The Beagle is a medium sized scent hound developed for tracking rabbits and other game. It has a keen sense of smell which makes it a popular hunting breed. The Beagle resembles the Foxhound and has existed in type for over 2,000 years. The modern form of the Beagle was developed in the 1830s from several breeds, including the Southern Hound, the Talbot Hound, the North Country Beagle, and possibly the Harrier.
The Beagle stands between 13 and 16 inches high and weighs between 18 and 35 pounds. It has a square muzzle and a fairly broad head with a strong jaw. Its eyes are large and pleading, and generally hazel or brown. It has long ears and a long neck, the neck excellent for trailing a scent. It, like the Basset Hound has a white tipped tail, easily seen in tall brush.
The coat of the Beagle is hard and smooth. This medium length coat appears in a variety of colors. Tricolor is the most common, but beagles can occur in any hound color. Tricolor Beagles are almost always born black and white with the brown areas developing within the first one to two years.
Next to the Bloodhound, the Beagle’s sense of smell is the most developed of any dog. It has the ability to find a mouse in less than a minute in a one acre field. They are excellent at ground-scenting yet not wonderful at air-scenting. They are not typically on mountain rescue teams for this reason.
The Beagle is a gentle, happy dog, easily won over by humans. For this reason, they make poor guard dogs. The Beagle is highly excitable, even more so than the Yorkshire Terrier and the Miniature Schnauzer, as well as some other breeds. They can sometimes be difficult to train because they are so easily distracted by scent, but they do well when food is involved in their training.
As a breed the Beagle gets along very well with children and other dogs. It is prone to separation anxiety because it is a pack animal. Regular exercise will help ward off weight gain; they have excellent stamina, but do not require exercise to the point of exhaustion.
The Beagle is also used as a detection dog for the United States Department of Agriculture. It is used to detect food items in luggage being brought into the United States. The breed was chosen because it is not a particularly intimidating dog and it is an easy breed to care for.
The Beagle usually lives around 12.3 years. They are prone to several health problems, most of which can be relieved with medication or some other form of aid. Some of the conditions Beagles are plagued with include: Hypothyroidism, epilepsy, dwarfism, Funny Puppy (a developmental disease) and Chinese Beagle Syndrome (in which its eyes are slanted), hip dysplasia, immune mediated polygenic arthritis, ear infections, glaucoma, corneal dystrophy, and retinal atrophy.
The Beagle is the breed most often used in animal testing, due to their passive nature and their size. Generally out of all dogs used in experiments over a year period, Beagles make up about 96% of them. Beagles are used in a range of research procedures: applied human medicine, fundamental biological research, and applied veterinary medicine.
Because of the versatility of the Beagle it is often used for therapy among its other roles as scent-hound, family pet, and detector.