Country of Origin: Great Britain
Height: two varieties—no more than 13 in; over 13 in up to and including 15 in
Weight: approximately 22–35 lb
Coat: Close, dense, hard, weatherproof, medium length
Colors: Any hound color
Other Names: English Beagle
Registries (With Group): AKC (Hound); UKC (Scenthound)
ORIGIN AND HISTORY
The Beagle is a distinctly British breed, dating as far back as the Celts, where small hounds similar to the Beagle were used for hunting hares in the British Isles and Wales. He has always hunted in packs and is prized for his ability to find and stick with a trail, working the quarry back to the hunter. In the time of King Henry VIII, Beagles were diminutive (and sometimes wirehaired) and would be carried to the field in hunters’ sleeves or in saddlebags. Eventually, this smaller size disappeared, as most hunters found them too small to be of any practical use. Sometime around the time of Elizabeth I, Beagle numbers began to decline dangerously, as fox hunting began to replace rabbit hunting among the sporting set. Thankfully, small-time farmers in southern England and Wales still depended on rabbit-hunting hounds to help them supplement their diet, and the Beagle survived. Type was eventually fixed in the late 1800s with the establishment of the Beagle Club in England.
Hounds of the Beagle sort were brought to the United States during the Colonial period, but type varied until further imports arrived from England in the 1880s. His small size, keen nose, and charming personality have made him a perennially popular dog. A Beagle was the inspiration for Charles Schulz’s cartoon dog, Snoopy, who became popular around the world.
Attracted to the Beagle because he’s so cute, people soon respond to his other endearing characteristics: his playfulness, his curious nature, his self-assuredness. The Beagle has a tail that never seems to stop wagging. He wants to say hi to everyone. It is his outgoing, friendly nature that can sometimes get him into trouble, too. He doesn’t particularly like to be alone, and when upset or simply “in the mood,” he likes to use his voice. It’s a voice that makes hunters’ hearts sing, but it’s a fairly shrill, loud voice that doesn’t always please family, friends, or neighbors. Still, this breed has been at the top of the popularity chart for centuries.
- Exercise: A hunter by nature, the Beagle is always up for an expedition. Exercise doesn’t need to last for hours, but it should be interesting for him—meaning he’s allowed to sniff whatever might catch his nose along the way.
- Grooming: His short, hard coat is simple to keep clean, and he is compact to boot, so grooming is really a breeze with the Beagle. His ears and the looser skin around his eyes need to be kept clean, and the occasional bath will keep him looking and smelling his best.
- Life Span: The average life span of the Beagle is 12 to 14 years.
- Training: Taking advantage of the Beagle’s perpetual interest in food can inspire and motivate the Beagle when it comes to training. He can be stubborn and easily distracted, but he will pay attention and learn if his owner is offering something he really wants. He learns quickly, and once he’s mastered basic manners training, he’ll be ready to move on to more-difficult tasks.
Excerpt from World Atlas of Dog Breeds, 6th Edition. © 2009 TFH Publications, Inc.