OVERVIEW OF THE HARRIER
Harriers are a very rare breed with a height of 19 to 21 inches and a weight of 45 to 60 pounds. They were initially bred to hunt hares and foxes in packs, but are also ideal companions for active families.
Harriers have very high energy demands and are affectionate with kids. They are friendly with other dogs and strangers if socialized from a young age. They are good watchdogs and will alert bark. Their friendliness, however, may exceed their guard dog ability after alerting you.
Due to their active nature, these working dogs are not suited for apartment living. They need a lot of exercise and space and are best suited to experienced dog owners. They need an owner who can be an assertive yet gentle leader while being consistent with obedience training in a positive and encouraging manner.
Harriers are likely to see any smaller non-canine home pets as something that appeals to their prey drive. If they spot a squirrel or rabbit outside, be sure that the chase will be on. It’s therefore important to ensure you have a fenced-in area and always keep your Harrier on a leash when outside your home.
As pack dogs, they love being with others, whether dogs or their humans. These loyal and playful dogs are a good match for active families, hikers, runners, and farm living where they can have a job to do. Better yet, they will enjoy life with a weekend hunter.
They have long floppy ears and thick pads under their feet for long hours of hunting through rough terrain. These dogs have a long drawn-out bark, another reason why they are not suited for apartment life.
In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know when welcoming a sweet, even-tempered Harrier to your family.
HARRIER FOOD AND HEALTH
Harriers are generally strong and healthy dogs. It is recommended that you get health clearances from the breeder to avoid hereditary illnesses. Make sure the breeder shows you health clearances for the puppy and both parents before you take your new pet home.
Ask to see clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals for hip and elbow dysplasia and hypothyroidism. You’ll also want clearances for von Willebrand’s disease, thrombophilia, and that their eyes are healthy. You can verify health clearances on the offa.org website.
With their floppy ears they can be prone to ear infections, so check their ears regularly to catch issues before they develop into something serious.
Ensuring that your dog gets a well-balanced diet is vital to keeping them healthy. There is a range of healthy food options in dry and home-cooked varieties. Lean meat such as fish and chicken are generally good cooked options with sweet potatoes and peas. You can also opt for a good quality dry food formula with pet gravy.
The amount of food an adult Harrier needs will depend on their weight, age, and activity level. It is generally between one-and-a-half to two cups daily, divided into two servings. Consult your vet when determining this and adapt it as needed.
Puppies have different nutrient needs to ensure healthy brain, bone, and muscular development. It’s important to never give your puppy dog food designed for adult dogs. Get food specifically formulated for puppies and follow the recommended feeding guidelines since they may need more food for healthy growth.
If you are feeding your dog home-cooked food, be aware that there are many human foods that are toxic to dogs. These include simple items like onions, garlic, raisins, chocolate, grapes, xylitol, macadamia nuts, and caffeine, among others. High fat, high sodium, and sugary foods should also be avoided.
Additionally, be aware of foods that may cause skin allergies or stomach upsets. These include items containing wheat, gluten, or dairy products. Always introduce new food types in small quantities.
LEASHES AND COLLARS FOR YOUR HARRIER
Be prepared to be the pack leader when training your Harrier but never use aggressive training methods. These dogs need to be trained with positive reinforcement, patience, and consistent practice. They are highly intelligent and can be independent thinkers.
Although they are great hiking and running partners as adult dogs, puppies’ exercise needs are different. From nine weeks to four months old, they need 15 to 20 minutes of play in the mornings and afternoons. Puppy school once or twice a week is a good way to socialize your pup and for them to get some exercise.
Between four to six months they should start obedience classes and can walk up to half a mile with you. Add 40 minutes of play daily from six months to a year.
Starting with walking distances that are too long or jogging too soon can cause damage to the bones and joints that are still developing. After one year your dog can start jogging with you, but keep it under a mile with frequent breaks. As they mature you can increase the distance. Avoid hard surfaces that cause too much impact on the joints (such as concrete).
Always keep your Harrier on a leash when outside your fenced property. You’ll need an effective leash to keep them at bay, especially if they spot a squirrel or sniff an interesting scent. A collar can place a great amount of pressure against their neck and trachea, which can cause permanent damage and health problems. Instead, use a harness with a leash that clips on. These are generally adjustable, so you’ll be able to use them during different growth stages.
You will, however, need to upsize their walking or running gear from puppy to fully grown adult stages. A collar should only be worn for pet identification. Check it daily when they are puppies and teens to ensure it is not too tight and upsize as necessary. There should be space underneath the collar to fit two fingers. Remove it in the evenings or when your pet is at home. Leaving the collar on can cause rashes, infections, or bald patches around the neck.
