I just finished reading the chapter of The Silmarillion devoted to Beren and Lúthien, which contains the greatest character in all of Tolkien's work, in my opinion: Huan, the Wolfhound of the Valar. He catches arrows midflight; kills countless werewolves; beats the living snot out of Sauron; scares Morgoth silly; turns on his former master when said master attempts to do evil; lets Lúthien ride him like a horse; dresses himself in a werewolf's hide to travel incognito; talks, but not so often that it gets annoying; never sleeps; and so on.

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Huan and Sauron

Sadly, he sacrifices himself to save the people he loves, and as a misanthrope who adores dogs more than anything else in the world, I need to know what happened to him afterwards.

Did Huan go to the Undying Lands, or even get reincarnated on Arda to hang out with Beren and Lúthien some more?

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Beren, Lúthien, and Huan (source)

  • 3
    "Huan in that hour slew Carcharoth; but there in the woven woods of Doriath his own doom long spoken was fulfilled, and he was wounded mortally, and the venom of Morgoth entered into him. Then he came, and falling beside Beren spoke for the third time with words; and he bade Beren farewell before he died. Beren spoke not, but laid his hand upon the head of the hound, and so they parted.". He died. There's no special indication (to my knowledge) that he was reborn.
    – Valorum
    Jun 20, 2015 at 19:53
  • 1
    @Richard - see the link in my comment to Jason. Even without this information, it seems extremely likely that, as a servant of the Valar, he wouldn't just die and stay dead. He's too awesome for that.
    – Wad Cheber
    Jun 20, 2015 at 19:56
  • 1
    Even though I don't share your enthusiasm about Huan, I enjoy your question because you concisely describe your motivation and why you personally are so interested in Huan.
    – b_jonas
    Jun 20, 2015 at 20:56
  • 1
    @b_jonas - I think I was especially smitten with Huan because he reminded me of the classic Gaelic epic of Cú Chulainn, although I don't think Tolkien took direct inspiration from that story.
    – Wad Cheber
    Jun 20, 2015 at 21:31
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    The answer depends whether Huan was 'just a dog' empowered by the Valar, or a 'spirit' who had entered into, or taken the form of, a dog.
    – Shamshiel
    Jun 20, 2015 at 21:34

4 Answers 4


Yes. Huan is a Maia.

But true ‘rational’ creatures, ‘speaking peoples', are all of human / ‘humanoid’ form. Only the Valar and Maiar are intelligences that can assume forms of Arda at will. Huan and Sorontar could be Maiar — emissaries of Manwë.

(HoME X, Myths Transformed)

Following the footnote, we find:

See p. 138. - At the bottom of the page bearing the brief text V (p. 389) my father jotted down the following, entirely unconnected with the matter of the text:

Living things in Aman. As the Valar would robe themselves like the Children, many of the Maiar robed themselves like other lesser living things, as trees, flowers, beasts. (Huan.)

(HoME X, Myths Transformed)

As one of the Maiar, Huan can never truly die. So whether he went back to the Valar on his death (most likely), or won't be seen again until the End, he'll be back.

  • 2
    Great! This confirms that dragons, who can also speak, are also definitely Maiar. I wanted proof for that.
    – b_jonas
    Jun 20, 2015 at 22:13
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    Well...I thought about adding a clause that this actually problematic in some respects. Talking creatures are not necessarily Ainur, Men, or Elves. Consider Bard's sparrow. Dragons are another reason why, though some may have been. It's really the footnote that clinches it in my opinion, and the lack of alternatives available given that footnote.
    – Shamshiel
    Jun 20, 2015 at 22:27
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    Certainly not all Ainur, Men or Elves. Dwarves are distinct from these.
    – b_jonas
    Jun 20, 2015 at 23:36
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    Great answer, thanks a million, and +1. You might be interested in the last few lines on this page. Apparently Tolkien intended to have Huan come back to life with Beren.
    – Wad Cheber
    Jun 21, 2015 at 21:16
  • The only problem is, Tolkien never got very far with the stuff his son put into Myths Transformed, and so I'm not sure if we can give a definitive answer based on this. But it might be the best we have.
    – Spencer
    Feb 25, 2021 at 16:14

I for one believe Huan is a Maia.

