The Harrier is an old ancient dog breed developed for hunting hare and other game. There are several theories how and when this breed originated. One popular theory suggest, that this breed originated when Normans invaded England in the 11th century and they brought hunting dogs similar to todays Harrier with them. These dogs were later crossed with some other breeds, which might include English Foxhounds, Fox Terriers, Talbot Hounds, Bloodhounds, Basset Hounds or Greyhounds.
2) Not a Beagle
Many times, the Harrier is mistaken for a large Beagle, Beagle cross or maybe for a small English Foxhound. But it is neither and it is a separate purebred breed. There is a one theory, that suggest, that the Harrier was developed back in the past as a bred-down version of the English Foxhound, but still, it is safe to say that it is a completely separate breed today.
As i already mentioned, this breed is a skilled scent hound and its main utilization is hunting hare. When on the hunt, Harriers are followed on foot, but also on horses, because unlike smaller Beagles, they can push a hare faster and straighter, enabling a mounted following to pursue the hounds as in foxhunting. The Harriers main skills on the hunt are their extraordinary sense of smell, determination, high prey drive, high endurance and speed and their loud baying which is enabling the hunter to find them easily when they find the prey.
Of course, the Harrier is not only a hunter, but also a companion dog. It is because the harriers are very people oriented and outgoing dogs that tend to create a strong bond with its owners. It is a pack oriented animal and he will most likely enjoy company of other dogs in the family. On the other hand, other household pets might be problematic due to the Harriers higher prey drive. They are also very good playful and lively companions for older kids, but of course, you should never leave any dog breed with a very young child unsupervised. These dogs hate to be left alone for long periods of time and it is better for them if they are in constant company of other dogs or people. If they are left alone for long periods of time regularly, they might become excessively vocal or they might develop some unwanted behaviour such as digging or destruction.
As i said earlier, this dog looks like a smaller English Foxhound, or a large Beagle – Beagles on steroids. And indeed, their height and weight is right in between those two breeds. The height is typically between 19-21 inch, which is 48-54 cm and weight is usually between 45-65 pounds, which is 20-30 kg.
The Harrier, just like any other scent hound, is not the easiest breed to train. They are smart, that is true, but they are also self willed and independent hounds with strong nose which makes them easily distracted. These dogs are hunters and you must understand it. They want to wander around, sniffing, exploring and just be little bit independent, it is their nature. Of course, they can easily learn all the basic obedience commands, but when they smell something interesting, they just might not obey at the moment. Because of that, this is not the best choice for novice dog owners, because they need an experienced, patient and consistent trainer.
As you can probably imagine from a dog breed that was developed for hunting for long hours without getting tired, this is a highly energetic dog with high exercise needs. The Harrier definitely needs daily long walks, jogs or hikes accompanied with some vigorous playtime or fun training sessions that will occupy the dogs body and mind and the dog can stay fit, healthy and happy. This breed is a best fit for a hunter or for an active person who loves being outdoors.
The Harriers coat is short, glossy, harsh to touch and pretty dense. The harsh texture is preventing the dog from being cut from underbrush and it allows the dog to move throughout all types of terrain, tracking hare or fox, without being hindered by a long or silky coat. The most common color combinations are tricolor black tan and white and bicolor red and white.
Speaking of coat, it is important to mention, that this is quite low maintenance breed with minimal grooming needs. Even without any grooming, the coat will still look good, but if you want to keep the coat in best possible condition and minimize the shedding, regular weekly brushing is beneficial. There are no other grooming needs with this breed. Just like with all dogs, you should regularly check their eyes, ears, nails and teeth and clip them or clean them if needed.
The Harrier is pretty healthy dog breed with average lifespan around 13 or 14 years. Just like any other dog breed, they may suffer from some health issues and the main concern is hip dysplasia. They can also suffer from some eye problems and allergies, but those are not very common in this breed.