There’s only one thing Harriers love more than the outdoors: their people. From hiking to jogging to playing in the backyard, a Harrier pup loves an adventure. And if it’s a group adventure, even better. These dogs were born to work in teams, and they get very lonely all by themselves. But if your energy levels match theirs, you’ll find plenty of ways to keep them engaged and entertained. Harriers live for a challenge, whether it’s tracking down that treat stash you hid in the backyard or winning a local agility trial. Larger than a Beagle yet smaller than an American Fox Hound, the Harrier could be just right for you—if you can keep up.
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Harriers are best for active and experienced pet parents and families who will be with them for most of the day. They need lots of room to run off-leash, so a home with a fenced yard is ideal.
Lace up your sneakers, because you’ve just met your new running buddy. This dog is ready to mix and mingle like it’s a 26.2-mile race day every day. And make sure you keep up the pace, because the Harrier can get a bit stir-crazy and destructive if they don’t get enough exercise.
This hunting breed loves family life, and entertaining at home is the their favorite thing to do. While the Harrier is friendly and totally welcomes a crowd— adults, dogs, older kids—they may be a little stand-offish with strangers. You’ll want to supervise playtimes with very young kids, because Harriers may knock small kids over in their rambunctious play, and start socialization while they’re young to help them get used to being around new people. Watch out for any creature that could be mistaken for prey, including bunnies, cats and hamsters—the Harrier’s next chase is never too far away.
Harriers aren’t particularly clingy, but they’re a pack dog, which means they’re bred to work as a team and not by themselves. It’s best if you can be with them for most of the day or have another dog at home for them to play with. Give them plenty to keep them occupied or they might bark, dig, chew things or attempt a jail break to alleviate their boredom. Try gifting them chew toys, fetch toys, brain games and maybe even a Jolly Pet ball (they’re made for herding types but some Harriers love ’em, too).
Since they love to roam (or escape, given half the chance), keep your dog safe by using a leash when not in enclosed spaces and ensuring off-leash spaces are really enclosed.
As part of the Hound group, the Harrier was originally bred to hunt hare, so they love a heady mix of physical activity, mental stimulation, tracking and running with a pack. This is one dog who is always up for a workout session at the park to find new friends.
How to Care for a Harrier
Overall, the Harrier’s maintenance is in the medium range—not too little, not too much. Their grooming needs are low, so a little care each week goes a long way. Plan to spend your extra time on exercise and adventures, because this is one breed who needs plenty of physical and mental stimulation.
Harriers have a generous life expectancy of 10 to 12 years, and they have fewer health issues than other more common breeds. Nevertheless, it’s good to have knowledge about potential health problems so you can take the best care of your furry friend and help them live a long and happy life.
- Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is caused when the hip joint is malformed and rubs, causing the dog pain. Treatment options include weight management, physical therapy and in severe cases, surgery.
- Cataract: Cataracts, a clouding of the eye that can impair a dog’s vision, is often an inherited condition. Fortunately, surgery is an option to correct vision issues caused by cataracts.
- Perianal Fistula: This condition causes painful tracts in the skin around the bum. Allergies and hypothyroidism are two of the potential causes of the disease. While not common in Harriers, treatment options might include a change in diet, antibiotics or medication.
While there are many tales about the history of this breed, there are a few Harrier dog facts we know for certain. Harriers were originally bred for hunting hare—get it, “Harrier”? The first packs appear to have their origin in medieval England sometime in the 1200s. Sir Elias de Midhope, a resident of Yorkshire, England, is believed to have developed the first Harrier. His Harrier packs were originally called Penistone Harriers or the Penistone Pack. Detailed records of individual Harrier packs have been recorded in England from 1260 to today.
Harriers have been in America since colonial times. Some say Virginians, and perhaps even George Washington himself used Harriers to develop American hounds. They appealed to literary types too, and in 1735, English poet William Somervile published a poem called “The Chase” that described a Harrier dog.
The American Kennel Club recognized the Harrier breed in 1885. One of the AKC’s rarest breeds, the Harrier is considered more rare than the panda, with only about 949 Harriers registered with the AKC from 1884 to 1994. (Compare those numbers to the panda, with about 1,864 pandas in the wild, plus 400 more in captivity.) The good news is that their rareness may promote healthy genetics, which means the Harrier may have fewer health complications than other breeds.
So, where is the best place to find a Harrier puppy today? You can find a list of reputable Harrier breeders on the American Kennel Club’s website. Depending on the breeder, expect the cost of your Harrier puppy to be anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000. For that price, you usually get a Harrier who’s been screened for health and temperament issues, and they might even come with pedigree papers. You can also reach out to Harrier rescue organizations to adopt a Harrier or keep an eye out for the breed at your local animal shelter.
Do Harriers dogs shed?
Yes, Harriers do shed, but only minimally. Regular brushing will ensure your Harrier’s fur is maintained and loose hair captured.
Are Harriers good family dogs?
Harriers are very good family dogs. They’re bred to work in teams, making them ideal for families that are always on the go, happy to take their the dog for regular walks and provide mental stimulation with plenty of games and activities.
Are Harriers aggressive dogs?
No, Harriers aren’t aggressive with people. In fact, they’re delightfully friendly with people and other dogs alike.
What is the difference between a Harrier and a Beagle?
The Harrier and the Beagle are two different dogs, even though they look alike. The Harrier is larger, more active and has a longer attention span than the Beagle.
What are the most common Harrier mixes?
- Harrier-Beagle mix
- Harrier-Bluetick Coonhound mix
- Harrier-Bichon Frise mix
- Harrier-Foxhound mix
Pet parents describe the Harrier as the “hidden gem of the dog world.” If you love long distance activities and have a bustling household and a fenced-in yard, the Harrier may be right for you! Once you begin the chase, you’ll never look back.
Donna Smiley, Western Director, Harrier Club of America, and author of “Harrier: a Complete and Reliable Guide,” Krissia Chanto, vet tech and co-owner of Rock Paw Pet Care, and Erick Arceneaux, Harrier pet parent and breeder.
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Top Harrier Names
These are the top Harrier names as chosen by Chewy's pet parents!
- Rusty Plaster
- Buddy Joe