The direwolves of Game of Thrones were one of the coolest parts of the series early on, with the first episode seeing each of the Stark children adopting their own pup that would grow into a fierce and faithful companion, yet the show did not feature the direwolves near as prominently as A Song of Ice and Fire, and the result is that each one never really had a chance to stand out and shine. As powerful as each direwolf was, they were not all equal in their contributions to the bloody violence of the series. One direwolf stands out ahead of the pack as the biggest and baddest beast in Westeros, but it may not be who you expect.
The Starks first come across the direwolf pups huddled around the body of their slain mother. A rare sight given that direwolves have not been seen south of the Wall in centuries, the collection of canines is considered a sign as their number match the number of Eddard Stark’s children. With time, each direwolf grows to full size and loyally serves their noble companions, with Grey Wind going to Robb, Lady to Sansa, Nymeria to Arya, Summer to Bran, Shaggydog to Rickon and the white-furred Ghost going to the bastard Jon Snow. During the TV series, they each grow to the size of a full wolf in no time, but being direwolves, they are bound to grow much larger and become some of the deadliest hunters in Westeros.
In comparing their strengths and abilities, it is wise to look to both sources, and when choosing the strongest, the is easiest to dismiss is Lady. An early plot point involves Nymeria biting Joffrey Baratheon and quickly leaving for the wilds after Arya urges her to escape. In his place, Lady is put to death as a twisted form of justice. Being the first to die of the direwolves and never really showcasing her full strength, it’s hard to put Lady up as a contender for the strongest one.
Perhaps the easiest to propose as the deadliest direwolves would be Grey Wind and Ghost, both of whom earn more combat experience than any other wolf. Grey Wind in particular became a mythic site on the battlefield during Robb’s campaign southward, and Ghost was an invaluable companion during Jon’s expeditions north of the Wall.
Their next biggest competition comes from Nymeria, who regardless of being absent for most of the show is seen periodically in Arya’s warging visions during the books, claiming leadership of a vast pack of wolves who gain their own legendary reputation in the Riverlands. The pack is said to number in the hundreds, and Nymeria’s size is reported as monstrous by those who see her.
Yet perhaps the most vicious of any of them is the direwolf given the least focus in the HBO series. While Bran’s companion Summer receives ample attention as the focus of his warging early on, it is actually Rickon’s Shaggydog who stands out as the fiercest of any of the pack. Shaggydog similarly protects Bran in his journey northward, but with Rickon getting such a far smaller role in the show, his direwolf was subsequently underplayed as well.
In the books, frequent attention is given to Shaggydog’s untamable nature. Growing up with the least discipline given that his owner was the youngest of the Starks, the novels frequently describe Shaggydog’s gargantuan size and resistance to being chained.
Frankly, that may be his biggest asset in surviving the book series. Though Shaggydog was unceremoniously murdered in the show, with his head presented to Ramsay Bolton as a gift, Shaggydog still lives in the books and may have greater things yet to come. His siblings each have a target painted on their back that either already earned them a death or soon could, all for reasons that Shaggydog avoids.
Grey Wind went into a kennel where he was murdered at the Red Wedding alongside Robb. Ghost may earn a similar fate following Jon’s assassination at the hands of his fellow Night’s Watch. While Nymeria may have the mightiest force on her side atop a pack of hundreds of wolves, the more the people of Westeros fear her, the higher the prize will eventually be for taking her down. By contrast, Shaggydog manages to be the biggest and the fiercest of the direwolves without drawing near as much ire, and with Bran throwing Summer into the midst of danger against the Others, it’s likely that Shaggydog will be the lone wolf that stands out ahead of the pack.