The Harrier Dog Breed: A Hound with Heart

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hound dog breed sitting in forest

Elvis sang it the wrong way around! The lyrics to “Hound Dog” should have been more like “there ain’t nothing like a hound dog, they’re loyal time after time”! If you’re wondering whether a Harrier may be your match as an emotional support animal, read on.

In this article, we take a look at the special characteristics of this breed. A member of the bigger ancient hound clan, a Harrier is one social, vocal, active, and intelligent scent-hound. They also love an adventure and exploring!

A Brief History of the Harrier Dog Breed

The Harrier is a very, very old breed. Originally from England, Harriers were first bred in the 1200s to hunt hares. Hence the name, you can even hear the hare in Harrier! There are debates about actual Harrier origins and lineage.

It is highly likely their original ancestors included other European hounds. In more recent times their ancestry has included Foxhounds.

The Harrier breed was first brought to the United States by early English immigrants. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized Harriers in 1885. These days they are a relatively uncommon breed in the United States. However, rather than being hunting hounds, as they still are in Britain, Harriers in the US are more commonly raised to be companion animals.

Harrier vs Beagle: What’s the Difference?

If you look at a Beagle, a Harrier, and a Foxhound they all appear very similar. And they are – the main difference is in their size. Beagles are the smallest and tend to be a little less active. Harriers are the ones in the middle – they’re built for stamina and endurance. The Foxhound is the biggest and the fastest.

The Appearance of the Handsome Harrier

We all know that looks are never, ever, everything! Nonetheless, the Harrier is certainly one good looking and attractive dog! When they’re relaxed their facial expressions are sweet and gentle. When exploring and attentive they will have a keen and alert glint in their brown or hazel eyes. You will soon see and realize they are onto something!

The body of a Harrier is sturdy and muscular, but overall in proportion. Their tails are long and will stand straight up when something has caught their attention or they’re on a mission!

harrier dog staring with trees in background

Coat and Colors of Harrier Dogs!

Harriers have thick, short, glossy coats, and soft velvety ears. Under the AKC standard, any colors are okay. Mostly, Harriers are tri-color. They may be variations of black, tan and white, lemon and white or red and white.

There are also some Harriers with mottled blue coats.

Average Weight and Size!

Mid-sized dogs, Harriers stand between 19 to 21 inches to the top of their shoulder. They weigh between 45 to 50 pounds.

Harrier Temperament and Personality!

Ever heard the saying happy as a hound? There’s a reason why! Harriers, like many other hounds, are naturally sweet, friendly, and outgoing. They enjoy, and need, regular company and interaction with others.

Harriers are pack animals, so this means they need some company to be social with most of the time. They get on well with people of all ages, and other dogs. They will also prefer to sleep inside close to their family members. However, do remember they have a strong inner prey drive and like to chase. This means they don’t tend to suit living with any small animals such as rabbits!

They are intelligent, inquisitive, and stubborn. Basic obedience training from a young age with tons of positive reinforcement is a must. They do have a mind of their own, and will follow it at every opportunity! Also very clever escape-artists, Harriers need a well-fenced outdoors area.

When a Harrier is very happy and excited, it may sing and want to talk to you, a lot. Okay, so baying and barking are the correct terms! What this means though is that this dog breed is one that may want to be a part of your everyday conversation!

A Bored Harrier is Not a Happy Harrier!

These dogs like to use both their brains and their bodies, on a daily basis! Harriers don’t enjoy being alone or having nothing to do for long periods.

Once boredom sets in, they will find ways to entertain themselves. This might be annihilating something that looks like it might be a bit of fun to play with or pull apart. Or it may be the pure pleasure and fun of digging a new hole in your yard!

You’ll need to keep a Harrier occupied by various means. This could include things like their own toys, and designated areas for digging. They also need your company, plenty of regular exercise, and activities. If you are away from home for long periods, a Harrier is best to be living in a home with another dog for company.

What are Their Grooming Requirements?

Harriers are pretty easy going, and easy-care dogs. Their short coats shed moderately in season. Regular weekly brushing will keep any loose hair under control. They need occasional baths to keep any doggy odors at bay, and regular checks of their ears and nails.

brown and white harrier dog sitting in snow

A Look at the Harrier Lifespan!

Generally healthy dogs, Harriers have a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. To keep them in good health, things to consider are:

  • Exercise: Daily exercise is a must for a Harrier! These guys have a long history of breeding to be active on a daily basis! They’ve got the stamina to take long walks and go hiking. They’ll enjoy jogging alongside you on foot or with you on a bike. Just always remember their leash, or they’re likely to be off to follow a random scent only they can smell! You can also help them exercise their body and mind in various types of dog sports.
  • Food: Harriers need good quality and nutritious dog food appropriate for their age. Be aware they tend to love eating! You may need a lot of willpower yourself to resist those adorable eyes asking for more, to help them stay at a healthy weight!
  • Ear Care: A Harrier is one of those dogs with irresistible long dropped ears. They look and feel beautiful, but underneath they can become damp, moist and breeding grounds for infections. This means they’ll need regular ear checks to make sure there’s nothing lurking in there.
  • Hips: The Harrier breed can be susceptible to hip dysplasia. This is a genetic condition that involves the rear legs, and how they fit into the socket. In older dogs, it can make them more prone to arthritis.

Harrier Puppies for Sale!

Always look for a reputable breeder when you are considering purchasing any breed of puppy! Things to consider are the age of the puppies and their parents, and evidence of health checks. Find out about the conditions the puppies have been in since birth.

Good breeders are always willing to respond to your questions. They will also ask you pertinent questions to make sure they find a good match for their puppies.

There aren’t that many Harrier breeders in the United States. The best place to start is the Harrier Club of America or those listed with the American Kennel Club.

The website of the Harrier Club also has a lot of great advice on finding a reputable breeder. Not only that, they offer to try to connect you with another Harrier owner and their dog in your area before you make the commitment. This is a great way to make sure this breed is the right one for you.

How Much Does a Harrier Puppy Cost? 

Harrier puppies can range from $500 to $2,500.

Other regular costs to factor into your budget for a Harrier puppy are their food, grooming gear, leashes, collars, toys, bedding, and so on. Also, allow for regular vaccinations and the costs of any local authority dog registration in your State.

young harrier puppy sitting in snow looking up at camera

Adopt, Don’t Shop! Ask an Animal Shelter About Harriers That Need Furever Homes!

Adopting a dog from a rescue organization is always a good way to go. Animals end up in shelters for many different reasons that are no fault of their own.

Rescue shelters have usually done behavioral and health assessments on the pets they are rehoming. This can be a good way to check that the dog’s personality and temperament suit you. This is especially important if you are considering bringing an ESA into your life to help you with your condition.

The Harrier Club has its own rescue network of volunteers that help find new homes for this breed. Because Harriers aren’t a common dog breed in the United States, you’re unlikely to find a pure breed in a local shelter. However, you might still find a similar mix that’s ‘the one’!

Common Questions on the Harrier Dog Breed

What type of exercise does a Harrier need?

Is the Harrier dog breed friendly?

Are Harriers and Beagles the same?

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