Harrier – General Information

The Harrier is a versatile and energetic dog breed, often referred to as a smaller version of the English Foxhound. Known for their excellent hunting skills and friendly disposition, Harriers make wonderful companions for active families. Here’s a closer look at the characteristics, history, and care considerations for this charming hound.

Harrier Origins and History

The history of the Harrier dates back centuries, with origins in England. Bred as scent hounds, Harriers were developed to hunt hare and other small game. Their name is derived from the Norman word “harier,” which means a dog that hunts game by trailing it by scent. These hounds were prized for their endurance, agility, and ability to work in packs.

Physical Characteristics of a Harrier

Harriers are medium-sized dogs with a sturdy and athletic build. They have a distinctive, short coat that is dense and weather-resistant, making it well-suited for various weather conditions. The coat comes in a variety of colors, including tri-color (black, tan, and white) or bi-color (red and white). Their expressive eyes and long, hanging ears contribute to their charming appearance.

Harrier Temperament

Harriers are known for their friendly and outgoing nature. They are sociable dogs that get along well with children, making them great family pets. While they maintain a playful demeanor, Harriers are also intelligent and determined, traits that served them well in their hunting history. Early socialization and consistent training help channel their energy positively.

Exercise Needs For A Harrier

As a hunting breed, Harriers have high energy levels and require regular exercise to keep them happy and healthy. Daily walks, playtime, and opportunities to explore and sniff are essential for their well-being. Engaging in activities like agility or scent work provides mental stimulation and helps fulfill their natural instincts.

Harrier Training and Intelligence

Harriers are intelligent dogs with a strong desire to please their owners. While their independent nature can present training challenges, positive reinforcement and consistency yield excellent results. Early training is recommended to establish good behavior and prevent undesirable habits.

Grooming Requirements For A Harrier

The Harrier’s short coat is relatively low-maintenance. Regular brushing helps keep their coat healthy and reduces shedding. Routine care for ears, teeth, and nails is essential for their overall well-being. Additionally, as active outdoor dogs, they may need a bath when they get particularly dirty.

Harrier Health Considerations

Harriers are generally healthy dogs, but like all breeds, they can be prone to certain conditions. Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and maintaining a healthy weight contribute to their overall well-being. Common health concerns may include hip dysplasia and ear infections, which are common in breeds with hanging ears.

Breeds Similar to the Harrier

Harriers share ancestry and characteristics with several other scent hound breeds. If you love the Harrier’s friendly personality, athletic build, and passion for following a scent, consider these similar breeds:

  • Beagle: The most familiar relative, the Beagle is smaller than the Harrier but shares the same cheerful personality and impressive tracking nose. Beagles are a popular choice for families.
  • English Foxhound: This larger cousin of the Harrier participated in traditional English foxhunts. They are more energetic and require significant exercise and mental stimulation.
  • Other Scenthounds: Harriers have ties to various scenthound breeds. Some other hounds with a similar look and temperament include Basset Hounds, Bloodhounds, and Coonhounds (like the Treeing Walker Coonhound or the Black and Tan Coonhound).


In conclusion, the Harrier is a delightful and active breed that brings a sense of adventure to any family. Their history as skilled hunters has shaped them into sociable and agile companions. Whether enjoying outdoor activities or simply lounging with their loved ones, Harriers bring joy and enthusiasm to every aspect of life.

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