This section is from the book "All About Dogs - A Book For Doggy People", by Charles Henry Lane. Also available from Amazon: All About Dogs: A Book For Doggy People.
While I am writing these lines, I have not the statistics before me, but I am certainly under the impression there are not so many packs of Harriers in the country as there formerly were. The name of "Heirers," or Harriers is known to have been given to hounds used for hare hunting in the time of King Henry V., but they were also, occasionally used for hunting deer! Before this, the same hound was known as the Brachetis, or Bercelettus, the diminutive from the word "Brache." The breed, in a more or less coarse form, has, undoubtedly existed for "ages," and it is thought by many, that it is more likely Foxhounds were derived from it, than that it was the other way about. The same colours are found amongst Harriers as with his larger and more numerous comrades, but usually, for some reason, not disclosed, more of the "pied," (particularly the hare-pied, yellow and white, shaded with black or grey on the back or saddle) and the sort of dapple, or freckle, generally termed "blue mottle," is thought to be peculiar to Harrier blood, and that, when it makes its appearance amongst any other of the hounds, it shows a cross of "Harrier blood," somewhere in the strain! This colour is often accompanied with hound-tan markings on head, and black patches on body, although the latter do not conduce to the beauty of the specimen.
Some of the packs of Welsh Harriers, which for scenting and working qualities, are very hard to beat, are so versatile, that it is said they will "hunt anything with a hairy skin," unless they are broken from it when young, and I have heard of a pack, in the Principality, which regularly hunts hares, until Fox hunting begins, when the "Green Coats" are exchanged for "Pink," and they take up the pursuit of Reynard, as to the manner born! The height of the Harrier is a matter of taste. "Stone-henge" puts it at under twenty inches; probably the average is about eighteen inches. A well-known sportsman in Dorsetshire, in 1871, speaks of the pack belonging to the late Mr. T. B. Evans, of Chettle, near Blandford, which he considered the best he had ever seen, and consisted of bitches fifteen and a half inches, combining the blood of the packs of Messrs. Wicksted, Hurrell, Boughley, and Sir Vincent Corbet. He goes on to say, "The education of this pack is marvellous; rabbits are frequently left to feed in the kennel, and occasionally, I am told, coupled to any reprobates of the pack, to shame them from molesting them! I have hunted with these hounds, and have had the very great pleasure of seeing them handled by that supreme master of his art.
I have seen these hounds pass by rabbits, as Pointers would go through a poultry yard. I have watched them as they spread, like a fan, when they were picking out a cold scent, the worthy master sitting quietly on his cob, and when they recovered it, seen them stream away, with voices "like a Peal of Bells," and as close together as a flock of pigeons!
Harrier "Traveller" aldenham kennels.
I have observed how they followed all the hare's doublings, and with the true Harrier instinct, cast back, when in perplexity, never "babbling," skirting, or puzzling over other stains, but, carrying on the line, until they pulled down their game, sometimes even, after a forty-five minutes burst. Many sportsmen complain in the present day that Harriers are becoming too fast to do their work properly, and that, this has arisen from crosses with Foxhounds, the original variety, being thought to date back to the old "Southern Hound," more remarkable for their great powers of scent, and hunting quality, than for pace.