The History of the Harrier Dog Breed

Appeared in England during the 1200s
Harrier dog jumping over an obstacle - Hound group


The origins of the Harrier dog breed are subject to significantly different accounts in the sources. One claims that the early Harrier breeds were a result of crossbreeding between Bloodhounds, Talbot Hounds, and possibly Basset Hounds.

Another source claims that the breed was most likely created through crosses between the English Foxhound, Fox Terrier, and Greyhound. Another sees the Harrier as little more than an English Foxhound that has been bred down.

Pack of Harrier dogs standing and sitting on the grass


Harrier Dog Breed’s History With Kennel Clubs and Organizations

Among major dog show organizations, Harrier dogs are registered with the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), American Kennel Club (AKC), Canadian Kennel Club (CKC), and United Kennel Club (UKC). A few small groups like the Scottish Kennel Club (SKC) and American Rabbit Hound Association (ARHA) also register Harrier dogs.

For the past several years, the Kennel Club in the Harrier’s primary country (UK) did not recognize Harriers. They did, however, recognize Harriers from 1851-1971 and they have recently decided to recognize them again. Prior to this past year, the last known Harriers to be shown at a Kennel Club show or entered in their studbook occurred in 1915.

In England, Harriers were owned only by hunting organizations. They are registered with the Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles (AMHB). Generally, Harrier dogs must be “entered” into a pack, hunting with them for a season, to be registered with the AMHB.


harrier dog history - harrier dogs standing on grass


History of the Harrier Dog Breed and the AMHB

Harrier dog breed has a long history in England, with detailed records of individual packs existing from 1260 to the present. In March of 1891, the Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles (AMHB) was formed and published a Stud Book. Harriers were at that time much more popular than Beagles. The 1891-1900 Volumes list 107 registered packs of Harriers. They also began to run the Peterborough Harrier and Beagle Show in 1892. Records of Peterborough Shows and photos of the winners are published annually in the Stud Book.

The foundation stock for the 1891 edition was admitted based on individual pack records or by committee. Hounds continued to be added by the committee for several years. Harriers can also be registered in the appendix of their studbook if only one parent is registered. Offspring of appendix hounds appear in the regular studbook.

Many of these “foundation” Harriers were, in fact, small Foxhounds with parents from recognized Foxhound kennels. Some of these foundation Harriers appear in top-winning Beagle pedigrees, so “Harrier” often defines type of hunting and size of hound rather than pedigree in AMHB packs. The practice of breeding to Foxhounds still occurs in England and is reflected in the pedigrees that follow later in this Volume.


Harrier head photo


Early US Harriers

Several sources mention “colonial” imports of Harriers. The first specific reference I can find is from the first entry of the Craven pack in the first AMHB Studbook. The Craven history mentions Harriers being shipped to America in the 18th Century. (Unfortunately, they did not specify where.) Several organized packs of Harriers hunting in the English style were established early in this century. Some were recognized by the Masters of Foxhounds Association of America and at least two joined the AMHB in England. Many Harriers still hunt in various styles in this country, but the days of large packs with mounted riders appear to be over.



Are you looking for a Harrier Dog puppy?

The best way to ensure a long and happy relationship with a purebred dog is to purchase one from a responsible breeder. Not sure where to begin finding a breeder? Contact the National Parent Club’s Breeder Referral person, which you can find on the AKC Breeder Referral Contacts page.

Want to help rescue and re-home a Harrier Dog?

Did you know nearly every recognized AKC purebred has a dedicated rescue group? Find your new best friend on the AKC Rescue Network Listing here.

Harrier Dog Breed Magazine

Showsight Magazine is the only publication to offer dedicated Digital Breed Magazines for ALL recognized AKC Breeds.

Read and learn more about the Harrier scenthounds, with articles and information in our Harrier Dog Breed Magazine.


Harrier Breed Magazine - Showsight
  • Founded in 1992, the Harrier Club of America (HCA) is now recognized as the Parent Breed Club for Harriers by the American Kennel Club. Although Harriers have been registered by AKC since 1885, no parent club for the breed was AKC recognized until 1996, despite at least 2 prior attempts in the late 60's and early 80's. What we know about the 1960's version of the HCA is very limited. They were incorporated and had George Schmidt of Paramus NJ as Secretary. Ed Johnson and John Schwartz were members. This group is mentioned at least twice in Popular Dogs and hoped to have their own shows and field trials. From 1979-1984, a small group of owners and breeders operated independently, again with the name "Harrier Club of America", sharing information with a newsletter "The Harrier". They announced their formation/incorporation with an advertisement in Dog World. This group supported several shows in Ravenna OH, but lapsed after several years and never obtained AKC status or support. Several of the members are part of the present HCA.

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