Wargs are canine beasts of Middle-earth in the Misty Mountains, used especially by Orcs of Isengard and Mordor in the Third Age. They are used by orcs as a form of transportation. They appear first in The Hobbit, attacking Thorin and Company as they traveled east from the Misty Mountains. In the Fellowship of the Ring Wargs attacked the Fellowship as they traveled to Moria. That they were Wargs and not ordinary wolves searching for food, Gandalf remarked, was evident from the fact that the carcasses of the dead Wargs were gone the next morning. Later, during Theoden's retreat to Helm's Deep in Rohan, a scout reported that wolf-riders were abroad in the valley, but Wargs were not mentioned.
Not much is known about Wargs, though The Hobbit explains that they follow a leader or chieftain, speaking their own language (which Gandalf understood), and sometimes joining with Goblins (Orcs) on their raids. To their mutual benefit, Wargs would allow Orcs (who sometimes rode on wolves like men do on horses) to use them as mounts during raids on villages lying near the mountains.
In the books, Wargs are described as being intelligent, malevolent wolf-like creatures.
Portrayals in adaptations
The Lord of the Rings film trilogy
In Peter Jackson's adaptation of Tolkien's works, two breeds are introduced. The first are a hyena-like breed used by Isengard and Mordor Orcs that roamed in western Rhovanion and the wilds to the east of the Misty Mountains. The second are the more wolf-like Gundabad Wargs whose appearance is closer to the original version of the story.
The eastern Wargs are measured about 5 feet at the shoulder, and could be up to eight feet in length from snout to hindquarters. The head has a short muzzle full of huge fangs, small eyes set on the sides of the head and ears at the back of the skull. This arrangement gave greatest sensory range while keeping its vulnerable areas protected, and the long prehensile neck gives it reach, flexibility and power when biting into flesh. There the forelegs when muscled hump above them, allowing it to move at high speeds to tackle potential prey. Apart from its ruff, the warg had short dense fur, which would have kept injury from tooth and claw to a minimum. Not all damage could have come from the men and beasts it was attacking; wargs were ferocious and could quickly turn on other members of their pack as well as their handlers. Coloration and patterning of the fur doesn't seem to vary throughout the breed. Powerful haunches and a dewclaw allowed the warg to climb.
Gundabad Wargs, being more wolf-like, usually have grey colored fur. But one Gundabad Warg, owned by Azog, is significantly larger than the others with a white pelt.
In The Two Towers film, Saruman sends out his Wargs and their riders (led by the orc Sharku) to attack the people of Rohan as they make their way to Helm's Deep. A Warg later appears as the mount for Gothmog during the Siege of Gondor in The Return of the King. In the commentary for the extended DVD, Jackson says that the scene was chaotic to shoot and the wargs were the only computer generated creatures he felt could have looked more convincing. He also thought the scene itself could have turned out better if his team had a more organized storyboard layout for the battle. Unlike most depictions of Tolkien's wargs and their fantasy derivatives, they are noticeably more hyena-like in appearance.
The Hobbit film trilogy
The Wargs seen in the movie adaptation of The Hobbit are bred in Gundabad and were in service to Azog, who had survived the skirmish at Moria. Throughout the film Azog and his troops followed the Company of Thorin across the Misty Mountains, and at the end they nearly killed Thorin before being driven off by Great Eagles.
- In the The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age video game there is a small colony of wild wargs living in a hollow rock formation in northeast Rohan, one of which is particularly large and used as a mini-boss for a side quest.
- In The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II and BFME 1 video games, the Isengard faction can train and use Warg Riders as a mounted unit.
In the Song of Ice and Fire series of books, warg is one of the terms for a person who can control the actions of one or more animals, for example dire (i.e., giant) wolves.
From Old Norse vargr (wolf).
Races of the Creatures of Arda
Servants of the Shadow: