Dire Wolf Project Breeding Pets for Game of Thrones Fans

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Dire Wolf Project Breeding Pets for Game of Thrones Fans

image

Dire wolves may be extinct, but would-be Starks can own the next best thing for a mere $3,000.

Though dire wolves have been extinct for thousands of years in the real world, Game of Thrones fans know that they make great pets. Who wouldn't want a furry companion as loyal as Ghost or as protective as Grey Wind? You may not be able to go to a pet store and pick out a dire wolf of your own, but you can get the next best thing: an American Alsatian bred by The Dire Wolf Project. The long waiting list and $3,000 price tag might be off-putting, but who can put a price on having a pet that looks like it's straight out of an epic fantasy tale?

The Dire Wolf Project has been around since the late 1980s, and was started "to bring back the look of the large prehistoric dire wolf in a domesticated dog breed." The project has gotten more attention lately thanks to the popularity of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, as well as the HBO TV show adaptation Game of Thrones. The American Alsatians aren't actually descendants of dire wolves; there aren't any surviving samples of genetic material of the species. Instead, breed founder Lois Schwarz set out to make a pet that was wolf-like in appearance, but practical as a family pet. At around 130 pounds when fully grown, American Alsatians are bred to be intelligent, alert, and fond of human contact.

The Project's website states that its mission is not yet complete, with one eventual goal to achieve a lifespan of 15 to 20 years for the American Alsatians. If you happen to be in southern Oregon, you can "observe, photograph, and snuggle with these domesticated prehistoric Dire Wolf digs in the making" at the Project's headquarters. It all looks pretty nice, especially if you're in the market for a large pet and have a few thousand bucks to burn, but I'll be really impressed when someone starts selling pet dragons. Get on it, breeders!

Source: Wired via io9

Image: The Dire Wolf Project

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For a really great pet, $3,000 is not actually that bad. Hell, I paid almost that much for my kid.

Would definitely prefer one of those to an English bulldog.

As long as they are peaceful, great idea. $3000 might sound a bit steep at first but compared to other "pure" dog breeds, it's not that much more and I doubt they are getting rich breeding them. At their weight they surely eat a lot.

Their life expectancy goal of 15-20 years is interesting... most big dog breeds don't live that long.

captcha:
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Very cool, would love me my own Ghost

I would love one of those. I really would. If only I had the money. Well, maybe one day! I can keep on dreaming! It's nice to know that this exists though. The lifespan is fantastic, 15 - 20 years is amazing for any dog.

Just hope they never start humping your leg. 130 pounds? Talk about heavy petting!

That,is,awesome-just be carefully that it doesn't go wild/kill any small children :D

rofltehcat:
As long as they are peaceful, great idea. $3000 might sound a bit steep at first but compared to other "pure" dog breeds, it's not that much more and I doubt they are getting rich breeding them. At their weight they surely eat a lot.

Their life expectancy goal of 15-20 years is interesting... most big dog breeds don't live that long.

captcha:
save our bluths
wat?

and

Padwolf:
I would love one of those. I really would. If only I had the money. Well, maybe one day! I can keep on dreaming! It's nice to know that this exists though. The lifespan is fantastic, 15 - 20 years is amazing for any dog.

Most pure dog breads have been bread for particular characteristics in manor that is not the best for there health and life expectancy. Many pure breads suffer from horrible genetic abnormalities which significantly impact their quality and length of life. http://idid.vet.cam.ac.uk/search.php

Now I have 40kg ish (~90lbs) welsh foxhound who is 16. Yes he is old and isn't as fast as he used to be but because he hasn't been bread to a standard he is still going strong. Monty is pretty much the same general purpose medieval hunting dog when they were first mentioned over 1000 years ago. So an age of 15-20 isn't that unreasonable.

image

So an age goal of 15-20 isn't that far out of range.

I'd find this somewhat interesting/amusing if their little blurb on Game of Thrones wasn't so awfully bad.

Game of Thrones

In the new series from HBO, Game of Thrones, a tribe of ancient people find a Dire Wolf mother dead near her surviving cubs. Each boy in the tribe is given a Dire Wolf cub to raise and learn the most important elements of honor and sacrifice needed to claim the king's throne. It is based on a book series by the same name written by George R.R. Martin in 1997. The Dire Wolves in the HBO series are not played by American Alsatians, but Northern Inuits and Czechoslovakian wolfdogs.

