Without a doubt, Beagles have become one of the most popular dog breeds in America, and across the world. In fact, they were considered to be the most sought out dog breeds during the 1950’s, and that passion for the breed continues even today. However, the roots of the beagle breed go back for over a thousand years. They can be traced back to ancient Greece around the 5th century BC.
Despite the early origins tied to ancient Greece, the Beagle breed as we are familiar with, is said to have originated in England during the 11th century, after William the Conqueror brought the Talbot hound to Britain. The English Talbots were then bred with Greyhounds, which gave way to a new breed called the Southern Hound. This new breed is believed to be the early ancestors of the Beagle breed as we know.
In fact, it was known that royalty in Great Britain kept packs of these hounds for hunting purposes. Due to the strong scenting ability, Beagle’s were originally bred to hunt rabbits and hares. Even today, beagles are commonly used for hunting, but are mostly just family pets.
Beagles & The United States
In the early 1800’s, the breed started to make its way over to the United States, specifically for hunting purposes. However, Beagles were not cared for in the same manner as they were in England. This all changed in the 1870’s, when General Richard Rowett from Illinois made attempts to improve the bloodline of the breed. He imported dogs from England, started breeding them and kept careful records of each dog. The dogs he bred came to be known as “Rowett’s Beagles” and by 1885, the American Kennel Association recognized Beagles as an official breed. Three years later, the National Beagle Club was formed, and the high-standard for this breed was officially established.
As mentioned above, for a six-year period during the 1950’s, Beagles were the most popular and desired breed in the United States. While Beagles are no longer the most popular dog breed, they are still ranked in the top ten most popular, according to the American Kennel Club. Ironically enough, in the UK Beagles are no longer a popular breed, barely ranking in the top 30.
The Story Behind the Name
While the origin of the word “beagle” isn’t known, the Oxford English Dictionary reports that the word was first used in a book called Esquire of Low Degree in 1475. It has been suggested that the word stems from the French word “begueule” which means “open throat”. Others have suggested I comes from an Old English word “baeg” which means “little”. Other less likely possibilities include the German word “begele” which means “to scold”.
Why Beagles Make Great Pets
Because of their sweet, friendly nature, Beagles make a great pet for families. They are usually great with kids, and will spend hours entertaining your children, so you don’t have to. However, due to the overwhelming popularity of Beagles, there has been an explosion of puppy mills that care more about making money, than breeding healthy dogs. It is because of greedy individuals like this, that you must do plenty of research on not only the breed, but who is breeding them.
Keep a close eye on internet reviews, go into dog forums and discuss breeders in your area that take care of their dogs, or even talk to your veterinarian about respectable breeders they may know of. Ask for information and recommendations, because the more you know, the better off you will be. Beagles that come from a good bloodline, will bring their families plenty of love, and tons of fun for many years to come.