
We speculate that many of these Game of Thrones fans abandoned or rehomed their Huskies because they turned out to be more of a handful than expected. The breed is extremely smart, talkative, and athletic, and doesn’t usually thrive in small living spaces. They also tend to be escape artists, so a lot of acreage for them to run and play is ideal.
The minimal training and care shown in the show (except for maybe Jon Snow’s case) may have set unrealistic expectations of husky ownership. To have a loyal and intuitively behaved pet takes a lot of time, patience, and effort on behalf of the owner. The passive approach shown or, rather, not shown made these majestic creatures seem like wise, guardian-like companions rather than interactive and demanding ones.
Pro Tip: Living with a Husky can present some challenges. Similarly, Malamutes need space to run and play.
Are Huskies Good Family Dogs?
Huskies can be very good family dogs, as they tend to be extremely affectionate. Most are good with children and other pets. They’re also typically open to strangers, adaptable, and very playful. However, you might be surprised to learn that the large breed isn’t the best watchdog.
Like all breeds or mixed breeds, they need proper training and mental stimulation. But they also need a lot of exercise. Huskies usually have a lot of energy. So, a family will need to take into account the need for a routine, long walks, and adequate playtime.
Suggested Reading: Learn how much exercise dogs need and how to keep them stimulated.
Siberian Huskies Deserve Love and Forever Homes
We love more people finding joy and fulfillment in pet ownership. However, the surge in popularity of dogs looking like wolves from the Game of Thrones series led to some unintended consequences for Siberian Huskies. Many enthusiasts failed to understand the breed’s unique needs, temperament, and activity levels, resulting in abandoned or rehomed dogs when reality sunk in.
However, it’s important to note that the Game of Thrones impact is not solely to blame for these issues. Problems like overbreeding, abandonment, and misinformed pet ownership exist independently of the series, but the show’s popularity did magnify them in relation to Siberian Huskies and similar breeds.
On the flip side, the series also brought attention to these breeds, which may have led to increased funding and donations to rescue organizations and spurred education campaigns about responsible pet ownership. But overall, the negative impacts underscore the importance of thoroughly researching and considering the implications before adopting or buying a pet, especially one as demanding as a Siberian Husky.
Siberian Huskies are amazing animals. They deserve love and forever homes, as they’ll love you unconditionally and be grateful always. If you have the space and time for an energetic Husky, get more familiar with the breed and see if adoption is right for you. You can search for dogs and programs on pet adoption websites.
Have you had the opportunity to interact with a Husky? What was your experience? Share in the comments below.
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