"The Beagle's Big Brother"

Photo of Harrier


The Harrier may be one of the oldest scent hounds (that is, dogs that follow a scent trail to find their quarry), although tracing his exact history is difficult. That's because his name, Harrier, actually means dog or hound in Norman language, making it hard to discern references to the breed from references to hounds or dogs in general. Nonetheless, breed historians believe the Harrier breed arose in the thirteenth century from a combination of Talbot, St. Hubert, and perhaps Brachet and French Basset hounds. This combination produced a good tracking dog that was slow enough to be followed on foot. This meant both rich and poor could hunt with the dogs. The gentry could keep large packs, while the poor brought together dogs from here and there to form impromptu hunting parties. In the 1800s, smaller English Foxhounds may have been added to the mix to produce a longer-legged, faster dog more amenable to being followed on horseback. The Harrier was one of the first breeds to come to America, having been here since colonial times. The breed was one of the first recognized by the AKC, in 1885. Although it was eventually overshadowed by the faster foxhounds, several Harrier packs existed through the early 1900s, the last finally disappearing in the 1960s. In fact, General George S. Patton was once Master of the Cobbler Harriers, from 1936 to 1938. Despite its handsome clean-cut lines, classic proportions, and moderate size, the Harrier has never been a popular pet. It currently ranks 154th out of 155 AKC breeds in popularity, besting only the English Foxhound.


The Harrier is a typical scent hound: born with a love of the hunt and the desire to follow his nose wherever it leads. But he's more than that when he's given the chance. He's a mild-mannered sort, tolerant and good with children. Not the most obedient dog on earth, it's not because he's challenging you; he's just naturally independent. But he's good natured, amiable with other dogs, and even fine with cats. He's gregarious and makes a lousy guard dog, but he will sound the alarm if anything amiss is going on.


The Harrier is a smaller version of the English Foxhound , and a first glance looks like a compromise between a Foxhound and a Beagle. He's slightly longer than tall, with large bones for his height. He has a level topline, and a long, gaily-carried tail. His face is kindly, with low-set, rounded ears. He can come in any color, but most often he's seen in brown with a black saddle and white legs, neck, muzzle, and tail tip. The coat is smooth and fairly short and hard.


To hunt on his own, a Harrier needs to follow his nose, not a person's commands. After all, can you follow a scent trail? What do you know? So he tends to automatically tune you out, especially if he's hot on the trail of something. That means you need to get his attention, which, fortunately, is not too difficult with food. He doesn't do well with boring repetition, so make training fun, challenging, and short-lived. He can surprise you.

Grooming & Care

Brush the Harrier's easy-care coat weekly, trim his nails, clean his ears, and keep his teeth clean. Easy! Harriers need the chance to get out and run occasionally, but otherwise can manage with a good long walk every day. They are bred to go fairly long distances, so a lap around the block won't do. They also need to stop and smell the roses, or rabbit poop, or cat trail, along the way, so you need to have some patience when you walk-and don't unclip that leash! If they catch a scent trail, they'll be long gone before you can say "Here, boy!"

Health Concerns

The Harrier's only common health concern is hip dysplasia. Breeding stock should have hips screened before breeding, so ask the breeder for the results of this test.

Famous Harrier

The top Best in Show Harrier of all-time is Ch. Brentcliffe Jill, winner of 16 Best in Show awards.

Ideal Owner
Activity Level 4
Schedule 34
Home 9
Children 50
Experience 53
Quick Facts
Grooming 13
Exercise 60
Challenges High energy level makes him ill suited to apartment living
Height 19 to 21 inches
Weight 40 to 60 pounds
Life 10 to 12 years
Home Alone 84
With Kids 88
With Strangers 22
Availability 95

This client information sheet is based on material written by: LifeLearn

© Copyright 2014 LifeLearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.

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