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10 fascinating Beagle facts you never knew

Beagle facts
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Beagle is one of the most popular dog breeds in America and as these Beagle facts show, it’s not hard to see why. This dog won’t only win you over with its big puppy dog eyes and floppy ears, but this pooch is also friendly, gentle-natured and playful making it a great family pet. 

But while they have lots of personality, you’ll need to make sure you have the energy to keep up with them. This hound dog is active, excitable and seeks out adventure. They may be one of the most low-maintenance breeds in terms of grooming, but they’re not easy to train. Beagles are highly intelligent and can be stubborn and determined, but if you have the patience to take on the task, we guarantee it’ll be more than worth it. 

Read on for 10 facts to help you decide if you’ve got what it takes to own a Beagle.

1. They were bred for hunting

The Beagle is a scent hound and was originally bred in the UK for hunting small animals such as rabbits and hares because of its energy, endurance and excellent sense of smell. The breed has been nicknamed a ‘nose with feet’ thanks to its nose-to-the-ground hunting skills. While Beagles are still sometimes used as hunting companions today, when fox hunting became popular the foxhound, a cross between the Beagle and the Buckhound, became the top choice for the sport. 

2. Their ears help them smell

A Beagle’s ears are so long and floppy they can reach the end of their nose. They use their ears to help them smell as they carry scent particles up off the ground and direct them towards the nose. Humans have 5 million scent receptors, whereas the Beagle has 220 million and can be trained to recognize more than 50 different scents. Just make sure you clean your dog’s ears regularly; they may help them track scents, but they also trap moisture and this can lead to infections.

3. They were once pocket-sized

During the 16th century, Beagles were pocket-sized, measuring 7-17 inches at shoulder height and weighing 7-15lb. Even Queen Elizabeth I was a fan, but the breed died out during the 19th century. Today, there are two types of Beagles recognized by the American Kennel Club. The first measures under 13 inches at shoulder height and weighs 22-30lb; the second measures 13-15 inches and weighs up to 35lb. Beagles are most commonly known for a tri-color coat of black, brown and white, but they come in other color variations including lemon, red, white and blue.

4. They are one of the most vocal breeds

While Beagles are small enough for apartment living, this may not be recommended as your dog may be a howler and this might lead to complaints from the neighbors. Beagles are one of the most vocal dog breeds. In fact, it is believed that the name Beagle comes from the French word “begeule” meaning “wide open mouth.” The breed has three main vocalizations: the bark, the bay, which is a yodel-like howl used for hunting, and the howl.

5. Their tails help them stand out

If you ever watch a Beagle tracking a scent, you may notice some have a white-tipped tail sticking up in the air. Beagles were bred like this on purpose as their tails make them more visible when they’re nose-to-the-ground on the hunt and their bodies are hidden in tall grasses. Like other dogs, Beagles use their tails to express their emotions, but they are also prone to a disorder called Beagle Tail, which may involve a sprain or limp tail from overexertion.

Beagle facts: Beagle sitting on grass with tongue out

(Image credit: Getty Images)

6. They’re great detector dogs

Beagles are often used as working dogs because of their intelligence and incredible sense of smell. The Department of Homeland Security uses the Beagle Brigade to search travelers’ bags for prohibited food. They often track drugs and explosives and even help detect termites and bedbugs. One Beagle named Elvis is used by zoos to detect pregnancy in polar bears – it has been known to be able to do this with 93 percent accuracy. 

7. They’re pop culture icons

Did you know that Snoopy from Peanuts, Odie from Garfield and even Gromit from Wallace and Gromit are all supposed to be Beagles? There are plenty of Beagle references in pop culture from the 1990 film Shiloh about a Beagle and his boy to Barry Manilow’s Beagle Bagel, who featured on several of the singer’s album covers. Barry Manilow isn’t the only famous Beagle owner either. President Lyndon Johnson had three beagles and singers Miley Cyrus and Bob Dylan also have pet Beagles.  

8. They’re pack dogs

Because Beagles were bred to hunt, often in packs, they still have a pack mentality. These are very social dogs, which is good news because it means they generally get on well with other dogs and children. Just don’t leave them alone for long periods. Beagles like company and, if left alone for too long, they can become anxious and exhibit naughty or even destructive behavior such as digging up the garden or chewing your belongings.  

9. Beagles are well-known escape artists

Your Beagle will need at least an hour of exercise every day as it has lots of energy and loves to explore on walks. If they don’t get enough exercise they do have a tendency to get bored and try to escape. It’s important to build a secure fence in your back yard and remember that Beagles not only dig (so use chicken wire below the fence), but they can also jump up to 4 feet high.

10. They’re chowhounds

If given the opportunity, these enthusiastic feeders will overeat. Beagles love their food and they have a big appetite. They will eat everything and anything even if this means raiding your table and cupboards. It’s that hunting instinct. This may help with training as they are motivated by treats, but be careful not to overfeed your dog as obesity can become a problem if they’re eating too much or not getting enough exercise, especially as they get older. 

Just right

Beagles are sometimes referred to as the “Goldilocks of the dog world.” They’re energetic yet lazy at times, friendly, but not overly affectionate and their temperament is “just right” like the porridge in the fairytale Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Now it’s time to decide whether they’re “just right” for you. 

Zara Gaspar

Former editor of World of Animals magazine, Zara is a freelance writer with a passion for wildlife. Born in South Africa, she developed a love of animals from an early age. She is currently looking for a bigger house just so she can get a cat and a dog.