The Beagle breed has origins that can be traced back to Roman times, but the Beagle as we know it today was developed in the 19th century in England. Beagles were bred for the purpose of hunting small game, particularly rabbits, due to their excellent sense of smell. This breed's sense of smell is only surpassed by the Bloodhound. They were also prized for their compact size, allowing a pack of Beagles to be transported easily for a day of hunting. Beagles are sometimes referred to as foot hounds, which meant that no horse was necessary to hunt with these dogs. Following the Civil War, Beagles began arriving in America. They were immediately popular with rabbit hunters.
Beagles are known to suffer from a range of conditions. Eye disorders that can affect them include cataracts, congenital stationary night blindness, cone-rod dystrophy 4, corneal dystrophy, lens luxation, primary open-angle glaucoma, distichiasis, keratoconjunctivitis sicca, optic nerve hypoplasia and micropapilla, persistent pupillary membranes, retinal dysplasia, stationary night blindness, tapetal degeneration, and progressive retinal atrophy (cord1/crd4).
There are many other diseases that Beagles may be affected by, including amyloidosis, black hair follicular dysplasia, brachygnathism, cardiomyopathy (dilated), catalase deficiency, Canine Scott Syndrome, cerebellar abiotrophy, cerebellar ataxia (hound), cerebellar cortical degeneration, cervical vertebral instability, chondrodystrophy (with or without chondrodysplasia), cleft lip/palate, cobalamin malabsorption (cubilin), color dilution alopecia, copper hepatopathy, cryptorchidism, cutaneous asthenia, deafness, degenerative myelopathy, demodicosis, diabetes mellitus, dysfibrinogenemia, ectodermal defect, elbow dysplasia, elongated soft palate, epilepsy (Lafora body disease), exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, Factor VII deficiency, Factor VIII deficiency (hemophilia A), familial nephropathy, familial vasculopathy, globoid cell leukodystrophy, GM-2 gangliosidosis, hip dysplasia, hyperadrenocorticism, hyperlipidemia (hypertriglyceridemia), hyperuricosuria, hypoadrenocorticism, hypothyroidism, hypotrichosis, immune-mediated polyarthritis, immunoglobulin A (IgA) deficiency, intersex (gonadal), intervertebral disk disease, leishmania susceptibility, lissencephaly, microphthalmia, mitral valve disease, Musladin–Leuke syndrome, narcolepsy, nonspherocytic hemolytic anemia, osteogenesis imperfecta, osteosarcoma, pain syndrome, panosteitis, patellar luxation, polycystic kidney disease, polycystic liver disease, primary carnitine deficiency, prognathism, progressive retinal atrophy, prolapsed gland of nictitans, pulmonic stenosis, pyruvate kinase deficiency, renal agenesis, Shaker syndrome, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, spina bifida, spinocerebellar ataxia, urolithiasis (magnesium ammonium phosphate; struvite), uveal hypopigmentation, vasculitis, vertebral stenosis, and vestibular disease (congenital).
Beagles are known for their friendly and gentle disposition, making them excellent family pets. They are also known for their loyalty and affectionate nature. Beagles have a high energy level and require plenty of exercise. They are intelligent but can be somewhat stubborn, which can make training a challenge at times. Because they were bred for hunting in packs, Beagles enjoy the company of other dogs and also get along well with humans. They are known for their tendency to follow their nose, which can lead to wandering off if not properly contained.
It's important to note that while Beagles are generally friendly and good with children, their temperament, like any breed, can be influenced by a variety of factors including genetics, training, and socialization. Regular exercise and a balanced diet are key to keeping this breed healthy and happy.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) registered its first Beagle, named Blunder, in 1885.
According to the AKC, there are different ideas about how this breed and its name came about. Some say the name derives from the Gaelic word beag, meaning “little”, while others believe it relates to the French term for the sound hounds make while hunting: be’geule.
U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson had three Beagles named "Him", "Her", and "Edgar".
In the U.S., the AKC height limit for Beagles is 15 inches, but in the United Kingdom it's 16 inches.