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A Beagle is a medium-sized dog breed and a member of the hound group, similar in appearance to a Foxhound but smaller with shorter legs, and with longer, softer ears. Beagles are scent hounds used primarily for tracking deer, bear, and other game. Beagles are a loyal breed and most often very well tempered. Beagles love exercise and being around people.
Typical domestic beagle.The Beagle has a smooth, somewhat oval skull; a medium-length, square-cut muzzle; a black, gumdrop nose (the AKC Beagle standard states that for colours other than tri, for instance, red & white, a liver coloured nose is acceptable); large, hound-like hazel or brown eyes; long, velveteen, low-set ears (big), turning towards the cheeks slightly and rounded at the tips; a medium-length, strong neck without folds in the skin; a broad chest narrowing to a tapered abdomen and waist; a short, slightly curved tail; an overall muscular body; and a medium-length, smooth, hard coat. The Beagle's droopy ears should be very soft on the outside and fabricy on the inside. One standard calls for ideally shaped beagles to be twice as long as tall, and twice as tall as wide.
Beagles appear in a range of colors, not limited to the familiar tricolor (white with large black areas and light brown spots). Some tricolored Beagle dogs have a color pattern referred to as "broken." These Beagle dogs have mostly white coats with slightly circular patches of black and brown hair. Two-color varieties are always white with colored areas, including such colors as "lemon", a very light tan; "red", a reddish, almost orangish brown; and "liver", a darker brown (liver is the only colour not allowed in the British Standard). "Ticked" varieties may be either white or black with different colored spots ("ticking"), such as the bluetick beagle, which has spots that appear to be a midnight-blue color, similar to the Bluetick Coonhound. Some tricolor beagles also have ticking of various colors in their white areas.
Beagles are almost always born black and white, with the brownish areas developing later. The brown Beagle is usually the last color to appear, taking sometimes 1-2 years to fully develop. Some beagles gradually change color throughout their lives. Beagles typically have a white-tipped tail, or "flag", which is important in locating them in the field due to their short height.
Beagle Possible Ancestors
In the eleventh century, William the Conqueror brought the Talbot hound into Great Britain. A white scent hound, the Talbot (now extinct) is thought to be a more recent ancestor of the modern day beagle.
The black and tan Irish Kerry Beagles are also considered another possible link in the evolution of early beagles. A small game hunter similar to the Bloodhound, Kerry Beagles may be the reason for the strong scenting abilities of beagles today.
The first mention of the beagle in English literature by name dates from 1475. The origin of the word "beagle" is uncertain, although it has been suggested that the word derives from the French begueule (meaning "open throat", or more colloquially, "loudmouth") or from an Old English, French, or Welsh term beag, meaning "small." Other possibilities include the French beugler (meaning "to bellow") and the German begele (meaning "to scold").
Beagles (or their ancestors) were originally used for hunting, and still are in some places. They appear to have been used for hare hunting in England as early as the reign of Edward III, who had a pack of up to 120 hare hounds with him on the battlefield during the Hundred Years' War. Beagling has been referred to as "the poor person's foxhunting," as a Beagle pack (30–40 dogs) is followed on foot, not horseback. The usual quarry is the hare. Beagles will bay in a similar fashion to foxhounds when in pursuit of their quarry. This is generally referred to as "speaking" or "giving tongue". Many traditional aspects of Beagling, like foxhunting, are banned in England, though beagles may still pursue rabbits, an artificial scent or a hare injured through shooting. In countries such as Norway, Canada, United States of America and Sweden, Beagles are also used for hunting Snowshoe Hare, Roe Deer and in some cases Red Deer and Fox. In these situations Beagles are not always used as a Beagle pack. The Hunter(s),strategically placed in the terrain, wait while the Beagle is chasing. The quarry tend to circle within a certain area while using one dog, increasing the odds for success with few hunters. Drag hunting is another Beagle sport. In the United States, particularly down in the deep south, Beagles are used in groups of two with one hunter. The hunter lets the dogs go and they pick up on the trail of the game that they are hunting for, mostly deer sometimes bear and boar. Then when the Beagle chases them by the hunter the hunter takes aim and brings down the game. The Beagle loves this because it is the purpose in which these dogs were originally bred for and the beagle views it as a tremendously fun game.
Beagle Breed varieties
The American Kennel Club and the Canadian Kennel Club recognize two separate varieties of Beagle: the 13-inch for hounds less than 13 inches, and the 15-inch for those between 13 and 15 inches. The Kennel Club (UK) and FCI affiliated clubs recognize a single type, with a height of between 13 and 16 inches. These standard dogs can reach 35 lb or more.
In Medieval times, there was a breed called a pocket beagle, which stood at 8 to 9 inches. Small enough to fit in a "pocket" or saddlebag, they rode along on the hunt. The larger foxhounds would run the prey to ground, then the hunters would release the small beagles to continue the chase through underbrush into their burrows. Queen Elizabeth I often entertained guests at her royal table by letting her pocket beagles cavort amid their plates and cups. This genetic line is now nearly extinct