For all its repute and the amount of research done on the breed, few historians can agree on the precise origin of the Beagle. The dog, believed to be one of the oldest breeds, is one of the few breeds closest in appearance to the original hounds. The breed developed in the British Isles was a favourite with Queen Elizabeth I – she kept packs of pocket Beagles. The dogs were used to hunt small animals such as rabbits, hares and pheasants. But as fox hunting grew in popularity, the Beagle declined and would have become extinct if not for the efforts of the English, Irish and Welsh farmers who kept small packs of Beagles to flush out small game into shooting range.
Appearance: The short-coated dog can be coloured a combination of tan, black and white, though any type of hound colouring is acceptable, lemon, tri-colour, black and tan, red and white, orange and white, or lemon and white, blue tick and red tick. The feet and tip of the tail should be white in colour. Black and white Beagles are rare, and all-white Beagles are even rarer. Many Beagles have a white blaze on the face, but a solid tan face is common, too.
The Headstrong Hound: There’s good reason why the Beagle is one of the most desired pet dog breeds today. The friendly and playful dog has an effervescent nature and loves being a part of the family. But the breed’s desire for company makes it unhappy when left alone at home and the dog can become destructive with separation anxiety. As a scent hound, the Beagle excels at using his nose. The dog’s sniffing prowess has made it a favourite as a sniffer dog – it has been used to sniff out contraband fruit at airports, termites behind walls, drugs and even fake currency. But as with most hounds, the dog tends to be stubborn, wilful and has an independent streak. This makes it difficult for an owner to gain control over the dog. The breed’s tendency to be distracted easily by a scent and its independent nature often contributes to a poor recall. Wise Beagle owners start training their puppies young and maintain training through the dog’s life. The dog has a fantastic ability to think for himself and has an intelligent mind. This is good news for owners who desire an energetic dog that enjoys playing a wide variety of games and loves outdoor exercise. But for the sedentary owner, this breed can be a nightmare to own. The dog cannot handle long periods of isolation and will find ways to amuse itself by either chewing up your home, barking, howling and/or digging up your garden.
Grooming: The Beagle’s short coat is easy to maintain and wash. The dog requires a simple brushing down to keep its coat shiny and clean; end the grooming session with a brisk rub down with a hound glove.
Is The Beagle Your Perfect Doggy Mate? The cute little hound’s popularity notwithstanding, the Beagle can be quite a handful to cohabitate with. For owners who think they are acquiring a small dog that will be easy to take care of, think again. This hound packs quite a punch and requires plenty of time and attention to keep it out of trouble. Potential owners please note, Beagles love the sound of their own bark – the dog will often vocalize for good reason – stranger at the door, a stray barking in the distance or when a neighbour’s doorbell rings – and then, it will be happy to woof for no good reason too.
Few Beagles make their way into any obedience ring – their attention is easily diverted by a delectable odour or even a cat running in the distance; combined with the dog’s wilful nature make it a difficult candidate to control. That said, Beagle owners should find it heartening to note that Beagles can be trained, you just require good handling skills and plenty of patience. Beagles love the outdoors. If you are a couch potato or do not have the time to exercise or play with your hound, be prepared to have your sofa chewed up or your exotic potted plant shredded. Beagles are happiest with owners who ensure daily playtime and plenty of fun exercise.