Of all the many houses in Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire, House Clegane is among the smallest, newest, and least politically relevant. But the Cleganes still manage to make an enormous impact on the story, despite the fact that only two members of the House, Gregor and Sandor, still live. The Cleganes have already played an important role in Westerosi history thus far, and their story doesn’t appear to be over quite yet.
Gregor, the Mountain Who Rides, and Sandor, the Hound, are two of the most violent individuals alive in Westeros, and that’s definitely saying something. Despite the humble origins of House Clegane, both brothers have found themselves intimately involved with the wars and politics of Westeros, with Gregor becoming one of history’s greatest monsters and Sandor attempting to forge his own unique path in the world. Of course, this being the work of George R. R. Martin, no family is too small to have an intriguing backstory and a number of possible mysteries surrounding them, and the Cleganes are no exception.
House Clegane is one of the youngest noble houses in all of Westeros, having received their land only two generations prior to the main story. Tytos Lannister – Tywin’s father and Jaime, Cersei, and Tyrion’s grandfather – was ironically attacked by a lioness, with only his kennelmaster on hand to save him. The kennelmaster lost his leg and three of his dogs in the effort, but saved Tytos’s life.
A Lannister always pays his debts, so Tytos rewarded the kennelmaster handsomely, granting him a title, lands near Casterly Rock, and a towerhouse that already existed on those lands. The Clegane sigil, three dogs on a yellow field, is in honor of the loyal pets that helped save Tytos and springboard the Clegane family into nobility.
Tytos Lannister didn’t just create House Clegane and grant them lands; he immediately brought the family into his personal fold. Tytos named his kennelmaster’s son as his own personal squire, and that boy grew up to be Sandor and Gregor Clegane’s father.
The two sons continued the family tradition of showing loyalty to the Lannisters, with Gregor serving Tywin Lannister for decades and Sandor acting as Joffrey Baratheon’s personal bodyguard and eventual Kingsguard.
The Clegane family history is short, but brutal. After the bloody incident that boosted their family to nobility, the Cleganes appeared to develop a taste for violence. Gregor Clegane was a monster from a young age, suspected of having something to do with the mysterious death of his younger sister.
There’s no mystery, however, about what Gregor did to his younger brother, Sandor. When Gregor caught Sandor playing with a toy of his, he held Sandor’s face over a brazier, which left Sandor with his trademark disfigurement and a lifelong fear of fire. Growing up in the Clegane household wasn’t easy.
George R. R. Martin says the star of his prequel series, Tales of Dunk and Egg, ended up spreading his DNA all over Westeros, meaning that there's a handful of Dunk descendants running around during A Song of Ice and Fire. While most people believe that Brienne of Tarth is the most likely candidate to be descended from Dunk, others believe the Cleganes could be as well, mostly due to their monstrous size and martial prowess, which were Dunk’s trademarks. Sandor’s noble streak could also be inherited from Dunk, one of the land's greatest knights.