The Harriers

Like all scent hunters, the Harrier is never referred to as a dog, always a hound, excepting to denote sex, when the term “dog hound” is used.

Do Harrier dogs make good pets?

The Harrier has few equals hunting kangaroos and wallabies and the presence of a couple of Harriers on a property will discourage visits by these animals.

The Harrier gives tongue when on the game and his musical voice strikes terror into the hearts of wildlife, which will soon seek safer areas.

Some sheepmen declare that the scent hunters frighten their sheep and prefer sight hunters (which run mute), but none of the hounds as a rule attack livestock and most sheep get used to their noise in a fairly short time.

Harriers are particularly good fox hunters and a pair of them will soon get rid of the foxes on a property.

They have exceptionally keen noses and suit Australian conditions by virtue of their speed better than the other hounds.

Organised hunting with the breed is common overseas and many good Harrier packs are to be found in all hunting countries.

The “Drag Clubs” of Ireland use Harriers exclusively for their meets and have a terrific public following.

A course is planned by the organisers and a scent from a fox or similar skin is laid from horseback.

The course is generally as tricky as possible and includes running water, rocky ground and the like.

The hounds are released and points allotted by the judges for scenting, staunchness, keenness, and general ability.

These “drags” are conducted much on the same lines as field trials for gun dogs in Australia, and betting on them is usually heavy.

Harriers are only exhibited in England twice in a year. This occurs at the specialist shows of the breed conducted by the Hunt Clubs. Saplings (hounds under twelve months) are shown and then auctioned at one event, and the second show is confined to older hounds, held at the conclusion of the hunting season.

Evenness of type in a pack is regarded as desirable in England, but few in Australia worry about this point. Comparatively few find their way into the showring here, but those which are shown are usually first-class specimens and generally show signs of field ability.

In judging these hounds, broken incisors, namely, the front teeth between the tusks, are fairly common and it is important to remember that this happens frequently when the hound is hunting.

He keeps his nose fairly close to the ground when on a “hot” scent and gives tongue continuously.

Frequent bumps into rocks, stumps and the like are a common cause of broken teeth.

Built Like Foxhound

The Harrier is built on the lines of the Foxhound and possesses a typical hound head, rather rounded skull, fair stop, strong muzzle but does not carry quite the square lip of the Foxhound.

His ears are large, fine, rounded and hang closely to the side of the head.

The neck is long, powerful, with a slight arch, a moderate amount of dew lap is accepted but excessive throatiness is undesirable and indicates Bloodhound crossing.

The shoulders are deep, well laid back, and the front is moderately narrow. The forelegs are strong, straight, well-boned, but there is a little more spring in pastern than we see in the Foxhound, which gives the Harrier greater speed.

The feet are close knit, with deep, well-padded soles and strong nails.

The chest is deep, with fairly well sprung ribs, and topline is straight with a slight arch over the loin. The tail is set about level with the back and is a natural one, fairly thick, and carried gaily when the hound is working and drops when he is at ease.

The coat is fairly short and smooth and may be any hound color-black, tan and white, black and white, white and tan, and black and tan.

Height at shoulder is about 21-22 inches, and although the soft-eyed Harrier is not usually seen around as a pet, he makes a faithful and loving companion around the home. The hounds should have plenty of exercise and be given hunting whenever possible.


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Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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