Beagle is the smallest member of the scent-hunting hounds but is a distinctly useful member of this group.
Although bred to hunt more lowly game than the Foxhound and Staghound – his legitimate game is the hare or rabbit – the Beagle will hunt anything, including the fox.
Although a member of the hound tribe, it is incorrect to call him a “Beagle Hound.” He is a Beagle and, like other members of the family, is never referred to as a dog, excepting when referring to sex, namely, “dog hound.”
While we have a “pack” of Foxhounds, Harriers and the like, a team of working Beagles is called a “Cry.”
Despite the fact that many crossbreds were used, the breed has been well represented in the U.S. for many years.
Enthusiastic lovers of the breed imported first-class specimens, which were used extensively for hunting, breeding and show purposes.
Beagles which find their way into the show ring usually have a working background, and few indeed are kept exclusively for show purposes in this country.
In England, Beagling is a popular sport which is organized by clubs and has a big following.
The cry of hounds is released, and enthusiastic supporters follow on foot over hill, stream and valley to be in at the “kill.”
All sections support the sport, which is regarded as one of the most democratic in Great Britain.
Most of the hounds there are owned by clubs, but any person of any rank who owns a good hound is made very welcome.
Beagles have always been popular in the United States and actually topped the list of registrations with the American Kennel Club.
Noise Scares Pests
Organized Beagling is unknown in Australia, but these hounds are used extensively for clearing the rough country of rabbits, foxes and other pests which worry the man on the land.
Once on a scent, they will follow it faithfully to the end.
Their powers of endurance are remarkable, and no matter how the wily game dodges and covers his tracks, few will escape a couple of good Beagles.
Like all members of the scent-hunting family, they give tongue when on the game, which mitigates their popularity with some sheep breeders, who claim that the noise upsets their sheep.
On the other hand, the noise has a most upsetting influence on destructive pests and these will clear out very quickly at the sound of the Beagle’s voice.
Wildlife will quickly move to someone else’s property.
Perhaps the most outstanding feature of the Beagle is his soft, soulful expression.
The bright, yet limpid, eyes set into a broad, slightly rounded skull, with large, low-set, rounded ears and fairly rounded muzzle, give him an expression of being just another house pet.
At the sound of a gun, however, he becomes transformed into a merciless hunter and, while the expression still remains soft, there is a very little affinity between that and the strong teeth, stout heart and well-proportioned frame, which will carry him over miles of rough country in pursuit of game.
Beagles are not kept in the city to any extent unless the owner has ample time to take them hunting. They are essentially a hunting hound, and few are kept as pets in the U.S.
The average height of a good Beagle is 15 inches at the withers. He is well built, with a short back, strong, muscular loin, and well-sprung ribs to allow plenty of heart and lung room. The forelegs are straight, well boned, with deep padded, closely-knit feet and strong toenails.
His nostrils must be wide and well developed to ensure scenting power. Unlike the Gundogs, the Beagle runs with his head almost on the ground and often strikes trouble as a consequence.
Eyesight is generally impaired as the hound gets on in years, through contact with twigs, seeds and the like and, in many cases, quite a few of the front teeth are knocked out.
The hindquarters, which give the hound propulsion, are strong, muscular and deep right through. Stifles are well turned, hocks clearly defined and turning neither inwards nor outwards.
The tail is a natural one, rather short but thick, and carries a slight brush. It is carried gaily, but not curved over the back.
Forequarters are strong and free of heavy dewlap or loose skin, excepting where the jaw joins the neck, where a little loose skin is permitted.
The neck is moderately long, set into well laid back shoulders, and the front is wide enough to permit a reasonable amount of speed.
Staying power must not be overlooked, and the close, narrow front, essential in very fast dogs, is undesirable in the steadier Beagle.
The coat is typical of the hound family, close and hard, of medium length, with a soft, dense undercoat.
Any hound color is acceptable. The most popular colors are white body coat with a tan head and points with black patches on the body; although tan and white, black and white, black and tan, or all white, are all accepted.
There is one cry of all-white Beagles in England which has done remarkably well in the field and brought this unusual color well to the fore in popular esteem.