Harrier Dog

A recent addition to the UK Kennel Club, check out this guide below on the Harrier dog. Learn all about their personality, history, exercise needs and more!

Harrier dog standing against white background

Height: 19-21 inches
Weight: 20-30 kilos
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Pedigree (registered with the KC?): Yes, this breed is registered with the Kennel Club

Positives and Negatives

Read the below traits linked to the Harrier:

Pros:

  • A social and friendly canine
  • Minimal grooming requirements
  • Fairly easy to train
  • Doesn’t drool often

Cons:

  • Strong prey drive
  • Not good for those with allergies
  • Likes to wander off on an exploration
  • Not a good watchdog

Overview

Often mistaken for the Beagle, the Harrier dog is an energetic and magnificent scenthound. Although in today’s world they aren’t very common. They require lots of daily exercise and can be rather stubborn, so the breed isn’t recommended for first time owners.

Ideally this dog needs access to a garden, but don’t be surprised if they dig multiple holes out there. It’s one of their favorite things to do! If you do decide to keep this dog in an apartment, you must keep up with its high energy levels with lots of exercise each day. You should also be aware they do have a low boredom threshold, which can cause behavioral issues.

Harrier dog sitting against white background

Harriers are vocal dogs and will let their owner know what’s wrong. This may need some training depending on how regularly your dog likes to bark. On the plus side they are highly friendly and affectionate. Harriers grow a deep bond with their owners. It’s why they don’t like to be left alone much, they just like the company of others!

A strong prey drive is something that follows this pooch around. Harriers must stay on a lead to prevent them harming smaller dogs or animals. They may also wander off on their own adventure, wherever their nose may take them, so do be aware of this.

History

The history of the Harrier is disputed. It is believed the breed in England, dates back to colonial times. They’re believed to be descendants of the French Hounds, ancestors of the Bloodhounds and the Basset.

Although they have a deep history in England, they were only officially recognized by the UK Kennel Club on the 1st January 2020. Yet they were one of the first breeds to be registered by the American Kennel Club. It is believed their presence in the US began in the 1700s, but they just didn’t gain popularity.

Harriers are scenthounds, bred to work in packs hunting mostly hares but also foxes and other game. It was in the 1200s when they began appearing in hunting packs across England. Originally the breed were slow hunters, moving with their owners on foot.

Once horses started their use in hunting, Harriers had to develop into the agile and energetic canine we know today. The breed is a much quicker hunter than the Beagle. Nowadays this dog is mostly a companion but may still be seen in hunting packs.

Unfortunately, this working dog hasn’t gained the popularity it deserves. Due to their needs, they are only suitable for those who can give this dog the time and attention they need. Their presence in dog shows and breed numbers may now hopefully increase after their acceptance into the UK Kennel Club.

Up Next: Our guide to the Podenco Canario breed is out.

Personality

Harrier Hounds are friendly, affectionate and hold a deep connection with their owner. They adore being outside and could spend hours bonding with the family over games. Energetic and always wanting to be busy, the Harrier gets bored quickly and will always have you enjoying your time together.

The Harrier dog breed hates to be alone, mostly down to its pack heritage. They are so used to being with people and other dogs, that they hate being away from their family. Continuous alone time could see this pooch develop separation anxiety. Loyal companionship is something you will definitely receive from the Harrier.

Are Harriers Good With Strangers?

Yes, this breed is good with strangers. Harriers are nice and friendly to all, so it’s no surprise they make a terrible watchdog! They won’t show aggression to those they don’t know and are pretty laidback. Friendliness is a common trait amongst Harriers.

A selective focus shot of a cute beagle-harrier dog with a blurred background

Are Harriers Good With Children?

The Harrier dog breed makes an excellent companion for children! Friendly, gentle and packed with energy, the Harrier can keep your kids entertained for hours playing games and having cuddles. They’re great with children of all ages and suit an active family well.

Are Harriers Ok With Other Dogs?

Yes, Harriers are good with other dogs. After all, they did work closely with other canines in packs during their working lives. You can easily take this dog on a group walk around the park! They get along with most.

The breed loves to interact and play with other dogs but do remember their strong prey drive. It could see them chase or potentially attack smaller dogs. Harriers are not cat friendly and won’t tolerate one in the home. Avoid keeping all other smaller animals.

Exercise

Harrier puppies should receive 40 minutes of exercise each day compared to adults who need over one hour. Make sure this dog tires itself out. Ball launchers and other games that involve running should do the trick! Once your dog has passed its year mark, you can begin taking them out for a jog.

Beagle-Harrier Dog on a leash near a fence in the snow in winter

Destructive behavior isn’t rare if a Harrier gets bored. You must ensure their exercise needs are completed otherwise chewing, nuisance barking and other bad behaviors will occur. This pooch was developed to spend hours out in the field hunting with companions. Its why they love company and exercise so much!

Harriers love an active lifestyle and would perfectly suit a family that loves long hikes and days out! They’re pretty weather resistant and can tolerate both hot and cold weather.

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Health

Harriers are rather healthy! Underneath are the breed-related health conditions some owners have come across:

  • Epilepsy- The most common neurological condition in dogs causing unprovoked seizures in pets
  • Hip Dysplasia- Poor development of the hip joint causes lameness, inflammation, swelling, and pain. Eventually, this will lead to arthritis.
  • Hypothyroidism- An underactive thyroid causes symptoms such as loss of fur, weight gain, reduced activity and tolerance of the cold.

Intelligence & Training

This pooch isn’t the smartest tool in the shed, but they certainly aren’t dim. It’s their stubborn, independent nature, and low boredom threshold that makes people feel they hold a low intelligence. It’s for these reasons, the Harrier isn’t recommended to first time owners.

Harriers will lose attention quickly so you need to keep them engaged with your training. Food treats are one of the best ways to do this. Keep them focused by completing short 5-10 minute training sessions. Switch them up so they aren’t the same day in day out!

Stay calm and firm, this pooch can be sensitive. Keep them focused on the reward at the end. Enjoy some fun games after each session but always remember to be firm and consistent. House rules are the most difficult to teach compared to commands taught outside in the open.

It may be best to take your dog on a walk before starting any training. They’ll be pent up with energy and easily distracted, making it difficult for them to listen and comprehend your commands. Keep it fun and upbeat. Make them understand the reward they’ll receive at the end. Allow them to focus on the prize and work for it!

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Grooming

Harriers aren’t hypoallergenic so won’t be ideal for allergy sufferers. Their short, thick coat is simple to groom and only needs a brush once a week. A mitt, rubber or smooth brush would be best. It removes dead hairs and promotes your dogs natural oils.

Harriers will shed strongly twice a year and are generally clean dogs. Their smooth coat doesn’t hold onto dirt very well. Aim to bathe a Harrier every 2-6 months. Frequent bathing can dry your pooches skin. This pooch is generally a clean dog. Their grooming needs are minimal so you won’t have to spend hours on end freshening them up.

Harrier dog standing against white background

The ears of this dog hang, so they will need to be cleaned and checked every week to ensure no dirt or debris is stuck. Remove any excess strands of fur blocking the airflow to the canal. Nails should be trimmed monthly or whenever needed and teeth should be brushed weekly if not daily.

Introduce grooming to your dog from as early as possible. Massage your pooch to keep them calm and happy. It is a great way to bond. Nail trimming is something many owners struggle with. Touch your dog’s paws, give them a file then offer them a treat after. Continue doing so until your dog is completely comfortable with nail trimming.

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