• Harrier in Great Britain
  • Harrier Dog Breed
  • Harrier Dog
  • Harrier Breed
  • Harrier Dogs
  • Harriers in Great Britain
  • Harrier
  • Harriers in the UK
  • Harrier in the UK
  • Harriers
Exercise Level:
Barking Level:
Good with Children:
Good with other pets:
Height: 48 - 50cm M | 48 - 50cm F
Weight: 18 - 27kg M | 18 - 27kg F
Life Expectancy: 10 - 12 Years

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The Harrier is a hound dog bred to hunt hare. The breed resembles a smaller version of the English foxhound. Although originally accepted by the Kennel Club from 1851 to 1971, the Harrier is no longer on the club's list of pedigree dogs.

The Harrier is a hardy scent hound but sweet-tempered, easy-going, and tolerant, especially around children. He is a wonderful family companion, a decent watchdog, but a poor guard dog. In training, he can be slightly stubborn which makes teaching new commands quite a challenge.

The Harrier has a high energy level and needs at least two hours of exercise and mental stimulation. He must be kept on a lead during walks to prevent him from chasing after anything that moves. The Harrier is a moderate shedder that needs weekly brushing.

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The harrier has a less exact origin. There were claims that the breed was developed by crossing the greyhound to the now-extinct old Southern hound. It suggests that dogs resembling the harrier utilised to hunt hares may have been imported to England when the Normans invaded in 1066. In 1260, the first pack of harriers was bred and established by Sir Elias de Midhope, which helped spread the breed throughout England and Wales. Other than the prior claim that the harrier descended from the greyhound and a now-extinct ancient hound breed, there are various reports about how it was developed.

There are claims that the harrier descended from crossing the talbot hound with the bloodhound and basset hound. Other reports suggest that the breed was first developed from greyhound, fox terrier, and foxhound. Another claim indicates that the harrier descended from an English foxhound since it resembles it a lot, albeit the harrier is smaller.

The harrier was recognised as a breed by the American Kennel Club in 1885 and is classified under the Hound Group. The Harrier Club of America was established in 1992. The breed was recognised by the Kennel Club from 1851 to 1971, but it has been removed from the list of pedigree dogs ever since.

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Appearance and Grooming

The harrier is similar in appearance to the English foxhound, albeit a smaller version with a weight of 45–60 pounds and a height of 48–53 centimetres. It is a compact, muscular hunting dog breed, large-boned, and appears longer than it is tall. Its form promotes the much-needed stamina and strength for a breed that works in the field. The harrier has a head that is well-proportioned with the rest of its body. Its hazel or brown eyes are keen and alert when they are excited and mellow when they are relaxed. The nose is wide and coloured black, whilst its muzzle is strong and square-shaped. Its ears are round and shaped like a pendant. The tail is set high but not curled over the harrier's back, whilst it wears catlike feet with close toes turning inwards.

The harrier is outfitted in a short, dense coat that is rough to the touch. The rough texture protects it from the harsh terrain when tracking hare or fox. Its coat is also glossy and can withstand any type of weather, except extreme cold and high temperature. The most common coat colours are black, lemon and white, white and tan, and red and white. The harrier moderately sheds throughout the year. With that said, it is recommended to brush its coat once or twice a week to keep it healthy. A bath can be done as needed, especially when it gets dirty and smelly.

Another thing to do to maintain its cleanliness and overall health is to make sure that grooming is done thoroughly. This means that it should include checking and cleaning the dog's ears for any signs of infection or wax build-up. It is also important to brush its teeth on a regular basis, daily if possible, to avoid gum disease, bad breath, and other oral issues. Trim nails at least once a month, unless it wears down naturally. You will know when to trim nails if you hear clicking sounds on the floor. Also check the coat for any signs of lesions, ticks, and fleas.

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Temperament and Intelligence

The harrier is a cheerful and playful dog. It has high energy and stamina, which is why it must be allowed to spend plenty of time for outdoor activities. The harrier loves attention and would not mind a few belly rubs from its owners. Since the harrier is a pack dog, it does not do well when alone. So a household with other dogs is more preferable. With that said, the harrier gets on well with other dogs. However, care must be taken when it is around smaller animals. Scent hounds like the harrier have  a strong prey drive and will not hesitate to give chase. But don't worry, when socialised early with other small furry creatures, the harrier can manage to coexist.

