The Harrier is an ancient variety of sporting dogs, which originated in England more than 800 years ago. Its frolicsome disposition and low grooming requirements make it a great candidate for the role of companion for sporty people. However this dog does best as the hunter’s assistant.
Photo: © Sharon Carvalho (dog's name - Pacific Happytail's Heartbreaker)
The ancestry of the Harrier is hardly traceable because of the breed’s respectable age. It’s thought that the dog had already existed in its modern form by the XIII century. Furthermore Greek manuscripts, which are dated back to 4 000 BC, include depiction of hounds with similar conformation and temperament.
The term Harrier is derived from Norman French and literally designates dog or hound. So, according to the most believable version of the Harrier’s origin, it came to existence as a cross of Bloodhounds, Talbot Hounds, and probably even Basset Hounds, which were brought to England from the territories of today’s France and Belgium. There is also a theory that the English Foxhound, the Fox Terrier and the Greyhound are the forebears of this excellent hunting dog. Finally some dog specialists allege that the Harrier was actually developed by breeding down of the English Foxhound.
This breed quickly distinguished itself as a tenacious and hard-working hunter of hares and foxes. It operated in accord with several dozens of its congeners and had ability to follow the traces of its prey for hours on end. Besides, the dog was compact enough to chase small animals under thick vegetation.
The members of the Harrier were presumably brought to America as early as in the XVIII century. It was in the list of the first breeds, which attained recognition of the American Kennel Club (AKC). The breed also received official acceptance of the Canadian Kennel Club and the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI). Nonetheless the English Kennel Club began to register its specimens only in 1971. Despite nice disposition and diminutive size the Harrier couldn’t won any noticeable popularity as a family pet both in the native land and outside its borders. But it’s still held in esteem by hunters for its superb prey drive and stamina.
The Harrier enjoys pursuing an elusive fox in thickets but it equally likes to spend quiet evenings in the bosom of it human family. Separation anxiety can turn into a serious issue for this pack-oriented dog so make sure to include your pet in as many family activities as possible. It’s very gentle with kids who eagerly invite this cheerful breed to join their games. Naturally this dog must be exposed to various people, animals, sights and sounds in the puppyhood in order to react to them in an adequate way.
Friendliness of the Harrier knows no bounds so it usually welcomes all house guests (including uninvited ones) with wagging of its tail and hearty barking. This dog is generally very vocal and its loud display will probably bring to your attention any suspicious actions near the house. That’s way it makes a reasonably good watcher but at the same time it fits badly for the role of a guardian.
The Harrier is commonly on good terms with other dogs and greets permanent canine companionship. Be mindful that this dog still can show aggression to its counterparts, which it meets outdoors. Additionally it should never be left alone with other species of animals (especially cats) because of its strong prey drive. The breeds’ properly socialized specimen can be successfully kept with other pets and will never hurt a familiar household cat.
The most common problems for the breed include:
· hip dysplasia;
· ear infections.
The grooming of the Harrier isn’t a time-consuming task. Its short and thick coat should be thoroughly brushed only once a week and doesn’t require any professional care. The breed is a moderate shedder so it’s quite possible to control the amount of canine hair with systematic brushing.
Bathe your pet only when it’s dubbed with mud. A weekly teeth brushing is an essential prophylactic measure against periodontal diseases. The dog’s nails also need trimming at least every couple of months.
The Harrier is endowed with sharp mind but it’s also a quite strong-willed dog whose training is usually associated with certain difficulties. Its propensity to independent thinking means that it will acknowledge authority of only a decisive and confident person. The most effective training techniques of this wilful dog include rewards in the form its favourite canine food and generous praise.
At the same time screaming won’t yield desirable results in the work with the Harrier. Moreover some breed members are difficult to housetrain since this breed is somewhat slow to mature.
The Harrier is a lean and agile dog with boundless reserves of energy. So it’s no wonder that it requires enormous amount of vigorous exercises on the regular basis. It won’t become a nice apartment dog since it demands lots of space for playing even indoors. As any Scent Hound this dog is always eager to begin a chase and may easily run away if it’s released off-leash in the area without a high fence.
Of course, a long hunting expedition is the best way for this breed to turn off steam. If your pet lacks physical or mental stimulation, it will display tendencies to hyper activity, unfounded barking and destructive behaviour.