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Harry Potter dragons - every breed of the deadliest beasts explained

They're among the most dangerous beasts a wizard can face, so it's well worth learning everything you can about Harry Potter dragons.

Harry Potter dragons were fire-breathing friends to Hagrid

Of all of the fantastic beasts (pun intended) in the Wizarding World, we’re definitely the most fascinated by Harry Potter dragons. The franchise has kept its dragons in reserve for the most part, only deploying the winged fire-breathers when they will have the most incendiary impact.

We saw an adorable baby dragon, of course, in the first Harry Potter movie as Hagrid‘s new friend, but it wasn’t until the dramatic events of Goblet of Fire that the main Harry Potter characters were faced with the fully-grown beasts. These are dangerous creatures, but they’re not Harry Potter villains – they’re just big and deadly enough to do whatever the hell they like. Here’s everything we know about dragons in the Wizarding World.

What types of dragon are in the Harry Potter movies?

There are six different types of dragon in the Harry Potter movies, including the four who feature in the first task of the Triwizard Tournament. 

In the first film, Hagrid manages to get hold of an illegal dragon egg, which hatches into a Norwegian Ridgeback he christens Norbert. Sadly, Draco Malfoy finds out about it and Hagrid is forced to let go of his new critter buddy. It’s ironic really given the fact Hogwarts was more than willing to let him care for a gargantuan three-headed dog at the same time.

Hagrid got hold of a dragon egg in the first Harry Potter movie

Then, in Goblet of Fire, four dragons were brought in as part of the first task at the Triwizard Tournament. The champions had to get past their dragon, chosen via a random draw, in some way to retrieve the golden egg it was protecting, While we see miniature versions of each dragon, it’s only the Hungarian Horntail we get to see in all of its deadly glory.

If you’re watching the Harry Potter movies in order, you have to wait all the way until the final film to see another dragon, with the Harry Potter cast riding a blind Ukrainian Ironbelly out of the bowels of Gringotts.

Every dragon in the Harry Potter movies:

  • Norwegian Ridgeback (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone)
  • Hungarian Horntail (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)
  • Chinese Fireball (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)
  • Swedish Short-Snout (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)
  • Welsh Green (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)
  • Ukrainian Ironbelly (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2)

Fleur Delacour came up against Harry Potter dragons during the Triwizard Tournament

All of the Harry Potter dragons in the Wizarding World

There are some dragons revealed elsewhere in Harry Potter material that don’t appear in the movies. But we’ve dusted off our copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – we need something to pass the time until the Fantastic Beasts 4 release date – to bring you a definitive list of every dragon we know about.

We particularly love the Peruvian Vipertooth, which is the smallest and fastest of all the known dragons and is also highly venomous. They got such a taste for human flesh that the International Confederation of Wizards was forced to exterminate many of them in the 19th century. Now that’s the sort of fantastic beast we’d like to see in new movies to come.

Complete list of every known dragon in the Harry Potter universe:

  • Antipodean Opaleye
  • Chinese Fireball
  • Hebridean Black
  • Hungarian Horntail
  • Norwegian Ridgeback
  • Peruvian Vipertooth
  • Romanian Longhorn
  • Swedish Short-Snout
  • Ukrainian Ironbelly
  • Welsh Green

Harry Potter escapes Gringotts on the back of a Ukrainian Ironbelly dragon

What is the largest dragon in Harry Potter?

The Ukrainian Ironbelly is the largest dragon in the Harry Potter franchise. One of them can be found guarding the vaults of Gringotts against thieves, and it provided a surprising escape route for Harry and his friends.

When it came to protecting Gringotts, the Ministry of Magic chose the biggest possible guard dog. The Ironbelly isn’t as fast as the smaller dragons out there, but its mammoth size – imagine a fully-grown elephant with wings – and incredibly hot breath makes it a reliable protection against thieves. There’s a reason bank heists are so rare in the Wizarding World.

There’s a story in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them book about an Ironbelly carrying away a sailing boat. So that just goes to show how strong this particular creature really is.

