Dwarves (or Khazad in their own tongue) are a short and stocky folk, standing between four and five feet tall, by the measure of Men. Strong and hardy, they endure pain, fatigue, and suffering more readily than other races. At need, they can push themselves hard to cross rough terrain quickly or to come to grips with a foe. Their men grow thick, luxuriant beards in which they take great pride, often colouring, forking, or braiding them. Dwarves become 'war-worthy’ (able to fight and engage in hard labour) at about age 30. By 4O, they have an appearance of age (by the standards of Men) that belies their vigour and strength. They live for 200 years or more, with Durin's line having the greatest longevity; a Dwarf who has seen 240 or more winters is thought old, and becomes swiftly weaker as time passes. A few Dwarves reach 300.
Dwarves are a hardy folk, as hardy in mind as they are in body. They are stern, often stubborn and proud, and resist any attempt to dominate or sway them. They rarely forget insults or wrongs done them or their families, even over centuries, and they take the burdens of vengeance (and other obligations) placed upon them seriously. But they rarely forget a favour or kindness, either. Dwarves have a love of craft works, particularly the things they make by hand, and of silver, gold, and Mithril, often scorning marriage and other pursuits to devote themselves to their craft. Other races hold them in great regard for their skill as smiths, miners, jewellery-makers, carvers, and
even toy-makers. But this love of wealth and made things often turns to greed and desire. Gold holds dominion over the minds of many Dwarves. Dwarves are secretive and protective of their privacy. They dislike others knowing their business, rarely mingle with other races, and keep to themselves most of the time except to trade. In particular, they guard their women and children with fierce jealousy and protectiveness. In all the chronicles of the Dwarves, only one
Dwarf-woman is even mentioned. Vindictiveness, avarice, ingratitude, and foul nature have led a few Dwarves to ally themselves with the Enemy, though not so many as the tales of greedy or suspicious Men would have it. Most hold the Dark Lord and all his servants, particularly Orcs, as their direst foes.
Dwarves dwell in mountains and hills, delving great halls and mansions underground, where they work at their forges and build treasure-vaults to hold their wealth secure. At the end of the Third Age, they are a scattered people, many of their once-proud homes having fallen to Orcs or other evils, but they have strongholds still in the east of the Ered Luin (especially south of the
Gulf of Lune), at Erebor (the Lonely Mountain), and in the Iron Hills. The greatest of- their halls, Khazad-dum—which Elves and Men call 'Moria'—remains under the shadow of Durin's Bane, which the Dwarves awoke by digging too deep for Mithril.
The Dwarves have Seven Houses, each descended from one of the Seven Fathers, each holding one of the Seven Hoards. The oldest, wisest, and proudest is the Longbeards, or House of Durin, whose ancestral mansion was Khazad-dum. A king rules each House, though by the time of the War of the Ring the diminishment and scattering of the Dwarves has deprived their kings, save perhaps the lord of the House of Durin, of much of their power.
After their awakening, the Dwarves slowly revealed themselves to the other peoples. They built great fortresses and became allies of the Elves in their wars against evil.
Elsewhere in Middle-earth, the Dwarves allied themselves with Men, trading metals, smith work, stonework, and other goods for food, and sometimes taking on young men as their apprentices. Many of these ties endured into the Third Age, though a long series of‘ quarrels created enmity between the Dwarves and the Elves, and greedy Men sometimes plundered Dwarf-hoards, as did fearsome dragons. When Dwarves noticed Hobbits at all, they got along well with them, particularly with Harfoots.
Despite their often bitter relations with the Elves, the Dwarves reserve their greatest hatred for Orcs and Trolls, with whom they have Fought long and fiercely through the ages. The most terrible of these battles was the War of the Dwarves and Orcs (TA 2793-99), which began when the Orcs slew Thror, lord of the House of Durin, after he entered Moria. The Dwarves won that war, slaying Azog, king of the Ores, but they dared not reclaim Khazad-dum for fear of Durin's Bane, nor did they Free their former mansion of Gundabad from Orc hands.
Not until TA 2941, when Thorin II Oakenshield and his comrades, including Bilbo the Hobbit, retook Erebor from the dragon and triumphed in the Battle of Five Armies, did the Dwarves regain something of‘ their ancient glory. Only in the Fourth Age, when they returned at last to Khazad-dum, would they recover that glory in full.