The appearance of the Harrier has been likened to that of an English Foxhound. These medium sized dogs have a sturdy build and an eager expression. The coat of the Harrier is short and hard, and the coloring can vary and includes tan and white, lemon and white, red and white, and most commonly tri-colored. The Harrier weighs in at around 45-60 pounds, and the height is around 18-21 inches.
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.
The grooming requirements for the Harrier are low, which is ideal if you cannot commit too much time to maintenance. His coat simply requires occasional brushing, and you should check the ears are clean and dry in order to reduce the risk of infections. The Harrier is a relatively low shedder, and this means that he may prove suitable for those suffering from allergies.
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.
Developed primarily for hunting hare, they have also been used in fox hunting. The first pack of Harriers in England was called the Penistone, established by Sir Elias de Midhope in 1260 it held together for at least five centuries. Hunting was very popular throughout the British Isles, most likely because the pack could be followed on foot. Packs contained a hundred plus dogs, most of them scratch packs. Scratch packs were made up of Harriers owned by various people; by doing this the common, or poor people, were able to participate. During the 17th to 18th century they were owned mostly by the poor people, while the wealthy class owned the Foxhounds. The breeds was then adapted to hunting fox in front of a group of horse-mounted riders (though most packs were able to hunt both fox and hare).
Harriers have been in the United States since Colonial times. General George S. Patton was Master of the Cobbler Harriers (a pack) from 1936-1938. The last pack of Harriers was in the late 1960s, before everyone got into foxhounds and foxhunts. They were first admitted into the AKC Stud Book in 1885. The breed is still relatively rare in the US. In 1877 only two Harriers were shown in the first Westminster Kennel Club. Today, most are house pets, though some are being shown or obedience. Only a handful are still used in hare hunts, as they work game that are too fast for Beagles, very well.
Because of their independence and stubborn nature, obedience is highly suggested to start at a very early age. They are very intelligent, and easy to train. Though not many are seen in obedience competitions, they are capable of doing it, though it requires a lot of time and energy on your part. They love agility (probably because of their awesome problem solving skills) and tracking, which they pick up easily. Also a great breed to show for beginner and experienced handlers alike, though it may be hard to find other Harriers to compete against.
If you are looking for a breed that wants to constantly be with you, at your beck and call, then this is not a breed for you. Harriers love to be with you, but they do not depend on your for their entertainment. Because of this, they may get into trouble causing mischief to entertain themselves. They are not recommended for the first-time dog owner, as one of the biggest problems with the breed is wanting to be in charge. NILIF works great, they need to be shown consistent discipline and let know that you are in charge.
The breed adores food and may tend to try and counter surf. They are also very talkative and love to bay in a deep low voice. Some may also like to dig, either because they find it fun, but most are searching for critters underground, or out of pure boredom. All of these "traits" can be fixed with early training, they must be taught not to... no leeway or giving in, or they will never stop.
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. This includes lens luxation, epilepsy, PRA, and HD. The parents of the Harrier puppy should have OFA and CERF certificates.