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Harriers

Aliases: Harehound

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Harrier Articles

Harriers The Harehounds

As sometimes occurs, the origins of the Harrier breed are somewhat shrouded in mystery; various accounts exist regarding exactly how and when the dogs developed. The first known pack of actual Harriers existed in the year 1260, so everyone agrees that the breed is quite old. But where exactly did these dogs come from? One theory is that very early crossings between Bloodhounds, Basset Hounds and extinct Talbot Hounds resulted in these mysterious dogs. Another theory postulates other crosses: between the English Foxhound, the Greyhound and the Fox Terrier. The last theory, and the one which many people accept, is that these dogs were merely the "next size down" of the Foxhound and were developed by simply breeding down the latter. [...]

Harriers and Knuckling Over

Fortunately, Harriers are one of the healthiest of dog breeds, suffering only very rarely from a handful of conditions. One issue that is sometimes seen in the breed is "knuckling over"; this is not really a condition or disease in and of itself, but rather a sign or symptom of some underlying problem. When a dog experiences knuckling over, he begins to drag his hind feet when walking. Toe nails are worn down as are knuckles and the skin on the surface of the hind feet. Sometimes the front legs and feet are affected; the problem first arises, or at least is noticed, in the wrist area. There may be a bending of the foot and/or a bending or bowing of the legs; the front legs often cannot support the weight of the dog. The joints can also start swelling. [...]

Harriers and Genetic Shyness

One of the conditions which sometimes affects Harriers is often not seen as a health condition, but rather a behavioral problem: genetic shyness. Lately, however, there has been an increase in the debate concerning whether or not shyness in dogs is entirely dictated by environment, or whether there is a genetic predisposition in some dogs, or even some breeds, to become shy; this is the whole nature versus nurture debate. Indeed, many scientists are now claiming that shyness does have a genetic component and it may be inherited. In the past, it was automatic to assume that any dog who demonstrated shyness had been abused some time in his past. This certainly happens, and shy dogs may have a variety of traumatic experiences in their pasts, but this is by no means the case for all shy dogs. There are a number of shy dogs who have had loving homes from the beginning and yet exhibit some of the signs of shyness; there are also many dogs who have been abused and have never exhibited shyness. [...]

One of the Healthiest Breeds

The effects of selective breeding on dogs, and other living things (including plants), can often be negative. When breeding for a particular trait, humans necessarily restrict the gene pool that goes into a mating, because they will only use organisms with certain characteristics. The more an organism is exposed to strict selective breeding for very specific characteristics, the smaller the available gene pool will become. This small gene pool means that the characteristics of the organism being bred become concentrated, and the same traits will pop up over and over again with high frequency; this is called "breeding true." For example, the Beagle breeds true because each and every Beagle that is born will look a certain way and act a certain way, within a range, of course. Unfortunately, these "concentrated gene pools" also mean that there is an increase in genetic diseases. [...]

One of the Healthiest Breeds

The effects of selective breeding on dogs, and other living things (including plants), can often be negative. When breeding for a particular trait, humans necessarily restrict the gene pool that goes into a mating, because they will only use organisms with certain characteristics. The more an organism is exposed to strict selective breeding for very specific characteristics, the smaller the available gene pool will become. This small gene pool means that the characteristics of the organism being bred become concentrated, and the same traits will pop up over and over again with high frequency; this is called "breeding true." For example, the Beagle breeds true because each and every Beagle that is born will look a certain way and act a certain way, within a range, of course. Unfortunately, these "concentrated gene pools" also mean that there is an increase in genetic diseases. [...]

Harriers and Agility

Agility is a fun dog sport that many dog owners and dogs enjoy immensely; it is probably the most popular fun dog sport at the moment, with owners having their dogs participate both for simple exercise and for competition. Agility began at the end of the 1970s, in England, at the prestigious Cruft’s Dog Show. Originally, there were two main attractions at Cruft’s: the obedience championship and the group judging. There was nothing interesting going on in between these two events and so the Show Committee wanted something to entertain spectators between one exhibition and the next. John Varley was the Committee member that was asked to invent the entertainment. Fortunately for modern agility enthusiasts, Mr. Varley was much more interested in horses than in dogs and so thought up the dog version of horse-show jumping, essentially a fancy dog obstacle course. In 1978, the obstacle course was shown to the public, with two canine teams in competition with each other. It was an enormous success and continues to be an enormous success, all around the world. [...]

