AKC Hound Group


Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

The Harrier is a swift hunting hound with an excellent nose and superior stamina in the field. Sources have widely conflicting stories about the origins of this breed. According to one, the breed was probably developed from crosses of the English Foxhound with the Fox Terrier and Greyhound. According to another, the earliest Harrier types were crossed with Bloodhounds, the Talbot Hound, and even the Basset Hound. In a third source, the Harrier is said to be simply a bred-down version of the English Foxhound. In any case, today’s Harrier is between the Beagle and English Foxhound in size and was developed primarily to hunt hare, though the breed has also been used in fox hunting. The Harrier is still fairly rare in the United States, but has a long history of popularity as a working pack dog in England.


The Harrier is a sturdy, muscular hunting hound with a short, hard coat, usually in tricolor (tan with black saddle and white trim), red and white, or lemon and white (but any color is allowed). Built with large bones for good stamina and strength, the Harrier is slightly longer than tall, with a level topline. The tail is carried high, but is not curled over the back. The skull is broad with a strong, square muzzle. The rounded ears are pendant, and the wide nose is black. The eyes are either brown or hazel. The expression is mellow when the dog is relaxed and alert when he is aroused. The teeth should meet in a scissors or level bite. The feet are tight and catlike; front toes may turn inward. The Harrier is similar to the English Foxhound, but smaller.

Key Facts

  • Height:  19 to 21 in.
  • Size:  Medium
  • Weight:  40 to 55 lbs.
  • Availability:  Very difficult to find
  • Talents:  Hunting, tracking, watchdog, agility, and therapy dog


The Harrier can become a nuisance if he doesn’t have enough outdoor space and exercise. Country environments are best. Prefers life in a pack of people, dogs, or both. Likes to go exploring—be sure to keep on leash or in a safe, enclosed area. The Harrier is generally a very healthy breed with no serious genetic defects, though some instances of hip dysplasia have occurred. For a family pet, choose a Harrier from show lines, as field types can be too energetic for home life.


Merry and active. Good with other dogs. Do not trust with non-canine pets unless raised with them. A gentle, pleasant companion when sufficiently exercised.


  • Children:  Excellent with children
  • Friendliness:  Reserved with strangers
  • Trainability:  Slightly difficult to train
  • Independence:  Fairly independent
  • Dominance:  Moderate
  • Other Pets:  Generally good with other dogs; do not trust with non-canine pets
  • Combativeness:  Friendly with other dogs
  • Noise:  Likes to bay
  • Indoors:  Moderately active indoors
  • Owner:  Not recommended for novice owners


  • Grooming:  Very little grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping:  No trimming or stripping needed
  • Coat:  Short coat
  • Shedding:  Average shedder
  • Exercise:  Moderate daily exercise needed
  • Jogging:  An excellent jogging companion
  • Apartments:  Not recommended for apartments
  • Outdoor Space:  Best with acreage
  • Climate:  Does well in most climates
  • Longevity:  Moderately long lived (12 to 15 years)

Useful Links

AKC® Harrier Breed Standard


Harrier Breed Club


Search for a Breeder


Rescue Organizations


Books about the Harrier


Harrier Gifts