If that is true, then I believe his spirit lives on after his body has died, and is chained to Arda while Arda exists. I cannot tell if he would ever get reincarnated.

Regardless of whether Huan really is a Maia, I definitely do not believe he would get better quickly enough to meet Beren once again. The Silmarillion tells the story of the life of Beren until its end, and Huan meeting him again does not seem to match it. Also, when Huan died, he spoke for one last time to say goodbye to Beren, and he spoke only in the rarest occasions, and this would not qualify if they would see each other again.

My personal reasons for thinking Huan was a Maia aren't supported by canon, and aren't really convincing, so I won't describe them here. However, there's a word of god reference claiming he might be a Maia. En.wikipedia states this:

Tolkien wrote he was either a beast-shaped Maia or a common animal made to speak by the Valar.

And as the source of that, gives the following reference:

  • Tolkien, J. R. R. (1993), Christopher Tolkien, ed., Morgoth's Ring, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, "Myths Transformed" VIII, pp. 410-12, ISBN 0-395-68092-1
  • Although it doesn't prove anything, the narrative of the Silmarillon calls Huan a hound of Valinor at one point.
    – b_jonas
    Jun 20, 2015 at 22:15
  • 2
    I always thought it would have been badass if Huan only spoke two times in spite of his allotted three. Yeah, saying goodbye to Beren was all sorts of poignant, but you know he only did it to use up that third time.
    – Misha R
    Jun 21, 2015 at 3:12

It would seem an awful lot of Maia spirits inhabited the Great Lands, if we accept that all talking, intelligent creatures were possessed of them. On the other hand, such creatures as Huan or other talking animals could be indeed just animals that were given some ability of speech and intelligence by the Powers (Eru, Valar, or even Morgoth himself for his evil creatures). For example, the stone trolls encountered by Bilbo & Co were made by Morgoth from stone and given some ability of speech and recognition. At the end of his life, Tolkien speculated that orc originated not in corrupted elves but in animals who were transformed by Morgoth and, again, given the faculty of speech and some intelligence.

If this idea is true, then Huan died like an animal, i.e. simply ceased to exist.

  • 1
    Umm, Valar didn't make "puppets" - creation of dwarves and conversation of Eru and Aule strongly suggests it.
    – Mithoron
    Jun 21, 2015 at 12:03
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    I don't think Tolkien considered Huan to be just an animal. I found this on a fan site: "Where then did Huan go after death? ...in his draft of the unfinished Cantos of the Lay of Leithian, Tolkien mentions the “recall” after death of Beren and… Huan! Comment of Christopher Tolkien: “in which case my father must have intended to have Huan returned from the dead with Beren” from the halls of Mandos. In the tale of the Nauglafring Huan returned to Beren and Luthien in the land of Guilwarthon after the fall of Menegroth. Huan would have liked that"
    – Wad Cheber
    Jun 21, 2015 at 21:13

He catches arrows midflight; kills countless werewolves; beats the living snot out of Sauron; scares Morgoth silly; turns on his former master when said master attempts to do evil; lets Lúthien ride him like a horse; dresses himself in a werewolf's hide to travel incognito; talks, but not so often that it gets annoying; never sleeps

All of the proof you need that Huan is a Maia is in the above/original description. I don't think a common animal, even one given some intelligence or ability to speak by the Valar would scare Morgoth and defeat Sauron. To me, it's clear he is Maia and I agree he is an awesome and special character. I think he shares his fate with all of the other Maia.

  • Could you reference that quote?
    – Adamant
    Sep 15, 2016 at 6:39
  • 3
    Well, the quote is from the question. As such, this answer is little more than speculation, and adds nothing to the existing answers. Sep 15, 2016 at 7:34

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