The Ministry of Magic appears to use the Patronus Charm to control Dementors. This evident by Dolores Umbridge in the following scene:

At the foot of the platform, a bright-silver, long-haired cat prowled up and down, up and down, up and down, and Harry realized that it was there to protect the prosecutors from the despair that emanated from the Dementors: That was for the accused to feel, not the accusers.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Chapter 13 - The Muggle-Born Registration Commission

In general, I think there is no other reason for the Dementors to abide by the ministry other than the threat of the Patronus Charm. Though it can be argued that this threat is not nearly enough, and eventually the Dementors do leave their positions in Azkaban to join Voldemort, the ministry appears to think they enforce their control over the Dementors somehow.

"Yes, you have," said Fudge forcefully, "and I have no reason to believe that your views are anything other than bilge, Dumbledore. The Dementors remain in place in Azkaban and are doing everything we ask them to."
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Chapter 8 - The Hearing

It appears that Dementors, as a group, have a will and can be communicated with and follow orders. It also appears as if they can disobey if you have no leverage over them.

Dark wizards generally do not produce a Patronus. Some can but most of them do not bother as stated by Rowling.

From a Leaky Cauldron chat:

Samantha: Was snape the only death eater who could produce a full patronus

J.K. Rowling: Yes, because a Patronus is used against things that the Death Eaters generally generate, or fight alongside. They would not need Patronuses.

Does that mean that they have some other method of controlling the Dementors? It is true that they "generate" the same things that Patronus is used against, though generating these things would not protect them from the Dementors. They can still suffer from the Dementors' powers and without a Patronus most of the dark wizards have no protection.

If we consider the "Wonderbook : Book of Spells" as canon, it could be dangerous for a dark wizard to even attempt at casting the Patronus Charm. Such trial by a competent but unworthy wizard or witch attempt the spell could end horribly wrong. In Raczidian's case, he was covered by maggots that engulf his flesh.

How do dark wizards control the Dementors? Why do they ally themselves with a creature that could be dangerous to them?

  • 1
    What makes you say that a dark wizard can't produce a patronus?
    – MBEllis
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 8:32
  • 2
    See this old question about bad people producing patronuses: Snape was the only Death Eater who did, but that doesn't necessarily mean others couldn't, just that they generally didn't need to. (@MBEllis)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 8:34
  • 1
    Both of you are right, but that does not change my question as to what other forms of control do dark wizards have on dementors. I have edited my question to clarify.
    – havakok
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 8:59
  • 1
    I would think that since Dementors are also dark creatures they are likely to side with dark wizards
    – MBEllis
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 10:10
  • 1
    "Likely to side" will not cancel the inconvenience caused to the dark wizard by them. Also, it does not eliminate the need of dark wizards for control, as they are usually viewing other creatures then wizards as beneath them.
    – havakok
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 10:24

2 Answers 2


Dumbledore in GoF knew that Voldemort would recruit the Dementors (a plan which Voldemort already shared with Harry: “The dementors will join us…they are our natural allies”):

‘The rest of us sleep less soundly in our beds, Cornelius, knowing that you have put Lord Voldemort’s most dangerous supporters in the care of creatures who will join him the instant he asks them!’ said Dumbledore. ‘They will not remain loyal to you, Fudge! Voldemort can offer them much more scope for their powers and their pleasures than you can! With the Dementors behind him, and his old supporters returned to him, you will be hard pressed to stop him regaining the sort of power he had thirteen years ago!’

The Dementors were mainly controlled by a bargain: as long as the Death Eaters were in power, the Dementors would be able to have many souls to feed on. (Dementors are surprisingly intelligent.)

Though, there are some ways other than a Patronus to approach a Dementor, as Snape taught them as DADA teacher in HBP:

Harry fully expected to receive low marks on his, because he had disagreed with Snape on the best way to tackle Dementors

  • 2
    I assumed there are other ways to approach a Dementor. My question was what are they?
    – havakok
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 15:50
  • Knowing that Snape was a master of Legilimency and occlumency, maybe "controlling your thoughts" can also be used to be resistant against dementors. Harrys "open-minded" character made him susceptible against both, legilimency and dementors.
    – datacube
    Commented Jul 12, 2023 at 14:53

Dementors are intelligent creatures. Their condition as guards of Azkaban was negotiated long ago. From the fandom wiki:

When Damocles Rowle was elected Minister for Magic in 1718, he insisted on utilising Azkaban's dark pedigree, seeing the Dementors as a potential asset: putting them to work as guards would save expense, time, and lives. This plan was eventually put into motion and, despite protests, Azkaban remained the prison of the wizarding world right up until the Second Wizarding War, mostly because of its near-zero breakout rate. From that point on, the Dementors served the Ministry of Magic as the guards of Azkaban, as the arrangement allowed them to feed on the emotions of the prisoners within its walls.

They were basically government employees:

Though their primary function was to guard Azkaban, Dementors also performs [sic] other services for the Ministry, such as being sent to guard other locations, escort prisoners to trial or even hunt down certain criminals.

Since the dark wizards held the Ministry of Magic, they also held the dementors' meal ticket. Not that the dementors needed the Ministry, but you know... Everyday I am given the option to either toil at my job in exchange for a salary, or to say eff it all and start hunting my own food. Everyday I choose the former. I think dementors like being sedentary just like me.

  • But Dark Wizards were still in cahoots with Dementors even before they took over the Ministry. Isn't that how Bellatrix and co escaped in OotP?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 15:58
  • This does not answer my question. You do give a good motivation for the Dementors to work with dark wizards. However, given that dark wizards can suffer from the interaction with Dementors, my question was on how they protect themselves from the dementors and control them.
    – havakok
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 16:15
  • @havakok they don't need to protect themselves because the dementors generally don't attack them, and they control dementors the same way that companies control their employees. Do you assault your boss on a regular basis?
    – Marvel Boy
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 17:24
  • 1
    @MarvelBoy, I am not a dementor and I do not feed upon souls. If I was, I would probably attack my boss, yes. Primarily at lunchtime. You fail to understand my question. Dementors are not anyone's friend and dark wizards do like control. You can't say "dementors generally don't attack them" because that is exactly what dementors did before they abandoned their posts in Azkaban. Dark wizards can't rely on the good intentions and honesty of their fellow dementors co-workers.
    – havakok
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 17:59

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