The beagle is a breed of hunting dog that has been a popular human companion for centuries. The dog is one of the most popular breeds in the United States, and has been famously recreated as Snoopy in the "Peanuts" comic strip. In the past, there was another breed of beagle called the pocket beagle; however, in modern times there is only one beagle breed.
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While there is only one breed of beagle in modern times, pocket beagles were bred dating back as far as the 1300s. These miniature dogs, which were popular among royalty, grew to only 9 inches at the shoulder. They had shorter legs than the modern beagle and pointed snouts, which can be seen in paintings from the era. This breed of beagle is no longer common, nor is it recognized by the American Kennel Club, because of genetic problems including epilepsy and hip dysplasia.
While there is only one breed of beagle, the American Kennel Club recognizes two varieties of the dog. This difference is based on the dog's size. The varieties are the 13-inch-tall beagle and the 15-inch-tall beagle. To qualify for American Kennel Club dog shows, a beagle must simply be less than 15 inches tall. The difference in size is minimal and doesn't change any of the breed's traits or characteristics.
The beagle is a sturdy, hardy little hound dog that looks like a miniature foxhound. They come in a variety of colors and color combinations, including red, lemon, white, brown, tan, black and orange. They have medium-length coats that lie close to their square-shaped bodies. A beagle's head is long with a broad face and a medium-length square muzzle. The dog's eyes are typically large and brown or hazel. It has long, drooping ears that nearly reach its nose.
Bred to be a hunting dog, the beagle is brave and intelligent. These pack dogs enjoy having another dog around for company; however, contact with non-canine pets can trigger their hunting instincts. The dogs are friendly to people and children. Beagles make excellent family pets because of this happy-go-lucky and kind disposition. They need some exercise but can live comfortably in an apartment. The dogs have a long, baying cry that sounds like a short howl.
By Sarah Freeman
About the Author
Sarah Freeman has been writing professionally since 2005. She has written for publications around the world, including London's "Live Listings Magazine," "College Avenue Magazine" and "Fort Collins Weekly." Freeman works as the community reporter at the "Loveland Reporter-Herald" newspaper. She graduated from Colorado State University in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism.