Did you know?
The naturalist Charles Darwin sailed around the world in the HMS Beagle, a Royal Navy brig named after a dog!
Yesterday I was a dog. Today I’m a dog. Tomorrow I’ll probably still be a dog. Sigh! There’s so little hope for advancement. – Snoopy
Beagles are descendants of dogs who came to England with William the Conqueror in 1066. These types of dogs have been around for 2,500 years dating back to the ancient Greeks. In the 5th century BC, philosopher and historian Xenophon, described a hound in his Treatise on Hunting that hunted hares by scent and was followed on foot. The Beagle we know today was developed in Great Britain in the 1830s and counts the Talbot Hound, the North Country Beagle, the Southern Hound, and the Harrier among its ancestors.
This is a hunting dog – his quarry: the rabbit and hare. Classified as a scent hound, Beagles have exceptional noses which they use very efficiently to track prey. Humourist Dave Barry once described Beagles as “noses with four feet attached”. Once his quarry’s trail is located, the Beagle gives a distinctive howl to alert the rest of the pack.
Today, you might see the Beagle at airports and border crossings using his renowned nose and superior tracking as a detection dog for illegal agricultural imports and foodstuffs as well as drugs.
Photos displayed courtesy of Estelle Laponder and Amanda Wise,
Laponderosa Kennels, British Columbia
“Beag” is the Celtic word for small. Beagles today look like miniature Foxhounds and come in two sizes. The smaller stands no more than 13 inches (33 cm) tall. The larger dog does not exceed 15 inches (38 cm) tall at the shoulder. They have short, dense, weather-resistant coats that can be white, black, red, tan, lemon, or any mixture of these colours. A Beagle’s diet must be carefully monitored (they will eat anything) to fight a tendency to obesity.
Arguably the most famous dog in the world, Snoopy, is the poster dog for Beagles. His intelligence, humour, and that unmistakable “ARROOOOO” define the Beagle’s personality.
Compact, clean, and cuddly, Beagles are fun-loving and amusing pets. They are active, inquisitive and friendly. They get along well with other dogs and are extremely fond of children. This is the dog to keep up with active kids! Gentle in expression and nature, Beagles also shine as therapy dogs.
Bred to work in packs, Beagles love company and should not be left alone for long periods of time. Boredom can turn your Beagle into a nuisance barker.
Intelligent, determined, and single minded when tracking, the Beagle may be frustrating and hard to train. He is easily distracted by smells around him and can be difficult to recall once he’s following a scent. Because of this, he does not shine in obedience trials. While he is alert, eager to please, and responds well to food-reward training, his tendency to becoming easily bored is his downfall.
Along with the Bloodhound and Basset Hound, the Beagle has one of the best developed senses of smell of any dog. In one study, the scenting abilities of various breeds was tested by putting a mouse in a one-acre field and timing how long it took the dogs to find it. Beagles got to it in under a minute! Fox Terriers took 15 minutes and Scottish Terriers failed to find it at all. Beagles are better at following a trail on the ground than they are at air-scenting. The long ears and large lips of the beagle help to trap the scents and hold them close to the dog’s nose.
He makes a good watchdog as he will alert his owners to any unfamiliar faces.
Although he is an inside dog, he needs lots of outside activity. His tendency to ‘follow his nose’ can be curbed by ensuring he has a fenced yard in which to romp and play. He should always be leashed when out on a walk. Be aware that Beagles are natural diggers, especially when they are young.