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"Game of Thrones" Dire Wolf Dog Breed Look-Alike

Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

Some dogs look like a wolf, but they are not a dire wolf.

Some dogs look like a wolf, but they are not a dire wolf.

Game of Thrones Dogs

The dog breed featured in Game of Thrones, the Northern Inuit, is one of the seven dog breeds that look like wolves, gray wolves, or timber wolves (Canis lupus). My own “timber wolf” is a mixture of Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, and German Shepherd, a combination that acts like a dog but looks like a gray wolf.

If you are looking for a dog that resembles the extinct dire wolf, there is one particular breed that has it all—the American Alsatian. Before we go into the positive traits of the American Alsatian, let's learn more about the mysterious 10,000-year-old dire wolf.

The dire wolf is now extinct.

The dire wolf is now extinct.

What Is a Dire Wolf?

The dire wolf (Canis dirus) was the largest species of wolf to ever roam the planet. Up until 10,000 years ago, it wandered over North and South America, taking down the huge prey (megafauna) that roamed the world at that time.

This species was definitely big enough to do the job, weighing between 50 and 80 kilos (about 110 to 175 pounds), and standing as tall as the contemporary gray wolf. Scientists who have worked with dire wolf skeletons have found that they were even stockier and heavier than the gray wolf.

The dire wolf attacked the large prey that roamed America at the time and ate a diet of horse, bison, and giant sloth. As the prey died off (maybe because of humans wandering into North America and hunting the large animals), the species struggled to survive.

Although it existed in America for about 100,000 years with the gray wolf, it eventually became extinct and is not genealogically related to our current dog breeds.

10 Interesting Facts About the Dire Wolf

  1. It survived for about 1.8 million years.
  2. It was around six feet in length.
  3. It weighed 25% more than the gray wolf.
  4. Its teeth were even larger than the gray wolf.
  5. Its bite was more powerful than the gray wolf.
  6. They may have hunted in packs of 30 wolves, whereas the gray wolf usually hunts in smaller groups.
  7. It hunted mostly bison, horses, giant sloths, and maybe even mastodons.
  8. Their territory ranged from Canada to the middle of South America.
  9. Two subspecies existed in America: C. d. dirus east of the Rockies, and C. d. guildaya west of the Rockies.
  10. It became extinct around 10,000 years ago.
Since the breed is still new, not all American Alsatians look like the one pictured.

Since the breed is still new, not all American Alsatians look like the one pictured.

Which Dog Is Closest to a Wolf?

The dire wolf is extinct, of course, and it is unlikely that it would have made an acceptable pet. Most wolves, even gray wolves that are among us today, have behavioral problems when living in a human household and are better with their normal pack. The American Alsatian is one of the top-contending dog breeds that most closely resembles the wolf—let's find out why.

The American Alsatian

The American Alsatian is a companion dog developed by Lois Denny Schwarz. The dog is large and is a cross between the Alaskan Malamute, German Shepherd, and other large dogs like the Great Pyrenees, English Mastiff, and the Anatolian Shepherd.

The breed was first developed in 1987 but has only been available to the public since the year 2000. A lot of work has gone into the breed, but it will take more time and effort to achieve the exact characteristics that breeders are looking for. Interesting facts about the American Alsatian:

  • The breed is already at the desired size; males weigh around 40-55 kilos (about 90 to 120 pounds), and females are slightly smaller. The breed is also tall, with males being around 70 cm in height (28 inches).
  • They can be gold, solid black, wolf-gray, or even silver-sable. The pelts are thick like a wolf, and the nose is black.
  • The personality is that of a companion dog and not a working dog like a Husky or Malamute. Breeders are also making sure to only breed calm dogs that do not bark much and have a low prey drive.
  • The breed has been healthy so far. Breeders have focused especially on this aspect of the dog's development.
  • The breed's lifespan has been an important selection factor, and the American Alsatian is probably going to be one of the few large breeds that live a long time.

Since these dogs have not been around that long, there is still a lot to be learned about them, but this might be one of the best dogs to have in the future.

Consider Adopting From Breed-Specific Rescues

With the success of Game of Thrones, the Northern Inuit is increasing in popularity and is probably going to become overbred like so many other popular dog breeds in the past. Many breeds that gain popularity from being featured in television shows and movies end up in shelters.

There are a lot of alternative breeds out there, and many places where you can get a great dog that looks similar to a wolf. My favorite is the Siberian Husky since the dog looks a lot like a wolf but has a great personality and is friendly to almost everyone. The Alaskan Malamute is also a healthy long-lived, large breed that looks similar to a wolf but acts like a dog.

If you want one of the best alternatives, search for an American Alsatian.

Additional Resources

  • Large Dog Breeds With a Long Life Expectancy
    The best large dogs with long lifespans, and some tips to help you extend your dog's life expectancy. This article will help you if you're looking for a big dog to enjoy life with.
  • American Alsatian Dog Breed Is The New Dire Wolf
    Are you looking for a new breed of dog? The American Alsatian is an interesting new breed that looks like a wolf and acts like a teddy bear.
  • Dogs Are Like Wolves
    This is the reasons that dogs are like wolves, and a discussion of how they differ. If you are choosing a new pet, make sure you make the right choice.

© 2014 Mark dos Anjos DVM


Robbie on February 21, 2015:

when I got my German shepherd my paetnrr and I started training him early on. As soon as we could take him out (after his injections) We started training him to the lead and teaching him basic commands. I found it really helpful to introduce him to as many different situations as early as possible, getting him used to traffic, crowds, children, visitors in the home etc. And try to introduce him to different dogs to help socialise him. also set the boundaries in place early on. I'm

CB Jones on September 02, 2014:

I enjoyed reading this hub and all of the information you offered about alternative alternatives. You certainly know your stuff about dogs and then some!

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 01, 2014:

Thanks, I just finished my edit.

I looked up vocalcoachs hubs on Google a few weeks back. Many of them are at the top of the search for the keyword she is using, so she would have even more page views if she had more published in her niche. She should be hitting 10 million!

At least that is my opinion, right or wrong!

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 01, 2014:

I hit that number some time back too.

Bob Bamberg on August 01, 2014:

I'm flattered that you do...OK by me. Did you see that vocalcoach has 1 million views? Woo Hoo!!

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 01, 2014:

Thanks, I would like to add those exact words? Is that okay with you?

Bob Bamberg on August 01, 2014:

Very enjoyable read, Doc. I'd add something to, "With the success of the Game of Thrones, the Northern Inuit is increasing in popularity and is probably going to become overbred," and it would be, "with many of them ending up in shelters like so many other breeds featured in television shows and movies."

The history lesson was very interesting! Voted up, useful and interesting.

Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on July 26, 2014:

I am a GOT fanatic, but am surprised to find out the Dire Wolf is a real life breed! Thank you for sharing this useful and unique information - voted useful!

Aaradhya on July 24, 2014:

Thanks Mark, "For Avatar". :)

I found them (American Alsatians) real interesting.

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 24, 2014:

One of the American Alsatian websites lists the countries they have been sold to, and I noticed two cities in India. There are no breeders in that part of the world, that I know of. The majority are in California, Oregon, and Washington state.

They are not yet a registered breed, and the developers have no interest in even trying so I do not see them being available in dog shows anytime soon.

I like your new avatar!

Aaradhya on July 24, 2014:

Very Interesting and useful article!

Are "American Alsatian" are registered breed and also available in other countries, apart from USA?