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Harrier | Dog Breed Info: Pictures, Characteristics & Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove


Height: 19–21 inches
Weight: 45–60 pounds
Lifespan: 12–15 years
Colors: Black, white, and tan; lemon and white; red and white
Suitable for: Active families, families with lots of time, large homes with access to a yard
Temperament: Intensely active, fun, high prey drive, independent, sweet

It’s likely that you’ve never met a Harrier before unless, of course, you’re in the hunting business. So, if we said this guy is like the Beagle, but their bigger brother with extra muscles, you can get an easy idea about what you can expect from them. Unless, of course, you’ve never met a Beagle, then we’d ask which rock you’ve been hiding under!

The Harrier is a medium to large-sized dog with intense energy levels, and it’s safe to say that this guy is only suited to an active family. They also need a family that can spend most of their time with them because they’ll get bored quickly if you leave them for too long. Resulting in damaged furniture and unhappy neighbors who cannot take any more howling.

If you can provide these two main asks of them, you should get on like a house on fire. This breed guide is an essential tool for anyone looking to invite a Harrier into their lives. So, let’s find out everything you need to know.

Divider 1Harrier Puppies

harrier puppy sitting outdoors
Image Credit: Joachim Bago, Shutterstock

It’s important to know that the Harrier is like a Beagle, but on super steroids. If that doesn’t give you a clue as to how intensely energetic they are, we don’t know what will. This pup is not suited to your average family because not all families have the time or the energy to give to them.

Have you got the time to give them? We would suggest that you already have spare time for them instead of making room in an already hectic schedule. They need a lot, and it would be more like a lifestyle change.

As you can expect, they have an incredibly high prey drive, and as such, you probably cannot let this pooch off-leash. Training them to stay by your side will take some dedication, but it is not impossible. So, if you’re hoping for a fully obedient pooch who will stick by your side off-leash, you need to consider another breed altogether. Ideally, they should be adopted by a family with experience in dog ownership and training.

They also have two habits that some owners find annoying. The first is howling, and the other is digging. If you have noise-sensitive neighbors or precious lawns, you might want to consider another dog breed. Thankfully, these habits usually present themselves when they are overly bored, which is another reason to ensure that they get their much-needed exercise.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Harrier

1. Harriers can change color.

Tri-colored Harriers will usually fade as they age, particularly the black coloring. Lemon and white-colored Harriers will usually darken. There is no way to know if or how much they will change color.

2. The Harrier’s true origins are unknown.

It is thought that there are more theories about this guy’s breed origins than there are American states. The most agreed upon is that they came from England, likely in the 13th century, and that their name, Harrier, comes from the word “hare”. They have a love/hate relationship with hares.

3. The Harrier is one of the rarest dog breeds in America.

In 2022, Harriers were ranked by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as the 193rd most popular dog breed of 199 breeds. This is despite being recognized by the AKC in 1885. This is likely because he is a hunting dog with intense energy levels, most of which the average family doesn’t have time for.

Harrier dog
Image Credit: Viktor Prymachenko, Shutterstock

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Harrier 🧠

Aside from the traits mentioned above, the Harrier makes a wonderful family pet for the select few families out there. Not only do they adore their master, but they are also full to the brim with love and affection for their family. They love to snuggle in the evening after a long day of hunting or exercising. This snuggle bug makes a great hot water bottle if that’s what you are looking for.

They also get along well with all family members, from children all the way up to grandma. They are respectful, and despite their active demeanor, they are calm in the home and know when to be on their best behavior.

They are natural pack animals and prefer to be with their humans or another dog. Leaving this guy alone for too long is a big no-no. But, this is great if you are a sociable family who spends lots of time at home with friends and outside the family. They welcome all with open paws and have no qualms about mingling and making friends.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

As long as you can meet their need described above, this guy is suited to family life. Not only can they live with young children, but they will also accept visitors and strangers alike. They are also versatile dogs, so if you are expecting a new human addition to the family, you have nothing to worry about when it comes to the Harrier accepting them into the fold.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets? 🐶 😽

This is dependent on what type of pet you have. If it is another dog, as long as they are socialized well as a pup, they will appreciate canine companionship. In fact, if they are an only pet, you might find they are a bit sad without another four-legged bestie in the house.