The series is a bit misleading in its interpretation of the Dire Wolf. The wolves portrayed in the Game of Thrones series do not resemble Dire Wolves and should not be confused with Dire Wolf size and build. Some of the most obvious features lacking in the wolves deemed to be Dire Wolves are that they possess thin muzzles, legs, and bodies. While this is indicative of the more fleet of foot Gray Wolf, it does not reflect the size and mass of the Dire Wolf build. The Dire Wolf had shorter, thicker legs as well as a larger head and broader muzzle.

This series has spurred an interest in the Dire Wolf and in turn the American Alsatian. We applaud viewers who have taken the time to research the Dire Wolf instead of assuming the wolves on the film resemble the Gray Wolf's extinct prehistoric cousin. It is a fictitious story after all as there is no evidence that prehistoric man lived in tribes that resembled European medieval culture.

It is understandable that the producers of the Game of Thrones series have used dog breeds that more resemble the Gray Wolf, but viewers should understand that the wolf coat type shown in these dogs may really be the only resemblance to the largest canid to walk the Earth, if indeed the DIre Wolf had a Gray Wolf coat.

The Dire Wolf Project
June 25, 2011

Seriously with so much interest spurred from the show you'd think someone would at least sit down for 5 minutes and read the wiki for the book/show.
And if I wanted to actually own a dog that looked like the dogs in the show...I'd you know, go out and buy the same breed of dog that they use in the show and not some gimmick breed which threw on the "dire wolf" name.

rofltehcat:

Their life expectancy goal of 15-20 years is interesting... most big dog breeds don't live that long.

I had a German Shepherd that grew to 16, it's probably a bit optimistic to think that they could live to 20 tough, but not impossible.

Watch as people get these animals and then get rid of them after a couple of years due to their associated costs.

Same shit happened with owls back when Harry Potter first came out. ;/

I have a hard time seeing that life span ever happening since the larger the dog is, the lower it's life span tends to be. It's like trying to breed hairless Greyhounds to cold resistance. The longer the life of a breed the longer it takes to breed them.

Rednog:

And if I wanted to actually own a dog that looked like the dogs in the show...I'd you know, go out and buy the same breed of dog that they use in the show and not some gimmick breed which threw on the "dire wolf" name.

I thought the wolves were CGI?

gigastar:

Rednog:

And if I wanted to actually own a dog that looked like the dogs in the show...I'd you know, go out and buy the same breed of dog that they use in the show and not some gimmick breed which threw on the "dire wolf" name.

I thought the wolves were CGI?

The "adult" version of the dire wolf characters might be pure CGI or CGI enhanced, but the "young" versions of the dire wolf characters are indeed played by real dogs.

Blargh McBlargh:
Watch as people get these animals and then get rid of them after a couple of years due to their associated costs.

Same shit happened with owls back when Harry Potter first came out. ;/

Wait...Owls were a thing? I never really heard about this when Potter was really huge.

I'm suspicious.

First of all, "Alsatians" are German Shepherds. The name comes from the time when Germany wasn't playing nicely with the world, so people in places like the UK called them Alsatians. Sorry, it's a nitpick. A lot of people try to make regular or off-standard German Shepherds special and fancy by giving them a name like Alsatian (old fashioned, Alsatian wolfdog, Panda Shepherds which is basically a piebald GSD, etc) and then charge a huge price tag. The term coined is "designer dogs", which includes "purebred" Labradoodles among other named mixes. I've seen people spend thousands on some backyard bred mix that they could've got for significantly less at a shelter.

Second, perhaps it's the nerdy wolf lover in me, but those do NOT look like wolves. To the layman maybe (though then again people have spent thousands on scraggly huskies because people told them they were wolves or wolfdogs), but there are much more wolf-like mixes out there. To start with, wolves have smooth, quiet colour gradients without distinct markings (as in no mask, saddle, etc). They also tend to have small, densely furred ears. Also I'll also say that most wolves are well under even 100 pounds. It's also a bit of a danger making wolf-like dogs because hysteria has shown that people are so stupid that they would report a 100% dog as wolf (whether the owner calls the dog a wolf or not) and eventually lead the death of the animal from poisoning, shooting, or confiscation.

