So I've already seen some questions about what sort of killing (accidental? morally justifiable? etc.) counts as murder for the purposes of creating a Horcrux, but here's another question which AFAIK hasn't been asked before on this site.

Does the murder used to create a Horcrux need to be a human's murder?

Firstly, would killing an animal also work? In this book the murder that sets the story off is of a pet dog. The murder of an animal can be just as grim and gruesome as that of a human. Could butchers and knacker-men create Horcruxes on a regular basis? And yes, I'm a vegetarian :-) Snakes at least are portrayed in the Potterverse as having near-human intelligence at times, and sometimes cats also. Would someone be able to make a Horcrux by killing Nagini or Crookshanks?

Secondly, what about non-human sentient creatures such as house-elves, centaurs, giants, and goblins? Would someone be able to create a Horcrux by killing Dobby, Griphook, Firenze, or Grawp? What about half-giants like Hagrid?

I suspect the answer will be no to animals and yes to giants etc., but would appreciate any sort of backup for this.

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    Related to the PS: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4371/…
    – alexwlchan
    Dec 31, 2014 at 13:46
  • On the actual question: I don't recall any canon discussion of this either way, but I'll look it up properly later.
    – alexwlchan
    Dec 31, 2014 at 13:47
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    As I recall, the spell capitalizes on the fact that murder 'rips your soul' to grab a part of it and protect it. I suppose anything else that has a similar effect could be used for the job; if you spent your life regarding animals as your friends and peers, perhaps killing one of them would do the trick. Or a person who has spent years being a vegetarian on moral grounds, perhaps could do it via killing a 'fellow traveler on spaceship earth.' That being said, I can't see how it would affect Voldy much near the end of his first incarnation, so perhaps it's intrinsic to murder in HP world.
    – K-H-W
    Dec 31, 2014 at 14:01
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    Killing an animal wouldn't seem to work. Hermione vanishes several kittens and cooks a fish and there's no major evidence of soul-rippage. Dumbledore makes it clear that murdering another ensouled creature (presumably a human but also giants and centaurs) is what's needed.
    – Valorum
    Dec 31, 2014 at 14:02
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    The murder is only one part of the spell to create a Horcrux. A Horcrux is not created every time a murder happens, just like a pineapple upside-down cake is not created every time someone puts flour in an oven. It is a required part, but not the only part, and it's not automatic. If it was every deatheater would have a multitude of horcruxes.
    – Red_Shadow
    Dec 31, 2014 at 14:10

2 Answers 2


I'd have to go with a solid No on this one.

I think that the definitions of "supreme act of evil" will vary from person to person. We can find minute examples of this in the way wizards treat house elves or even better examples of how they see Muggles.

House Elf Example

Hermione deems it despicable to order a house elf to do anything and more so if they aren't even being paid. The Malfoys treat Dobby much much worse than just giving him orders or not paying him a wage, yet see no problem with this.

Muggle/MudBlood Example

This is basically the underlying point of the entire series. Blood bias seems to have really started with Salazar, it then grew in popularity again after Wizards separated from the Muggles with the Statute of Secrecy. The pure-blood advocates naturally see nothing evil in their selective nature nor do they regard the Muggles as equals to Wizards.

Now from this answer.

We know that Voldemort did in fact use Muggles to create his Horcruxes, interestingly enough he seems to have killed 3 Muggles and 3 Wizards emulating his own Half-Blood status also interesting Is that the 3 Wizards were female and it is entirely possible the 3 Muggles were male although unknown due to the Tramp and Peasant the sexes of his kills would serve to further emulate his parentage. I digress. The main reason for pointing this out is that Voldemort, although he despised Muggles still deemed them a worthy kill because of his Father.

Down to the crux of the matter

The reason why all this is relevant is because evil is extremely subjective and based largely on a personal moral compass. Note @Richards comment about Hagrid, he is not technically a person but most people interacting with him would deem him as such. I think that depending on person what can be murdered in order to split your soul changes.

