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Harriers look quite a bit like big Beagles, and they share many traits with both the Beagle and the English Foxhound. They love to bark and bay, sniff out their prey, and romp around outdoors. These eager, big-boned dogs stand up to 1 foot, 9 inches at the tallest and weigh between 45 and 60 pounds.
Harriers are loyal, dedicated companions for families who don't mind providing their dog with plenty of activity. Although they are pleasant, happy and independent, these dogs will not adapt to a couch potato lifestyle.
Harriers are enthusiastic barkers who see it as their duty to announce all visitors to the home, but once they've alerted their family, they usually stop to exuberantly greet new friends. Although Harriers are usually quite friendly and amiable with their families and welcome new friends, they are not quite as outgoing and carefree as their relatives, the Beagle. They do love to spend time with their families, but their favorite family activities are those that involve running, biking or vigorous play outdoors. Harriers are scent hounds, which means that they will follow their nose at all times. Make sure they have a large fenced-in yard in which to roam, explore and investigate. Especially as a puppy, the Harrier will need some supervision outside to make sure that they don't try to escape in pursuit of a scent.
Harriers need plenty of activity and exercise. If they are neglected or left indoors without play, they can become destructive, sullen and obese. They were bred to hunt in packs, so they can be very sociable and friendly around other dogs. If you do need to leave your Harrier alone for significant periods of time, consider investing in a friend for your pet. Harriers will be much happier to share their house with another Harrier.
Harriers have short, thick coats that should be shiny and somewhat smooth to the touch. Their coat comes in all hound colors — the color of the Harrier's coat is not an important feature in the breed standard. They are generally tri-colored in shades of black, tan to lemon and white, but some are simply red and white. They have large, soft ears and gentle, pleading facial expressions. Their tails are set high on their body and stand upright so that they are easily identified in the field.
Grooming the Harrier is not a time-consuming task. Their short coats shed occasionally, but not excessively. To decrease shedding, keep your house tidy and help stimulate hair growth, brush your Harrier with a rubber brush or a hound glove.
With preparation, perseverance and a positive attitude, bathing can become a fun and fulfilling part of the regular grooming cycle, while helping your dog avoid many diseases and infections.
The general rule of thumb for dog bathing is every three months but dogs with short coats do produce a distinctive dog odor, so your nose may encourage you to bathe them more frequently - about every 8-12 weeks. The coat should end up fresh smelling, shiny, with no loose or shedding hair. First give the dog a good brushing to remove dead hair and mats. Place a rubber mat in the tub to provide secure footing and fill the tub with three to four inches of lukewarm water. Use a spray hose, pitcher or unbreakable cup to wet the dog, taking caution to avoid getting water in the eyes, ears and nose. Massage in pet shampoo, saving the head for last. Immediately rinse thoroughly, starting with the head to prevent soap from dripping into the eyes. Towel dry. Wipe wrinkled breeds with a soft cloth and make sure they are totally dry after bathing; high-velocity dryers work great to remove excessive loose hair with shedding; coat should be fresh smelling, shiny, with no loose or shedding hair.
Clipping or trimming your dog’s coat is far easier than you would ever imagine. With the right clipper, trimmer and scissors, giving your dog a haircut is easy on your wallet and your schedule.
Most dogs with short coats generally require occasional trims and tidying up in areas of excessive hair growth with trimmers or blunt scissors. It's always wise to take a dog for a short walk or exercise to calm them down before trimming. Remember to brush the coat first to remove tangles and mats. Use a trimmer or a scissors to even out areas around the tail, paws, sanitary areas and chest, as needed. When finished, the coat should lay flat and smooth against the body of most short-haired dogs.
Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.
Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience. As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.
You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.
Make sure to check the Harrier's ears for infection. The large, drop ears catch water and debris, and they can easily become infected or irritated. Wash out the ears with a cotton swab and make sure to look for irregularities frequently.
Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.
Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.