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Taken from the Old English warg, the Wargs or wild wolves J. R. R. Tolkien used it to refer to his race of large lupines in his books about Middle-earth. They are usually in league with the goblins or Orcs whom they permitted to ride on their backs into battle. They are portrayed as somewhat intelligent, with a language, and are consciously in league with the Orcs.
The concept of wolf-riding Orcs first appears in The Tale of Tinúviel, an early version of the story of Beren and Lúthien written in the 1920s, posthumously published as part of The History of Middle-earth.
In The Lord of the Rings, they are most prominently mentioned in the middle of The Fellowship of the Ring, where a band of Wargs, unaccompanied by Orcs, attacks the Fellowship in Eregion. During the War of the Ring in T.A. 3018–19, wolves prowled outside the walls of Bree. They are here distinguished from "ordinary wolves, hunting for food". Wargs and their riders also appear in The Two Towers.
In the Rankin-Bass adaptation of The Hobbit, they are portrayed as larger than average wolves with ominously glowing eyes. Although Tolkien never provided a fully complete description of the Wargs, they do seem to have a conventional wolf-appearance in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and they are regularly called "wolves."
Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy depicts Wargs as hyena-like, or even like the extinct, heavier-bodied Hyaenodon. Wargs also appear in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy but are a more wolf-like breed exclusive to Gundabad compared to the Wargs used by the Orcs of Isengard.
- The "Two Towers" Creatures Guide Collins Publishers (November 6, 2002) ISBN 0-00-714409-1