BEST CRATES, BEDS AND DOG HOUSES FOR HARRIERS
Although Harriers love being outdoors, they are loyal and affectionate and will likely want to spend nighttime inside with their human family. Having said that, you’ll probably want to give your dog an option and see what they prefer. Ideally, when they are house trained, give them access to move indoors and outdoors as they like.
A dog house can be a great place for them to retreat when they feel like taking a nap or if they are left outside during the day. When choosing a dog house, you need to consider that the size should fit your pet pal when they are fully grown. This means that your adult Harrier needs to be able to stand, stretch out and turn around comfortably inside. Keep in mind that a blanket or dog bed will also be placed inside the dog house which will take up additional space.
Choose a house with a removable roof to make cleaning and airing it out easy. Opt for a unit that is slightly raised off the ground to prevent dampness and cold. Be mindful of where you place the dog house. You don’t want it in an area that receives full sun all day, nor in a spot that doesn’t get any sun.
A dog bed is a must for your Harrier. A good night’s sleep is just as important for your pet as it is for you. If your dog is elderly or has any joint problems, an orthopedic mattress or memory foam bed will support its joints. For a young, healthy dog you could also opt for a slightly elevated dog bed. Something with a removable cover that can easily be washed in the machine will be the best option.
BEST TOYS FOR HARRIERS
Harriers require lots of mental and physical stimulation. This means that there is a wide range of toys they will love!
While they are puppies, teething toys are a must. These textured or flavored toys can help ease itchy and achy gums. They also give your puppy something to chew on rather than furniture, their bed, or your shoes. As they mature, change to slightly bigger and more durable chew toys. Toys such as flavored ropes and teeth cleaning toys are good options. Even though they are good for your dog’s teeth, they do not replace the need for brushing.
An outdoor agility training kit will keep your pet pal physically and mentally engaged and make training a lot more fun. These sets can include a mix of hoops and tunnels for them to jump through as well as jump poles and weave poles.
Erratic balls and Kongs are fun for playing fetch since they bounce in unpredictable directions. Some snowman-shaped Kong toys can hold a treat inside. Once your furry pal retrieves the toy and returns it to you, they can receive these treats as a reward. A ball launcher will give you extra distance and require your pet to spend a little more energy retrieving the ball.
GROOMING INSIGHTS FOR HARRIER OWNERS
Harriers have big soft ears and short thick coats. They’re mostly seen in black, tan, and white combinations or red and white. Although they shed moderately, they are not high maintenance when it comes to grooming.
Your pet pal should be brushed weekly with a curry brush or hound mitt. Regular brushing will spread their natural skin oils evenly for a healthy coat and skin maintenance. It will also remove dead and loose hairs so they don’t get onto your furniture and clothing.
An important part of grooming your Harrier is checking its ears. Since their folded ears block air circulation it is necessary to clean them weekly to prevent infections. Gently wipe the ear with a cotton ball and cleaning solution obtained from your vet. Don’t ever stick a cotton swab in their ear; only wipe the part you can see. If anything looks red, smells, or seems tender, it can be a sign of infection. Scratching their ears or shaking their head frequently can also be signs that something is not right.
While brushing them weekly, also check their skin, eyes, and mouth for any irregularities. If they don’t wear their nails down naturally in the outdoors, they will need to be clipped. If you are doing the nail clipping, make sure you know how since dogs have blood vessels in their nails. This can make a slightly wrong clip bloody and painful. You may prefer getting a professional groomer to do this once a month.
Your dog’s teeth need to be brushed daily as far as possible to prevent gum disease and tartar build-up. Make sure to use toothpaste specifically formulated for dogs since human toothpaste is harmful to them.
Get your Harrier accustomed to being groomed and having its paws handled from the puppy stage. Always make grooming a positive experience with encouragement and praise. Not getting your puppy used to being checked can make grooming and vet visits unpleasant for both of you when they’re older.
BEST HARRIER ACCESSORIES
With such an adventurous pet pal, there’s no limit to dog accessories to stock up on.
If you have a hiking or camping lifestyle, get your Harrier their own hiking gear that won’t add much load to what already needs to be carried. Foldable water and food bowls are great to keep your pet hydrated and fed while adding hardly any weight to your backpack. They can even carry it themselves if you get them their very own dog backpack. These are similar to a harness so your pet pal can move, run and jump comfortably without any obstruction. They are lightweight and generally have waterproof zipper pockets on both sides. You can attach a leash on either the back or front. Get one with reflective strips for low-light conditions and don’t forget an inflatable dog bed for overnight hikes!
To learn more about medium breeds like the Harrier, check out our breed hub page.