Let’s Talk Breed Education!
WHAT IS A HARRIER? BY THE HARRIER CLUB OF AMERICA
H arriers are very unique canine characters. While Harriers are extremely attractive hounds, you cannot consider adding a Harrier to your family based on looks alone. Behind those soft brown eyes and sweet face is a very intelligent, independent, and self-willed scenthound. If you’ve never met a Harrier in person, we strongly recommend that you try to do so. Please contact breeder referral, and we can try to fi nd one in your area. Th is might be challenging as there are few breeders; you might fi nd yourself on a waiting list to get a Harrier. We’ll try to present the pros and cons of hav- ing a Harrier in your life. Like any breed, Harriers have characteristics and traits about them that owners have to be prepared to deal with. While most of these are issues that can be handled using appropriate and consistent training methods, new owners should be aware of them in advance so that you can decide if these are things you can live with. You have to understand a Harrier’s distinct characteristics and accept them... not try to change them. Anyone who gets a Harrier expecting to be able to train it not to wander away from an unfenced yard or not to follow its nose is going to be very disappointed and frustrated. And their Harrier will be unhappy and frustrated as well; they deserve to be appreciated for what they are, not criticized for what they are not. Harriers are very social and people-oriented. Th ey are not happy in the yard by themselves 24 hours a day. If your hound will be alone for most of the day while you are at work, consider getting another dog, or even a cat, for your Harrier to play with; they’ll be much happier than being alone and less likely to get bored and destructive. (A bored Harrier can be a destructive Harrier.) Harriers want to be part of the family and like to spend quality time with you. Th ey like to play games with you, be on your lap when you watch tv, and in your room—preferably in your bed—when you sleep. Harriers have been bred for centuries to follow their noses over long distances. Th is is an instinctive behavior for them—and it may get them into lots of trouble. Many of the Harriers being bred today in the United States have parents or grandparents that were imported directly from working packs in the United Kingdom, so the hunting instinct is still VERY strong in the breed.
Harriers absolutely need to have a securely fenced yard. Th e fence needs to be secure at the top and the bottom. Many Har- rier owners line their fence with chicken wire—to prevent dig- ging out—or add an electric wire to zap them if they get near the fence. Underground fences or invisible fences don’t gener- ally work well with Harriers. If your Harriers get loose and they catch a good scent, their nose will hit the ground and they will go o ff to follow it. Without proper training, they won’t come back no matter how loud you yell, “Come!” It’s not that they don’t love you and want to run away or that they are being pur- posefully disobedient... they are just following their instincts. And unfortunately, there are far too many dangers out there such as cars and other dogs or poisons such as slug or rat bait that will kill your dog. We humans need to make sure that they are safely contained so that their noses don’t get them into a dangerous situation. Harriers, like all dogs, need obedience training/house manners started early. Harriers are very intelligent and can be trained quite easily. Although few Harriers compete in obedience, they are certainly capable if you wish to devote the time and energy into training. Th ey have wonderful problem-solving abilities. Harriers adore food. Most of them will eat as much as you want to give them, so controlling their intake is important to keep a Harrier healthy. A fat Harrier is not only unhealthy, but also unattractive. You will need to steel yourself against those pleading eyes because a Harrier will try to convince you that he/she is “always” hungry! If you want to be able to leave food on a table or countertop, you will have to teach your Harrier not to touch it. Harriers can be talkative. Th ey have a very distinctive sing- ing voice and use it when they are excited. How much your Harrier talks depends on him/her and, more importantly, the owner. Harriers can be taught to be quiet. Sometimes it is help- ful to teach a Harrier when it is appropriate to make noise, to allow them an outlet. Some Harriers like to dig. A few dig for the sheer joy of it. Some dig after moles or other below ground critters, and many will dig out of boredom. You need to train them not to dig or provide them with a place to dig (a sandbox or designated area in the yard) and train them to use that. However, if you put an under-exercised, ignored Harrier in your carefully landscaped yard, expect them to re-landscape to their taste.
