Do you think you have a Harrier?
(But you aren't quite sure?)
Please read the following and then look at the pictures below. All the pictures are of various hound dogs or hound mixes that are NOT Harriers. If, after viewing this page, you still think you may have a Harrier, please contact Wendy McCleery at email@example.com
- If you hound came from a pound or a shelter, then the chances are very slim that your dog is a purebred Harrier.
- If you bought your puppy and the breeder said it was a Beagle, then it IS a Beagle…. even if it’s now grown to 17” and 45 lbs. (Corollary 1: If you have AKC registration papers saying that it’s a Beagle, it IS a Beagle…. even if it’s now grown to 17” and 45 lbs.) With the scarcity of Harriers, why would a Harrier breeder sell a Harrier puppy as a Beagle, for much less money than Harrier puppies sell for?
- If you got a very young puppy (ie 6-16 wks old) from the pound, it is NOT a Harrier. Harrier breeders have lengthy waiting lists for their puppies, so no one who has been waiting a year for a Harrier puppy will turn it in to the pound or let it go unclaimed at the pound if it got loose.
- If you’ve read all the info on the webpages describing Harriers and their personalities, and your hound matches those personality characteristics to a T, that alone does not mean they are a Harrier! Those same personalities & character traits will describe any number of scent hounds or scent hound mixes…. Beagles, Walkers, Foxhounds, etc. There are no personality quirks or behaviors unique to only Harriers.
To illustrate their scarcity, there were only 6 litters (24 puppies) registered with the AKC during 1999 in the entire US. So the chances that one ended up in a pound are exceedingly remote. But it has happened in the past, so it’s not impossible – just highly improbable.
On the other hand, there were over 19,000 Beagle litters, and over 49,000 individual puppies, registered with AKC in 1999. Once you add in the thousands of unregistered (“unpapered”) Beagle litters, plus all the Beagles that bred with some other dog, you get a very large number of hound-type dogs that may resemble Harriers.
Beagles are supposed to be no taller than 15” at the shoulder. However, this size restriction is very difficult to breed for even amongst good conscientious breeders who know what they are doing. So it is very common for back-yard-bred Beagles, or Beagles bred by people who don’t know or don’t care about keeping them under the 15” restriction, to be well over 15”. Seventeen inch Beagles are not uncommon. Simply because your hound is taller than 15” does not make them a Harrier.
If your dog has dewclaws on it’s rear feet (or evidence that rear dewclaws were removed) then they are NOT a Harrier. This is fairly common in Beagles, but is unheard of in Harriers. (Corollary 2: If your dog does NOT have dewclaws on the rear feet, their absence does NOT mean it must be a Harrier.)
Most veterinarians, veterinary technicians, dog groomers, shelter workers, and other pet professionals have never seen a Harrier in person. If you were told by a pet professional that your hound is a Harrier, ask them how they know. Are they are working from first hand knowledge of the breed? If they based their guess on a picture in a book or on a chart, chances are, they are incorrect.
When a Beagle crosses with another breed, the offspring tend to be very houndy-looking dogs that are generally bigger than a Beagle. These are often mistaken for Harriers.
Walker Hounds and Coonhounds are also fairly common breeds, and many of them (as well as mixes) are thought to be Harriers. Walkers Hounds were only recently added to the AKC, so it will be a few years before there are good statistics on their numbers; but there are definitely many more of them than Harriers. Walkers & Coonhounds are popular amongst some of the hunting community; unfortunately many are abandoned or discarded when they don’t hunt the way their owners want them to.
Information on Walker Hounds:
This is a great shot of an over size AKC-registered Beagle, approximately 17.5 inches at the withers. In the left picture, she is seated next to the larger Harrier, in the right picture, she is standing next to a Beagle who measures 14.75 inches.