Harriers and Tracking

All dogs have an amazing sense of smell, much more advanced than that of a human. That sense of smell was improved in certain breeds, and these breeds were used to "track" game or people; tracking involves following a scent trail left by a person or animal and a dog's ability to track has proven to be useful to humans on many occasions. Dogs have been used to track missing persons and they have been used to track prey on hunts. The Harrier is a breed of dog that was developed as a scent hound, with an excellent sense of smell. While Harriers are not used on the hunt as often as they once were, you can still put that nose to good use and have your dog participate in tracking activities and games. [...]

Harriers and Tracking

All dogs have an amazing sense of smell, much more advanced than that of a human. That sense of smell was improved in certain breeds, and these breeds were used to "track" game or people; tracking involves following a scent trail left by a person or animal and a dog's ability to track has proven to be useful to humans on many occasions. Dogs have been used to track missing persons and they have been used to track prey on hunts. The Harrier is a breed of dog that was developed as a scent hound, with an excellent sense of smell. While Harriers are not used on the hunt as often as they once were, you can still put that nose to good use and have your dog participate in tracking activities and games. [...]

Harriers and Eye Diseases

As mentioned previously, thanks to their limited popularity and successful, informed breeding programs, Harriers are fortunate enough to not suffer from a great deal of genetic diseases. Actually, these dogs are considered one of the healthiest registered breeds. Occasionally, genetic conditions pop up and it is for this reason that breeders still advocate running genetic screens on adults and puppies; breeding individuals with genetic problems would increase the incidence of the genetic problems and the Harrier would no longer enjoy its healthy reputation. Though they haven't been seen in many years, eye problems have been diagnosed in some Harrier puppies and so it's best if you get your Harrier screened for the most common eye problems in dogs. [...]

Harriers and Scratch Packs

Hunting has been a necessity as long as animals have lived on this Earth; for some, hunting was the sole means of feeding themselves and their family. As humanity evolved and became more technologically advanced, hunting also became a sport; men were interested in the hunt, not for their dinner, but to feel the rush and satisfaction that a chase provided. Hunting also had a primeval appeal, reminding mankind of its early days. Hunting, as both a necessity and a sport, has been so important that man has developed a variety of animals to accompany him on the hunt. One of man's most faithful hunting companions is, of course, the dog; there exist a large number of dog breeds that were developed as hunting dogs. Some breeds are specialized in hunting a particular type of game, while other breeds are more general. Some breeds hunt in a very specific way or do a very specific job, while others were developed to fulfill a multitude of roles. [...]

How Does the Harrier Compare to the Foxhound and the Beagle?

There are a variety of hounds developed to accompany man on the hunt, which can be divided into three main categories. Sighthounds are incredibly fast and chase prey down, using their eyes as their main tools for locating prey; these hounds will kill the prey themselves, not waiting for their human handlers. Scent hounds are not as swift as sight hounds, but have an incredible amount of endurance; these dogs do not need to see the prey, but follow its scent. They usually signal to the hunter when prey has been found so that the hunter can kill the game. Lastly, there is the category of hounds with no distinct name, in which you find dogs that can hunt using both scent and sight. [...]

Weird Facts/Did You Know?

Harriers are a very old breed of scent hound; the first established pack dates to the year 1260, though they may have been around before then. Foxhound and the Beagle. Though the Harrier is a native of England and is still used as a working pack dog, the Kennel Club does not officially recognize the breed. Harriers are sometimes called "Beagles on steroids." The Harrier is one of the healthiest recognized breeds. Though the dog was originally bred to hunt hare, it has also been used to hunt foxes. [...]

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