Did they use real dogs in Game of Thrones? The Ultimate Guide

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    The research was led by Durham University in the UK, with help from scientists at the University of Oxford, Ludwig Maximilian University in Germany, the University of Adelaide and UCLA. The team sequenced the ancient DNA of five dire wolf sub-fossils from Wyoming, Idaho, Ohio, and Tennessee, dating back to over 50,000 years ago.

    More than 4,000 dire wolves have been excavated from the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, the study notes, but scientists dont know much about the reasons why they disappeared. Gray wolves, also found in the pits, still exist today.

    DNA evidence shows that the now famous — and extinct — dire wolf species couldnt mate with gray wolves.

    “While ancient humans and Neanderthals appear to have interbred, as do modern gray wolves and coyotes, our genetic data provided no evidence that dire wolves interbred with any living canine species,” Mitchell said. “All our data point to the dire wolf being the last surviving member of an ancient lineage distinct from all living canines.”

    Gray wolves can and do interbreed with other similar animals, including African wolves, dogs, coyotes and jackals, but dire wolves were too genetically different to mate with the other groups. According to the study, dire wolves split off from these wolves lineages nearly 6 million years ago and were only a distant relative of todays wolves.

    What kind of animal is the direwolf on ‘Game of Thrones’?

    The animals on Game of Thrones are played by Northern Inuit dogs — a crossbreed of huskies and German shepherds that were bred to resemble wolves. Game of Thrones certainly couldn’t use real animals around children, so the animal actors are shot separately against green screens, doubled in size, then composited into the live action scenes.

    Thor and Odin, the dogs that play the direwolves, became so famous that the dogs are not only insured, but they have their own Instagram accounts to boot. There’s even a tour devoted specifically to direwolves where guests can meet Thor and Odin, and that’s part of a larger experience devoted to actual Game of Thrones locations in Ireland.

    But if you really want your very own direwolf — really, a husky — and not just a fleeting photo op, it can be done. However, many animal experts caution against it.

    Meet The Real-Life Direwolves Of ‘Game Of Thrones’ | TODAY

    Sad news, Game of Thrones fans. One of the dogs who portrayed direwolf puppy Summer in Season 1 of the hit HBO show has died due to cancer.

    In a heartfelt tribute to Northern Inuit dog Odin, the @got_direwolves account wrote, “Odin was a family member first and we got him when he was a pup at 7 weeks old… Odins passing marks the end of a decade and the end of an era as he taught our friends and family a lot of lessons about life.”

    The post continued, “We can all take great comfort in knowing that he is forever immortalised in the great TV Show Game of Thrones as Summer, Bran Starks Direwolf Pup in Season 1 episode 1.”

    Odins owners reflected on the joy their direwolf brought to the world and said, “It’s an incredible piece of luck to have a pet you love so well become world famous and touch so many peoples hearts. He was always fond of the beach and his favourite treats which he had almost everyday before his passing.”

    They also took to the opportunity to thank generous fans who had helped to fund Odins care and treatment when the dog got sick. The Instagram post explained, “We are incredibly grateful for the donations made towards Odin treatment and we will use what is needed to pay his vet bill and we will donate the rest between our favourite dog charities the donations will help further dogs in need at this tough time.”