The Harrier can be confused with the English Foxhound because of their similarities, however, the Harrier is much smaller. The Harrier was known as the poor mans fox hound since it was small enough to follow hunters on foot. The real size of the Harrier is somewhere between a large beagle and a small foxhound.
At first glance, the Harrier does have many similarities to the Beagle as in coloring and even size. The Harrier is known for his hunting abilities to chase out foxes and rabbits and the best part being small enough to get into thickets to chase out their prey.
The Harrier were originally bred to hunt in packs and do well when in a family with other hounds, however, they can be a bit aggressive to other dogs. He is quite the family dog whether he is around other hounds or humans, he has the need to belong. He should be watched around other dogs and pets unless reared with them, as he can be a bit aggressive. When it comes to playfulness, he is once again in between the Beagle and the Foxhound, being not as reserved as the foxhound and not as playful as the beagle.
As stated earlier at first glance, the Harrier resembles the English Foxhound or the beagle but it is a smaller compact breed. Your Harrier should stand between 19 and 21 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh around 45 to 60 pounds. The Harrier is muscular with a dense, short, hard coat of fur normally red and white, lemon and white, or tan and white. However, for breeding purposes all colors are allowed including blue mottled which is only found in the Harrier class of hounds. In some cases, you may find a Harrier has a back that is totally all black.
He is known for having large bones, which gives him his strength and stamina to hunt for hours on end. This body is a bit longer than he is tall with a level topline. He will carry his medium length tail high, however, there is no curl to his tail. The tail should not be altered from birth as in cropping. The tail is carried high and proud. The skull of the Harrier is wide with a square muzzle. His ears are pendant with rounded tips. Eyes can be either brown or hazel with a broad black nose. The teeth can meet in a level bite or scissor bite, both are acceptable.
His feet resemble that of a cat being tight with toes that can turn inward. The front legs of the Harrier should knuckle over which is normally seen as a fault in dog shows with other breeds of dogs.
The Harrier is an overly friendly and very gentle similar to the personality of the beagle. He bonds easily with other hounds or his human family and does not enjoy being left alone for any amount of time. He will let his displeasure be known by voicing his opinion. He can be very vocal during hunting or of course, when left alone or aggravated.
They love their family and enjoy playing children. He is quite the explorer, enjoys sniffing and trailing. Remember hunting is his forte. The Harrier is good natured and since he loves people, so much would not be a good guard dog.
The Harrier will not adjust to apartment living. He needs room to roam, sniff, romp, and play. Because of their instinct to hunt, they should never be left in the yard alone with a fence or on a leash, as they will venture off to hunt.
The Harrier does not need much grooming. He is not a big shedder and only needs a bath when he becomes dirty or smelly. Since he does have long hanging ears, they should be cleaned periodically and checked for ear mites.
The Harrier, just like the beagle, enjoys food. They have a tendency to overeat eat which can put extra pounds on their short frame. You should talk with your vet and only allow the Harrier to have the amount of food he needs or you will soon have an overweight dog.
When you look back at the history of the Harrier, you will find that like other breeds of dogs there are different stories. Some say the Harriers can be traced back to the 13th century, however, Greek writings mention a hare-hunting breed 400 years before the birth of Christ.
Other sources believe the Harrier was developed with the crossing of bloodhounds, Basset Hound and the Talbot Hound. Then you will hear a tale from a different breeder that the Harrier was developed from crossing the English Foxhound with the Fox Terrier and the Greyhound. The last tale is one of breeding down of the English foxhound.
The very first Harrier pack on record in England was developed by Sir Elias de Midhope in 1260. From then these hunting dogs spread throughout western Europe and into Wales.
The Harrier has been used for centuries as a hunting pack dog, known for never given up during the hunt. He will work from sun up until sun down to the point of exhaustion to hunt down rabbits or foxes. The cunning ways of any fox will not stop the determination of the Harrier.
The Harrier is a rare breed in the United States, but is known throughout Europe for his hunting and trailing abilities. The Harrier is recognized by the CKC, FCI, AKC, CKC, ANKC, NKC, NZKC, HCA, APRI, and the ACR.
The Harrier Club of American (HCA) was established in Pennsylvania in 1992 with a group of Harrier breeders and owners. The HCA was accepted by the American Kennel Club for Harriers and were approved to hold licensed specialty shows in 1999. The Harrier is in the hound classification in America.
The Harrier is not recognized in the Kennel Club in England even though they did recognize them from 1851 until 1971. The last known Harrier to be shown at a Kennel Club show in England or even entered in their stud book was in 1915. In England, Harriers are owned by hunting associations and are now registered through the Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles. They are not registered individually, but in packs for each hunting season.