In some early works, it is referred to as the Hare-hound, or Heirer.

Closely related to the foxhound and beagle, the harrier has been useful as a hunting dog for hare and fox. Their endurance allows them to chase prey for hours on end. Their obedient and gentle temperament makes them a beloved family dog.


Advocates of stag-hunting looked down upon the hare-hunters, commenting that their sport with Harriers was ‘an amusement better calculated for the initiation of juveniles, the entertainment of ladies and the enjoyment of gentlemen advanced in years, and replete with infirmities’. The hare-hunters dismissed these insults, retorting that ‘to the contemplative naturalist, much more of the true spirit of hunting, and the instinct of animals, is to be observed and enjoyed’ with Harriers than with Staghounds.

Known from at least as early as the 13th century. It is traditionally followed on foot by the huntsmen, a practice that was adopted at least 700 years ago.

Some authorities are convinced that the Harrier is an even older breed that can be traced back far beyond the 13th century. In the 400 BC writings of Xenophon they have identified a small Greek hound that sounds exactly like the Harrier of the Middle Ages. They believe that this ancient Greek hound may have been brought to Britain by the Romans, where it then survived more or less unchanged over the centuries.

With its size between that of the foxhound and beagle, and its body shape and coloring similar to theirs, the harrier is considered a close relative of the two breeds. Although lacking the foxhound's speed, it has the endurance to chase its prey for two or three hours. Its lively movement and reliable pursuit of prey make it a trustworthy companion for hunters.

In 1825 the slow-moving, old-fashioned Harrier was upgraded by crossing it with Foxhounds to produce a faster, modern Harrier that could be used for both hare-hunting and foxhunting. With these dogs, the hunters did not always confine themselves to travelling on foot, sometimes riding with the improved Harriers as they would with Foxhounds.


The harrier has a rather flat head and a long, pointed muzzle. Its medium-sized eyes are dark, and are neither prominent nor round. The nose is black; the triangular ears are placed high and are not long. Its back is horizontal and muscular, its chest deep, and its loin is strong and powerful. Its tail is held quite high. The well-developed legs are muscular.

The short, smooth coat is quite dense. Coloring is black, faun, and orange on a white background.

Care and Exercise

Despite its medium size, it is an active dog requiring as much exercise as a large-breed dog. The coat does not need much care; occasional brushing will suffice.

Puppies and Training

A litter of three to five puppies is normal. They are relatively healthy and easy to raise.

The harrier has hunting instincts and a cheerful temperament, but it can be somewhat shy. Possessing decisiveness, they show cleverness, gentleness, initiative, and composure. They are obedient to their master, are loyal to their family, and are playful with children, making them good companion dogs and family pets. Their friendliness toward all dogs makes them amiable pacifists.

Gallery of Harrier