The Beagle is a medium-sized breed belonging to the hound sporting group. Though many variations of this breed have existed throughout history, the modern breed emerged in England in the early 1800s. The Beagle is a popular choice for pet owners because of its size and calm temperament, and is useful for hunters because of its sharp sense of smell.
Having a solid structure, the Beagle resembles a Foxhound. Hunters can follow the dog on foot, and the tuneful bay of the Beagle aids hunters in locating the dog from a distance. Because of its moderate size, the Beagle can even be carried to the hunting site, where it can then scurry into the dense undergrowth to look for the target. The dog receives protection against the thick underbrush from its coarse and close coat. And being an amicable dog makes it a great pack hunter, mixing well with other dogs.
Known to be among the most friendly of the hound breeds, the Beagle was developed to be a pack hunter. The best qualities in the Beagle are its fondness for exploring the outdoors and its enthusiasm for trailing. This independent breed barks, howls, and sometimes runs off on a trail on its own. Because it is also an incredibly tolerant, calm and adventurously playful dog, the Beagle also makes a perfect pet for families with children.
The Beagle is a social dog that is particularly well suited to the company of humans and other dogs alike. It also needs to spend equal time in the yard as it does in the house. Regular exercise, such as a romp at the park or in a spacious yard area, along with regular leash-led walks are great outdoor activities for the Beagle. This breed can withstand temperate climates and live outdoors most seasons, as long as it has bedding and an enclosed, warm shelter. With its short, close coat, the Beagle does not require extensive grooming. An occasional brushing to encourage turnover of hair, and to minimize hair buildup in the house is all that is needed to keep your Beagle looking healthy and vibrant.
The Beagle has an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years. While this breed is generally healthy overall, some specific ailments that are known to affect the Beagle breed are patellar luxation, glaucoma, epilepsy, central progressive retinal atrophy (CPRA), hypothyroidism, distichiasis, chondrodysplasia, cherry eye, and keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS). Deafness, cataract, hemophilia A, demodicosis, and umbilical hernia are some other health problems that affect the breed, while some major ailments include primary carnitine deficiency (CUD) and intervertebral disk disease. Some exams used to identify these conditions include hip, thyroid, and eye tests.
The word “beagle” is thought to have come from certain old French words meaning an open throat, a possible connection to the dog’s musical bay. It is also speculated that the dog’s name might have derived from old French, Celtic or English words meaning small. Beagle-like dogs were probably used for the popular sport of hare-hunting in England during the 1300s, but the term "beagle" was not used until 1475. Hunters would follow the dog on foot and sometimes even carry one in his pocket. There were several sizes of Beagles in the 1800s, but the pocket-size dogs were most popular. These small dogs measured only about nine inches and required the hunter's help while crossing rough fields. Because the smaller Beagles were slower and easier to follow on foot, they appealed especially to women, the elderly, and those who otherwise did not have the stamina or inclination to keep up with an active dog.
The first mention of the Beagle in the United States occurred in the town records of Ipswich, Massachusetts, in 1642. Before the American Civil War, people in the South used Beagles, but these dogs did not resemble English Beagles. However, when the war was over, English Beagles were imported for crossbreeding and to develop the modern American Beagle we know today. The last part of the 19th century saw the emergence of Beagles as popular competitors on the field and in exhibitions. Soon thereafter, this little hound dog with the melodic howl came to be amongst the most preferred family pets in the U.S.