Harrier: Care & Characteristics of the Dog Breed

harrier standing on grass

The harrier is a medium-sized hound dog that resembles beagles and foxhounds greatly due to its short, silky hair. Smaller than a foxhound but bigger than a beagle, the breed is. It is a robust, well-balanced dog that was developed for endurance. Additionally, it has a superb nose for picking up odors when hunting. The harrier is a happy and lively dog who is best suited for a busy home.

Breed Overview


Height: 19 to 21 inches

Weight: 45 to 60 pounds

Coat: Short double coat

Coat Color: Black, white, and tan; lemon and white, or red and white

Life Span: 12 to 15 years

Temperament: Friendly, energetic, sociable

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: United Kingdom

Characteristics of the Harrier

The harrier is often quite optimistic and extroverted. Although it may consider smaller domestic animals to be prey, it likes people and even other dogs. This dog's disposition is also influenced by high activity levels and a propensity for barking.

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendliness High
Pet-Friendliness Medium
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Trainability Medium
Intelligence Medium
Tendency to Bark High
Amount of Shedding Medium

History of the Harrier

The harrier's history's beginning is hazy. According to legend, harrier-like canines first came in England in the 1200s and were trained to hunt hares—hence the breed's name—and other prey in packs. This explains why modern harriers still get along well with other canines.

Some people believe that other hound breeds, such as bloodhounds and basset hounds, contributed to the evolution of the harrier. A different hypothesis holds that the contemporary harrier is only a scaled-down variation of the English foxhound.

During the Colonial era, harriers came to the United States and quickly gained popularity among hunters. Additionally, they could have given some genetic material to American hound breeds. The harrier was initially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885, and it is now uncommon in North America.


Harrier Care

Plan to provide your harrier with lots of daily exercise. Fortunately, the breed's grooming needs are minimal. And it typically takes well to training, though it can be stubborn at times.


Harriers have a lot of energy since they were developed to run nonstop when hunting. To ensure that your dog is calm and well-behaved within the home, it is best for it to have at least two hours of exercise every day. Boredom can lead to harmful behavior in harriers, including unwanted chewing and loud barking. Long walks, running, cycling, and trekking are all excellent activities to burn some energy. Dog activities like agility and tracking may assist to stretch their minds as well as their bodies.

When outside, keep your harrier on a leash or within a securely gated enclosure. These hunting dogs will frequently disobey a recall instruction and bolt after a scent.


Weekly brushing with a soft-bristle brush or grooming mitt can help to remove loose fur and distribute skin oils throughout your harrier's short coat. When the weather changes in the spring and fall, expect periods of heavier shedding, during which you'll need to brush more regularly.

Depending on how unclean it becomes, give your dog a bath once a month or more. However, examine its ears at least once every week to determine whether they require cleaning. If necessary, or approximately once a month, trim your dog's nails. And strive to regularly wash its teeth.


As a young puppy, begin socializing and teaching your harrier to inculcate positive behavior and stop the development of undesirable behaviors. Positive-reinforcement training techniques, including using rewards and praise, are frequently effective with these dogs. Given that harriers may exhibit stubbornness, it's also critical to be constant in your orders. Do not excuse inappropriate behavior.

A puppy class can teach your dog basic obedience and social skills. Also, aim to expose your dog to different people, other dogs, and various locations to ensure proper socialization. 

Common Health Problems

The harrier is overall a healthy breed, but it is still prone to some hereditary health issues, including:

  • Eye problems

Diet and Nutrition

For your harrier, always have fresh water available. And provide a canine food that is nutritionally balanced generally twice daily using two measured meals. To ensure that you're addressing your dog's specific needs, be sure to review the sort of food you're feeding him as well as the quantity with your veterinarian. Age, degree of exercise, and other variables might alter dietary requirements. In order to avoid overeating, be careful of snacks and any excess food.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Harrier

In North America, harriers are an uncommon breed of dog. However, it's still worthwhile to search regional animal shelters and rescue organizations for a dog in need of a home. If you can, add your name to a breed waiting list. Similar to this, depending on where you reside, you could have to go a long distance and wait a while for a puppy from a respected breeder. And anticipate spending, on average, between $1,500 and $2,500.

For further information to help you find a harrier, check out:

  • Harrier Club of America
  • Harrier Rescue

Harrier Overview

  • Affectionate and playful

  • Often good with kids and other dogs

  • Low-maintenance grooming

  • Can be very vocal

  • Requires lots of exercise

  • Not recommended for homes without fenced yards

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

As with any breed, do your homework to make sure the harrier is a good fit for your way of life. Speak with harrier owners, reliable breeders, rescue organizations, and veterinary specialists. If you can, spend some time around harriers as well.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

There’s a whole world of potential out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!

  • Are harriers good family dogs?

    Well-trained and socialized harriers are generally gentle and affectionate with children. But dogs should always be supervised around young children.

  • Are harriers aggressive?

    As long as they've been properly trained and socialized, harriers are normally a sociable breed, even with strangers and other dogs. But because of their hunting instinct, they could mistake smaller domestic pets for prey.

  • Are harriers good apartment dogs?

    Harriers generally do best in a home with a fenced yard that allows them to run freely. They are often too energetic and vocal for apartment living.


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