dire wolf alaska dog works

Dire Wolves and the Media Effect

dire wolf alaska dog works

I will admit it, we are late to the party. We did not start watching Game of Thrones until the day after the series ended. That’s right, somehow for the last eight years we were living under a rock and never watched the show.

But now we are knee deep into season one and right out of the gate we meet the dire wolves in the first episode. They are cute and awesome right?

Not so fast. If you are on this page you probably know a couple things about us already: we are dog trainers and we are dog mushers with a whole pack of real-life dire wolves in the form of Alaskan and Siberian Huskies.

Did you know that dire wolves—oversized powerful wolves—were once real? About 300,000 years ago they roamed the Americas. Their fossils are scattered across North and South America from Virginia to the Las Vegas Strip. The species is scientifically known as Canis dirus, and they weren’t much larger than today’s modern gray wolf.

In Game of Thrones the wolves were played by Northern Inuit dogs, a cross-breed related to huskies and German Shepherds that were selectively bred to resemble wolves. It is not surprising people wanted them, or something like them.

The closest thing to resemble the wolves is the Siberian Husky. Their shaggy fur, pointed ears, and wolf-like features make them near perfect examples of the dire wolves on the show.

Siberian Huskies are high maintenance. Believe me I know first-hand. We have one dog, Raegan that we call the diva of the sled dog kennel. She wants it her way and she will tell you so. These dogs also have an innate need to run—a lot. We once had a female named Sienna that ran for more than 30 miles when she escaped the yard. If these dogs don’t get the exercise they need they can be destructive. Many people buy them without doing any of their research, which results in a lifestyle crash.

Look around on social media and you will sadly see many, many, “husky puppies for sale.” Some people post online saying they have dire wolf dogs available “$500 and ready to go.”  A quick Google search for this article turned up countless “dire wolf kennels.” Many of these dogs are sold to unsuspecting buyers and they don’t realize what they are getting into. It is a recipe for disaster.

Many of these dogs are being given up and dumped in shelters. This is especially the case now that the show has ended. Rescues around the country are busy answering phone calls and emails from people that want to re-home their huskies. It has become a dire situation that is out of control and that is not a pun that I use lightly.

This is not the first time something like this has happened. It is called the media effect. The same thing happened when 101 Dalmatians was released, when the little Jack Russell terrier named Eddie melted our hearts on the t.v. show Frasier, along with Air Bud, Beethoven and many more. Just like the dire-wolves on Game of Thrones, the emotional appeal becomes an impulse driven purchase in a society where we want the latest and greatest of everything. Now that Game of Thrones is over, and the novelty wears off what is going to happen? Those rapidly breeding for profit will see a reduction in demand and then we have an issue of what is going to happen to all of these dogs?

Some words of advice? Never buy a dog on impulse. A dog is a lifetime commitment that can last for ten to fifteen years, far longer than most shows on t.v.

Secondly, if you are in the position and you have the resources available, we encourage you to adopt one of these many dogs that are in rescues and shelters around the country. In the right home, with an educated owner, they can make wonderful companions. I have owned Siberians since 1987 and to me there is nothing more magnificent than seeing them do what they are born to do.

Lastly, just because Game of Thrones has ended don’t cancel your training plans for your dog. Unlike many are doing and canceling their subscription to HBO, your dog will benefit from training in the future.

If you have questions about Siberian Huskies or other northern breed dogs, please leave us a comment below and we would be happy to help.