But, if you have cats or rodents in the house, this guy will not blend in well. Their high prey drive means that if it is smaller than them and isn’t a dog, they will see it as a challenge to hunt and catch. So, if you have anything other than a dog or you might in the future, the Harrier should not be your dog breed choice.

harrier dog in forest
Image Credit: Miroslav Hlavko, Shutterstock

Divider 4Things to Know When Owning a Harrier:

Now that you know about their personality and must-haves from their soon-to-be family, here are a few of their day-to-day needs.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

The Harrier needs approximately two cups of high-quality food every day. Their food needs to be able to provide them with the energy they need to sustain themselves. It also needs to provide them with healthy carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and probiotic ingredients to assist their digestive system.

The Harrier, just like the Beagle, is prone to obesity. This guy would do anything for a snack, and they would also steal anything off the counter or from the cupboards if you forget to lock it up. For this reason, you need to be vigilant when it comes to locking food away for both their weight and safety.

Exercise 🐕

Just in case you missed it, the Harrier needs a lot of exercise. You need to set aside between 90 and 120 minutes every single day to keep this guy happy and healthy. Come rain or shine, there are no excuses with the Harrier around.

Because of their high prey drive, we advise that you do not let them off-leash. Because they are pack animals, they would appreciate a regular trip to a local doggy park as long as they socialize well. Just make sure that it is secured and that he cannot run off if he catches a scent.

They are also a very intelligent dog breed, meaning that you need to vary his exercise activities to keep them interested. If they become bored with their routine, or you, for that matter, they will exhibit problematic and unruly behaviors.

harrier in winter
Image Credit: MargaPl, Shutterstock

Training 🦮

The Harrier needs to be socialized as a pup, no matter how much of a pack animal they are. Mix them with other dogs and humans as much as possible, and expose them to new environments and sounds as much as you can. This will help them to grow into a well-behaved pooch.

Obedience training is also essential because this will enforce your bond with them. Although they will always choose their nostrils over your commands, you should be the next closest thing.

The Harrier is a natural hunting dog, but again, they still need guidance on what commands you want them to learn. If you are looking to train this guy to their full hunting potential, speak with your breeder. They will be able to offer you guidance and contacts in the Harrier hunting field.

Positive reinforcement training is the best way to train the Harrier. Their preferred reward will likely be a Scooby snack or three because of their love for food and snacks. Just remember that they are prone to quick weight gain, so use them in moderation.

Grooming ✂️

The Harrier has a straightforward grooming schedule, which is just as well considering how much you will spend exercising and playing with them. Their short coat only needs a brush once a week to remove dead hairs and to spread their natural coat oils around to keep them looking healthy and shiny.

They also have long drop-down ears, which act as a breeding ground for bacteria. This means that you will need to clean his ears at least once a week, maybe more, to prevent the buildup of wax and bacteria.

They will only need bathing once every three months. They are likely to get mucky on their adventures, and if he does, hose them down with water only to remove the mud and dirt if you need to. They are generally hygienic pooch who take pride in their appearance.

Health and Conditions ❤️

The Harrier is a very healthy dog who enjoys a lifespan of 12 to 15 years. Just like all purebred dog breeds, they suffer from certain health conditions more than others. If you are about to welcome this beautiful boy into your life, it’s essential to learn about the below health concerns and their associated signs.

Minor Conditions
  • Eye conditions
Serious Conditions
  • Hip dysplasia

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Male vs Female

The size between male and female Harriers is the most significant difference between the sexes. Males tend to be the largest on both the height and weight scale. Other than this, their personality is all dependent on their upbringing, training, exercise routine, and family environment.

Divider 3Final Thoughts

The Harrier is a rare dog breed in America, but only because of their extreme exercise needs. If it wasn’t for this, we would expect them to be much more popular as a family pet, considering how sweet and friendly they are.

You need to remember that you aren’t going to be the best fit unless you work them as a hunting dog or have a spare couple of hours every day. They are intense pooch to own but not overly demanding once their exercise needs are met.

They will happily sit back and relax, happy in the knowledge that you love them and that you are within paw’s reach. If you can give them everything they need, they will return the favor with lots of love and doggy companionship.

Featured Image Credit: Olga Aniven, Shutterstock

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