Game of Thrones inspired Huskie craze goes cold as owners give up on dogs

Some owners can’t cope when popular breed turns into ‘Kevin the teenager’

A A A

They’re cuddly, they’re adorable, and as a result of the Twilight films, the popular fantasy series Game of Thrones and countless YouTube clips, they’ve become incredibly popular. But Siberian Huskies and other wolf-like dogs are being abandoned in record numbers as owners realise that the latest “status” canines are temperamental and difficult to control.

Animal welfare groups have warned that droves of people are buying these working breeds for their looks, only to dump them in shelters soon afterwards. The Siberian Husky Welfare Association claimed it was struggling to handle dozens of calls each week from people looking to offload their unwanted pets.

“We started our organisation in 2007, and back then we thought there was a crisis because we were getting five calls a week from people saying they couldn’t cope with their dogs,” said the Association’s secretary Mick Brent. “And now it’s between 20 and 30. And not only that, but there are now half a dozen more organisations like us across the country.”

He warned that this year’s Christmas presents could become next year’s kennel fodder, saying: “At this time of year, we get last year’s Christmas dogs that people can’t handle any more.”

London’s Battersea Cats and Dogs home took in 66 huskies between January and November, a 16 per cent increase on 2011. Blue Cross centres took in 63 Alaskan malamutes, Northern Inuits, Siberian huskies and Utonagons this year, almost double last year’s figure of 32.

“The percentage increase of breeds such as Alaskan malamutes and Siberian Huskies being given up is a real concern and if the last few years are anything to go by, it does look like a trend that could continue,” A Blue Cross spokesperson said.

Mandy Jones, head of Blue Cross rehoming services, said the dogs’ prevalence in film and TV were probably to blame: “One theory is that these breeds have a wolf-like appearance and the fashion for vampire-themed TV and films may be a feature of their increasing popularity in recent years,” she said. 

In the Twilight films, some characters are able to turn into large wolves at will, while the mythical “Direwolves” in the acclaimed HBO series Game of Thrones are played on screen by the stocky Northern Inuit breed. YouTube videos of Mishka the husky, famed for its ability to mimic human speech, have accrued more than 330 million views.

In 2002, only 238 Alaskan Malamutes – larger than the husky, and more prone to display dog-on-dog aggression – and 985 huskies were registered with the Kennel Club. Last year, those numbers had grown to 1,295 and 1,940 respectively, without accounting for the numbers of half-breed dogs, as well as those bought from home breeders and puppy farms.

“Whereas 20 years ago it was almost impossible to buy a husky from a breeder, now you can go on the internet, buy a husky puppy, pay on Paypal and collect it the next day,” said Mr Brent.

Husky experts warned that while the dogs often made for loving companions, they require a vast amount of attention and exercise. “People who buy them are completely ignorant about the nature of the breed,” Mr Brent continued. “The husky puppy is wonderful: it’s obedient and it doesn’t want to be parted from you. But between 12 and 18 months they turn into Kevin the teenager.”

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower