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Beagle Breed Highlights

Very adaptable and very versatile, just as happy living in town as they are in the country providing they are given enough exercise
Loving, loyal and affectionate, Beagles make wonderful first time pets
Low maintenance on the grooming front
Beagles are social dogs by nature and tend to get on with other dogs
They are good with children and show a lot of tolerance towards them

Points to consider

Beagles like the sound of their own voices and if allowed, will bark at every opportunity
They can be harder to housetrain than other breeds
They will follow their noses if they pick up an interesting scent
Beagles are quite independent by nature which can make training a little more challenging

Breed Background

Beagles are medium sized dogs that have consistently been a popular choice of family pet and companion dog for decades which is understandable because they have so much going for them. Beagles have also been a firm favourite in the show ring with judges and crowds alike. Although, they have retained a strong hunting instinct, Beagles are renowned for being relaxed and happy in a home environment and nothing phases these little dogs no matter where they find themselves. There’s nothing a Beagle enjoys more than being involved in everything that goes on in a household and they very quickly become valued members of a family.

Beagles boast such kind natures, they love life and are a real pleasure to have around thanks to their willingness to please without being overly demanding although they never like to be left on their own for any length of time which potential owners need to bear in mind. As such, it would be fair to say that Beagles are best suited to households where at least one person stays at home when everyone else is out so they always have company.

Where did Beagles originate?

The actual origins of the Beagle are a bit of a mystery because the breed is such an ancient one. With this said, there are some references to similar type dogs having existed in Ancient Greece that date back to 400 BC whereas in Ancient Britain, there are references of similar hunting dogs that date back to 200 AD. It is thought that the Romans during their conquest of Britain brought these dogs with them and they subsequently mated with native British hounds.

Over the next centuries more breeds were introduced to the mix which included Talbot Hounds which William the Conqueror brought over to Britain and which are thought to be the ancestors of the Foxhound too. During the 15th Century, Beagles were a firm favourite in the hunting field not only in Britain, but in other European countries too which included France, Italy and Greece. It is also thought their name “Beagle” may be of Celtic origin and that the Celts used very similar dogs during the Roman invasion.

As such, dogs very similar looking to the Beagle have been around for centuries with images of them being seen in paintings and literature dating as far back as the reign of King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I. However, the dogs seen in old masterpieces were wirehaired and small enough for them to be carried by huntsman in their pockets. Over the years and through selective breeding, larger dogs were bred although smaller versions still existed which came to be known as “Pocket Beagles” with these little dogs still existing even to this day.

Towards the middle of the 18th Century, things changed and Beagles started to be replaced by their larger cousins the Foxhound as well as other bigger hounds because more speed was needed to chase down larger prey. Luckily, Beagles were still used by farmers and landowners to coarse hares in many southern counties of the land which saw the breed continue to thrive.

It was in the 1830s that Reverend Phillip Honeywood developed a pack of Beagles which are the dogs that formed the foundation stock of the breed we see today although at the time, there were two other packs that existed. However, it was the pack that Honeywood developed that was reputed to be the best of all three packs and a man called Thomas Johnson refined the breed producing attractive dogs that were skilled hunters. There were in fact two types of Beagle back then, one being a smooth coated dog and the other being rough coated which although successful in their day, sadly this example of the Beagle does not exist today.

There were 18 packs of Beagles by 1887 which ensured the breed survived and then The Beagle Club was established in 1890 in the UK with a first breed standard being drawn up at the same time. The Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles was formed the following year which ensured the breed prospered and by 1902, there were 44 packs throughout the UK.

Today, the Beagle is among one of the most popular choices of family pets with people both here in Ireland and elsewhere in the world, all thanks to their lovely looks and kind, affectionate, loyal natures consistently being at the top of the Kennel Club’s list of most sought after dogs in the country whether in the home environment or in the field.

Did you know about the Beagle…..

