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Beagle

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Beagle Books

Group: Hound || Breed Standard

History

Desirable Height: minimum: 33 cms (13 ins) maximum: 40 cms (16 ins).

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 are admired by some for the bloodcurdling "Beagle music" they emit when in full pursuit, also called tonguing. Beagling, like foxhunting, is banned in England. In some countries, like Norway and Sweden, Beagles are used for hunting Hare, Roe Deer and in some cases Red Deer and Fox. In these countries Beagles are not 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.

Description

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 hunting rabbits to larger hares.

The Beagle has a smooth, somewhat oval skull; a medium-length, square-cut muzzle; a black, gumdrop nose; 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. One standard calls for ideally shaped beagles to be twice as long as tall, and twice as tall as wide.

They appear in a range of colors, not limited to the familiar tricolor (white with large black areas and light brown spots). 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 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.

Character/Temperament

The Beagle has a very good temper and gentle disposition. They are an especially loyal breed and are very friendly. Unaltered males will often howl, bark, or chase after another dog or object, but rarely physically harm it. Females tend to be less agressive before their first heat cycle, but afterwards are protective of their puppies and families. Both genders are excellent with children (puppies especially) and can even play with toddlers. They also get along with other dogs, provided that they have been socialized correctly.

Breed Health

Beagles are a healthy breed, often living for 12 to 15 years, but they do have a few common health problems.

The Beagle's ears are long and floppy, which can trap warm moist air or prevent air from reaching the ear canals. This condition can be successfully treated with regular cleaning daily and sometimes medication for major cases. A good preventative measure is a diet consisting of lamb and rice dog food. Careless bathing can get water into their ears, potentially causing ear infections. Sometimes their eyelashes grow into the eye and irritate the eye, also known as distichiasis; this might require surgery to remove the eyelashes.

Obesity is a common health problem due to people overfeeding them in response to their playful and gentle behavior. Most will overeat if given the chance. A healthy Beagle should have some definition to its waist and have an hourglass appearance when viewed from above. You should be able to feel their ribs. Excessive weight can lead to problems such as hip dysplasia and heart trouble. They need exercise and a good diet.

Some Beagles are prone to congenital heart disease.

In some rare cases the breed may develop polyarthritis (where the immune system attacks the joints) even at a young age. This can be sometimes treated effectively with cortisone.

They are also prone to seizures and epilepsy. This disease is treatable with medication. Some Beagles, like most dogs, are prone to various forms of cancer, such as Lymphoma.

Breed Care

With their short coat they do not require much grooming, but a good brush once a week will keep the coat in a clean and healthy condition.

Exercise

Beagles are playful and energetic dogs who enjoy long walks. Being scent hounds, if released, they may follow a scent endlessly or will incessantly try to tag along with other dogs regardless of cars, strangers, etc. They can be quite difficult to walk, especially when distracted by enticing smells. Because of their curiousity and spirited temperament, beagles are famed escape artists.

Training

Beagles are intelligent, but are stubborn and may be hard to train due to their strong will, which is common in the breed because of its curiosity (especially for scents). However, if a newly-bought puppy has a dominant master in control, they can be easy to train and can obey basic commands. See our books on training


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Last link added: 11 Mar, 2008