The inspiring subject for the “Peanuts” comic strip character of Snoopy remains a popular choice for a beloved family pet. The dark shading that outlines his eyes contribute to his perpetual puppy appearance through adulthood, and he is also most noted for his musical bark. The loving hound will occupy himself for hours simply by following his nose once he picks up an intriguing scent, making him a valuable partner on the hunting trails.
Physical CharacteristicsThe beagle resembles a small foxhound, and he may be one of two height sizes. Depending on the type, he stands either 13 inches or 15 inches tall at the shoulder, and he weighs 20 to 35 pounds. His muzzle is straight and square, his earflaps are set low on his head and hang downward, and his tail is carried upright. His gentle, soft eyes are brown or hazel in color.
A beagle’s medium-length coat is coarse and lies close to the body, protecting the hunting dog when he scurries into thick underbrush. The coat comes in every hue that colors the hound group, which includes black, white, tan, red, lemon, brown, blue and fawn. The coat may be ticked or exhibit distinct markings, and the coloring of the dog may be solid, bi-colored or tri-colored. The tri-colored combination of white, black and tan remains the most prevalent.
TemperamentBeagles are calm and sociable, and they are happy to be part of a family. They revel in the outdoors and will enthusiastically explore every square inch of their backyards, and nothing makes them happier than to sniff along a hiking trail. Originally developed to hunt in packs, beagles get along well with other dogs. Their playful nature, patience and zest for adventure make them excellent with children.
A beagle’s sense of smell is very keen, and his nose leads him through most of his activities. Beagles are always investigating scents, which can get them into trouble if they wander off to follow the scent trail or sniff their way into a garbage can. When a beagle is intent on following a scent, he is entirely focused on the task at hand will not stop until his mystery is solved.
Beagles strike a unique tone when they bark, howl and bay. When a pack of beagles are hot on the trail of their quarry, distant hunters who lag behind can hear their trumpet-like calls. In the home, beagles will howl along with the sounds of local sirens and alarms and bark to announce someone’s arrival.
Beagles are very independent and determined, making them a challenge to train. They are highly intelligent, however, and will work diligently to figure out how to get what they want.
Care & GroomingAs long as he has ample outdoor time to explore and exercise, the beagle is an easy breed to care for. Beagles love the company of their other family members, so taking a beagle for long walks where he can sniff will provide exercise and bonding time. This breed is an insatiable eater, so owners must be aware of keeping pantry doors secured, hazardous substances locked away and kitchen trash cans inaccessible. Beagles have a tendency to become obese, so be mindful when doling out food and treats.
A beagle’s short, tight coat requires very little grooming. The dog sheds regularly, so a weekly brush over with a grooming mitt will prevent a lot of dead hair from piling up on the couch and in corners of every room. Ears that flop have a higher risk for developing ear infections, so inspect a beagle’s ears regularly and keep them clean. Maintain oral and overall health by brushing his teeth at least three times weekly.
Some health conditions that can affect beagles include hypothyroidism, eye disorders, allergies, epilepsy, intervertebral disc disease and deafness. Beagles live an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years.
HistoryDuring the 1500s, English hunters set out with packs of hunting hound dogs to track down deer and hare. These early beagles came in a variety of sizes. The larger dogs pursued deer, and the smaller dogs could be carried by hunters to the hunting area and released at the head of the trail to scamper through the underbrush in search of rabbits. Those who preferred a slightly less active dog admired the smaller beagles as pets.
Prior to the American Civil War, dogs that were used in the southern states for hunting were referred to as beagles, but they bore only some resemblance to the English beagles. During the 1860s, some prized beagles were imported from England to produce the look and standards by which we know the beagle today. The American Kennel Club first recognized the beagle as part of the hound group shortly thereafter, in 1885.