The beagle is a very old breed, the ancient greeks had a small hound to hunt the hare believed to be very similar to the beagle.
Certainly the tudors made reference to small hounds called 'beagles'. There was a strain of rough coated beagles at one time, also the pocket beagle was widespread so called as it was small enough to fit into the large pockets of the time. Both types are no longer seen.
The modern type of beagle originated in england & wales. The first appearance of beagles in the showring was in 1884 at tunbridge wells dog show. The beagle club was set up in 1890.
Packs of beagles can be seen working in many countries. They are sometimes used as gundogs aswell in the USA. They have a role as sniffer dogs for drugs & contraband.
It is an unfortunate fact that the good nature of the beagle lends them to being 'useful' in vivsection laboratories everywhere.
The modern beagle is a fairly consistent type. An intelligent fun loving breed, compact, sturdy, short coated, the standard heights are around 13/16 inches be they male or female. Both sexes have similar temperments.
The breed lives on average 14/15 years which is a long life. Always ready for a cuddle but ready to walk & play as much as his family could want. They take part in agility, obedience, drag hunting (following an artificial trail) run by the beagle club, & their striking good looks makes them very popular in the showring.
They come in a variety of colours, tan & white, lemon & white, blanket tricolour, open tricolour, mottle etc. Beagles love company & best suit a home with someone around for the best part of the day & have a dog proof garden to play in. They are good with children & other pets.
Training is best done with a reward led regime.
The beagle is a hardy breed with nothing to excess so there are few health problems. Here are some things that can occasionally crop up in beagles as well as other breeds. The incidence of any condition in beagles is misleading due to laboratory testing & their use of inbred dogs. Steroid responsive meningitis can occur in young dogs of around 5-18 months old. A painful condition making a dog reluctant to move its head & neck, it can also run a temperature. Steroid treatment can bring fast relief, sometimes more than one course is needed. Causal factors are unknown but affected dogs shouldn't be bred from.
Musladin-leuke syndrome. A few cases of this have come up lately & responsible breeders are hoping to eradicate the problem gene, which is a recessive, by DNA testing to eliminate carriers from any breeding programme. This should only take one generation to eliminate. Some indicators are short toes. Flat skull with high set, creased ears. Slanted narrow eyes. Very tight skin with little scruff. Affected dogs shouldn't be bred from.
Epilepsy. There is no agreement on whether this is inherited or not but it is felt that an affected dog should not be bred from.