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Dog Breed Profile: 'Game of Thrones' Canine Stars

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Game_of_Thrones_Dogs.jpg

Sophie Turner plays Sansa, mistress to the ill-fated Lady on the hit show.

Photo courtesy of HBO
Nymeria.jpg

Nymeria and Arya Stark formed an especially close bond on 'Game of Thrones.'

Photo courtesy of HBO

Thanks to its starring role on the blockbuster HBO fantasy series “Game of Thrones,” the Northern Inuit dog breed is very much in demand.

The following is important information for those in the pet industry who are interested in dealing with this magnificent canine breed.

A History of This Dog Breed

The Northern Inuit, which resembles a cross between a German shepherd and malamute, is a relatively new dog breed founded in the 1980s by U.K. breeder Edwina “Eddie” Harrison.

Although they are often thought to be a wolf hybrid, and caused quite an uproar in Britain when they were initially advertised as such, this is not so.

Experts claim that these dogs are actually a mix of several rescue dogs of unknown origins, along with the Alaskan malamute, German shepherd and Siberian husky.

The result was a dog breed that is not only exquisitely beautiful; these pooches have great temperaments and make wonderful pets, provided that they are adopted by the right people.

Some Pros and Cons of This Dog Breed
Pros

  • This dog breed is very friendly, affectionate and loyal.
  • They are good with kids.
  • They are docile.
  • They get along well with other pets, especially dogs.
  • They are intelligent and easily trained, particularly as pups.

Cons

  • These dogs are prone to extreme separation anxiety; they are a poor choice for those who spend long hours away from home.
  • Although docile, they tend to be highly rambunctious.
  • They are inveterate diggers, and are not a good choice for those with prized gardens or lawns.
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Potential Health Issues for This Dog Breed

Like many large dog breeds, Northern Inuits are potentially prone to hip dysplasia. That’s why many breeders recommend hip scoring, whereby the condition of a dog’s hips is determined by X-ray.
While there is no guarantee that future generations won’t suffer from this, the procedure should be performed before these dogs are bred to rule out possible risks.

Diet
As members of this dog breed are prone to sensitive tummies, experts such as the Honiahaka Northern Inuits recommend the raw foods diet or, at the very least, premium natural dog food brands.

A Dog Breed Star is Born

On the HBO show “Game of Thrones,” which is based on the first of an epic series of books “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R.R. Martin, the Northern Inuit cast members portray fictional animals called “direwolves.”

On the show, they are adopted as pups by the children of a nobleman named Ned Stark (Sean Bean) after he and his cronies find them in a forest moping around their dead mom, who had been killed by a deer.

The makers of the show (on which the animal training duties are headed by the legendary Jim Warren) initially considered using actual wolves. But this idea was nixed because wolves present certain dangers – plus they’re illegal in the U.K., where the show is filmed – especially since they would be working with child actors.

The Northern Inuit breed was chosen because of its resemblance to wolves, yet they possess the requisite, adorable “aw!” factor required for the show.

Spoiler Alert!
Audiences have so thoroughly bonded with these dogs on a visceral level that viewers (yours truly included) were heartbroken when Lady (played by lovely doggie actress Zunni), owned by teenaged character Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), was executed in episode two.

Lady took the fall for Nymeria, the wolf belonging to Sansa's younger sister, Arya, (Maisie Williams) after Nymeria bit spoiled brat Prince Joffrey while trying to protect his mistress during a game of kiddie sword play turned ugly.

Meanwhile, actress Turner became so enamored with her canine co-star that the Hollywood rumor mill claims she adopted the pooch in real life.

No doubt the general public has fallen in love with these amazing canines, as well, which is sure to result in a massive interest in their adoptions.

That’s why those in the pet industry are well-advised to do their homework to ensure that these dogs are properly bred, well cared for and loved.

Information for Dog Breeders
As I always encourage those in the pet industry to give priority to the adoption route when customers are interested in acquiring pets, it’s important to point out that these dogs are available for rescue.

The highly respected Northern Inuit Society provides information about this.

The society also advises that any member of a dog breed classified as a Northern Inuit must be registered with the organization, as this is the only governing body for pure members of the breed.

Those who are considering breeding these dogs are well-advised to peruse and honor the society’s Breeders Code of Ethics.

(For more information about responsible dog breeding, please see my article Ethical Puppy Breeders Guide.)

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