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A mong major dog show organizations, Harriers are reg- istered with the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), American Kennel Club (AKC), Canadian Ken- nel 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. Th ey did, however, recognize Harriers from 1851-1971 and they have recently decided to recog- nize them again. Prior to this past year, the last known Harriers to be shown at a Ken- nel Club show or entered in their stud book [occurred] in 1915. In England, Harriers were owned only by hunting organizations. Th ey 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. Th e 1891-1900 Volumes list 107 registered packs of Harriers. Th ey 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. Th e foundation stock for the 1891 edition was admitted based on individual pack records or by committee. Hounds continued to be added by committee for several years. Harriers can also be registered in the appendix of their stud book if only one parent is registered. O ff spring of appendix hounds appear in the regular stud book. 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 de fi nes type of hunting and size of hound rather than pedigree in AMHB packs. Th e practice of breeding to Foxhounds still occurs in England and is re fl ected in the pedigrees that follow later in this Volume. EARLY US HARRIERS Several sources mention "colonial" imports of Harriers. Th e fi rst speci fi c reference I can fi nd is from the fi rst entry of the Craven pack in the fi rst AMHB Studbook. Th e Craven history mentions Harriers being shipped to America in the 18th Cen- tury. (Unfortunately, they did not specify where.) Several organized packs of Harriers hunting in the English style were established early in this century. Some were recog- nized 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 appears to be over.
BY THE HARRIER CLUB OF AMERICA
SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, NOVEMBER 2020 | 277
HARRIERS The Breeders’ Perspective DONNA SMILEY-AUBORN KINGSBURY HARRIERS 1. Why did you choose your breed & how long have you been involved? We were looking for a low-maintenance, medium- sized, active breed that required minimal grooming, plus no cropping or docking. Harriers fit that bill per- fectly. I’ve been actively involved in the breed since 1989, and have bred over 50 AKC champions. 2. Where did your breed originate & what was its main purpose? for a rare breed. But pretty consistently winning the Breeder’s Class at Nationals is also something I’m very proud of. It is also very rewarding for me to take Hounds that have been out hunting one day, to shows the next day, and win rather dependably with them. 7. Which dog not bred or owned by you, do you wish you could have owned and why? Ch. Mr. Reynal’s Monarch was the first AKC Champion Harrier. He also won BIS at the prestigious Morris & Essex show in 1936. From the few photos still around, plus the famous painting of Monarch in AKC’s collection, he looks to have had excellent breed type – as well as simply being a very handsome Hound. It would be fun to have him today; he would be very competitive with today’s Hounds. 8. What advancements in structure, health and/or temperament have you seen over the years?
Harriers were developed in England to hunt hares (not rabbits!) in large packs. Originally followed on foot, they have been hunted from horseback for over a century now. Hunting packs still exist today in England, Ireland, New Zealand & the US. 3. What is the most distinctive physical and mental characteristic of your breed? Physically, Harriers must be moderate in all things: size, angles, movement, etc. This moderation allows for them to have the unsurpassed endurance that is the hallmark of the breed. Mentally, they must be always willing to hunt, to go go go, to never quit or give up the chase. 4. Which kennel, domestic or foreign, has given the most to the breed, and how? The hunting packs from centuries back through today, keep the working aspect of the breed central to their breeding programs. This is crucial to maintain- ing correct Harrier type and should be of critical impor- tance to breeders today. 5. Which sire & dam have contributed the most to your breeding program? Three UK imports are the foundation of my breeding program: Chance (Ch. Vale of Lune Chancellor, ROM), Miller (Ch. Vale of Lune Miller, CD, ROM) and Lilac (Ch. Easton Lilac, ROMX). Linebreeding on various combina- tions of these three with a few other crosses, has given me all of my Hounds today. I can still see Lilac, Chance & Miller in all my Hounds, which makes me smile. 6. What is the greatest achievement you have had in dogs? Breeding three multi-Best-In-Show winners is good
When I started in the breed 20 years ago, wide fronts and out at the elbows were much more common than they are today. Breeders have really cleaned those up nicely for the most part. Health testing wasn’t done very much 20 years ago, and now most breeders do OFA & CERF prior to breeding. Temperaments are pretty much the same - outgoing, fun-loving, self-willed and full of mischief, as they should be! 9. Do you think the standard is adequate? If not, what areas need attention? While there are a few areas I might like to reword slightly, for the most part I can live with the current standard. It’s not perfect, but it’s not bad either. 10. What is the most common judging mistake in your breed? Judges need to really comprehend the incredible mileage required of these hunting Hounds, so that they can look for - and reward - moderation and endurance. Flashy fast movement in the group doesn’t necessarily mean correct Harrier movement. 11. What advice do you have for people wanti- ng to own your breed? Have a good sense of humor, as Harriers will always do something goofy to make you laugh! It’s a survival trait that keeps owners from killing them when they get into mischief as they invariably will.
