By Arlo the Hound with help from Honor Tarpenning
Starting today, Wednesdays are Breed Bio Days! Each Wednesday, I’m going to write about a different breed. So, what better way to start than with my breed, the beloved Beagle.
The beagle is a small to medium scent hound. We have floppy ears, a slim frame, broad chest and a square snout. We look a lot like fox hounds, but smaller, with shorter legs and longer ears. Our tails are slightly curved and all beagles have a white tip on our tail, also called a flag. As beagles are hunting dogs, this “flag” was selected in breeding so that we can easily be seen by our owners and other members of our pack.
Beagles are between 13 and 16 inches tall at our shoulders and weigh between 18 and 35 lbs.
The most popular coloring for the beagle is the tri-color like me (black, brown and white) but there are also two-color beagles, all with one color being white, and the other either black, brown, tan, lemon, liver, or red. There are also ticked beagles. Those are either black or white with flecks of another color, usually brown, blue, or red.
Coat and Grooming
Beagles have short coats that require very little maintenance. Just like any other dog, we should be brushed from time to time to remove dead hair and help keep our coat healthy, but that’s about it. We could use a bath every once and a while when we get smelly (we hounds love to track down smelly stuff and then roll in it) but bathing us too often will dry out and irritate our skin.
We are hearty dogs and do not often have health issues. Our floppy ears can sometimes cause moisture to be trapped therein and cause ear infections, so our ears should be kept clean. Beagles are more likely than some other breeds to develop cherry eye, glaucoma, and corneal dystrophy. Beagles do not commonly develop hip dysplasia.
We do exhibit a behavior that has come to be called reverse sneezing. This is a sort of choking/snort sound beagles make when they draw air in through their nose and mouth. The exact cause is not known, though some speculate that as beagles are constantly sniffing and snorting (and ‘snorfing’) this is their means of clearing their air passages. This behavior is not harmful, although the sound is often troubling to owners who are new to the sound.
Beagles are also prone to obesity as they have insatiable appetites. Our food intake should be carefully monitored and we should never be free-fed.
Beagles are gentle, even-tempered dogs. We make excellent family dogs, and as we are quite hardy and tolerant of rough play we are good with small children. Beagles are extremely smart dogs with top-notch problem solving skills (and are often known to be great escape artists), but as we are bred as hunting dogs we are single-minded to the point of stubbornness. Our exceptional sense of smell also makes us highly distractible and difficult to work with off-leash. We are pack dogs, love to snuggle and are very attached to our family, this can result in separation anxiety if not handled properly. We do not like to be alone and get along well with dogs or cats.
Beagles are high-energy and require plenty of exercise. We are happiest with room to run, but a long, brisk walk twice a day does just as well. As dogs bred to work, we need to have a job to be happy. This 'job' can be a long walk, an interactive toy, or hound or agility trials. A beagle is not the dog for you if you are looking for a couch potato.
-Snoopy from the famous Peanuts cartoons is a beagle.
-Food items being brought into the United States are sniffed out by the USDA’s Beagle Brigade.
-Former US President Lynden Johnson had 3 beagles named Him, Her, and Edgar.
-The renowned naturalist Charles Darwin sailed on a ship called the HMS Beagle
-A Beagle named Uno won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2008.
-Beagles are almost always on top ten most popular breed lists.
-One of the earliest written references to the beagle can be found in the work of William Shakespeare.