Although Beagle-like dogs were mentioned in literature and paintings many centuries ago, the breed wasn’t truly developed until the 1830’s. The Beagle we know today was created from several breeds, including the Talbot Hound, the Northern Hound, the Southern Hound and the Harrier. Known as "scent hounds," these breeds imbued the Beagle with a great sense of smell, making them excellent hunters of rabbits and rodents.
By the 1840’s, Beagles were being imported, as hunting dogs, to the southern United States. At this time, the breed resembled straight-legged Basset Hounds, or tall Dachshunds. They were snappy, tireless hunters, full of energy and speed, but lacking the refined appearance of the modern-day Beagle. This changed in the 1860’s when a “well-bred strain” of Beagles were shipped to the United States. These became the foundation stock for the Beagle we know today. By 1885, the Beagle was recognized by the American Kennel Club.
Today, Beagles still hunt rabbits, but are also known as excellent companions. Their affectionate nature and lack of aggression make them one of the most popular breeds in the United States. There are still traces of the original “scent hound” stock, so beagles have a tendency to roam off when following a scent trail. It is wise to keep them leashed or in a fenced yard. Their compact size and outstanding intelligence make the Beagle an outstanding family dog.
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