The sport of hunting rabbits on horseback with packs of hounds is well documented. Historians have recorded that packs of hounds were used to hunt hare and rabbit and fox as early as the 13th century in England. In 400 B.C. the Greek historian Xenophon described packs of hounds being used for hunting rabbits.
it is believed that the word “Harrier” comes from the Norman word for “hound” and that the origin of the Harrier hound may have travelled to England with the Normans. In seventeenth century England, the sport of running packs of hounds of fifty or more after the rabbit or fox while the hunters followed on horseback was enjoyed by the wealthy upper class.
The Harrier was the breed more commonly used by the lower classes. In actuality there is not a lot of difference between the two breeds in outward appearance. The Harrier is a dog a that is taller than the Beagle and shorter and blockier in appearance than its taller “cousin” the Foxhound. The specified height for the Harrier is 19-20 inches at the withers with females being slightly shorter.
Hunting with packs of Harriers or Foxhounds has always been an extremely popular sport in England but in today’s modern society, what with the legal restrictions on this type of hunting and the lack of large open spaces in which to run the horses and the dogs it is seldom seen outside of exclusive game farms or privately held lands.
The Harrier makes a friendly and gentle house dog. He is usually a quiet sort in the house, not creating much of a disturbance but preferring to lie around and bask in the warmth of human companionship. Of course like all hounds he needs plenty of exercise, this is one of the breeds that does put on weight quickly if not kept fit and trim. There is little to be done in the way of grooming, currying once a week with a rubber currycomb works well to clean out dead hairs and dirt.
Also he will need a fenced area if not kept on a leash when outdoors, for he will be inclined to roam. The Harrier is a “baying hound” and will give voice when it gets “on the scent” of the prey. Like most of the hounds, this is a deep a melodious voice that will carry quite a distance so if it is going to be left alone in a neighborhood it can raise quite a noise when lonely! If kept penned it is necessary that this dog have a kennel mate. It is far happier in a home as it loves people.
The Harrier has the typical hound outline, straight of leg in the front, with a thick and well muscled chest and neck, with the typical dropped ears of the hound and a gentle expression in its dark eyes. The Harrier may be of any hound color and the coat should be “hard”, dense and glossy. As a general rule the Harrier has very few health problems.