The Beagle should look like a miniature Foxhound, and is solid for the size. The Beagle’s moderate size enables the ability to follow on foot. Beagles can also be carried, and they can scurry around in thick underbrush. Their close hard coat protects them from underbrush. Their moderate build enables them to nimbly traverse rough terrain. The Beagle’s amiable personality allows this breed to get along with other dogs and to be a wonderful pet. Beagles are noted for their melodious bay. The deep muzzle allows more room for olfactory receptors, aiding the Beagle’s uncanny sense of smell.
By the fourteenth century, hare-hunting had become a popular sport in England, and the dogs used were probably of Beagle type. The origin of the name Beagle may be from old French words meaning open throat in reference to the breed’s melodious bay, or from the Celtic, old English, or old French words for small. The word Beagle was not used until 1475, however, but can then be found frequently in writings from the sixteenth century on.
Hunters could follow these dogs on foot and could even carry one in a pocket if the need arose. By the 1800s, Beagles existed in several sizes, but the smaller “pocket-size” dogs were particularly popular. These dogs measured only about 9 inches and often needed the hunter’s assistance in crossing rough fields. One of the special appeals of the smaller Beagles was that the hunt could be followed even by “ladies, the aged, or the infirm,” as they slowly followed the winding path of the hare.
The first mention of the Beagle in America was in 1642. Beagles were used in the South prior to the Civil War, but these dogs bore little resemblance to their English counterparts. After the war, English imports formed the basis of the modern American Beagle. By the end of the nineteenth century, Beagles were popular competitors in both field and conformation exhibitions. But the merry little scenthound did not stop there: the Beagle continued to become one of America’s all-time favorite breeds, finding a special niche as family pet.
One of the most amiable hounds, the Beagle was originally bred to be part of a pack and needs companionship, whether human or canine. This dog loves to explore the outdoors and is an enthusiastic trailer. Given adequate exercise, the Beagle is a calm, tractable house pet. Beagles tend to be excellent with children, gentle, incredibly tolerant, and always ready to join in a game or adventure. This is an independent breed, however, and may run off if a trail beckons. Beagles bark and howl.
The Beagle needs daily exercise, either a long walk on leash or a romp in a safe area. Coat care requires only occasional brushing and bathing.