It is very vocal when it wants to express something or when it wants to alert owners. The harrier is a good watchdog, but it is not the best choice as a guard dog. It is such a friendly dog that it might allow thieves to carry on emptying your house after it has done its part of sounding the alarms or when you're not at home. The harrier is also excellent with children, very playful and tolerant. However, like in any dogs, supervising playtime is a must to avoid accidents, especially when it becomes boisterous. Being an active hound dog, the harrier loves to explore and hunt, to sniff and trail potential prey. Thus, it is crucial that it is kept on a lead or at least in a safe and secure enclosed area. When it comes to training, the harrier is an independent thinker with a bit of a stubborn streak like most hounds and can be a challenge to train. If you don't have the time or the patience to properly train an active scent hound like the harrier, then it's best to find other suitable breeds for you.

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Nutrition and Feeding

A typical serving for an adult harrier is 1.5–2 cups of excellent-quality dry dog food per day, divided into two meals. The quantity of food and how often to feed it will depend on the dog's size, age, gender, activity level, health, and metabolism. Carefully considering the basic nutritional needs of the harrier is important since not all dogs are the same. Consult a trusted veterinarian to ask for a recommendation to ensure you are providing your harrier with a balanced diet.

Typical calorie needs of an adult, 50-pound harrier per day:

  • Senior and less active: up to 1,170 calories daily
  • Typical adult: up to 1,310 calories daily
  • Physically active/working dog: up to 1,460 calories daily

Like most dogs, the harrier deserves a balanced diet highly rich in protein coming from animal meat (beef, lamb, turkey, and chicken). Although dogs can tolerate grains, some carbs such as corn, wheat, and soy can be harmful to your dog.

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Health and Exercise

The harrier, for the most part, is a healthy dog breed with a lifespan of twelve to fifteen years if it is well cared for and showered with love. However, it also tends to suffer from genetic health disorders that the owner must watch out for. Some of the disorders that the harrier can suffer from include hip dysplasia, ear infection, allergies, hypothyroidism, and some forms of cancer.

As previously mentioned, the harrier has high energy and stamina to spare, which means it will require plenty of outdoor exercises. It is also an intelligent dog breed and requires an adequate amount of mentally stimulating activities. As such, the harrier will need at least two hours of daily exercise and will love nothing more than to engage in rigorous outdoor activities alongside is owners.

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Cost of Ownership

It is worth knowing that the Harrier is a rare breed, which means that you will need to be put on a wait list and wait your turn to buy a Harrier puppy. The purchase price for a well-bred pedigree puppy is about £300. To ensure it stays healthy, you would have to feed it high-quality food that can set you back £30-£40 a month. You also need to factor in the initial cost for dog accessories and equipment such as food bowls, leads, collars, and beds, which will likely be about £200 depending on the brand.

As to healthcare you need to be prepared in case your dog suddenly falls ill or gets into an accident. You can offset some medical bills if you get a pet insurance, which can range from £20 for a time-limited cover up to £40 for a lifetime one. These prices vary depending on your dog’s health and age, the type of cover you choose, and whether it has pre-existing conditions.

Other outgoings to consider are veterinary expenses that may not be included in a pet insurance coverage such as vaccinations, routine checks, neutering or spaying, and annual boosters, which can have a combined cost of £900 annually. Roughly, you will be setting aside £60-£90 a month for recurring expenses, depending on the type of insurance cover you choose. This estimate is also exclusive of walking or grooming services that you might later want to pay for.

Harrier Breed Highlights

  • The harrier is a friendly, playful, and cheerful breed.
  • It has high energy and stamina with high exercise needs.
  • It’s a decent watchdog, but may be a poor guard dog.
  • It is intelligent and a little stubborn, which make training challenging.
  • The harrier's short coat is easy to groom, regardless if it sheds throughout the year.
  • It was recognised by the Kennel Club from 1851 to 1971, but it has since been removed from the pedigree list.

Are you sure the Harrier is the best breed for you? Take the Pet Breed Selector Quiz to find your perfect breed match.

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Is an indoor, low-energy dog more your style than the active harrier? Try our Pet Finder to find the perfect breed for you.

The information, including measurements, prices and other estimates, on this page is provided for general reference purposes only.