In the LOTR movie it's implied that Saruman bred and created Uruk-hai.

But the Wiki is a bit ambigous on the books - the impression I got was that it was a Saruman stealing the idea from Sauron who bred the first Orc-Goblinmen hybrids.

Is there a Tolkien statement to confirm or deny this?

Just to clarify, I'm referring to the breeding technique, NOT specific beings created using it.

  • If I may, contrary to some verbiage posted in response to this question, it is not in any way established that the Uruk-hai were Orc-Man hybrids. Treebeard speculates it is so, but he is a character, not the Word of God. Merry refers to individuals in adventures he'd experienced that looked like the Squint-eyed Southerner, but doesn't identify them as Orcs of any kind. From The Return of the King, book 6, chapter 8, The Scouring of the Shire, referring to "ruffians:" "'Like that friend of Bill Ferny's at Bree,' said Sam. 'Like many that I saw at Isengard,' muttered Merry." They do exist.
    – Lesser son
    Commented Feb 21, 2022 at 2:34

3 Answers 3


Sauron was the first to create Uruk-hai - they first appeared out of Mordor in the last years of Steward Denethor I, before TA 2475 (Appendix A). This was long before Saruman's treachery that roughly dated to the early 3000s TA.

An argument could be made, however, that the Uruk-hai in the LotR were a different breed created by Saruman by inter-breeding Orcs and Men. There is a quote from the History of Middle-Earth (Morgoth's Ring) that states

There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men treacherous and vile.

"This" being the creation of Orcs.

Treebeard also speculates on the Uruk-hai's creation in LotR, saying

For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide the Sun, but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!

That is in-character speculation rather than a definite statement though.

  • Just to clarify - the question was who produced the techique, NOT the actual beings. Commented Mar 10, 2012 at 17:16
  • Rearranged the answer to reflect that. Sauron was definitely the first. Saruman just improved them by (allegedly) breeding them with Men, so it depends whether you consider that a separate "breed" or not.
    – dlanod
    Commented Mar 10, 2012 at 17:52

It's very possible that Saruman bred the northern men/women with orcs, creating the Uruk-hai. He had a long time in which to accomplish this, so, especially if more than one Uruk-hai was born at a time, or if "pods" were used, like in the movie, and they "magically" grew very quickly, so, there wasn't as long to wait, then that could explain it. Saruman can't create life, but, there's no real reason he can't speed growth, I don't believe. The books do say something about him using magic to breed these creatures. That is the only thing I can think of that would be canon to Tolkien that would be possible for him to have such a huge army.

  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. The question being asked is who - Sauron or Saruman - was first to come up with the technique for creating the Uruk-hai. You say it's possible that Saruman bred them, which is indisputable, but was it his idea?
    – DavidW
    Commented Jan 21, 2020 at 17:05
  • That, I believe, was probably Sauron, before Saruman, but that the idea first was Morgoth's. Saruman, though, even though I think possibly that orcs and men did procreate on their own, had the idea to breed them together specifically to create the uruks. He got the original technique from ancient lore, but built upon it, and possibly improved on it.
    – Woodse
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 18:29
  • Thanks to amflare for the edit.
    – Woodse
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 18:34
  • And thanks, David W , for clarifying the question.
    – Woodse
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 18:36

The first orcs were breeding and corrupting of a certain elven nation by Melkor. Sauron and then Saruman both contributed to breeding them to be 'better'

  • 1
    Again, can you provide sources for your answer? Secondly, the origin of orcs is debated and was never decided on by J.R.R. Tolkien.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Apr 29, 2017 at 6:35

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