Beagle dog breed belongs to the hound group of dogs.Beagles are among the most popular dog breeds in the United States. Besides being excellent housedogs, they are good at hunting and search and rescue operations. These docile dogs are used as scent dogs, especially for detecting contraband plant materials in the baggage of international travelers. Their non-aggressive nature has unfortunately made them preferred subjects of animal testing of medicines and cosmetics in countries where it is still legal. More than 90% laboratory dogs are beagles.
The ancient origins of beagle-like, small to medium sized and short-legged dogs may be traced to Greece. But the modern origin of this breed in England is thought to be from the Talbot Hounds and the Greyhounds. Two distinct types, Southern Hound and North Country Beagles, were known at that time, and eventually Foxhounds too evolved as a distinct breed. Members of the royalty, including Queen Elizabeth I, toyed with several miniature beagle-like dogs.
All these dogs may have contributed to the modern breed of Beagle which has descended from the pack developed by Reverend Phillip Honeywood in 1830. Beagles first reached the United States as hunting dogs, and it took some time to standardize the breed. The official recognition by the American Kennel Club was awarded in 1885. Now these amiable little dogs have found acceptance the world over, but they remain more popular in the US than in the country of origin.
Beagles are small dogs measuring not more than 15 inches at the withers and weighing less than 35 pounds. Females are smaller in size. Their general appearance has something in common with a miniature type of Foxhound. They have the typical hound-like eyes with a slightly melancholic or pleading expression.
Their body is muscular and medium long, well supported with short but strong limbs. All hound colors are represented in the Beagle dog breed, but tricolor coats of black, tan and white are the most common. Those with two color coats usually have white and tan. The tail is flagged with white color tips and usually carried straight and upright when the dog is active.
Beagles are known for their even temperament and lack of aggression. They make excellent family pets even for those who have young kids. These gentle, yet playful dogs love to be with their pack or the human family so much that they are known to suffer from separation anxiety if any member of the household is missing. They are highly excitable and can react to unfamiliar people and situations by incessant barking and howling.
They like to accompany their owners on trails and love to explore new places. But there’s every risk that they would take off after the scent of some small prey and go after them among the underbrush. They can be gone for hours as they have high reserves of energy and stamina. In spite of the best obedience training, they may not respond to the repeated commands of their owners when they are engaged in the single-minded pursuit of their prey.
Beagles are sociable; though initially reserved with strangers, they are quickly won over, so they are not dependable as guard dogs.
Grooming and exercise
Grooming is an easy job with beagles. Their naturally shiny short coats need only a weekly brushing to remove dead hair. This reduces shedding and comforts the dog. The ears have to be given special attention though. Clean them thoroughly, checking for inflammations that may indicate infections or ear mites.
Daily exercise keeps them fit and happy, but they do not need very long or vigorous workouts. Half an hour of walking will meet their daily quota.
Common health issues of Beagle dog breed
Beagles have a life expectancy of 12-15 years. They are not usually affected by many serious health problems, but some of the common issues require medical attention and even surgical correction. Among them are the different eye disorders such as ‘cherry eye’, and distichiasis or ingrown eyelashes. Glaucoma, corneal dystrophy and retinal atrophy are not rare.
They are prone to several musculoskeletal problems as well, including chondrodysplasia, hip dysplasia and patellar luxation. Some of them may be troubled by hypothyroidism or epilepsy.