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You see, humans have been creating new ani- mals through engineered evolution for millennia. Rather than nature selecting for survival traits through random mutations, man has been capital- izing on minute genetic variations within animals for as long as we have been domesticating them. That’s how the huge wild aurochs that once roamed Europe eventually became placid domestic cattle and mild-mannered dairy cows of today. The British Isles went wild over the past few centuries creating and perfecting breeds of dogs to fill sometimes very tiny niches in working abili- ty. These original sportsmen and huntsmen first looked at the specific game they were wanting to hunt as well as the terrain in which they would be hunted, and then crafted their dogs to best fit that niche. Simply look at the breeds in the Sporting Before Charles Darwin so dramatically changed the world with his brilliant masterpiece, “On the Origin of Species”, his background in British field sports and hunting gave him insight into the whole concept of “evolution”. HARRIERS The Evolution of they are quite different. And it is these very differ- ences that Harriers and Beagles were created to match. While rabbits and hares are in the same order (lagomorpha) and family (leporidae), they differ in genus. Hares are in the lepus classification with rabbits being in several different genera; sylvilagus and oryctolagus are the most common. Both hares and rabbits are very fertile and By Donna Smiley-Auborn
reproduce easily and often, as is required of suc- cessful prey species. However, hares do not have burrows below ground but rather have shallow depressions on top of the ground where they hun- ker down overnight. They therefore give birth to young that are born fully furred with eyes open and ready to run. Hares also tend to be bigger than rabbits, with larger ears, legs and rear feet. On the other hand, rabbits give birth to blind, naked, helpless babies in cozy fur-lined nests, bur- rows and tunnels dug underground. Beagles were crafted to hunt rabbits, as they are a smaller, slower Hound than the Harrier. They pursue rabbits tirelessly, but not with excessive speed, because when a rabbit is pushed too hard or fast it will bolt down a hole in a split second, thereby ending the chase. Harriers were developed to be a perfect match for hares, which are larger and faster and without any burrows for escape. Rabbits are overmatched with Harriers, and Beagles are usually too small to be very successful with the larger, faster hares. Hares and rabbits both tend to run in large cir- cles when pursued, most covering several acres or more of their home territory. When hunted, they don’t bolt for miles as do foxes or coyotes, but rather they will eventually circle back to near where they started.
