The Beagle is an excellent hunting dog. Aside from that, it is also a loyal companion. It is a happy-go-lucky dog breed that has a cute and funny expression. They were originally bred to hunt in packs, meaning they enjoy company, and they are generally easygoing. Though they are fun-loving, they can also be stubborn and might require lots of patience and creative training techniques.
Beagles’ noses are their guide through their life. They are always happy to follow interesting scents, maybe because they were originally bred as a scent hound to track small game like hare and rabbits. Let us know more about the history and characteristics of the Beagle dog breed.
History of the Beagle Dog Breed
The origin of the breed’s name, “beagle”, is uncertain, but it’s said that it may have come from the word “begueule”, which is French for open throat. Others believe that it was from the Old English word “beag” which means small, or from the German word “begele” which means to scold.
The Beagle dog breed also has a cloudy history because the breeds as we know them in the present time did not really develop until the 19th century. Based on some Greek documents from 400 B.C., Beagle-like dogs were described. Also, the Romans may have bought small hounds to England that hunts rabbits with them, which they bred with the local hounds.
In 1066, William the Conqueror reportedly brought Talbot hounds to England during the Norman Conquest. However, that breed is now extinct. Those dogs were thought to be the ancestors of the Beagle and as well as the Foxhound.
During the sovereignties of Edward II and Henry VII, which was from 1307 to 1509, small Beagles called Glove Beagles became popular in England. These dogs were reportedly small enough to fit in a gloved hand. Aside from Glove Beagles, there are also Singing Beagles, which were named because of their bugling voices.
From 1533 to 1603, Elizabeth I kept packs of Pocket Beagles, which were only 9 inches tall. These small dogs were seen in paintings as short-legged dogs with pointy noses. They were used for hunting. However, they quickly fell out of favor because they were not fast enough.
Fox hunting game became popular in England in the 1700s. That’s the time when the Beagle fell out of favor due to the larger Foxhound, which became the dog of choice. But thanks to the farmers in England, Wales, and Ireland who kept the packs of Beagles and used them for hunting hare and rabbits. If it wasn’t for them, the Beagle dog breed might have become extinct during that time.
A pack of Beagles was established in Essex, England in the mid-1800s by Reverend Phillip Honeywood. These dogs were believed to be the descendants of the modern Beagle. They were bred for their hunting skills and not for looks. A fellow Englishman, Thomas Johnson, was the one who was responsible for breeding Beagles that were both attractive and skilled in hunting.
Around 1880, the Patch Beagle was developed in New York by Willet Randall. These Beagles were primarily white with a large tri-colored spot. These dogs were popular in the 1940s and 1950s because they can run so fast. In the present time, Beagles that are lemon and white or red and white are referred to as Patch Beagles.
It was in 1884 when the American Kennel Club began registering Beagles. In the same year, the first Beagle specialty club was also founded. In 1916, there were five members of the National Beagle Club who bought a 500-acre land in Western Loudon County, Virginia. The purpose of buying the property was to hold field trials. Then, they formed a corporation called Institute Corporate. Later on, they leased the land to the Institute Foundation, which now maintains the property for the National Beagle Club. Today, the site is used in holding lots of activities of the National Beagle Club.
Characteristics of a Beagle
Average size: 13 to 15 inches in height at the shoulder
Average weight: 18 to 30 pounds
There are two varieties of Beagle being recognized by the American Kennel Club. One is a 13-inch variety, and the other one is a 15-inch variety. Any hound color is acceptable for Beagles, but the most common color is tricolor with a black saddle, white legs, belly, chest, and a white-tipped tail. They also have a tan on the head and across the back. Beagles have a smooth double coat that is rain-resistant. They shed, but it’s not too noticeable because their hair is short.
Beagles can bond with everyone in the family, most especially with children. However, they need to be properly socialized and supervised when it comes to playing with younger children because they can be rowdy when playing. Also, Beagles can be mouthy. Meaning, they grab things with their mouths to play. They do this for fun, but you can train them not to.
Beagles have a pack dog heritage. Therefore, they enjoy some company, and they do not like being left alone. They can get along well with another dog or even with a cat, as long as they help meet their companionship needs. They are gentle, sweet, and funny dogs.
Caring for a Beagle
Since Beagles belong to the scenthound family, you need a fenced backyard for them. When you bring them outside, they should be on the lead in unconfined areas, or securely confined and supervised. Beagles are wanderers by nature, therefore, wearing identification tags on their collars are helpful in case they escape.
Beagles also need a lot of opportunities to exercise because they are always full of energy. You can take them for walks, or maybe a good run across the field to hunt down rabbits. However, when they mature, they can become fairly lazy. This breed is prone to obesity, so make sure they get their proper exercise.
Beagles are clean dogs, and they do not need frequent baths. You can just brush them using a medium-bristle brush or a hound glove at least once a week to remove dead hair. You also need to check their ears every two weeks for signs of waxy buildup or ear infections. It’s because they are drop-eared dogs, and air does not circulate well in their ears. Their teeth should be brushed at least twice or thrice a week. Also, trim their nails twice a month to avoid painful tears.
The recommended daily amount of foods given to Beagles is ¾ to 1 ½ cups of dry foods every day, divided into two meals. The amount of food can be determined according to your Beagle’s size, metabolism, age, and activity level. They are food thieves, so make sure that you measure their foods and avoid leaving out food for them all the time.
A Beagle is one of the best pets a family with children can have. They are energetic, friendly, and loyal dogs that can be excellent companions at home.