While fans can’t get enough of Game of Thrones, the show has sparked an alarming trend – an increased demand for Siberian Huskies because of their physical similarities to direwolves, mythical creatures which feature in the series. Show enthusiasts are buying the dogs then, after realising how much work is required to care for them, are dumping them at animal shelters.
Series star Peter Dinklage, who plays Tyrion Lannister, has teamed up with animal welfare charity PETA to remind fans that dogs should be acquired only as family members and need to be looked after for a lifetime. He said: “Due to the direwolves’ huge popularity, many folks are going out and buying Huskies. Not only does this hurt all the deserving homeless dogs waiting for a chance at a good home in shelters, but shelters are also reporting that many of these Huskies are being abandoned – as often happens when dogs are bought on impulse, without understanding their needs.”
DID YOU KNOW?
Around 10 husky dogs were abandoned each year in the UK before 2011, when Games of Thrones first aired. The number rose to 81 last year, according to the Blue Cross.
According to PETA, two breed-specific rescue groups in Northern California have seen their numbers double over the last two years, and the UK has reported similar statistics. Reported in The Independent, Danielle Mason, rehoming centre manager at Southampton Blue Cross, said: “Huskies are very beautiful dogs, but they do need experienced owners with lots of time to devote to them – they are a working breed and need at least a couple of hours exercise each day to keep them happy.”
The right dog for the right person
So, what’s involved in taking a Siberian Husky on? For the right person, with time on their hands, plenty of space and lots of experience with athletic dogs, Huskies can make wonderful pets. For people with busy lives, living in homes with small gardens, it’s not really a surprise that this breed becomes too hard to handle.
These magnificent dogs originated in the northeast of Siberia and are also known as the Chukchi sled dog after a local tribe who used them for long distance sled hauling. According to the Siberian Husky Club of Great Britain, this breed has lots of great qualities, but there are a fair few challenges involved in owning them.
- Huskies are known for being friendly with people, but their gregarious nature means that they are not a one-person dog. It’s more a case of any human will do, which could be considered by some as a lack of loyalty.
- They will not guard your home or your property as they have no guarding instinct, treating an intruder in the same way as any other visitor.
- As they enjoy the company of humans and other canines, they hate being alone and, if left, are likely to become miserable and very destructive.
- They don’t often bark, but will suddenly howl like a wolf, seemingly just for the pure joy of it, which can alarm the neighbours.
- Their beautiful coat is easy to groom, but they moult twice a year, shedding massive amounts of hair all over your house in the process.
- Described as Intelligent and mischievous, easy going and forgiving, Huskies are also independent and strong-willed, meaning they are difficult to train.
- Unsurprisingly, they have a strong desire to run and, as they were bred to pull sleds through the snow all day long, need lots and lots of exercise. Even more challenging is the fact that because they can’t be relied to return on command, they can’t be exercised off-lead unless they are in a secure area with six-foot-high fencing. On-lead, they pull, really hard – it’s what they were designed to do.
- A keen and efficient hunter with an extremely high prey drive, Huskies cannot be trusted with non-canine pets or livestock of any sort.
Could you adopt a Siberian Husky?
If you feel you have what it takes to offer a forever home to a rescued Siberian Husky, there are various rescue organisations around the UK who would love to hear from you, including:
- The Siberian Husky Welfare Association Find out more
- Sibes and Sled Dogs Husky Rescue Find out more
- 8 Below Husky Rescue Find out more
- Saints Sled Dog Rescue Find out more
- Husky Education Aid Rescue Team Find out more
- Siberian Husky Aid Rescue & Education Find out more