Dog Breed Group: Hunting DOg
Life Span: 12-14 years
Weight: 44 pounds (20 kg)
Height: 19 inches (47.5 cm)
Origin of Name: The Beagle-Harrier appears to be either a large Beagle or a small Harrier.
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There is considerable disagreement about the history of the Beagle-Harrier. Some say that it has existed in France since the Late Middle Ages or the Early Renovation, while others claim that it did not develop until the 19th century. There is also debate as to how the breed evolved. Many claim that the Beagle-Harrier was developed by crossing the Beagle and the Harrier, but many other radicals emphasize that the dog was developed directly from the mutual ancestor of both the Beagle and the Harrier. Proponents of both theories believe that the breed was definitely crossbred with medium-sized French hunting.
The reason for the confusion over the origin of the Beagle-Harrier is that there is substantial controversy over the origin of the Beagle and Harrier. There have been scanthews similar to modern day beagles and harriers that have existed in England since at least the Roman Times, but it is unclear what effect these dogs have on the creation of modern breeds. The names Harrier and Beagle were recorded in written records in 1200 and 1400 respectively, and were used to describe dogs similar to modern breeds. However, many claim that these old breeds were actually extinct and replaced with modern entertainments developed from the English Foxhound in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Interestingly, many also claim that the English Foxhound was partially descended from the Beagles and Harrier. The debate between proponents of different origins of the two breeds is quite considerable, but the truth will probably never be known until new evidence is revealed. In the opinion of this author, absolute truth is possibly a combination of different theories. There were probably ancient breeds that were similar to modern Harriers and Beagles for many centuries, and possibly even millennia. In the 18th and 19th centuries, these old breeds were probably crossed with the English foxhound to develop modern breeds. It has also been suggested that beagles and harriers were traditionally the same breed, and that the terms were used just to describe individual dogs of different sizes. This is very likely, and indeed was the case for the Cocker and Springer Spaniels in the 20th century.
However and whenever Beagles and Harriers developed, at some point they were introduced in France. Many claim that the first introduction occurred between the 11th and 15th centuries. In 1066, William the Conqueror (a vassal of the King of France) invaded England. This invasion resulted in several centuries of Norman (French) rule in England. However, the Norman rulers of England continued to occupy large tracts of land in France, most notably in the regions of Normandy and Aquitaine, most of which until the conclusion of the Hundred Years' War in the 1400s. During this 400-year period, the English and French nobility were in close contact and frequently exchanged hunting dogs. Some supporters claim that during this time mutual ancestors of the Beagle and Harrier or both breeds entered southwestern France. This theory is motivated by the fact that southwestern France is the place where the province of Aquitaine is located. If true, the Beagle-Harrier was probably influenced by some of the oldest French hunting breeds, including the St. Hubert Hound and the Grand Blue de Gascogne.
It is more often claimed that the Beagle-Harrier was developed in the 19th century. Technological development was made possible by the Industrial Revolution, which increased ease of travel, speed and safety. This made dogs cheaper and easier to use than ever before and provided canine fanatics to the United Kingdom and France with the ability to regularly import dogs from all over the world. It is very possible that either the Beagle and the Harrier, or some intermediate form of both, arrived in southwestern France at this time. Until more evidence can be found for an older original, this theory is more likely both. If this theory is correct, then the Beagle-Harrier was probably influenced by the recently developed French hunting breeds such as Petit Bleu de Gascogne, Braque francis (Pyrenees) and various breeds of Basset. Proponents of this theory often claim that the breed was developed by the French nobleman Baron Gerard, who is known to have kept a pack in the 19th century. However, others claim that Baron Gerrard was one of several breed developers or that they only bred dogs that had existed in the area for centuries.
Whatever the actual origin of the beagle-harrier, the breed became a highly skilled and friendly hunting dog. The Beagle-Harrier looks almost identical to both the Beagle and the Harrier, with the only difference being that the breed was intermediate in size between the two. Although beagles and harriers have traditionally been used almost exclusively in England and North America.