Harrier – General Description
The Harrier is a small to medium sized dog breed of the hound class, used for hunting hares by trailing them. It resembles an English Foxhound but is smaller, though not as small as a Beagle.
Classification and Standards
- FCI Group 6, Section 1, #295
- AKC Hound
- ANKC Group 4 (Hounds)
- CKC Group 2 (Hounds)
- NZKC Hound
- UKC Scenthound Group
Character & Temperament
The Harrier is cheerful, sweet-tempered, tolerant of people, and it is excellent with children. This pack dog is good with other dogs, but should be supervised with non-canine pets unless it is raised with them from puppyhood. It prefers life in a pack with people, dogs, or both. This active dog likes to go exploring, sniffing, and trailing, so be sure to keep it on a leash or in a safe enclosed area. Some Harriers like to bay.
Sources have widely conflicting stories about the origins of this breed. According to one, the earliest Harrier types were crossed with Bloodhounds, the Talbot Hound, and even the Basset Hound. According to another, the breed was probably developed from crosses of the English Foxhound with Fox Terrier and Greyhound. And yet another, the Harrier is said to be simply a bred-down version of the English Foxhound. The first Harrier pack in England was established by Sir Elias de Midhope in 1260 and spread out as a hunting dog throughout the west of England and into Wales. Although there are many working Harriers in England, the breed is still not recognized in that country.
In any case, today’s Harrier is between the Beagle and English Foxhound in size and was developed primarily to hunt hares, though the breed has also been used in fox hunting. The name, Harrier, reveals the breed’s specialty. The Harrier has a long history of popularity as a working pack dog in England.
The Harrier is the most commonly used hound by clubs in Ireland, with nearly 130 different clubs spread throughout the country. More commonly in Ireland it is used to hunt both foxes and hares, with some clubs hunting mainly foxes.
This breed of dog is recognized in 1885 by the American Kennel Club and is classified in the Hound Group.
Size & Appearance
The Harrier is similar to the English Foxhound, but smaller. They are one of the few truly medium-sized breeds of dogs. Harriers stand between 19 and 21 inches (48 and 53 cm) at the shoulder, and adults weigh between 45 and 60 lbs (21 and 27 kg). They have short hair, do not shed, hanging ears, and come in a variety of color patterns. A humorous, yet fairly accurate short-hand description of a Harrier is that of “a Beagle on steroids.” It is a muscular hunting hound with a short, hard coat. It has large bones for stamina and strength. The Harrier is slightly longer than tall, with a level topline. The tail is medium-length, carried high, but is not curled over the back. The skull is broad with a strong square muzzle. The rounded ears are pendant, and the eyes are either brown or hazel. The wide nose is black. The expression is mellow when the dog is relaxed and alert when he is excited. The teeth should meet in a scissors or level bite. The feet are tight and cat-like, and the front toes may turn inward.
Health & Maintenance
This breed’s lifespan is generally 12-15 years. Hip dysplasia is known to occur in this breed.
The Harrier requires daily exercise, such as long vigorous walks or runs. Allowing them to play in open space (so long as it is enclosed and safe) makes exercise fun and easy. Without appropriate exercise, the Harrier can become hyperactive, overweight and/or destructive. This dog was bred to run and work all day long and cannot be satisfied by a sedentary lifestyle.
- “AKC MEET THE BREEDS: Harrier”. www.akc.org. 1989
- Smcmilla (edited by Pharaoh Hound) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
- Evelyn Simak [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
- Mark Robinson [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
- W. E. Mason – Dogs of all Nations [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
- Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 8, Slice 6., available freely at Project Gutenberg (Encyclopædia Britannica, 1911) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
FCI-Standard N° 295 / 05 . 03. 1998 / GB
TRANSLATION : Mrs. Peggy Davis, brought up to day by Dr. Paschoud.
ORIGIN : Great Britain.
DATE OF PUBLICATION OF THE ORIGINAL VALID STANDARD : 27.11.1974.
F.C.I. CLASSIFICATION :
- Group 6 Scent hounds and related breeds.
- Section 1.2 Medium sized scent hounds.
With working trial.
GENERAL APPEARANCE :
Strong and light dog, less powerful and more distinguished than the Foxhound.
Expressive, moderately large.
CRANIAL REGION :
Skull : Flat, occipital crest slightly marked.
FACIAL REGION :
Nose : Black, well developed.
Muzzle : Quite long and rather more pointed than square.
Lips : Covering the lower jaw.
Eyes : Always dark, never prominent, of medium size, not too round.
Leathers : V shaped, almost flat, slightly turned, quite short and rather set on high.
Long and free although well tied into the shoulders. Slightly arched in its upper part.
Back : Straight and muscled.
Loin : Strong and slightly arched.
Chest : More developed in depth than in width.
Ribs : Rather flat than too rounded.
Flank : Must neither be too full nor too tucked up.
Of medium length, with some longer and coarser, slightly offstanding hairs (like ears of grain) towards the tip; well carried.
Forelegs straight and vertical.
Shoulders : Sloping and well muscled.
Hips : Strong, hip bones quite prominent.
Thighs : Long and well let down.
Hockjoint : Neither too straight nor too bent.
Feet : Neither too tight nor too round.
Supple and steady.
White with black markings.
Smooth, of English style, i.e. flat and not too short.
Usually white as base color, with all shades of black to orange, in France generally tricolor with black mantle covering the upper part of the back.
From 48 to 55 cm maximum – but rather from 48 to 50 cm preferred.
Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.
ELIMINATORY FAULTS :
- Aggresive or overly shy.
- Depigmented nose.
- Loin long and flabby.
- Thin thighs.
- Discoloration of scrotum.
Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioral abnormalities shall be disqualified.
N.B. : Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
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