Home > Dog Breeds > Harrier


Life span

12 Years


20 Kg


Hound Dogs

Harrier Overview

The Harrier is a medium-sized tri-colour hound dog with a short coat that originated in the United Kingdom. This tri-colour scent hound is similar in looks to the Foxhound but is slightly smaller but not as small as the Beagle. It was originally developed to hunt hares in packs and is described as a hardworking scenting pack hound. The Harrier is a good-looking, sturdy breed with large bones for its size, well proportioned body that gives the impression of great strength and stamina. It is an active breed, well balanced, full of energy, able to work diligently for long periods no matter the topography. The Harrier is between 48cm and 53cm from the shoulders to ground but it is slightly longer from shoulder to rump. It has a short, dense, hard and glossy coat that comes in any colour combination and pattern.

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Harrier Characteristics

Size InformationIntelligence
  • 4
Size InformationExercise Needs
  • 3
Size InformationDogs Health
  • 3
Size InformationChild Friendly
  • 4
Size InformationApartment
  • 5
Size InformationShedding
  • 2
Size InformationGrooming Needs
  • 1
Size InformationBarking
  • 2
Size InformationAlone
  • 1
Size InformationTrainability
  • 5
Size InformationEnergy Levels
  • 3
Size InformationDog friendly
  • 5

History & Origin

The Harrier is a native breed of the United Kingdom and has been around for many centuries. Although, the oldest work on hunting hares dates back to the times of the great Greek historian Xenophone around 400 B.C., there is no written evidence regarding the exact origins of the Harriers in the United Kingdom. However, the first known pack of Harriers in the UK was the Penistone, which was owned and established by Sir Elias Midhope in 1260. There are several theories regarding the breed’s exact lineage. Some say that the Harrier is a result of crossing the Bloodhound with the Talbot Hound and the Basset Hound. Some experts say that the breed probably developed from Foxhounds, Fox Terriers and Greyhound crosses. Whatever the origins may be and although there are a lot of working Harriers in England, the breed is still not recognised as a distinct breed by the Kennel Club (UK).

Harrier Temperament

Like the other English hounds, the Harrier is a cheerful, sweet-tempered, courageous, energetic, friendly, and out-going breed. It has an excellent sense of smell and is hard to return to call when hard on a trail. It is generally an even-tempered, easygoing and friendly dog and makes for a fine house pet. It has a high prey drive and makes a wonderful hunting companion. Typically, the Harrier is devoted, brave, energetic and patient. It can adjust fairly easy in any living environment as long as it gets its daily dose of exercise. It is always willing to work and thrives on human companionship.

Harrier Training

Training is on the moderate side. Being a hunting dog, it requires a handler who is firm but gentle, confident and a strong leader. Consistent and firm training with positive reinforcement such as food rewards is the key to training the Harrier. Basic obedience training should be started early in the age of the dog. The Harrier is a large breed which can easily pull the handler over when on a lead if not trained early and properly. Basic commands as well as walking to heel should be prioritized. The breed responds very well to physical contact and praise.


The Harrier has a very short coat that sheds very little so it is an easy dog to groom. It is a clean dog and only requires weekly bathing and brushing to remove loose dead hair. Check the ears regularly and clean when necessary. Always keep the ears dry, especially after bathing. The long pendant ears can easily develop infection from fungus if kept moist.


It is a generally healthy dog with a lifespan of 12 – 15 years. It may be prone to the following medical problems:

  • Epilepsy – or seizures, is often an inherited condition. Seizures are caused by abnormal bursts of electrical activity in the brain;
  • Canine hip dysplasia – the abnormal formation of the hip socket which can cause crippling lameness and painful arthritis of the joints;

Harrier Exercise Needs

Like the other hunting hounds, the Harrier also has a very large amount of energy and needs regular exercise in order to channel this reserve power. It should be taken on daily long walks, jogs or runs to prevent destructive behaviour caused by boredom. Running alongside a bike will suit the Harrier very well, as well as playing off-leash in a secured area. Never let the Harrier roam free in an unsecured area because its strong sense of smell can lead it to trail scent and is hard to return to call when it is tracking a scent.

Children and other pets

The Harrier is tolerant of people and is excellent with children and other dogs because it is used to working in packs. However, it should be supervised around non-canine animals because of its strong prey drive. Young children should also be taught to treat the Harrier fairly. Adults must supervise the kids and the dog whenever playing together because this breed can be boisterous especially as a puppy. The Harrier has a high prey drive so caution is needed when it is around small animals such as rabbits, mice, cats, and similar house animals. Early socialisation to as many experiences as possible should correct this behaviour.