Group, where British breeds predominate, and you will see this creativity. Broad categories include Setters, Pointers, Flushers & Retrievers, with each group crafted to perform a very specif- ic job in regards to hunting feathered game. And within those broad groups, there is even more specialization. For example, Cocker Spaniels were created for hunting woodcock, and the larg- er English Springer Spaniels were crafted to “spring” gamebirds into the air to be either shot or taken with a falcon. Similar specialization is also seen in the Scent Hounds. So to understand some of the very basic differences that led to the creation of Harriers and Beagles for hunting packs, you must first under- stand their intended quarry. To the general public, “rabbits” and “hares” are interchangeable as they both bring to mind cute, furry hopping creatures with big ears. In reality,
96 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE • F EBRUARY 2010
The Evolut on of HARRIERS
Through selective breeding, huntsmen created Hounds that do the same thing when hunting – they circle back to the hunter in very large loops when searching for quarry. “Foxhounds cast for- ward, Harriers (and Beagles) cast back” is an old huntsman’s adage, which is definitely true. These characteristics, as well as other physical traits nec- essary for successful hunting careers, were bred into the Hounds to best match their quarry. To fully appreciate Harriers, you must further understand how they are bred and used in their homeland, the UK. There Harriers are only found in the few remaining handful of hunting packs currently registered with the Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles (AMHB). Harriers are never kept as individual housepets and are never shown in Kennel Club shows. They are a working animal, bred for centuries for one pur- pose – the successful pursuit of the large European hare and/or the red fox. The hunts are generally owned and managed by a committee, with one or more Masters governing the entire process and responsible to the members for providing good sport on the hunting days. They achieve this by tailoring their own individual pack to be the best suited to hunting their particu- lar countryside and quarry. In the southeast, where the countryside is most- ly f lat open fields and where the mounted riders prefer fast Thoroughbreds, the Harriers tend to be more up on leg, a bit lighter in bone and sub- stance thereby making them faster in the open country. However, in the northern parts where the countryside is more hills and valleys, with rougher terrain and more rock walls, thickets and gorse, the riders choose slower draft horse/thoroughbred crosses, so the Hounds consequently tend to be stockier with a bit more bone and substance to handle that terrain and hunting conditions. If the pack hunts fox as well as hare, their sea- son starts in early fall with “cub hunting”, which is an informal training period where the young untried Hounds just brought back into the pack are worked with the older, experienced Hounds in chasing and disbursing the yearling fox cubs from their mother’s home territory. The formal hunt season usually begins in earnest in November, and continues through early spring. During this time,
hounds will be hunted two or three times a week. This is where sound conformation, endurance, heart and hunting ability are put to the test. Depending on territory, most hunts will typically cover 20-30 miles in a day. Multiply that by two or three times a week for five months a year, and you’ll realize that Harriers are expected to cover 800 - 1,000+ miles each season. Now perhaps you can begin to understand why Harriers have to be constructed the way they are. Moderation in all things, incredible stamina, rugged durability and unceasing determination are their hallmarks and their legacy. This is the work- ing standard to which the huntsman breeds: if a Harrier hunts successfully for several years, it is bred; if it doesn’t hunt well or isn’t built well enough to hunt satisfactorily, it is culled. A tough but utilitarian standard to be sure. These characteristics are what give us correct “Harrier type”. Correct Harrier type is NOT one single look. It is a working standard that lays out the blueprint for correct type, and allows for a wide variety of styles within that framework. Remember that each pack in the UK looks slightly different from the others because their own style of Hound has been created to be best suited for their particular needs. Yet each pack has the correct underlying foun- dation of a medium-sized solid Hound that is mod- erate in all ways so as to have the durability and stamina necessary to cover a thousand miles a year for five, six or seven years. Because Harriers in the US all trace back some way or another to the various packs in the UK, you will see a variety of styles in the show rings today. No one style is better than the others, as long as the individual Hound still fits within the medium- sized, moderate, durable scent-hound type. Breeders, exhibitors and judges will have their own preferences in style, and the Harrier standard is written loosely enough to accommodate that. The next time you see a large entry of Harriers at a show, take a few minutes to look at the vari- ous styles. And then look beyond the obvious dif- ferences to see the underlying similarities that are truly the correct measure of Harrier breed type.
By Donna Smiley-Auborn
S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE • F EBRUARY 2010 • 97
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