AKC Dog Breeds: Harrier

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Hound  Group
Height: 19-20 inches   Weight: 50-60 pounds  
tan and white, lemon and white, red and white, and most commonly tri-colored

Developed in England to hunt hare in packs, Harriers must have all the attributes of a scenting pack hound. They are very sturdily built with large bone for their size. They must be active, well balanced, full of strength and quality, in all ways appearing able to work tirelessly, no matter the terrain, for long periods. Running gear and scenting ability are particularly important features. Unlike most breeds, the Harrier is believed to be bred down from the English Foxhound by selective breeding. Except for size, the Harrier looks to be just a smaller sized Foxhound. They are also thought to be "cousins" to the Talbot and Old Southern Hounds, and may have contributed to the Small Game Anglo-French Hound. The name Harrier means hound in Norman-Saxon, and because of this it is thought that the Harrier traveled to England alongside the Normans. These dogs hunt in packs with huntsmen, trailing hares and foxes. The breed was registered with the AKC in 1885.

General Appearance
The Harrier is similar to the English Foxhound, but smaller. It is a compact dog. Speedy, hardy, and with the finest sense of smell. A muscular hunting hound with a short, hard coat, usually lemon & white, red & white, or white & tan, however any color is allowed. The back is sometimes all black. Built with large bone 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.

A good natured, eager, and responsive dog, the Harrier is a good choice for a family pet. This breed tends to be friendly and sweet natured, but can also be very stubborn, willful, and independent, making them best suited to those with some experience of dog ownership. He is a well balanced and determined dog, and has plenty of energy, enjoying a range of activities outdoors such as jogging and biking. This is a dog that needs to have physical and mental stimulation in order to avoid boredom and destructive behavior, and is not a breed for those with little time to commit to their pets. These dogs also love to explore, and this means that they should not be let off the leash in an area that is not secure and fenced otherwise he may wander off. The Harrier gets along well with children and is also friendly around strangers. He gets on well with other dogs, but care and early socialization is necessary around smaller pets such as cats, otherwise he may chase them. Some Harriers can be difficult to housebreak, and training in general can be difficult with some of these dogs because of their stubborn nature. However, they are quick to learn, and a confident and assertive owner should not experience any major problems with training. A friendly and loving dog, the Harrier can make a good companion.


A short-haired breed, the Harrier is easy to groom and requires little to no care; brushing is recommended once a week. Not only will it keep the coat clean and healthy, but it will also give you a chance to check on their health, as well as strengthen your bond with one another. Brushing is only required to remove any dead hair or dirt, a brush or comb works well. They are minimum to average shedders; the majority tends to be seasonal. Bathe only when needed. Ears should be checked on a regular basis. Nails tend to grow fast, so should be trimmed or checked weekly. The hind feet tend to grow slower than the front feet.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of the Harrier is around 10-12 years. This is a relatively hardy and healthy breed, but there are a few health problems that have been linked to the breed. Harrier's are prone to cataracts, hypothyroidism, and hip dysplasia.

Activity Level

The Harrier breed is not recommended for apartment or city living. They require an inordinate amount of exercise, interaction, and stimulation. They do best in a rural setting with plenty of room to roam.


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Harrier dog featured on dog encyclopedia
Harrier profile on dog encyclopedia