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Dire Wolves in Our Midst

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In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m a huge fan (nay, “obsessive” fan) of the critically-acclaimed drama, Game of Thrones. Seriously, what’s not to love? There’s history, dragons, royalty, and come on – how awesome are dire wolves? Pretty freaking awesome.

The third season just ended, so there’s nothing left but for me to write about it. And dire wolves seems like a good topic for a fun pet publication.

If you’re anything like me, you want one of these wild, loyal animals. But, before you start calling dire wolf breeders (don’t google it – they don’t exist), there are a few things you should know about the species (and about breeds that look like them…)

First, a little history… Dire wolves actually did exist at one point in time, but they have been extinct for nearly ten thousand years. Nevertheless, there was a time when these giant wolves about five feet in length and close to 175 lbs once walked the earth. They were similar in size and shape to our modern day gray wolves, which are just about as scary as the dire wolves. There were a few differences in the breed. Bite power, for instance. The Dire wolf had a bite 129% the force of a modern gray wolf. The size of a dire wolf was also considerably larger at about 25% larger than our modern gray wolves.

What if you were seeking out a dog that was like the dire wolf, but a bit tamer? Well, you’d probably look at one of these breeds:

The Northern Inuit

Unfortunately, (largely due to the success of the Game of Thrones), there has been a recent rush to obtain one of these pups. With waiting lists of up to a year and costs exceeding $3,000 per pup, it’s unlikely you’ll be picking one up soon. That’s actually a good thing because they are not the best dogs for domestic lives.

While they do have a friendly demeanor and rarely show aggression, they are incredibly stubborn and very intelligent, making them super difficult to train. They also require lots of room, a lot of exercise, and they are known for forming close family bonds. If you can’t provide this for them, it’s not the dog for you.

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National American Alsatian

There is a small group of people building up a new breed in the forests of Oregon called the National American Alsatian. The project began in 1987 and while the breed is not yet recognized as “official,” it won’t be long before they gain recognition.

This breed is very “wolfish” in appearance, but has a temperament that makes them better suited for domestic life. It’s a mix between the Alaskan Malamute, the German Shepherd, the Great Pyrenees, the Anatolian Shepherd and an English Mastiff. So, you’ve got lots of brute force there that is bred for a gentle temperament.

Wolf Hybrid

This is another type of animal that there have been recent rushes on obtaining. While I’m a big fan of hybrids, I’ve also had nearly 30 years of experience in working with them and I can tell you, they are not a dog for an average person. They take a huge level of commitment – from adding footers around your entire yard to expanding the height of your fencing by several feet, dealing with breed bias to handling the psyche of a perpetually nervous animal. These dogs are not good pets and should not be considered as such. If you have the personality and temperament to commit your life to the care of an animal, then maybe. But, if you’re not there yet – don’t bother.

These are the three dogs that are closest in size and appearance to the Dire Wolf. But, be smart. There are millions of animal shelters and rescues that are packed to the gills with beautiful animals. And if you take some time to browse profiles, you may just be surprised at what you see. Hopefully you’re looking at getting an animal for a reason other than “the dire wolves on the Game of Thrones are really pretty.” And if that’s not the case, then you need to avoid bringing an animal into your home until you can say your reason for adopting is: I want a friend and companion that I can bring in as a member of the family. That’s when you’ll be ready for a dire wolf. Or perhaps even a Shapeshifter or Werewolf (The new season of True Blood is starting up in a few weeks!)

 

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