The Harrier is a swift, prey-driven pack hound of medium size first bred in medieval England to chase the hare. Outgoing and friendly, the Harrier is much larger than the Beagle but smaller than another close relative, the English Foxhound.
Somewhat resembling a Beagle with a gym membership, Harriers are larger, more powerful hounds than their diminutive cousin’ but smaller than the English Foxhound, a breed used in their development. Standing between 19 and 21 inches at the shoulder, Harriers have the timeless look of a working pack hound: a short, smart-looking coat; low-set, velvety ears; an irresistibly sweet face; and enough muscle and sinew to endure a long day’s hunt. A well-built Harrier will cover the ground with a smooth, efficient gait.
Among the AKC’s rarest breeds, there are probably more theories about Harrier origins than there are Harriers in the United States. Among the agreed-upon facts of this old breed is that they were bred for hunting hare (the breed name is based on the word “hare”) and that the first packs appeared in England sometime in the 1200s. Harriers have been in America since Colonial times, and it’s possible that sportsmen like George Washington and his Virginia neighbors utilized them in creating uniquely American hounds.
Temperament: friendly / outgoing / people-oriented
Height: 19-21 inches
Weight: 45-60 pounds
Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
While Harriers are generally healthy dogs, there are several health and genetic screening considerations specific to the breed. Responsible breeders test their stock for conditions the breed can be prone to and communicate with other dedicated breeders regularly, working together for breed health and the preservation of the breed’s qualities. A Harrier’s ears should be checked weekly for signs of infection, and the teeth should be brushed often, using a toothpaste designed for dogs. Regular visits to the vet for checkups and parasite control help to ensure the dog has a long, healthy life.
Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club: Hip Evaluation Ophthalmologist Evaluation Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.
Recommended Health Tests From the National Breed Club:
- Hip Evaluation
- Ophthalmologist Evaluation
The Harrier’s short, glossy coat requires minimal maintenance. A weekly brushing with a soft-bristle brush or a hound glove will help to remove dirt and loose hair and keep the dog looking his best, and an occasional bath(using a gentle shampoo) can help keep him from having a doggy odor. The ears should be regularly inspected and cleaned if needed with soft gauze and an ear-cleaning solution’¿the dog’s breeder or the veterinarian can recommend a good brand to use. The nails should be trimmed often if not worn down naturally, as overly long nails can cause the dog discomfort and problems walking and running.
Harriers were bred specifically to spend hours in the field chasing after prey, so they need ample exercise every day’¿without sufficient exercise, a Harrier may become bored and destructive. If they get all the activity they need, they can be adaptable to a range of home situations. While they are happiest living indoors with their human family, they make great companions on long walks or hikes. Because they were bred to hunt and chase animals and to follow a scent, they should only be allowed loose in areas that are securely fenced, and any walks must be taken on a leash. The breed also exercises mind and body by participating in canine sports such as tracking, rally, coursing ability tests, and other activities that can be enjoyed together by dog and owner.