Is the Beagle a vulnerable breed? No, they are among one of the most popular dogs in Ireland as well as elsewhere in the world
Beagles are thought to have been around as far back as 500 BC
The first Beagles were very small dogs
They have white tips to their tails
Queen Elizabeth I was particularly fond of the breed
Snoopy is a Beagle

What should a Beagle look like?

Height at the withers: Males 33 – 41 cm, 33 – 41 Females cm

Average Weight: Males 10 – 11 kg, Females 9 – 10  kg

Beagles are compact little dogs that always look alert and ready to get involved in anything that is asked of them whether they are in the field or in a home environment. Beagles have quite a large head in relation to size of their body with females having slightly finer heads than their male counterparts. They have shortish muzzles with a broad nose which ideally should be black although a lighter colour is allowed in dogs with lighter coloured coats. Beagles have nice, wide nostrils which adds to their overall kindly looks and appeal.

Their eyes can be either hazel or a darker colour and they are set well apart on a dog’s head which gives these dogs a lovely kind expression they are so well known for. A Beagle’s ears are long and which fall down to the level of their noses when a dog lowers their head. Ears are nicely rounded and soft to the touch. Their mouths are strong looking with a perfect bite.

Beagles have longish necks which allows them to easily follow a scent with their noses firmly planted on the ground. They hold their necks slightly arched which gives these dogs a noble look about them when they are on the move or standing still. Their forequarters are strong with shoulders that are well laid back and their front legs are straight, well-muscled and nicely boned.

Beagles as previously mentioned are compact little hounds which means they have sturdy bodies with a nice level topline and well sprung ribs that run far down their body. However, it’s in their hindquarters that Beagles boast a lot of power with strong thighs and powerful looking back legs. Their feet are well knuckled and firm with strong pads and short nails. Beagles have moderately long tails set high and which dogs carry gaily in the air adding to their happy and fun-loving looks.

When it comes to their coat, Beagles have a short, tight and extremely waterproof coat which provides them with a tremendous amount of protection against the elements. The accepted colours under the Kennel Club breed standard are as follows:

Badger Pied
Badger Pied Mottle
Black & White
Black & White Mottle
Blue White & Tan
Blue White & Tan Mottle
Hare Pied
Hare Pied Mottle
Lemon & White
Lemon & White Mottle
Lemon Pied
Lemon Pied Mottle
Red & White
Red & White Mottle
Tan & White
Tan & White Mottle
Tricolour Mottle

All colours with the exception of “all white” dogs, can be mottled and the tip of a dog’s rear end is white which is perfectly acceptable under the KC breed standard.

How should a Beagle move?

When Beagles move they do so with nice level backs with no hint of a roll at all. They cover a lot of ground with long-reaching strides in their front legs without any sort of high action and plenty of drive from their back legs.

What does the Kennel club look for in the dog breed?

The Kennel Club frowns on any exaggerations or departures from the breed standard and the severity of any faults would be judged on how they affect a Beagle’s overall health and wellbeing as well as their ability to perform or work.

Male Beagles should have both testicles fully descended into their scrotums and it is worth noting that a Beagle could be a little taller or shorter and a slightly heavier or lighter than described in their breed standard which is given to be used as a guide only.

Does a Beagle Have a Good Temperament?

Beagles are known to be very sociable and often mischievous characters by nature which are just two of the reasons they make such wonderful pets to have around. Once settled into a home, they become valued members of a family enjoying nothing more than being involved in everything that goes on in a household.

If you are thinking about sharing your home with a Beagle and you have a garden, one of the first things you would need to do is make sure it is ultra-secure because these dogs may be smallish in stature, but they are superb escape artists and they will quickly find any weak spots in fencing and garden gates. They are also extremely skilled “diggers” and would soon plough their way under a fence if they find they can.

Beagles boast lovely temperaments and enjoy being around people and other animals too. They hate being left to their own devices and would be seriously unhappy if left alone for even shorter periods of time. With this said, they are tough little dogs and although they do tolerate children, kids must be taught how to behave around them. Beagles are not the best choice of pets for people with very young families because finding enough time to spend with a dog and toddlers can prove challenging and Beagles need a lot in the way of attention.

