Adopting A Harrier

History and origin: The Harrier is an ancient British breed to which the first pack was recorded in 1260.  The word “Harrier” is Norman French for “hunting dogs,” and at one time all hunting dogs in Britain were known as Harriers.  This breed was bred to hunt foxes and rabbits and has traditionally been used in packs.

Description: The Harrier stands 19 to 21 inches at the shoulder and weighs between 40 and 55 pounds.  He has a strong, athletic body similar to that of the English and American Foxhounds, but smaller.  The shedding coat is short, stiff, and only requires regular brushing with a hound glove.  The color is a combination of black, white, and tan.

About the breed: The Harrier is a hardy, lively dog with a strong built and a first-rate hunter.  He bears some similarity to the Beagle but more closely resembles the Foxhound.  This hunting breed has a high energy level that makes him a difficult house pet.  He needs to hunt.  Though initially suspicious of strangers, the Harrier does not have the potential for non-thinking aggression that is sometimes seen in Bloodhounds and Coonhounds.  He is typically good with his family, but may need to be watched with small children, who could be knocked down and injured during play.  This breed is easily distracted by scent; this can present a major challenge in training.  Obedience training should start early; the “Come” command is the toughest for this breed to learn.  The Harrier needs a great deal of exercise and will become restless and destructive without it.  He is noisy and may bark and dig if left in the yard for too long.

Feeding: Similar to the Foxhound, recommended feeding for the Harrier is an oatmeal mash called pudding and horse flesh.  Harriers are not fed the day before the hunt.

Ideal home: A Harrier should be owned by an active person, preferably a hunter.  A rural environment with a fenced yard or kennel is essential.  Firm leadership and plenty of exercise as well as socialization are required.  The elderly and the disabled may have trouble keeping up with the energy level of this athletic breed.  Older children are fine as long as no roughhousing is allowed.