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For the first time in Westminster history, in 2008 the Best in Show honor went to Uno, a Beagle whose perfect conformation and remarkable disposition made him completely irresistble to the crowd and the judge! Uno is everything a Beagle should be: alert, humorous, friendly and packed with breed personality…

Beagle Photo
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Hunting dogs were present in Britain long before the Roman conquest; these dogs are thought to be the early ancestors of the Beagle. When fox and hare hunting became popular in England during the 14th century, and later by the nobility in the 1800’s, the Beagle rose to prominence as a scent hound who prefered to hunt in packs and were remarkably tireless and persistent in their tracking skills. He was also a favored family and companion dog. The Beagle was first described in America in 1642. He was recognized by the AKC in 1920.The Beagle is shown at both thirteen and fifteen inches high. Both sizes are identical in appearance, with their short black, tan and white coat, highly-held tail, and square muzzle. His expression is alert and clever. He’s a scent hound that tracks his prey by smell rather than sight. As a highly social dog, he needs the company of his pack and/or his family. Beagles are generally unhappy in apartment dwelling, but does well in the city as long as he has a large yard where he can get plenty of exercise.

In temperament, the Beagle is extremely affectionate and loyal to his family. He does very well with children, being gentle, very tolerant and fun-loving. The Beagle likes everyone, including other dogs and strangers. His loud hound bay alerts his family at the approach of a stranger, but he is not known as a protection dog. He’s not entirely trustworthy with small pets like hamsters and guinea pigs; he is a hunter, after all! The Beagle is happiest when he’s on the trail with a hunter and, at day’s end, is just as happy to curl up with his family on the couch or the foot of the bed.

Being so affectionate and eager to please, the Beagle is rapidly trained in perfecting his tracking skills and is a formidable opponent in field tracking trials. However, this is a hound with a mind of his own and an independent spirit, making him challenging to train in obedience. He’s easily distracted by scents and noises; while his owner attempts to train him in the “down, stay” command, the Beagle is just as likely to jump up and pursue a newly-scented trail. He is an athletic dog, though, and usually takes well to agility training. Playing a game of fly-ball will exhaust his owner long before he himself tires!

If there is a downside to owning a Beagle (or three), it is in the form of some serious health concerns. Hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, dwarfism, seizure disorders, knee problems and reproductive disorders are all a veterinary challenge. Still it’s not at all uncommon to meet a Beagle who’s 15 years old!

The Beagle is one of America’s all-around favorite breeds; he ranks #3 in AKC breed poplarity. With his delightful sense of humor, extremely affectionate and devoted nature, and packed with “attitude,” the Beagle is a superb tracker, a fun, tireless playmate, and an unshakable companion.

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