History of the Harrier Breed
The Norman-Saxon word harier means dog or hound, and many think the harrier is one of the oldest existing scenthounds. But the stories about the origins of this breed are inconsistent. One theory states the early harrier was a cross of other hounds such as the Bassett hound, the bloodhound, or the Talbot hound. Another theory speculates that the harrier was developed by crossing the Fox terrier and the Greyhound with the English Foxhound. Still another hypothesis is that the harrier is just an English Foxhound that has been bred down. Whatever the origin, the harrier was established to hunt hare in particular and fox as well. The harrier has a keen sense of smell and a quick wit. It is practically inexhaustible, and the prey of this breed has collapsed simply from the exhaustion of being chased. The harrier was owned by gentry, but by poorer folk as well, who didn’t have the luxury of using horses during hunts. The harrier came to America during Colonial times, but it is quite a rare breed in the United States despite its popularity in England where it has the reputation of a working pack dog.
Size and Appearance of the Harrier Breed
Classically proportioned, the harrier is slightly longer than it is tall. The bones of this breed are large considering the overall size of the dog. The front legs are straight and sturdy, and the muscles in the hindquarters are well-developed – a tribute to this breeds’ history of endurance hunting. All four feet are rounded and cat-like, and the pads are thick and tough. The harrier’s expression is sensible and attentive when alert, gentle and quiet when relaxed. The medium-sized eyes are set well-apart and are usually hazel or brown in color. Rounded-tip ears lie close to the cheek and sit low on the head. The square, substantial muzzle features a wide nose with broad, open nostrils. The neck of the harrier is strong and long. The long, tapered tail is carried high but should not curl over the back. Considered glossy and dense, the short coat of the harrier is usually found in a combination of white, tan, and black. Finer hair is found on the ears and a brush of hair is located on the underside of the tail.
Usually more playful and sociable than the Foxhound but less so than the beagle, the harrier is good with older children and is generally quite friendly. It is a hunter by nature and loves to trail and sniff. Its origins as a working pack dog make it good with other dogs, but be sure to supervise it around other small pets such as cats. This breed needs and enjoys daily exercise, which will help to prevent it from becoming lazy and overweight. The harrier is known to have a tendency to bay, and it can be reserved with strangers. It is a good family pet with a lot of energy.
Harrier Recommended Maintenance
The harrier’s coat requires minimal care – simply brush and comb out the dead hair on a regular basis. This breed is considered to be an average shedder. Clean the ears regularly and keep the nails trimmed. Obedience training is recommended as this independent breed tends to be stubborn. A long walk, playing in the yard, or a jog with its owner are ways to make sure the harrier gets its necessary daily exercise. This breed has a high energy level and does best with a fenced-in yard or out in the country. Overall, the harrier is a healthy breed with no serious genetic defects. Hip dysplasia and epilepsy are seen rarely.
Life span: 10 – 12 years
Major concerns: none
Minor concerns: none
Occasionally seen: none
Suggested tests: none