harrier, breed of medium-sized hound whose origin is obscure but whose existence in England dates from the 13th cent. It stands from 19 to 21 in. (48.3–53.3 cm) high at the shoulder and weighs from 40 to 50 lb (18.1–22.7 kg). Its short, dense coat is glossy and usually a combination of black, tan, and white in color. Many authorities believe the harrier to be a descendant of hounds brought to England by the Normans. However, the dog we know today is most probably a bred-down version of the foxhound (see English foxhound), of which it is an exact replica except for its smaller size. The harrier was originally and still is used in packs to hunt hares. In England, this sport had a much broader-based popularity than foxhunting since harriers can be followed on foot. Today it is also kept as a house pet. See dog.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.