Ambiguity with the terms

what would happen to the wizard so determined to evade death that he would be prepared to murder many times, rip his soul repeatedly

Half-Blood Prince - Chapter 23 - Horcruxes

Here we have Dumbledore talking about multiple murders to split a soul.

“Listeners, I’d like to invite you now to join us in a minute’s silence in memory of Ted Tonks, Dirk Cresswell, Bathilda Bagshot, Gornuk, and the unnamed, but no less regretted, Muggles murdered by the Death Eaters.”

Deathly Hallows - Chapter 22 - The Deathly Hallows

Here we have a news report which mentions one non-human, Gornuk, as being murdered by Death Eaters.

Like with humans in real life we all have a difference sense of what constitutes murder, from Vegans to Hunters for fun and from Pacifists to Serial Killers. There is a huge variation in moral compasses which allows for the ambiguity with the term 'murder'.

In a universe Potterverse where we have multiple beings of intelligence with the following capability:

Grogan Stump, the newly appointed Minister for Magic, decreed that a “being” was “any creature that has sufficient intelligence to understand the laws of the magical community and to bear part of the responsibility in shaping those laws.”2 Troll representatives were questioned in the absence of goblins and judged not to understand anything that was being said to them; they were therefore classified as “beasts” despite their two-legged gait; merpeople were invited through translators to become “beings” for the first time; fairies, pixies, and gnomes, despite their humanoid appearance, were placed firmly in the “beast” category.

Fantastic Beasts - What is a beast?

The definition of Murder becomes more ambiguous.

Even more ambiguity is thrown into the mix when you have the intermingling of these species with 'humans' like with Hagrid.

In common usage, the word "human" generally refers to the only extant species of the genus Homo — anatomically and behaviorally modern Homo sapiens. Its usage often designates differences between that species as a whole and any other group or entity.


In our world we our the only extant species, but we do not know enough about the beings in HP to call them Human or not.

So there you have it, killing a being in my opinion would constitute murder IF the murderer deemed it as such and the murder is premeditated

I have not covered intent in this answer other than for the summary, I feel this answer does intent much more justice than I could without making this already long answer longer.


I think the answer to this question is yes, it must be a person or human being. Here is what I draw my answer from ...

In the HBP, Harry is watching the actual conversation (not the modified memory) which occurred between Slughorn and Tom Riddle in Dumbledore's pensive after retrieving it from Slughorn -

"But how do you do it?"

"By an an act of evil -- the supreme act of evil. By committing murder."

The definition of murder is quoted on Google as the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another and by Merriam-Webster has it quoted as the crime of deliberately killing a person.

With this in mind, Slughorn states a few lines later in the conversation with Tom -

"Merlin's beard, Tom!" yelped Slughorn. "Seven! Isn't it bad enough to think of killing one person? ..."

Slughorn himself declares it to be the murder of a person. This is not an animal. Not something of a different species, but a person or human being.

NOTE: Excerpts above are taken from Chapter 23 of The Half-Blood Prince.

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    I know about the real-life definitions of murder, but this is in a society where the killing of animals is legal and the existence of sentient non-human beings isn't accepted. What about in the Potterverse? :-)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Dec 31, 2014 at 22:19
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    When Slughorn said, "Seven! Isn't it bad enough to think of killing one person? ..." Isn't that an acceptable answer for it having to be human murder?
    – Jake
    Dec 31, 2014 at 22:51
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    I suspect that "person" would in general usage include "non-human sentient creatures such as house-elves, centaurs, giants, and goblins". You'd be hard pressed to argue that Hagrid doesn't count as a person. Additionally, killing one in cold blood would most likely be regarded as just as evil as killing a human. So that quote doesn't really answer the second part with much clarity.
    – jpmc26
    Jan 1, 2015 at 0:44
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    @Pureferret Ahem ... Magical Breasts?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jan 2, 2015 at 12:38
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    I could murder a pint
    – Valorum
    Feb 26, 2015 at 0:25

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