High energy levels have earned the Harrier dog the moniker of ‘beagle on steroids’! Find out if this breed is suitable for your household.
Cool facts about the Harrier dog breed
- The Harrier dog is similar to an English foxhound and a beagle.
- Its country of origin is the UK. Records show that these dogs may have been in existence since the 1200s!
- Harrier dogs belong to the category of hound dogs and were used to hunt rabbits or hares.
- Three different breeds were used in the breed’s development: the greyhound, the bulldog, and the fox terrier.
- The word ‘harrier’ comes from the fact that neither a ‘hare’ nor a ‘fox’ can escape the indefatigable Harrier dog. Once the Harrier starts chasing its prey, the latter is known to collapse from sheer exhaustion.
- Male Harrier dogs measure about 50 cm or 21 inches at withers. They weigh around 40-46 kilos or 45-55 lb. Females are slightly smaller and lighter.
- Physically, the Harrier is very similar to an English foxhound.
- Their muscular build, compact bodies, and long bones provide them with the strength and stamina characteristic of the breed.
- Harriers are slightly longer than they are tall; their skulls are broad with strong, square muzzles.
- The tail is medium-length and carried high.
- Eyes are small and oval and either brown or hazel. The ears are v-shaped, small, and pendant.
- The wide nose is entirely black.
- Feet are tight and cat-like. Front toes often turn inward.
- Harrier’s medium-length coat is short and flat. The coat may be tri-color with mainly white color and black and brown spots or markings. Sometimes, the entire back is black.
Personality and temperament
The temperament and personality of the Harrier are comparable to the Foxhound and the Beagle. They are not as cheerful and playful as the Beagle but compared to the foxhound, they certainly are livelier.
This happy little dog makes a great household pet. They are easy-going dogs with a stable temperament and a few behavioral issues. Naturally, many behavioral problems can be prevented through proper training and early socialization.
As a Harrier’s owner, you need to be prepared to commit to daily physical activity for your pet. This is an extremely energetic dog that needs at least an hour or two of physical activity on a daily basis. Without it, your dog will get bored, even depressed. Bored dogs tend to indulge in bad behaviors like chewing furniture, excess barking, and so on.
With strangers, the Harrier tends to be slightly aloof and wary. However, with time, he will soon welcome your guests. They make excellent watchdogs but their guarding ability is low. Once you have socialized your pet to other people, he will not show dominance or aloofness as he would towards strangers.
This highly sociable dog gets along very well with children. However, one must always supervise all interactions between very young kids and dogs, irrespective of the breed, at least in the beginning. In general, a socialized and well-trained Harrier will be very loving, affectionate, and playful with kids. Encourage your kids to play a game of fetch with this active and energetic dog to seal the bond!
With strange dogs or animals, the Harrier is not dominating. However, his hunting and ‘chasing’ instincts might get him to chase small animals. So, always make sure you have secured your yard to prevent your Harrier from going after a potential ‘prey’. Otherwise, keep your pet on a leash at all times and especially when outside on walks. Being a pack animal, the Harrier loves company and gets along well with other household dogs. That is the reason why many Harrier owners end up buying more than one dog!
The easy-going Harrier may come across as too restless for the city-life. Indoor restlessness is a common issue seen in these dogs. Resultantly, the breed is best suited for country-living or at least in a house with a large yard. These excessive barkers can also annoy neighbors. Roaming and house-soiling are other behavioral issues reported in the Harrier.
Harriers score well on learning rate and problem-solving ability tests. However, that does not mean that they are easy-to-train. In fact; these dogs need a firm owner or an experienced trainer since they score low on learning obedience. Their stubborn streak also makes them slightly difficult to train. However, consistent, patient, and reward-based training is known to yield positive results.
Never shout or punish your dog. Instead, modify your tone of voice to show quiet disappointment rather than shouting or screaming. This can be more effective while training a Harrier.
Start with house-training. You need to let your puppy out in the yard several times a day and show him where to void. You can also teach him to ‘go’ on newspapers. Buy a comfortable, well-sized crate for your dog. Crates help during housetraining since most dogs do not soil their sleeping quarters.
As stated before, the Harrier dog breed is extremely active and energetic. They have stringent exercise needs and that is why they need active owners. Walk or run with your pet daily for at least an hour each day. Also, encourage your kids to play with your pet. Indoor restlessness is one of the issues Harrier owners have to deal with. So, let your pet out in a secure yard from time to time.
Your Harrier won’t hesitate to go sniffing, exploring, and trailing. So always keep him on a leash when outside.
This is a wash-and-wear type of dog that does not need too much grooming. That is also one of the reasons why people preferred the Harrier over a Beagle. This breed has a medium coat that ‘blows or sheds’ once a year. Invest in good-quality brushes and combs in order to give the coat a nice brushing once or twice a week. Bathe your pet once a week or as needed.
Always check your dog’s ears from time to time. Trim his toenails with good-quality clippers. Daily brushing of teeth is necessary to prevent oral problems.
Health issues and lifespan
Common health issues in the Harrier dog are hip and elbow dysplasia and patella luxation. Epilepsy, inguinal hernias, cataracts, and progressive retinal atrophy are also reported in these dogs. Longevity or the lifespan of the Harrier is between 12 and 15 years.
Where to find a Harrier dog
In the United States, this is still a relatively rare breed. So, it may be difficult to find a Harrier dog rescue. You can, nevertheless, check with local animal shelters. Alternatively, you can buy a healthy Harrier dog puppy from a reputed breeder. To find registered Harrier breeders, click here. The average cost of a purebred Harrier is about $2000.