While their exact origin is unknown, Beagles were known in 1500s England, according to the AKC, and were most likely bred down in size from larger hounds that were used to hunt and track deer, into a size better suited for hunting rabbits. They were usually hunted in a pack, so Beagles tend to be dog-friendly, although of course as with any breed, there are always exceptions to the rule. For show purposes there are two varieties of Beagles, one that is 13 to 15 inches in height and the other that is under 13 inches.
While most Beagles are the usual tricolor seen in hound breeds, they do come in a variety of other colors including: liver, lemon, blue, ticked, chocolate and red, all with white markings. Their coat is short and dense and easy to care for, although they do shed.
Beagles are ‘scent hounds’, they hunt primarily by using their nose over their sight. Because of this, and due to their smaller size and non-intimidating appearance, Beagles are often used in airports to detect contraband agricultural and food products. They have also been used as search and rescue dogs where their smaller size can be a plus in going into areas where larger dogs cannot.
Their desire to track can also be a detriment at times. A Beagle that smells something interesting may lose all interest in returning when called and it is not that uncommon for Beagles to ‘break’ electric fences because they smelled something too interesting to ignore on the other side. If you have a Beagle, a well-fenced yard is a must or he should only be taken out on a leash.
Beagles are also active dogs that will need a certain amount of exercise every day. They also tend to have very good appetites, so if they do not receive enough exercise they can become overweight. Beagles are usually good with children. Care should be taken with non-canine pets, since these are hunting dogs. They are quite intelligent, but like many breeds of hounds, often have their own agenda when it comes to training.
If you’re looking for a friendly, lively companion, that doesn’t require a large amount of time to groom, then the Beagle may be just what you’re looking for. If you’d like more information you can read about Beagles at www.akc.org, or the national breed club’s site at https://clubs.akc.org/NBC/. Another good site to search for Beagles on is www.petfinder.com