Two different types of hound have been bred over several centuries for their working qualities related to the hare. They are the harrier and the beagle. Beagles stand between 14 and 16 inches and harriers up to 21 inches in height.
The qualities of a working hound are:
Scenting ability – 'nose'.
Stamina - which depends greatly on their conformation.
Bidability - their willingness to work and live as a member of a pack in and out of kennels
Steadiness - that they hunt the line required and no other
Voice - which is the sign that they are on the correct line.
All hounds are bred in kennels and are registered annually by their name in the AMHB Stud Book of their breed. Hounds bred from those which are not recorded in the stud book may later be so recorded through an 'appendix' system. Each hound is microchipped so as to provide its positive identification.
The AMHB each year approves shows during the summer months at which registered hounds may be shown. They are judged for their conformation by approved judges.
There are two distinct breeds of Harrier: the Stud Book Harrier and the West Country Harrier. The Stud Book Harrier is smaller and lighter than the West Country Harrier.
The Stud Book Harrier The West Country Harrier
Hounds have been purposely bred to hunt. They are prepared for hunting in all conditions and over a variety of countries, with speed, ease of movement and stamina.
A hound with good confirmation will move easily and effortlessly. It is no coincidence, that a hound which has speed, versatility and moves well would not only be a hound that would last many seasons hunting without injury, but also excel in the show ring. Alertness, bidability and intelligence are also factors which can influence the hound’s level of working and show ring success.
Nose, a hound’s scenting ability, another factor of breeding cannot be judged in the show ring.
Click here for diagram illustrating the confirmation of a hound – good and bad
One of the purposes of the Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles is to oversee the promotion and proper management of Harrier and Beagle Hunts. The Association promotes the highest standard of horse and hound management in and outside kennels. A booklet, produced by the Council of Hunting Associations "The Code of Practice for the Welfare of Hounds in Hunt Kennels" describes best practice. All hunts hold a copy in kennels. The AMHB has a panel of inspectors who visit all kennels and undertake a formal inspection at least once every three years to ensure high standards. A formal report is sent to the Director of the Association following each visit. The current
panel of inspectors include two serving Masters of Hounds, a retired police inspector and a farmer and respected senior member of the NFU.