Thirdly, these dogs look like Shiloh Shepherds, which started out as GSD mixes. Some people are also selling similar appearance "Old Style German Shepherds" that are basically huge, longhaired 120 pound GSDs (which is a misnomer since the original GSDs were small and snipey like a Malinois)

To toss them out there, here are some other programs breeding wolf-like dog mixes (or mixes with wolves far removed from their breeding).

Though perhaps I'm fussing over nothing.

Getting a 15-20 year lifespan out of a dog is great in any case, but I don't know if they'll get it. Large breeds have so many problems. The average GSD won't make it to even 15. They have to worry about cardiomyopathy and hip/elbow dysplasia among the other millions of health problems GSDs have. And ya, I would rather people buy a dog like this than to go out and get real wolves as pets.

If it's just a large breed of German Shepherd then I can't see people having too hard a time with them. Now if they were doing wolf hybrids that would be a whole different story. Those things require a LOT more attention than your typical dog.

Growing up we had two and while they weren't mean and certainly never bit anyone they were too smart for their own good and could escape from the backyard at their leisure. It wasn't uncommon to get a call from the neighbors letting us know that our dogs were swimming in their pool. It also didn't seem to matter to our dogs whether the neighbors also happen to be swimming in it at the time or not. If anything they seemed to prefer swimming in the company of others.

"The Dire Wolf Project has been around since the late 1980's"

and I am only hearing of this NOW?!

Yes. Yes please. Do want.

This is horrendous. Lots of people who don't know the first thing about what they actually act like will buy one just as a piece of merchandise, find out that they don't actually enjoy taking care of one, and neglect it or throw it out.

ClockworkUniverse:
This is horrendous. Lots of people who don't know the first thing about what they actually act like will buy one just as a piece of merchandise, find out that they don't actually enjoy taking care of one, and neglect it or throw it out.

Hmmm, at 3000 a pop, I somehow doubt it.

That much money requieres some serious planning and dedication.

Would rather a sable coloured Finnish Lapphund myself:

image

You get the wolfy looks with the loving family orientated nature that comes with decades of domestication.

Sorry Sarah, you can't breed dragons, you have to genetically modify fire lizards to get them.

Also, I'd probably just get a husky or something, though there was this one family in town that had a pet wolf... Thing was massive.

kajinking:
Wait...Owls were a thing? I never really heard about this when Potter was really huge.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-north-east-wales-18142411

Blargh McBlargh:

kajinking:
Wait...Owls were a thing? I never really heard about this when Potter was really huge.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-north-east-wales-18142411

wow that's sad, you would think some people would realize WHY Owls aren't popular as pets before buying them.

The big bodies of larger breeds do more work than those of smaller dogs. Over the course of their lives this tends to put more stress on the heart, organs, and joints, resulting in statistically shorter life spans.

Pretty disgusted with this. That lifespan goal is a nice dream, but I doubt it will ever be a reality. But I always got the impression that most American dog breeders don't value health very highly when it comes to their animals. All these extreme features. Extreme wrinkliness. Extreme sizes. Extreme everything. Just breed a healthy, happy, normal sized dog with normal features.

If I win the Powerball or Lucky for Life lottery games, gonna get me one!

To anyone considering this or any other 'purebred' pet:

Please, *please* seriously examine your motives, and determine why. Is it in any way due to a feeling you anticipate over owning something 'cool', 'unique', or 'sophisticated', which by extension you think would make you 'cool', 'unique' or 'sophisticated'?

Or is it because you want a furry, loving companion, with possible desirable secondary traits such as athleticism (to encourage you to exercise), or protection (sense of security), or farm work (herd assistance)? Because there is no desirable trait one could want, that couldn't be found in a mixed or mutt breed.

'Pure breeding' rarely serves any purpose other than vanity or elitism, and has spawned some of the most horrific canine-oriented problems to date, such as health issues and puppy mills. There are countless thousands of perfectly healthy dogs waiting for adoption who won't be. Consider that.

Yes, I expect this opinion to be savaged with outraged 'pure-breed' enthusiasts. My opinion still stands.

Considering Dire Wolves supposedly hunted woolly-mammoths in their day I actually wonder how this is going to go.