The Gringotts dragon is blind and taught to expect pain when it hears the ringing of a bell, allowing the bank’s goblins to pass by it without being attacked. But with the help of Harry and his friends, it breaks free in Deathly Hallows Part 2 and the trio are able to cling to its back and escape the bank.

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What is the rarest dragon in Harry Potter?

The Norwegian Ridgeback is the rarest dragon we meet in Harry Potter, which is why Hagrid is so delighted when Norbert hatches in the first movie.

Ron Weasley immediately points out how rare Ridgebacks are when Norbert hatches in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, drawing on Charlie Weasley’s experience studying dragons in Romania. Their low numbers could well be a result of the fact they’re more aggressive towards their own kind.

As Hagrid found out to the cost of some of his beard hair, Ridgebacks develop the ability to breathe fire almost as soon as they’re born. When they’re fully grown, they’re almost as large and imposing as the Hungarian Horntail. Speaking of which…

Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback was the baby dragon in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

What is the deadliest dragon in Harry Potter?

The Hungarian Horntail is by far the most dangerous and aggressive Harry Potter dragon, with sharp horns, even sharper spikes, and fiery breath that can travel up to 50 feet. 

There’s no competition, really, when it comes to the most dangerous dragons. I mean, just look at the Horntail. It looks angry all the time, it’s covered in sharp points, and its tail has such a strong club from its earliest days that hatchlings can use it to bash their way out of their egg at birth.

But the most terrifying thing about the Horntail is definitely the sheer range of its fire-breathing abilities. The flames can travel 50 feet, which means a Horntail could fry people from the top of a five-story building. Nowhere is safe!

The Hungarian Horntail is the most deadly of the Harry Potter dragons

Why are dragons banned in Harry Potter?

Trading dragon eggs is illegal in the Wizarding World because the Ministry of Magic classifies dragons as XXXXX, meaning they are impossible to domesticate and known to kill witches and wizards.

We’ve already talked about how dragons can develop a taste for attacking people, so they obviously pose a lot of problems for a society that wants to stay as secret from Muggles as possible.

In the Fantastic Beasts book, we’re told about the Ilfracombe Incident of 1932. A Welsh Green dragon (fortunately, one of the less violent breeds) landed on a beach crowded with Muggles. Thankfully, a wizarding family on holiday was able to intervene, performing an enormous batch of Memory Charms to keep everything under wraps.

Dragons have the highest possible XXXXX classification because it is not possible to tame them, as we could see with the dragons brought in for the Triwizard Tournament. That’s part of why Hagrid covets them so much: because he loves the idea of taming and appreciating creatures nobody else wants to love.

He’s honorable but a little stupid. I prefer pets that don’t want to burn me to a crisp and then have me as an afternoon snack. But that’s just me.

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What dragon does Harry Potter fight?

In Goblet of Fire, Harry has to get past a particularly angry Hungarian Horntail as part of the first task in the Triwizard Tournament.

Harry gets very unlucky when it comes to the lottery here, ending up with the most dangerous of the four dragons. Fleur Delacour got off pretty easy with the Welsh Green, Cedric Diggory had little trouble with the Swedish Short-Snout, and Viktor Krum was more than a match for the Chinese Fireball.

Thankfully, Harry’s pretty incredible ability on a broomstick – though his Quidditch record is surprisingly poor – got him out of a tight spot. We’ve always said the Summoning Charm is among the most useful Harry Potter spells, and Harry certainly proved it that day.

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That’s everything we know about dragons in Harry Potter, but we’ve got plenty more to teach you if you want to delve deep into the world of Voldemort or learn more about Azkaban. Alternatively, find out why this Harry Potter monster was too terrifying for the movies.

We’ve got you covered on all of the best movies coming to the Potter world soon, including the Harry Potter TV series release date and the Cursed Child release date. And if it’s just winged beasts you love, why not jump across to another franchise and find out what we know about House of the Dragon season 2?

The creator of the Harry Potter series, JK Rowling, has made a number of transphobic remarks on social media in recent years. If you’d like to learn more about transgender equality or lend your support, here are two charities we encourage you to visit: the National Center for Transgender Equality in the US, and Mermaids in the UK.