Breed Group: Hound

Temperament and Behavior

Gentle, sweet, and lively, the Harrier is a mid-size scent hound similar to and whose size falls between the smaller Beagle and larger English Foxhound. Not as accepting of strangers as either of his cousins, he reserves his love for his family. Excellent with children of any age, they are highly tolerant of young children and ready to rough-house with older kids. Bred as pack hunters, Harriers are exceptional with dogs and horses, but should not be trusted with small, non-canine pets. They may accept a cat if raised with it. Harriers need both companionship, including physical contact, and lots of exercise to be happy. A daily walk won’t do. Bred to chase hare, they need vigorous daily exercise including jogging, hiking, chasing a frisbee or similar activity. If they do not get the exercise they need, expect excessive barking, chewing, or other destructive behavior. When off-lead, they require a fenced yard with a high fence (they are great jumpers) or their sense of smell will lead them astray. Even when their significant exercise needs are met they are active inside too. Yard lovers beware, these dogs love to dig. An even better watchdog than the Beagle, they will raise the roof at approaching strangers or wildlife; but he makes a sub-par guard dog. Nuisance barking, howling, or baying can be a problem.

Physical Characteristics

Harriers are a medium size dog that stands between 18 and 22 inches tall and weighs 45 to 60 pounds. They have a smooth, medium length coat that comes in typical hound colors including tri-color, black and tan, red and white, orange and white, or lemon and white. They shed very little, much less than a Beagle. A weekly brushing is all that is required. They can live outdoors in temperate climates as long as they are given warm shelter and bedding.

Trainer's Notes

Harriers benefit from moderate socialization– enough to keep them from becoming timid. An obedience class provides an opportunity to master basic commands but they are not easy to train. Their nose tells them what they smell is more important than what they hear. Learning to walk on a leash can be a challenge; they are usually more interested in how the ground smells than walking beside their owner. Food training works best. They have a reputation for being stubborn. Many are difficult to housetrain. Harriers are not the best choice for a novice owner.

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The Harrier is a fairly healthy breed having only a 15% occurrence of Hip Dysplasia and an occasional case of Thyroiditis. A Harrier should live 10 to 12 years.


The Harrier is a rare breed. With fewer than 100 dogs registered by the American Kennel Club in a typical year, they rank 153rd in overall popularity.

Breed History

It is difficult to trace the history of the all hounds as it stretches well back in time. The Harrier is no different. With detailed records of individual packs existing that date back to 1260, what is known is their ancestry dates to before 13th century England. They may have their roots in the older, long extinct Talbot and St. Hubert Hounds. Some believe the breed name originated from the Norman word “harier” meaning dog or hound while others contend the name indicates its primary prey, the hare. Quicker afoot than the Beagle, Harriers were bred to hunt small game by scent with the hunter following on foot. The Harrier is known to be in America during Colonial times.

Additional Information

US President Andrew Jackson was a Harrier owner. For more information about the Harrier, you can contact the Parent Breed Club which is the Harrier Club of America.

Is A Harrier THE BEST Dog For YOU?

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