The harrier dog breed is a very old breed and originates from southern England. The first documents concerning this breed date back to 1260. It was bred for hare hunting, in fact hare in English means hare, so harrier translates to ‘to hare’.
As for the breed from which it derives, nothing is certain; even today there are doubts and debates about it. The most accredited theory is that it derives from ancient British hounds such as the talbot, whose appearance and hunter character was most probably reinforced through crosses with dogs that later gave rise to the English foxhound and the gascon saintongeois. Other hypotheses are, that it derives from crosses between very different breeds morphologically such as the English greyhound, the fox terrier and the English bulldog.
Outside its land of birth it is not very well known, unlike its direct cousin, the more popular beagle. It is therefore rather rare, although much appreciated by hunters for its infallible nose, agility and good temperament. It is, however, a typical hunting dog, very suitable not only for hare hunting but also for fox hunting or even for larger animals such as wild boar and deer.
Character of the harrier dog breed
As mentioned above, the harrier is an excellent hunting dog, but it is also an excellent companion dog. Its character is lively, bright and very affectionate, especially with children. He establishes a deep and unbreakable relationship with his master. It never refuses a walk or a play session, on the contrary it needs a lot of physical exercise, so it is not suitable for elderly or sedentary people and it is not suitable for city life either, as it needs plenty of space and contact with nature.
The ideal for this dog is to live in the country, perhaps in a secure garden where it can spend several hours a day, as it loves the outdoors very much.
It is a very intelligent dog, but it is just as stubborn and willful, so it is essential to educate it from puppyhood with firmness and consistency. It is not suitable for those who are new to dogs.
With strangers it is not aggressive, so it is not a good guard dog, with other animals it is tolerant as it is a moulting dog, with cats it is a little more difficult as it tends to see them as prey, but cohabitation is possible if they grow up together.
It is not a dog that can be left alone for a long time, nor is it idle for a long time. In these situations it may show nervousness, which it will tend to discharge on household objects.
Appearance of the harrier dog breed
The harrier is a medium-sized dog, the height at withers of a male being about 55 centimetres and weighing around 30 kilograms; the female usually a little less.
It is very reminiscent of the foxhound, but is more slender and delicate in physique. It has a robust build with strong musculature, but the lines are soft and never excessive. The bones are light, the paws are straight and well aligned, with the feet having a very good grip on the ground. The tail is of average length, rather robust and carried slightly raised.
The skull is flat and slightly narrow between the ears, while the head is of medium size, fairly elongated. The muzzle is elongated and the profile is well drawn. The eyes are medium-sized, slightly oval and are usually dark with a sweet and attentive expression. The ears are attached at the top, rather short and wide at the base. They are V-shaped and are worn flat, slightly turned.
The coat is rather short and smooth, is worn flat and adheres to the body. The background colour is white on which orange and black in all their shades are developed. Outside England it is usually tricoloured and the background colour may also be black.
Care and health of the harrier dog breed
The harrier is a robust and hardy breed with an average life expectancy of 12 to 14 years. It has no particular breed-specific diseases, but may have hip and elbow dysplasia. Special attention must be paid to cleaning the ears. It bears cold and heat well, but not excessive heat. It is a very energetic dog that needs a lot of exercise and in this case does not have problems with excessive weight. As far as cleaning the coat is concerned, one or two brushes a week are sufficient to keep it shiny and tidy.