Winter is coming, so why not get yourself a real-life Dire Wolf?

Anyone who's seen Game of Thrones and has a pulse has probably coveted the Stark children's dire wolves, the giant lupines that are loyal to their Winterfell masters, powerful, and generally just awesome. Unfortunately, actual dire wolves died out about 10,000 years ago, and even the Starks needed a lttle help from destiny to come across their six pups. But now there's a much easier way to get ahold of Westeros's greatest pets.

The Dire Wolf Project, started by the American Alsatian Breeders Association, is trying to breed new dire wolf-like dogs — not genetically identical to their forebears, of course, but a large, somewhat shaggy canine that looks like the dire wolves of old, but is still domesticated and calm. Wired's Rachel Eddin checked the Project out:

Lois Schwarz has been breeding dogs since 1975, and began developing the American Alsatian breed in 1987 with the goal of a large, long-lived companion dog. Schwarz wanted a wolflike appearance, but with a wider and heavier-set physique than the slender gray wolves; her project found its name when her daughter pointed out that the physical characteristics Schwarz was aiming for might better describe a prehistoric dire wolf.

[...] American Alsatians look really cool. They’re distinctly wolfy, but wider, shaggier and warmer in color than huskies, malamutes or modern gray wolves. Basically, they’re the kind of fantasy wolves that wouldn’t look out of place howling at a T-shirt moon, which may be exactly the sort of pet that a lot of would-be members of House Stark are looking for.

Topping out at 130 pounds, American Alsatians are not quite up to dire wolf size, but in that regard Schwarz says the breed will be informed more by practicality than accuracy. Few families are looking for a 160-pound dog, and Schwarz is anxious to avoid American Alsatians ending up at the pound.

Getting your own Grey Wind, Ghost, Lady, Nymeria, Summer or Shagydog will cost you $3,000 and require a bit of patience, as the waiting list is quite long (lots of Game of Thrones fans out there). Head to Wired for the rest of the article and to see pics of the American Alsatians, or head straight to The Dire Wolf Project's page for more details on the project.