Many times the Harrier is mistaken for a small English Foxhound or a large Beagle. However, the Harrier is a distinct breed that was frequently used as a scenthound to hunt fox and hare. The Harrier is considered a rare breed and most likely dates back to 1066 AD. He is the typical hound who is a loyal companion. He is an active dog with a playful nature and loves talking. The Harrier is a vocal dog and he will use moans, groans, mumbles and grumbles to talk to you. Since he is a hound, he can also vocalize loudly with the signature bay of a hound.
The Harrier is thought to date back to the middle ages when the Normans invaded England in 1066. Dogs that resembled the Harrier and were used to hunt hares were brought over with the Normans. The first documented pack of Harriers in England was found in 1260. This pack was named the Penistone pack and their bloodlines continued for at least half a millennium. When unleashed to hunt, the Harrier is followed on foot by the hunter. This is the main difference that sets him apart from the Foxhound. Hunters follow Foxhounds on horseback. Although, many suggest that the Harrier is not even related to the Foxhound but rather comes from crossing the Greyhound with the now extinct Southern Hound. Other historians believe that the Harrier came from crossing Bloodhounds, Talbot Hounds and possibly even Basset Hounds or he may have even come about from crossing the Foxhound with the Fox Terrier and Greyhound. Even though his origins are muddied, there is no denying he is all hound and takes his job seriously. The Harrier is one of the oldest breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club. He was officially recognized by AKC in 1885. The Harrier Club of America was founded in 1992 and has been working towards breed recognition and gaining popularity. The Harrier is a rare breed and is ranked number 165 in popularity among AKC registered breeds. The Harrier is smaller than a Foxhound but larger than a Beagle and is still used in the UK and US to hunt hare. He has also been used on fox hunts. For this reason, he must have all the attributes of a scent hound and be built sturdily so they can track across rough terrain without tiring easily.
The Harrier should have a short, dense coat that is harsh to the touch. Their coat should also look glossy, never dull. The harsh coat texture is necessary for him to move throughout all types of terrain, tracking hare or fox, without being hindered by a long or silky coat. The harsh texture prevents him from being cut by underbrush. This type of coat is also well suited most types of weather; however, the Harrier is not well suited for overly cold climates and should also not be hunted when temperatures are excessively high. The Harrier will have a finer coat texture on his ears and there should be a brush of hair on the underside of the tail. The tail should not be bushy, but should have a slight thickening or brush of hair on the underneath. The most common colors are black, white and tan, lemon and white and red and white. All colors are acceptable and are not regarded as important in the conformation ring. Black, white and tan is the most commonly photographed Harrier color so this is the coloring that most people think of when they picture a Harrier.
It is easy to groom the Harrier because of his short, dense coat. He requires weekly brushing with a rubber curry brush or hound mitt. This will distribute the skin oils appropriately and remove any dead hairs. The weekly brushing will also keep any loose hairs from getting onto your clothes or furniture or accumulating on your floors and carpets. The Harrier does not require to be bathed often. Generally, he should be bathed two to three times per year and then on an as needed basis. Keep his nails trimmed, usually every two to three weeks. Nail clippers or a nail grinder can be used to keep his nails short. Since the Harrier has typical hound ears that hang down, it is imperative to keep them clean and dry to prevent infection. His teeth will also need to be kept clean using a veterinarian approved toothpaste and then yearly cleanings by a veterinarian.