Early ancestors of the Beagle have been around since
medieval times when the term "beagle" was used to
describe the hound dogs of the time. They have undergone many changes as a hunting breed of hare and fox until the breeding program that would for the base of the modern Beagle was developed in the 1800s. With the formation of The Beagle Club in 1890 came the standardization of the Beagle's appearance and they grew in popularity going from
a mere 18 packs to 44 packs of Beagles throughout England.
When General Richard Rowett of Illinois imported dogs from England and began breeding the descendants of these dogs became the model of the breed in the United States. By the 20th century the breed has grown in popularity to be one of the most popular breeds in the country not only as a hunting breed but as beloved family companion.
Their loving temperaments are iconic as they are described
as "merry" or "cheerful" little dogs. Loyalty to their people
and exceptional with children, they make great family pets.
However, as with all hound breeds they are temporarily
obedient at best due to their independent nature and their
naughty streaks can be a challenge for even experienced dog
owners. Patience and a sense of humor is a general
requirement when owning a Beagle.
Since no hound is a bad color, there are 10 different colors that can make up 25 different combinations of colors for Beagles and this doesn't include possible markings.
These colors are:
Tri-color - is the most commonly recognized color found. It is made up of a combination of three basic colors, usually tan (ranging from pale lemon to dark red) with white markings and a black saddle.
Bi-color - has a white base accompanied with tan (ranging from pale tan to dark red).
A healthy Beagle can easily live an average 12-15 years.
Having been bred to hunt over long distances,
Beagles are considered an active breed and
require regular exercise to keep from growing
overweight. However, they absolutely cannot be trusted in an open, unconfined space without a leash. Owners need to be prepared that a Beagle will never be parted from their inner hunter and when they catch a scent there is nothing that will distract them from the thrill of the chase. They need a secure physical fenced yard to keep them safe from wandering away from home.
Despite their short coats, they do shed seasonally and require regular brushing to limit the amount of hair that ends up collecting on furniture and clothing. They are overall a clean breed and only need bathing as needed. Their long, drop ears have the potential to develop infections, so a combination of a quality diet and regular cleaning will keep them healthy.
Nail trimming should be a regular upkeep for overall well-being and should be done a minimum of every 3-4 weeks, but 1-2 is recommended.
Overall the Beagle is a healthy, but there are certain
conditions that have been known to occur within the breed
with some frequency.
Epilepsy - A dysfunction of the brain that manifests itself as seizures ranging from mild to severe. Though found in many reeds, Beagles are some of the most affected. It can occur as young as 3 months and as late as 9 years with stress as a common trigger.
Hip/Elbow Dysplasia - An abnormal formation of the joints that cause lameness and arthritis. This is a polygenic trait that is often screened for, but can also be affected by environmental factors such as diet, exercise, etc.
Hypothyroidism - Disease which causes the thyroid to not produce enough hormones, causing the metabolism to slow. Common causes are linked with immune disorders which attack the thyroid gland.
Factor VII Deficiency - Has been known to cause a mild bleeding disorder in Beagles.
MLS - Musladin-Lueke Syndrome is a genetic disease specific to Beagles that affect the development and structure of connective tissues. It is multi-systemic and can affect the skin, bones, muscles and heart.