With respect, I like collies, huskies, and foxes better. This is an interesting thing, but I have actual coyote to deal with around here.

Hugh Alaskan malamute and German Shepard I would have guessed normal wolf breed and German Shepard. Cool to see there are some die hard fans out there but to be honest normal German Shepards and Alaskan Malamutes are cooler in my opinion.

kajinking:

Blargh McBlargh:
Watch as people get these animals and then get rid of them after a couple of years due to their associated costs.

Same shit happened with owls back when Harry Potter first came out. ;/

Wait...Owls were a thing? I never really heard about this when Potter was really huge.

Yup, and then Britney Spears brought along the Chihuahua craze, and lately afghan hounds have been the go-to pet that later gets dumped because owners vastly underestimated the effort required to take care of them. (sadly it doesn't suffice to walk your wind hound around the block twice a day).

Pink Apocalypse:
To anyone considering this or any other 'purebred' pet:

Please, *please* seriously examine your motives, and determine why. Is it in any way due to a feeling you anticipate over owning something 'cool', 'unique', or 'sophisticated', which by extension you think would make you 'cool', 'unique' or 'sophisticated'?

Or is it because you want a furry, loving companion, with possible desirable secondary traits such as athleticism (to encourage you to exercise), or protection (sense of security), or farm work (herd assistance)? Because there is no desirable trait one could want, that couldn't be found in a mixed or mutt breed.

'Pure breeding' rarely serves any purpose other than vanity or elitism, and has spawned some of the most horrific canine-oriented problems to date, such as health issues and puppy mills. There are countless thousands of perfectly healthy dogs waiting for adoption who won't be. Consider that.

Yes, I expect this opinion to be savaged with outraged 'pure-breed' enthusiasts. My opinion still stands.

Seconded. If you want a lovable ball of fur, then rescue one from the shelter. If you want a status symbol, buy a fancy car, not a living thing.

Malty Milk Whistle:
Hmmm, at 3000 a pop, I somehow doubt it.

That much money requieres some serious planning and dedication.

$3000 is pocket change to some. When I studied photography we had a woman come by one day, asking for some feedback on a new camera. She was about to drop just short of 10k on what appeared to be a rather casual hobby.

Blargh McBlargh:
Watch as people get these animals and then get rid of them after a couple of years due to their associated costs.

Same shit happened with owls back when Harry Potter first came out. ;/

]

True but owls and pretty much any bird are way harder to take care of compared to a 'direwolf' which is just a dog. Dogs are pretty low maintenance, feed them, give em water and give them attention. Hell you don't even have to give them attention they're just happy to be with you.

Only downside I can see, is that some people might mistake them for actual wolves or coyotes. Especially in rural areas this could possibly lead to farmers shooting any stray or free roaming Alsatian dogs. Urban areas might potentially be worse when you start getting "Wolf" sightings from people who don't know their domestic, which will of course be annoying as hell.

albino boo:

rofltehcat:
As long as they are peaceful, great idea. $3000 might sound a bit steep at first but compared to other "pure" dog breeds, it's not that much more and I doubt they are getting rich breeding them. At their weight they surely eat a lot.

Their life expectancy goal of 15-20 years is interesting... most big dog breeds don't live that long.

captcha:
save our bluths
wat?

and

Padwolf:
I would love one of those. I really would. If only I had the money. Well, maybe one day! I can keep on dreaming! It's nice to know that this exists though. The lifespan is fantastic, 15 - 20 years is amazing for any dog.

Most pure dog breads have been bread for particular characteristics in manor that is not the best for there health and life expectancy. Many pure breads suffer from horrible genetic abnormalities which significantly impact their quality and length of life. http://idid.vet.cam.ac.uk/search.php

Now I have 40kg ish (~90lbs) welsh foxhound who is 16. Yes he is old and isn't as fast as he used to be but because he hasn't been bread to a standard he is still going strong. Monty is pretty much the same general purpose medieval hunting dog when they were first mentioned over 1000 years ago. So an age of 15-20 isn't that unreasonable.

image

So an age goal of 15-20 isn't that far out of range.

That does sound good. I was worried that this breed would have some type of medical condition common to it. But if they are breeding the way you mention, then they should be fine.

I may still wait 5 or 10 years for them to work out the breed a bit more though.

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