Another thing to bear in mind is that Beagles are exceptional at the job they were originally bred to do which was to track down a scent. As such, letting a dog off their lead in a park could result in having to track them down once they’ve gone off after a scent. With this said, it’s essential for Beagles to be taught the “recall” command from a young age and to reinforce the command throughout a dog’s life.

Is a Beagle a good choice for first time owners?

Beagles are a great choice for first time dog owners because they are so people-oriented and eager to please, but their training and education must begin early and dogs need to know who they can look to for direction and guidance to be truly well-rounded characters.

What about prey drive?

Beagles are highly skilled scent hounds, they are renowned for their ability to track a scent down as such it’s best to keep a dog on a lead when walking them in places they might pick up something interesting and take off to investigate what’s at the other end. With this said, because Beagles are so eager to please and intelligent, they can be taught the “off” and “leave it” command which they do respond to well providing they are taught these from an early enough age.

Will a Beagle be playful?

Beagles are playful and fun-loving characters by nature and quickly learn how to please their owners. They adore being entertained and being the centre of attention which is why they are so highly trainable and a joy to have in the home. They remain very playful right into their senior years too.

What about adaptability?

Beagles are adaptable and given their size, will happily live in town in an apartment providing they are given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom from setting in. With this said, like all scent hounds, Beagles are never happier than when they have a large back garden to roam around in and they thoroughly enjoy spending time with an owner whose job takes them into the great outdoors the majority of the time.

Will a Beagle bark too much?

Providing a Beagle is well socialised and educated from a young age because they are known to like the sound of their own voices which is a trait that needs to be gently curbed when a Beagle is still young and therefore more receptive to being gently moulded into being a quieter dog. With this said, a bored Beagle would quickly learn to bark so they can get the attention they crave which could become a problem.

Do Beagles like swimming?

Some Beagles love swimming and are therefore not afraid of water. However, other dogs don’t even like to get their feet wet and should never be forced to go into water if they don’t want to. With this said, care should always be taken when walking a Beagle off the lead anywhere near more dangerous water courses just in case a dog decides to leap in or they accidentally fall in.

Are Beagles good watchdogs?

Beagles are not natural watchdogs because they are too social by nature and enjoy the company of other dogs and people alike even if they don’t know them. With this said, some Beagles are quick to let their owners know when there are strangers about or when there is something they don’t like going on in their environment.

Is a Beagle easy to train?

Beagles are known to be intelligent, however, it’s essential for their training and education to start as early as possible or these dogs can become wilful and unruly. On the upside, Beagles are generally eager and willing to please and providing they are given the right sort of guidance and direction from an early age, they grow up to be well-rounded, obedient dogs, it just takes a little more time and patience with them.

Beagles need to be handled firmly, but always fairly and their training needs to be consistent throughout their lives. Any unwanted behaviours should be nipped in the bud, gently yet firmly and this includes their tendency to bark. Beagle puppies, as previously mentioned need to be taught not to bark excessively and this must be done early before it turns into a real issue further down the line. A Beagle’s education must begin as soon as a puppy arrives in their new homes and they need to be taught the following commands from the word go:

Leave it

Once a dog is older, they can be taught other more complicated commands to ensure they grow up to be more obedient and well-behaved adult dogs.

Is a Beagle safe around Children and Other Pets?

As long as a Beagle is well socialised from a young age and introduced to as many new situations and children as possible, they are generally good around them although not many dogs like it when the kids are too noisy or boisterous around them which is why children need to be taught how to behave around a dog and any interaction needs to be well supervised by an adult at all times to make sure things stay calm. Children also need to be taught not to go near their pet when they are eating or asleep because these are the times that dogs need to be left alone.

When it comes to other pets and animals which includes cats, providing a Beagle has been introduced to them from a young age, they are generally very good around them. Beagles generally get on well with other animals they have grown up with too.