The modern Beagle is a part of the Hound Group and it was developed in Great Britain. Reverend Phillip Honeywood is credited with the establishment of a beagle pack around the 1830s in Essex that formed the basis for the lovable Beagle of today.
Modern Beagles were developed to track game like rabbits and are considered as ‘scent hounds’. This breed has one of the most highly developed sense of smell alongside the bloodhound. As part of a scientific study in the 1950’s, many dog breeds were tested for their scenting abilities by placing them in a 1 acre field and recording the amount of time each took to find a mouse that was placed in the same field. The Beagles managed to find the mouse in under a minute!
This is a small to medium sized breed that stands around 13 to 16 inches high (at withers) and can weigh anywhere from 8 to 16 kg. They have large hazel or brown eyes, black nose, strong neck and a smooth domed skull. The jaw is strong and beagles have a scissor bite. This breed has a muscular body with rear legs bent at the stifles while the front legs are carried under the body.
Beagles have a short smooth coat that come in any variety of hound color, the most common being a tri color combination.
This breed is similar in appearance to the Foxhound and generally gives a pleasant hound like pleading look. Although some people distinguish between English and American varieties there is no official recognition for this distinction from any Kennel Club.
Beagles are excellent with children and make for great family pets. This breed is known for it’s gentle disposition and an even temper that is neither timid nor aggressive. Beagles are one of the most easily excitable dog breeds (as demonstrated in a study by Ben and Lynette Hart in 1985) and they are apt to bark or howl when they encounter an unfamiliar situation which makes them good watch dogs. However, they are not good for Guarding purposes as they can be easily won over.
Beagles were originally bred for long chases and this shows in their single-minded and determined nature. Although an intelligent breed that responds well to food-reward training, they are hard to train as they are easily bored and get distracted by smells around them. Stanley Coren places the Beagle among the group with the lowest degree of working/obedience intelligence at ranks them at 72. This breed enjoys company and does well with other dogs although it is prone to separation anxiety.
3. Exercise requirements
Originally bred for long hunts, this breed has great stamina and enjoys exercise. However, they are not ‘overly’ active and as such require less effort from their owners in this regard compared to other working dogs.
4. Use as work dogs
Although hunting of the type that originally gave rise to this breed is not as popular today, Beagles are still used to for the purpose due to their outstanding ground scenting (i.e. to follow a trail on the ground) abilities. They are also widely used in the capacity of detection dogs.
One of the less pleasant uses of this breed over the years has been their use for animal testing due their passive natures and small size. Although this trend has decreased over the years due to the work of animal rights groups and bans in various countries, testing continues to this day on this lovable breed in many parts of the world.
Beagles have a short smooth coat that is fairly simple to take care of. The use of a firm bristle brush and occasional dry shampoo is adequate in most cases. This dog should be bathed only when necessary.
6. General Health
Beagles are a generally healthy breed and their average life span is around 12 years which is a typical for a dog of their size. This breed is prone to epilepsy, Hypothyroidism and some types of dwarfism. They are also prone to ear infections due to their floppy ears. Although they suffer from some of the same problems as other dogs the condition known as ‘funny puppy’ is unique to this breed in which the puppy is slow to develop and they are prone to a number of illnesses.
7. Recommended for
Beagles have ranked as the top ten most popular breeds for over 30 years now. This is due to the fact that they make excellent family pets and are easy to take care of. This breed is not recommended for guard duties. They are highly recommended for families with children who can exercise them regularly.