Millions of people enjoy the television show Game of Thrones, which features many fantastical creatures, including “direwolves.” However, the popularity of the TV show is having an unintended and negative impact on dog breeds that resemble the mythic beasts.
Because the dogs closely resemble the show’s direwolves, shelters and rescue groups across the United States are reporting an increase in surrendered and abandoned Siberian Huskies and husky mixes.
“There’s been an increase over the last several years, and especially the last three,” Angelique Miller, president of Northern California Sled Dog Rescue (NorSled), a rescue organization for northern dog breeds.
“We’ve seen an increase that is about twice what we would normally see last year and this year.”
She told the news outlet that she knows the TV show and the abandoned dogs are linked because the dogs have names based on characters from the show, such as “Ice,” “Ghost,” and “Sansa.”
Unfortunately, people are buying or adopting huskies solely based on their appearance, without first researching the dog’s temperament, the amount of work required to keep them, and whether the breed would be a good fit in their home.
Huskies, unlike many dog breeds bred for companionship, are an active, working breed with a strong prey drive. They are also extremely intelligent and frequently dislike being confined indoors or fenced in. Furthermore, they require extensive training during their formative years.
“They are smugglers… “They’ll get under your fence if they get bored,” Miller explained. “They’re also pack animals.” They enjoy socializing with other dogs and humans, and they enjoy spending time inside with you when you’re home.”
According to Northern California Sled Dog Rescue (NorSled), they currently have 40 adoptable dogs. They are having difficulty finding foster homes and permanent homes for the dogs. It’s a common refrain among northern dog rescues. The Bay Area Siberian Husky Club (BASH) also cares for a large number of young dogs.
Hollywood has a long history of instilling a desire for specific dog breeds featured in their films. Everyone wanted one of the polka-dotted dogs when 101 Dalmatians was released. The “dog of the day” phenomenon has been studied. A study titled “Dog Movie Stars and Dog Breed Popularity: A Case Study in Media Influence on Choice” was recently conducted by three researchers from the University of Bristol, the City University of New York, and Western Carolina University.
They examined 87 films released between 1927 and 2004 and discovered that the duration and intensity of the rise in breed popularity correlated with a film’s success. In the two years following its release in 1943, Lassie Come Home was linked to a 40% increase in Collie registrations. The American Kennel Club saw a 100-fold increase in Old English Sheepdog registrations after the publication of The Shaggy Dog (1959).
Rescue organizations, such as NorSled, have seen an increase in the last three years as Game of Thrones popularity has grown.
Please spread the word that owning a dog is a huge responsibility that should not be taken lightly. It is not a good idea to buy or adopt a specific breed of dog based on an impulse or a love of a TV show or movie. It is recommended that you contact animal rescues, dog breeders, and the like to ask questions and determine whether the dog breed you are interested in will be a good fit for your lifestyle and family.