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2 ‘Game of Thrones’ Dire Wolves Take Embark DNA Test

March 1, 2018

When Will Mulhall brought his two 7-week-old pups home several years ago, he had no idea they would become celebrities and garner a fan base bigger than some of their human colleagues.

“I just got them to take walks on the beach and the forest near our house,” Will said.

That house, where Will lives with his family, is in Ireland. His new pups, Odin and Thor, were the first Northern Inuit Dogs born on Irish soil. Sure, that’s a big deal, but it didn’t impress Will’s other dog, Yoda, who he tells me is a 15-year-old small breed “mongrel” who is the “boss.”

“She barks and they run,” he said, describing Yoda’s relationship with the boys.

Picture that.

Things got a bit more exciting than just walking in the forest when Will got a phone call from Odin and Thor’s breeder. Because they were the first of their kind born in Ireland, a casting director was interested in them for roles in a new show. It hadn’t aired yet, so all Will knew was that it involved “swords and shields and stuff.”

Without much hesitation, Will brought his furry friends to meet the show’s trainer. Odin and Thor had a lot going for them, including their wolf-like appearance and high intelligence, so they made the cut!

Game of Thrones

The show turned out to be the wildly popular series “Game of Thrones” and both dogs were going to play dire wolves! The show’s trainer, who also worked with the dogs in “Marley and Me” and the “Harry Potter” movies, started working with Odin and Thor at Will’s house; however, Will proved to be too much of a distraction for the two rising stars. To remedy the issue, the doggy duo went to live with the trainer in Belfast for three weeks.

Will was sad to see them go, but he was able to visit his four-legged pals whenever he wanted. When they returned home, Odin and Thor were fully trained, had already filmed their parts in “Game of Thrones,” and Will got paid!

“It was a triple win situation,” he said.

Check them out in the first season of the show! Odin plays Bran Stark’s Summer and Thor plays Robb Stark’s Grey Wind.

direwolves

The Dogs

In case you’re wondering, they’re not as big as they appear on TV. Will says his dogs are about the size of an average German Shepherd. The computer-generated imagery (CGI) takes care of the rest.

While the dog’s characters were killed off “Game of Thrones,” Will is still a part of the series as an extra along with his father and brother.

“It’s really good fun,” he said. “I can’t speak about our experience on set very much but it’s important to remember that every footstep you take on set there are hundreds of thousands of other people out there that would love to be in that position so it makes you appreciate the opportunity we have even more.”

Will went on to say that the actors really loved Odin and Thor. In fact, the dogs went missing once when they were on set. Will said they were eventually found in one of the actors’ trailers!

The furballs are still involved with the series as part of the Game of Thrones vacation tour. The tour allowed them to meet over 400,000 people over the past four years. That’s a lot of pawtographs.

Embark Tests

Will used an Embark dog DNA test to confirm the breed and ancestry of his dogs. The test was also used to learn about preventable diseases they may be predisposed to.

“I knew what breed they were, and the reason I took the test was to find out what the breed was made up of,” he explained. A recently derived breed, the Northern Inuit Dog, draws its ancestry from the German Shepherd Dog and several Northern breeds, including the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky.

So what exactly did Embark identify? We concluded that Odin and Thor were, in fact, Northern Inuit Dogs. Their ancestors are from the Siberian Husky, Samoyed, Alaskan Malamute, and German Shepherd Dog. Will said he was most shocked to learn about the Samoyed ancestry. Embark also found that Thor was a carrier for degenerative myelopathy (DM). This is a consideration to keep in mind if Thor is ever bred in the future.

Click here to see Odin’s results and here for Thor’s.

Since they broke into the business with their “Game of Thrones” appearances, the pair has been on both American and Australian television. They’ve also been featured in Time Magazine, National Geographic, and other publications.

This past summer, Odin and Thor turned 7. They had a huge birthday bash complete with 90 people and a Ramsay Bolton cake! According to Will, the former dire wolves are “pretty popular guys.” Follow them on Instagram here.

We’d have to agree. Paws up!

If you’d like to test your dog with Embark, just click here to get started!

For the last decade, Ashley has been honing her skills as a multimedia content creator, including working in live television for a top 10 market station. She is now the Communications Manager at Embark Vet and lives in the Boston area with her dog-like cat, Cody.