Today's Function: 

trailing rabbits, field trials, contraband detection, beagle field trials

Original Function: 

trailing rabbits

Other Name: 

English beagle

Area of Origin: 


Date of Origin: 



The dogs used for hare hunting in England in the 14th century were likely a type of breed that we know as the beagle today.

Beagle Breed Health

Average Size of Male: 

Height: 13 - 15 inches, Weight: 18 - 30 pounds

Suggested tests: 

hip, eye

Life span: 

12 - 15 years

Occasionally seen: 

Deafness, hemophilia A, cataracts

Minor concerns: 

Glaucoma, Epilepsy

Major concerns: 

Intervertebral disc disease, CHD

Average Size of Female: 

Height: 13 - 15 inches, Weight: 18 - 30 pounds

Beagle Breed History

It is believed that the name "beagle" is derived from a French word that means "open throat," and which may reference the distinctive bay of the beagle. Others suggest that "beagle" comes from the Old English or Celtic word meaning "small." The actual name "beagle" was used beginning in 1475, and beginning with the 16th century, "beagle" was used many times in writings. The origin of the beagle breed, however, is not well documented. History suggests that the basis of the breed may have come from the pack hounds used in England before Roman times. Some experts suggest that the beagle was derived from crossing the Harrier with other English hounds. Whatever the true origination, the beagle was used extensively by hunters, who were able to follow these dogs on foot. In some cases, they would even carry the dogs in their pockets, if necessary. This breed came in several different sizes by the 19th century, but the "pocket-size" dogs - usually measuring just 9 inches - were the most popular at the time. It was in 1642 that the beagle was first mentioned in America. The American version of the breed was found in the South before the Civil War, but it is said that it didn't look very much like the English version. These "beagles" were likely more related to a straight-legged basset hound or Dachshund. It was after the war that English beagles were imported into America, and these dogs were the basis for today's version of the American beagle. The National Beagle Club was formed in 1888, and eventually classes were developed to categorize the dogs by size: under 13 inches and 13 - 15 inches. The beagle has continued to be a very popular breed in the United States, especially as a family pet. It is interesting and disturbing to note that because of their fairly small, uniform size, beagles are often used for medical experimentation.

Beagle Breed Appearance

The straight front legs of the beagle have plenty of bone, and they are proportionately sized to the dog. The close, round feet have full, hard pads. The hips and thighs of this breed are quite strong and well-muscled, which enable the dog to have an abundance of power. The large eyes are usually brown or hazel in color, and they offer a gentle, pleading expression. The long, broad ears are fine in texture, rounded at the tip, and are set quite low. The medium-length muzzle is square and straight, featuring level jaws. The neck is medium in length and blends nicely into clean, sloping shoulders. The tail has a slight curve and is carried merrily when the dog is in action. The close coat is hard to the touch and medium in length. It comes in any true hound color.

Beagle Breed Temperament

Considered to be one of the friendliest breeds in the hound group, the beagle loves and needs to have companionship from humans or other dogs because of its history as a pack hunter. This breed truly enjoys exploring the great outdoors, and it is known for its exemplary trailing abilities. If provided with sufficient exercise, the beagle can be a wonderful house dog. It is particularly good with children because of its gentle, tolerant nature, and it always enjoys a good game. It is also quite good with other dogs, but be watchful if there are other household pets, such as cats. Socialization from an early age can help to prevent possible problems with non-canine pets. The beagle is considered to be quite an independent dog. If it gets even a hint of a trail, it may run off. Be advised that this dog is prone to barking and howling.

Beagle Breed Maintenance

The short, smooth coat of the beagle is quite easy to maintain. Simply brush the coat on a regular basis with a firm bristle brush. Bathing should only be done when necessary, and be sure to use a mild soap. Check the ears carefully on a regular basis for signs of infection, and be sure to keep the nails trimmed. This breed is considered to be an average shedder. As with many breeds, the beagle should be provided with exercise on a daily basis, which can consist of a long walk on a leash or play time in a safe, fenced-in area. This breed will do fine if living in an apartment as long as it gets the opportunity to spend time out of doors on a daily basis. The beagle is usually quite active when inside, so a small yard is normally sufficient. Be sure to always use a leash when out walking with a beagle to prevent it from running off in search of a trail. Most beagles respond to basic obedience training.

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