Getting To Know You – Beagle

Who doesn’t know and love Snoopy?  What some people may not realize is that the cartoon character is based on a real breed.  For those of you who didn’t know that, let me be the first to tell you that Snoopy is a Beagle.  A wonderful, medium-sized scent hound hailing from Great Britain.  Though its exact origins are the subject of speculation, the modern-day Beagle was developed in the 1830s from various other hounds and bred for hare and rabbit hunting, in packs.  Owning a hound is always challenging as they are notoriously difficult to train.  While highly intelligent, they can be stubborn and easily distractible.  One must arm oneself with patience when training a scent or sighthound.  That said, Beagles make wonderful companions.  They are loyal, easygoing and have a sense of humor.  They get along well with children, though care must be taken with puppies and small children who may not be gentle enough.  They are very energetic and require a lot of exercise in an enclosed area.  They will not hesitate to follow a scent far away from their owners, so care must be taken to keep them safe when outside.

Beagles come in two sizes, under 13 inches and 13-15 inches.  The smaller of the size weighs under 20 pounds, while the larger are 20 to 30 pounds.  This medium-sized breed is the perfect size for cuddling with on the couch or for taking on a hike on a warm, spring day.  They have smooth, dense, double coats and shed year round.  They should be brushed weekly to minimize shedding and keep their dense coat healthy. The coat is white with areas of other colors.  They are either two-colored or tricolored.  The colors other than white, are liver, light tan, lemon, red, orange, brown, dark brown, and black.  Their general appearance is that of a small Foxhound.  They are sturdy and should give the impression that they can chase their quarry to death.

They have an impressively developed sense of smell.  As a matter of fact, besides the Bloodhound and the Basset Hound, Beagles have one of the best of any breed.  In a 13 year study in the 1950s, John Paul Scott and John Fuller tested scenting abilities of multiple dog breeds.  They put a mouse in a one-acre field.  Then they turned the dog loose and timed how long it took each dog to find it.  Beagles took under one minute to find the mouse.  By comparison, Fox Terriers took 15 minutes, while Scottish Terriers couldn’t even find it.  Their sense of smell is so superior that they are currently used as sniffer dogs for termite detection in Australia.  They are also used to detect drugs, explosives, bedbugs, and cash.  Their search-and-rescue capabilities are so renown that in 2010, after the earthquake in Haiti, a Beagle located the owner of a hotel who had spent 100 hours buried under the rubble.  They are versatile and also excel at therapy dog work.  They do well in performance events and it is not uncommon to see them competing in agility, rally, or a number of other sports.

Beagles are relatively long-lived, with an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years.  There are quite a few health issues to be aware of, such as epilepsy, hypothyroidism, dwarfism, Funny Puppy, Chinese Beagle Syndrome, chondrodystrophic disorders, immune mediated polygenic arthritis, cerebellar cortical degeneration, etc.  Going to a responsible breeder will help minimize health issues, though they cannot all be completely avoided.  For more information on this adorable, floppy-eared breed, go to