Wiki of Westeros

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Wiki of Westeros
Wiki of Westeros

"It's a direwolf...tough old beast."
Eddard Stark[src]

The direwolf[1] is an unusually large and intelligent species of wolf that inhabit Westeros. The Starks use a grey direwolf's head as their sigil.


Direwolves are held to be near-mythical in most of the south of Westeros. Inhabitants of the North acknowledge that they are a real animal, but they are very rarely encountered there. There are some rumors of them living in the Wolfswood near Winterfell, but these are unconfirmed. There may have been larger direwolf populations in the North in past millennia, but centuries of human encroachment on their territory have pushed their range back to the furthest north.

There have been confirmed sightings north of the Wall by the Night's Watch who guard it. The wildlings who live beyond the Wall claim that direwolves can be found in greater numbers in the Haunted Forest to the north of the Wall. By the reign of King Robert Baratheon, no direwolf had been sighted south of the Wall - even in the Stark lands of the North - in over 200 years.

Eddard Stark and his sons Robb and Bran, his "bastard" son Jon Snow and his ward Theon Greyjoy find a dead female direwolf; it died after giving birth, and her five pups huddle by the corpse for warmth. Eddard advocates killing the pups out of mercy, but Jon convinces his "father" that this is an omen: the direwolf is the symbol of House Stark, and Eddard has five trueborn children. Eddard agrees that his children can have the pups, but only if they raise them themselves with no help from the servants. Just as the party leaves, Jon finds a sixth pup, an albino runt of the litter. Theon mockingly points out that this one belongs to Jon.

When Eddard travels south to King's Landing to serve as Hand of the King, he brings his daughters Sansa and Arya along with their pet direwolves, Lady and Nymeria. These are the first direwolves to be seen so far south in hundreds of years. After Nymeria attacks Prince Joffrey, Arya drives her away to escape execution for attacking Joffrey; in her place, Lady is killed by Eddard at Robert's command. Nymeria has been traveling the Riverlands ever since where she leads a pack of gray wolves.

The other direwolves remain with their masters until they are killed, with the exception of Jon's direwolf Ghost, who is still alive and by Jon's side.



A year-old juvenile direwolf, already taller at its shoulder than a man's waist.

An adult direwolf is as large as a small horse, and can rip a man's arm from its socket. Even a juvenile direwolf is quite capable of killing a man by ripping out his throat. Physically, they are not simply larger versions of wolves, but have slightly different proportions than their smaller cousins; their heads are larger with a leaner, more pronounced muzzle, their legs are longer in proportion to their body, and they have proportionately larger teeth that are often used to crush bones. They are typically gray to almost black, sometimes with a lighter underbody or reddish tints. Some are light gray and white or reddish tan or mixed red and gray. A few are true albinoes. They mostly have golden to green eyes with some having hazel, amber or albino red irises.


Direwolves are loyal to their masters and will attack anyone who threatens them. Arya's direwolf Nymeria attacked Joffrey after he threatened her with a sword, while Bran's Summer killed a would-be assassin in Bran's bedroom.[2] They will also come to the aid of those they know are loyal to their masters, since Ghost defended Samwell Tarly and Gilly, both friends of Jon, from Night's Watch bullies, and later prepared to fight alongside Davos Seaworth, Eddison Tollett and a handful of Jon's loyal brothers against the Night's Watch mutineers who betrayed and murdered Jon not long before.

At the Battle of Oxcross during the War of the Five Kings, Robb's direwolf Grey Wind plays a vital part in Robb's victory, killing several Lannister sentries and panicking their horses.[3] During the battle for the Wall, Ghost killed numerous wildlings, among them at least one Thenn.

Stark direwolves[]

The six Stark children adopted six orphaned direwolf cubs found in the Wolfswood. They are as follows:

