Beagles, thought to be a smaller version of the English Foxhound, were developed and bred in England to be used as scenthounds, primarily for hunting rabbits and hare. Although the meaning of the name Beagle is uncertain, it is thought to come from the French word begueule meaning "open throat" or "loud-mouth." The exact origin of the breed is also unknown, but scenthound-type breeds have been referenced in documents for thousands of years. The Beagle was one of the preferred dogs of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria even though the English Foxhound was one of the most popular breeds of the time period. Due to their non-threatening temperament, they have been used in the United States Department of Agriculture, along with its counterparts in Australia and New Zealand, to search airplane passengers for contraband. One of the most popular dogs in the cartoon world, Snoopy from Charlie Brown, was based on the beloved Beagle.
One of the most recognizable dog breeds, the Beagle is the smallest of the scenthounds and gained popularity from their excellent hunting abilities and sweet personality. Even though they are small in size, the breed was born to hunt and is commonly described as being "a nose with four legs." The Beagle's coat is medium in length, close, and comes in many various colors that are typical of hound-type breeds. They have large brown or hazel eyes, long ears, and a square-shaped muzzle with a black or dark brown nose. The Beagle's tail is slightly curved and is short compared to the size of their body.
Friendly and lovable, the Beagle has been the dog breed of choice for everyone from President Lyndon B. Johnson to Charlie Brown. Although these small dogs can be a little timid around strangers, they can form extremely strong bonds with the people they come to know. Gentle-tempered, calm, and tolerant, they are a great pet for families with children and can make a wonderful playmate for them. Although considered highly intelligent and obedient, they are sometimes difficult to train because of their strong hunting instincts. These persistent hounds can become easily distracted by interesting smells so consistent reward-based training is needed to enforce reliable recalls. Like most hunting breeds, they also get along well with other dogs and may chase cats or other small animals. Beagles were born for the outdoors and should have plenty of daily exercise by regular walks or playful romps in the yard with children. They can adapt to living in apartments or condos as long as they receive the proper amount of exercise, but are typically not recommended because of their love for barking and howling. The compact size, lively personality, and easy-care coat of the Beagle has easily made them one of the most popular breeds for all kinds of families.