During the 1830s a Beagle pack was established by Phillip Honeywood in Essex and it is widely accepted that his pack was the foundation of the modern Beagle seen today. Accurate lineage of his pack was never recorded but it seems that the Southern Hounds and the North County Beagles were strongly involved. It is also thought that the Harrier was involved within the bloodline but as no records were kept and that the Harrier’s origins too are obscured we are left with speculation. Honeywood’s Hounds were somewhat small, about 10 inches to the shoulder, and predominately white with some being pure white, as written in “The Sportsman’s Library of 1845”. Around this time, both Lord Winterton and Prince Albert owned Beagle packs but it was the Honeywood’s pack that was considered to be the best. Honeywood specialised in producing Beagles for hunting whilst a Mr. Thomas Johnson was left with refining the breeding for producing hounds which were much more attractive to look at but still capable of hunting. At this time there were two types; the rough coated and the smooth coated, the rough coated Beagle managed to survive until the early part of the twentieth century and now extinct but not before his part in the development of the Beagle we have today. By the 1840s a Beagle type was gradually developing albeit a variation in character, size and the reliability within emerging packs. The Beagle club founded in 1890, at the same time a ‘standard’ was drawn up.
Beagles were, and still are, used for hunting. 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 beagle also hunt for deer or mostly track down deer. 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, . 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 general appearance of the Beagle resembles a miniature Foxhound, but the head is broader and the muzzle shorter, the expression completely different and the legs shorter in proportion to the body. They are generally between 13 and 16 inches (33 and 41 cm) high at the withers and weigh between 18 and 35 lb (8.2 and 15.9 kg), with females being slightly smaller than males on average.
They have a smooth, somewhat domed skull with a medium-length, square-cut muzzle and a black (or occasionally liver) gumdrop nose. The jaw is strong and the teeth scissor together with the upper teeth fitting perfectly over the lower teeth and both sets aligned square to the jaw. The eyes are large, hazel or brown, with a mild hound-like pleading look. The large ears are long, soft and low-set, turning towards the cheeks slightly and rounded at the tips. Beagles have a strong, medium-length neck (which is long enough for them to easily bend to the ground to pick up a scent), with little folding in the skin but some evidence of a dewlap; a broad chest narrowing to a tapered abdomen and waist and a long, slightly curved tail (known as the “stern”) tipped with white. The white tip, known as the flag has been selectively bred for, as it allows the dog to be easily seen when its head is down following a scent. The tail does not curl over the back, but is held upright when the dog is active. The Beagle has a muscular body and a medium-length, smooth, hard coat. The front legs are straight and carried under the body while the rear legs are muscular and well bent at the stifles.Beagles appear in a range of colors. Although the tricolour (white with large black areas and light brown shading) is the most common, Beagles can occur in any hound colour.
All the members of Breed Clubs agree to abide by a Code of Ethics so you have peace of mind that they will have bred a puppy to a high standard, abided by health recommendations and be available for advice when you need it. Beagles have an average life expectancy of 12 to 15 years.
Beagles generally are healthy dogs, but certain conditions occur with some frequency. The most notable of these would be seizure disorders, hypothyroidism, allergies, hip dysplasia, and inter-vertebral disc disease.
Alterations in Cellular Metabolism; weakness / stiffness / laryngeal paralysis / facial paralysis / tragic expression / knuckling or dragging feet / muscle wasting / megaesophagus / head tilt / drooping eyelids.
Neuromuscular Problems; lethargy / mental dullness / exercise intolerance / neurologic signs polyneuropathy / seizures / weight gain / cold intolerance / mood swings hyperexcitability / stunted growth / chronic infections
Dermatologic Diseases; dry, scaly skin and dandruff / coarse, dull coat / bilateral symmetrical hair loss / rat tail, puppy coat / hyperpigmentation / seborrhea or greasy skin pyoderma or skin infections / myxedema / chronic offensive skin odor
Reproductive Disorders; infertility of either sex / lack of libido / testicular atrophy / hypospermia aspermia / prolonged interestrus interval / absence of heat cycles / silent heats / pseudopregnancy / weak, dying or stillborn pups.
Hip Dysplasia is the degeneration of the hip-joint causing discomfort and lameness. All breeds of dogs can be affected. Smaller breeds compensate sufficiently for the problem in that the condition causes only minimally (generally unnoticed) effects. Larger breeds can be crippled by the defect. It is generally recommended that breeders of larger breeds of dogs test their breeding stock by X-rays to assure that there is no problem. Under this system, a vet takes X-rays (generally under sedation) of the dog when it is over two years of age. The X-ray films score the hips as excellent, good, fair, borderline, mildly dysplastic, moderately dysplastic, or severely dysplastic. Any of the first three scores are acceptable without significant bias.
All of us have seen fat beagles. It is sad, it is ugly, but most of all it is a horrible health risk for your pet. Beagles are not a bit choosy about what they eat. They consume it so fast, at times, that they have no opportunity to even taste it. They are always hungry, and are always in search of food. However, you need to watch the food intake. Don’t allow your beagle to steal food from your plate, or eat things from the table. Don’t leave food unattended where your beagle can get it. Keep garbage out of reach. Limit treats. Instead of giving a whole treat, give a half of a treat. Trust me; they don’t measure it, they are just glad to have it.
Beagles have perfected the “woe-be-gone,” pathetic, face. It is how they get what they want. Don’t fall prey to that look. It is “killing your dog” with love. Make sure you keep your beagles fit and trim.