A direwolf is a close relative of the wolf, but larger and stronger. They are named after the real world direwolves, Pleistocene megafauna, which were larger than modern wolves (but not as large as portrayed in the books). Direwolves are extinct south of the Wall, as they are a very large and dangerous predator, and people have probably hunted them out.  A grey direwolf in a white field is the sigil of House Stark.
- See also: Images of Direwolves
Direwolves can grow as large as ponies. In proportion to their bodies, their legs are longer and their heads are larger than normal wolves. Their muzzles are also longer and more pronounced. Possible colorations include grey with yellow eyes and black with green eyes. Albino direwolves have white fur and red eyes.
Like other wolves, direwolves are social animals and travel in packs. They are efficient solitary hunters and are extremely intelligent. Left to its own devices a solitary direwolf may join a pack of common wolves and establish dominance over it thanks to its larger size.
The wood dancers of the children of the forest are said to have called upon direwolves to fight on their behalf. According to Theon Greyjoy, direwolves had not been sighted south of the Wall for two hundred years when Robb Stark finds a dead female direwolf with a litter of six pups on the path between Winterfell and the holdfast where Gared was executed.
Like common wolves, direwolves can form a magical bond with a warg.
|“||A direwolf will rip a man’s arm off his shoulder as easily as a dog will kill a rat.||”|
|“||There’s not been a direwolf sighted south of the Wall in two hundred years.||”|
References and Notes
- Dire Wolf - Wikipedia article on the real world animal.