Even-tempered and energetic
Varies, usually a combination of brown, black, red and/or white
Close, short, and firm
Beagles are a very happy and energetic breed, making them wonderful pets for families with children. They love the company of their “pack,” which can include both people and other dogs, and are easily won over by strangers. For this reason, they make poor guard dogs, although their tendency to bark when faced with the unknown can make them good watch dogs. Beagles should never show any signs of aggression or timidness, and can adapt to almost any lifestyle or climate. They are intelligent and eager to please, although their energetic character makes them prone to mischief, so proper training is extremely important.
The Beagle’s intelligence and desire to please makes him a wonderful student. But like many hounds, they do tend to lose focus, especially if they pick up a scent and feel obligated to “follow their nose.” Consistent obedience training is extremely important, and if properly trained, the Beagle will be happy to follow directions.
It’s strong background as a scent hound has brought the Beagle modern work as a detection dog, used mainly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to inspect luggage at U.S. airports for illegally imported agricultural products. In addition to it’s keen sense of smell, Beagles were chosen for this purpose because they are relatively small and unintimidating for people who have difficulty being around dogs. And of course, the Beagle is still used extensively for hunting throughout the country.
The outdoorsy Beagle is not a dog for the sedentary owner, as they love exercise and will function best when given ample time to run and explore. Two long daily walks are recommended as they have enormous stamina and are seemingly tireless, and they should always be kept on a leash as they will excitedly follow whatever catches their attention. A large and securely fenced yard will also give the Beagle endless opportunity to explore using their instincts.
The Beagle is considered one of the oldest breeds in history and perhaps one of the closest original breeds of hound. While the true origins of the breed are lost to antiquity, the Beagle came into prominence during the days of King Henry VII of England, and is commonly thought to be related to the Harrier. The breed's popularity further increased during the reign of his daughter, Elizabeth I. It was the custom in those days for the hunting parties to take the dogs to the fields in baskets attached to the saddles of their horses. Bred and developed primarily for rabbit hunting, the Beagle has proven itself as a scent hound on practically every species of upland game, even to the pheasant.
The Beagle became particularly popular as a hunting partner in early-19th century England, with differing size and color variation throughout the country. The current breed standard began to form around 1840, and the first Beagles were imported to the U.S. around this time, although it took many years of additional imports to produce successful breeding stock. The Beagle was accepted into the American Kennel Club in 1884. Since then, they have enjoyed immense popularity in North America, consistently making the top ten most popular breeds for over 30 years.
Body Structure and Composition
The American Kennel Club classifies Beagles in two varieties, 13 inch and 15 inch, although height is the only difference. The general appearance of the Beagle resembles a Foxhound in miniature, but the head is broader and the muzzle shorter, the expression quite different and the legs shorter in proportion to the body. The large ears are long, soft and low-set, turning towards the cheeks slightly and rounded at the tips. Beagles have a strong, medium-length neck (which is long enough for them to easily bend to the ground to pick up a scent), with little folding in the skin but some evidence of a dewlap (a flap of skin that hangs beneath the lower jaw, which may help to focus scent). Beagles appear in a range of colors. Although the tricolor (white with large black areas and light brown shading) is the most common, Beagles can occur in any hound color, and commonly appear to be wearing black or dark brown “eyeliner.”
Although the breed as a whole lacks a significant number of inherited health problems, Beagles do face quick a few environmental and/or developmental issues. First and foremost, their low floppy ears are prone to infections and should be cleaned regularly. When working or running free they are also likely to pick up parasites such as fleas, ticks, harvest mites and tapeworms, and irritants such as grass seeds can become trapped in their eyes, ears or paws. If not given a proper amount of exercise opportunity, Beagles can also be quite prone to obesity, which can lead to a host of arthritic and lumbar problems.
Beagles may also be affected by a range of eye problems, the most prominent of which include glaucoma and corneal dystrophy, both of which cause vision to deteriorate slowly, eventually rendering the dog blind. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) occurs in Beagles, although it is somewhat rare. PRA, one of the few genetic diseases associated with this breed, leads to degeneration of the retina and eventual loss of sight. "Cherry eye", a prolapse of the gland of the third eyelid, and distichiasis, a condition in which eyelashes grow into the eye causing irritation, sometimes exist, but both of these conditions can be corrected with surgery.
Epilepsy (a common chronic neurological disorder that is characterized by recurrent unprovoked seizures) sometimes occurs in Beagles, but can be controlled with medication. Hypothyroidism - which causes underactivity of the thyroid gland and can cause lethargy, weight gain, skin infection and hair loss, cold intolerance, chronic ear infections or severe behavioral changes - can also be experienced the Beagle, but can be controlled with proper treatment. A number of types of dwarfism can also occur in Beagles, and although this is an inherited trait, it is quite rare and any medical issues that develop as a result can be easily controlled with treatment.
Beagles shed consistently throughout the year, so daily brushing is recommended. The Beagle’s strong desire for companionship can lead to separation anxiety when they are kenneled or left alone for too long. A second pet can help with this problem.
While thousands of hunters use the dog individually in their sport, there are numerous Beagle Packs throughout the country. These packs all hunt in the legitimate manner with a regular hunt staff, in hunt liveries, with their own distinctive colors.
Beagles have been featured in a wide range of media over the history of it’s existence, including various literature, comic books, animated cartoons, television, and films. The most recognizable Beagle in American culture is often considered to be Snoopy, Charlie Brown’s pet Beagle in the comic strip “Peanuts.”
Former U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson had several Beagles, and caused an outcry when he picked up one of them by the ears during an official greeting on the White House lawn.
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The top 10 dog names of 2011 were: Bella, Max, Buddy, Daisy, Bailey, Lucy, Molly, Coco, Charlie and Rocky. Source: Banfield Pet Hospital
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