Northern Ireland news

Dogs Trust makes plea over Game of Thrones wolf-like breeds

(Left to right) Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies and Akitas are among the breeds that Dogs Trust has reported a surge in population at their kennels since Game of Thrones started  
Digital Staff

As hype over the final season of Game of Thrones reaches frankly disturbing levels, animal charity Dogs Trust has issed a warning to potential dog owners thinking of bringing a breed similar to those featured in the show into their home.

Since Game of Thrones first hit screens in 2011, the charity has seen a huge increase in the number of dogs that look like the 'direwolves' from the show being handed in to their rescue centres.

The furry characters, who protect the Stark family in the hit series, are played by Northern Inuit dogs which are a mix of Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes. Dogs Trust says both those breeds, along with the similarly wolf-like Akita breed are being given up for rescue in record numbers.

In 2010, a year before the first series aired, just 79 Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies and Akitas were cared for at Dogs Trust's Uk-wide centres compared to 411 last year – a 420 per cent increase. In comparison, the number of other large breeds finding themselves given up by owners such as Rottweilers, German Shepherds and Weimaraners has fallen by 22 per cent.

Dogs Trust's Operations Director Adam Clowes, said: “Since the start of Game of Thrones we have seen a huge increase in the popularity of wolf look-a-like dogs, but we urge owners to remember a dog is for life, not just the duration of a TV series.

“They are beautiful, large, powerful dogs and they make loyal companions but as they were originally bred for more physical past-times, such as pulling sledges in cold climates and hunting, they need a lot of physical and mental stimulation every day and not all owners are able to provide that.”

“Dogs of all shapes, sizes and ages can bring so much joy to our lives but we would urge everyone to do their research before getting a dog so they don’t risk finding themselves in the heart-breaking position of having to give them up."

Dogs Trust has kennels in Ballymena and Dublin and while neither reported any extra husky-type dogs at present, the Dublin branch confirmed a dramatic Game of Thrones-related increase did occur in 2013/14 with 39 dogs coming into their centre during this time.

Game of Thrones star Jerome Flynn urges people not to buy huskies

PR & Communications Manager Ciara Byrne said: “We would remind the public to undertake appropriate research before bringing a new lifelong member into your family.

"We would always encourage people to carefully consider the breed type when researching, including those breeds deemed to be “in fashion”, as all dogs will have different needs and will require different levels of time and commitment which may not be suitable to your lifestyle.

"Huskies are extremely intelligent and highly active dogs that need very dedicated owners to meet their needs.”

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