The History of the Harrier

Among major dog show organizations, Harriers 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 Harriers. 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, Harriers must be “entered” into a pack, hunting with them for a season, to be registered with the AMHB.

Harriers and the AMHB

Harriers have 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.

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.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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    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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