  • {Grey Wind}, adopted by Robb. Accompanied the main Stark army as it marched south, used by King Robb as a ferocious war dog. Killed at the Twins by Frey men with crossbows during the Red Wedding, after which both he and Robb were decapitated and his head sewn onto Robb's corpse. Grey Wind is the second of his litter to have been killed.
  • {Lady}, adopted by Sansa Stark. Put down by Eddard in place of Nymeria for biting Joffrey, under the order of Robert, at Cersei Lannister's urging. Lady is the first direwolf of her litter to have been killed.
  • Nymeria, adopted by Arya. One of the only surviving direwolves. Fearing for Nymeria's life, Arya chased her away after she attacked Joffrey to defend her owner. She is now leading a wolf pack in the Riverlands, being the first direwolf seen that far south (other than Grey Wind) in many centuries.
  • {Summer}, adopted by Bran. Fled Winterfell with Bran following the castle's Sack of Winterfell. Accompanied Bran and his companions Beyond the Wall to the cave of the Three-Eyed Raven, where he was later mauled to death by wights, buying time for Bran to escape. Summer is the fourth of his litter to have been killed.
  • {Shaggydog}, adopted by Rickon. Easily distinguishable by black fur. Likewise fled Winterfell with Rickon. After separating from Bran's group, Rickon, Osha, and Shaggydog fled to the Last Hearth to seek refuge with the Umbers. Shaggydog was later killed by the Umbers when they betrayed Rickon to Ramsay Bolton; Ramsay apparently skinned him to use his fur as a carpet, and his head presented to Jon and Sansa prior to the Battle of the Bastards. Shaggydog is the third of his litter to have been killed.
  • Ghost, adopted by Jon. One of the only surviving direwolves. An albino with red eyes and the runt of the litter. Ghost followed Jon during his service with the Night's Watch at the Wall and beyond. Fought at Winterfell against the Army of the Dead during the Battle of Winterfell. Lost his ear and received a few scars in the latter war. Currently travelling north of Castle Black with Jon and Tormund.

Family tree[]








Behind the scenes[]


Nymeria, portrayed by an adult dog in Season 1.


Ghost, played by a real wolf in Season 2, digitally resized to look even bigger

  • In Season 1, the production team used adult dogs to stand in for the juvenile direwolf puppies. Northern Inuit (Utonagan) Dogs from Mahlek Kennels were used.[4] In interviews they have stated that this was done to allow the audience to grow attached to them, which would have been more difficult had the dogs been created by special effects. As the direwolves continue to grow, however, more special effects are going to be used.
  • When Season 1 wrapped up, the dogs used as direwolves were offered to the young actors who played their owners in the show. Sophie Turner (Sansa) took the dog who played Lady. Isaac Hempstead-Wright (Bran) wanted to take Summer, but his family already had two dogs at home.
  • In Season 2, real wolves were used to portray the adolescent direwolves. Using a variety of camera tricks and techniques, the shots were augmented to make the wolves appear larger, and then composited with the background and actors for the final shots. The result is that in Season 2 the direwolves are played by real-life wolves that have been super-sized in post-production.[5]
  • In Season 5, Ghost is the only direwolf that appears. Since he is supposed to be older and larger, the production team wanted to use a full-sized trained wolf named Quigley to portray him (in "The Wars To Come" and "The Gift"). Quigley's trainer Andrew Simpson owns about 30 wolves and is based in Calgary, Canada. The production team had been reaching out to him since Season 1, but he was busy training wolves for other film projects. In earlier seasons, they had hoped to have one of his wolves transported to Northern Ireland, but by Season 5 they decided it would be easier to simply fly out to Canada to film the scenes they needed with the wolf in a Calgary studio.[6]
  • It wasn't possible to translate "dire wolf" into German, so the species was named "Schattenwolf" in the German dub, meaning "shadow wolves."[7] This name was possibly chosen because there's also an animal species in Westeros called shadowcats.


In the books[]

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the biology and behavior of direwolves are the same.

By the point the books reached, the status of the Starks' direwolves is:

  • {Lady}: killed by Eddard at Robert's command.
  • {Grey Wind}: killed by the Freys at the Red Wedding.
  • Summer: currently with Bran at the cave of the three-eyed crow.
  • Nymeria: leads a pack of wolves at the Riverlands.
  • Ghost: currently with Jon at Castle Black.
  • Shaggydog: recently reported to accompany Rickon and Osha to the isle of Skagos.[8] It is unknown whether he is alive.


The name dire wolf (Latin: Aenocyon dirus) is given to an actual species of Pleistocene megafauna that once existed on real-life Earth, like the mammoth and sabertooth cat. Dire wolves inhabited the Americas and Asia, from 1.8 million years ago to about 10,000 years ago. Note that the name of the real-life animal is spelled as two words, "dire wolf", but that the name in the A Song of Ice and Fire novels is consistently spelled as one word, "direwolf".


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