People who have never seen the Harry Potter movies or read the books are still familiar with the story. A young boy living with his wretched aunt and uncle learns he’s a wizard and should attend Hogwarts, the School of Wizardry. From there, we meet all kinds of characters as Harry embarks on his journey through wizardry.
There are seven books in the series. Today, we’re discussing the third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Specifically, we’re talking about a unique character in this book: Sirius Black. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Sirius Black does a neat trick by transforming into a Scottish Deerhound, and everyone wants to know more about the dog breed.
If you’re a serious fan of these stories, you’ll want to keep reading. It’s a minor detail that takes your fandom to the next level. But beware, we’re giving away spoilers in case you didn’t read the books (or watch the movies).
Sirius Black in Harry Potter
We’re sure you’re aware of who Sirius Black is. But for those new to the Harry Potter world, allow us to explain.
Sirius Black was a pure-blood wizard convicted of several murders. His crimes had him sentenced to Azkaban, a prison on an island in the middle of the North Sea. No one can find this prison, and it’s thought to be inescapable. But Sirius Black successfully escapes thanks to his ability to turn into a dog, otherwise known as an Animagus.
Harry Potter learns that Sirius Black is innocent and is Harry’s godfather, but that’s a different discussion. We want to know what kind of dog Sirius Black is!
As mentioned earlier, Sirius Black turns into a Scottish Deerhound in the story. He can do this at will, proving to be a handy skill. In his dog form, his friends call him Padfoot and sometimes Snuffles.
The breed isn’t specified in the books, though. He’s only described as a large, bear-like black dog. But we think the Scottish Deerhound is the perfect breed for Sirius Black to morph into.
Are Scottish Deerhounds Good Dogs?
If you see a Scottish Deerhound trotting your way, you’ll be taken aback by the sheer size of the breed. Scottish Deerhounds stand between 28–32 inches and weigh between 75–110 pounds. They have wiry, wavy fur that resembles Sirius’ dark wavy locks.
What’s interesting about Scottish Deerhounds is their history. This breed is so ancient that no one knows for certain what is fact and what is a myth. You could say the same for Sirius Black’s history.
We might not know much about where this breed originated, but we know that these large, shaggy dogs were bred to hunt red deer. And not just any deer—Scottish Deerhounds could take down large, 400-pound deer.
These dogs might be large, but they still carry a mild, polite, and noble personality. Best of all, they love affection and snuggles. They also do well around other dogs since Scottish Deerhounds were bred to work in pairs.
Even so, this breed isn’t for owners who want a playful dog with a love for change. Scottish Deerhounds are best for owners who like relaxation more than playtime.
The Dog Behind the Scenes
The four-legged actor who played Padfoot, Sirius Black’s Animagus form, was Champion Kilbourne Macleod. This pup is from Derbyshire, England, and trained with Birds & Animals Unlimited, an animal-training facility in Los Angeles, California.
Macleod filmed for 33 months in London and had to be dyed black for Sirius’ transformation to make sense. The filmmakers also used Fife, Macleod’s adopted sister. But Macleod did most of the filming.
Before the movie, Macleod competed (and won) in several dog shows. He had to stop until the black dye washed out of his fur. But once it did, he was back in the ring for at least another 2 years.
Scottish Deerhounds were already magical dogs with a mysterious past. Harry Potter only exaggerated it. But this made Macleod and Fife perfect for the role of Padfoot. Their dignified personalities and a little playfulness perfectly captured Sirius Black’s character. So, if you see a Scottish Deerhound soon, keep your eyes peeled. It just might be Sirius Black.
Featured Image Credit: Characters by Warner Bros. Pictures. All rights reserved to the copyright owners.