Beagle - Breed Type

Hound

History of the Beagle

The Beagle is a very old and pure breed and is thought to have originated in the eleventh century in England when William the Conqueror brought the now extinct Talbot Hound into Great Britain as a hunting dog. The modern day Beagle is a descendent of the Talbot Hound and possibly the Irish Kerry Beagle which was well renowned for its strong scenting abilities.

Beagles have always been bred as a pack animal. During the last century, the keeping of beagle packs has declined but the keeping of the Beagle as a domestic pet has sharply risen. The beagle has also become very successful as a working dog in many countries - detecting banned substances at airports and investigating suspected arson cases.

Description of the Beagle

The Beagle's skull is smooth and oval in shape with long, floppy ears that appear low set on the head. The muzzle is square in shape and medium length with compact lips. The Beagle has large, dark hound eyes and a black nose. The Beagle is extremely well known for its excellent sense of smell. The neck leads to a broad chest and tapered abdomen and waist. The body overall is muscular and compact. The tail is short and slightly curved and always has a white tip.

The "classic" Beagle colours are white with black and tan (tri-colour) but there are other colour combinations available such as white with colour and ticking. What is important to know is that Beagles are nearly always born black and white - the brown areas develop over the next 1-2 years. Some Beagles change colour slowly throughout their lives!

The Pocket Beagle was a breed of Beagle that existed in Medieval times - standing at only 8-9 inches with a pointy nose and short legs. This genetic line is all but extinct and is not recognised by the AKC or the UKC. However if you search on the internet you will find breeders of "Pocket Beagles". What is important to know is that these beagles are bred purely for their size - often selecting for shortened legs in the family line or a dwarfism caused by a bone problem. These beagles may often have other genetic health problems.

Size

HEIGHT - between 33 cm/13" and 41 cm/16" high (measured from the top of the shoulder vertically to the ground).
WEIGHT - The dog weighs between 22-25 pounds (10-11kg) and the bitch 20-23 pounds (9-10kg).

Coat

The Beagle coat is short, dense, smooth and easy to care for however they will shed a lot of hair in Spring.

Temperament of the Beagle

Beagles are well known for their great temperament and lively personality. They were bred as pack animals and have very strong social instincts or needs. This need is so strong it could be described as genetic. Beagles are very intelligent and combined with strength and tenacity can prove to be a handful for the inexperienced Beagle handler.

Fortunately the Beagle is also well known for its good temper and gentle disposition. If well socialised and given consistent training and affection, the Beagle makes for a devoted companion and family dog. Beagles can be vocal dogs but some dogs will not bark or howl at all. They will show a great deal of individuality in this. The normal, active Beagle will bark when strangers arrive at the house but will not generally be nuisance barkers. Lonely Beagles may become prone to howling if left alone for long periods of time.

Longevity

10 - 15years

Health of Beagles

Beagles are generally healthy, low maintenance dogs. However they do need regular ear care (cleaning and monitoring of the ear canal for infection) and monitoring of their weight (they are prone to obesity).

Possible Genetic Disorders of the Beagle

Beagles can be prone to: cardiac disease, in particular pulmonic stenosis and dilated cardiomyopathy, eye disorders (cataracts, corneal dystrophy and glaucoma) and PK deficiency( a type of anaemia). There are screening tests available for the eye problems and PK deficiency. 

Beagles are Best Suited

  • For active people who can commit to daily walks and dog obedience training.
  • For people with escape proof yards
  • For families where a member is at home a lot of the time
  • For households with other dogs.

Beagles are Worst Suited

  • For inexperienced dog handlers - beagles need firm and consistent training.
  • For people without other dogs who are out a lot! The Beagle does not do well as a back yard dog living on its own! 
  • As a protection dog - they are simply too friendly! 

Recommended Reading

Getting to Know Beagles: A Guide to Choosing and Owning a Beagle by Rae Joy