What are beagles?  Beagles are small dogs of the hound group.  Beagles or their ancestors have been used in Europe (especially Britain) for hundreds of years to hunt small game on foot.  In fact, although most people think of the beagle as a miniature foxhound, it is actually the reverse – the foxhound is a newer breed that is essentially a giant beagle!  Beagles are generally used to hunt cottontail rabbit and hare, although many people in the US hunt deer with them.  They are ‘scenthounds’, which means that they track their quarry using their excellent sense of smell.  They keep the huntsmen informed of the progress of the hunt with their beautiful and penetrating vocalization, called a bay.  Hunting beagles are generally kept kenneled together and hunt together as a pack.

Careful breeding for a small, scent-tracking, pack-loving, hound has given us all the traits beagles are most known for: their friendliness (both to other dogs and to humans), their highly individual and extemely ‘carrying’ voices, and even their voracious appetites!  As our country becomes more urbanized, beagles are making the transition from the field to the apartment – for the most part successfully.  Their friendliness, low maintenance, and joie de vivre has made beagles a popular pet.  They make excellent couch potatoes, instantly transformable into a wild flurry of activity when it’s time for the evening walk or the weekend hike.  They are generally delighted with the company of children (especially those of the food-dropping sort) and tend to be universally friendly and trusting toward strangers as well as family.

The irrepressible appetite of the beagle and its tendency to follow an interesting scent without regard to anything else make for a reasonable challenge to many familes. Those willing to learn about beagles will be rewarded many times over!

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