This article is about the dog. For other uses, see Harrier (disambiguation). The Harrier is a small to medium sized dog breed of the hound class, used for hunting hares by trailing them. It resembles an English Foxhound but is smaller, though not as small as a Beagle.
Appearance The Harrier is similar to the English Foxhound, but smaller. Harriers stand between 21 and 24 inches at the shoulder, and adults weigh between 45 and 65 lbs. They do shed, have short hair and hanging ears, and come in a variety of color patterns. A humorous, yet fairly accurate shorthand description of a Harrier is that of "a Beagle on steroids." It is a muscular hunting hound with a small, hard coat. It has large bones for stamina and strength. The Harrier is slightly longer than tall, with a level topline. The tail is medium-length, carried high, but is not curled over the back. The skull is broad with a strong square muzzle. The rounded ears are pendant, and the eyes are either brown or hazel. The wide nose is black. The expression is mellow when the dog is relaxed and alert when he is excited. The teeth should meet in a scissors or level bite. The feet are tight and cat-like, and the front toes may turn inward.
Temperament The Harrier is cheerful, sweet-tempered, tolerant of people, and it is excellent with children. This pack dog is good with other dogs, but should be supervised with non-canine pets unless it is raised with them from puppyhood. It prefers life in a pack with people, dogs, or both. This active dog likes to go exploring, sniffing, and trailing, so be sure to keep it on a leash or in a safe enclosed area. Some Harriers like to bay.
Health This breed's lifespan is generally 12–15 years. Hip dysplasia is known to occur in this breed.
Exercise The Harrier requires daily exercise, such as long vigorous walks or runs. Allowing them to play in open space (so long as it is enclosed and safe) makes exercise fun and easy. Without appropriate exercise, the Harrier can become hyperactive, overweight and/or destructive. This dog was bred to run and work all day long and cannot be satisfied by a sedentary lifestyle.
History Sources have widely conflicting stories about the origins of this breed. According to one, the earliest Harrier types were crossed with Bloodhounds, the Talbot Hound, and even the Basset Hound. According to another, the breed was probably developed from crosses of the English Foxhound with Fox Terrier and Greyhound. And yet another, the Harrier is said to be simply a bred-down version of the English Foxhound. The first Harrier pack in England was established by Sir Elias de Midhope in 1260 and spread out as a hunting dog throughout the west of England and into Wales. Although there are many working Harriers in England, the breed is still not recognised in that country. In any case, today's Harrier is between the Beagle and English Foxhound in size and was developed primarily to hunt hares, though the breed has also been used in fox hunting. The name, Harrier, reveals the breed's specialty. The Harrier has a long history of popularity as a working pack dog in England. The Harrier is the most commonly used hound by hunts in Ireland, with 166 harrier packs, 37 of them mounted packs and 129 of them foot packs, spread throughout the country. More commonly in Ireland it is used to hunt both foxes and hares, with some packs hunting mainly foxes. This breed of dog is recognized in 1885 by the American Kennel Club and is classified in the Hound Group.