Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What is a Beagle?

Well besides being the best dog ever!  It’s a small to medium size dog that resembles a miniature Foxhound.  They are scent hounds, originally developed for tracking rabbits and other game.  They're generally between 13 and 16 inches high and between 18 and 35 lbs.  They appear in a range of colors, with tricolor (white, black and light brown) being the most common.  The Beagle has (or should have!) a well muscular body with a medium-length smooth hair coat.  They have a square cut muzzle and a cute black nose.  Their tail is slightly curved with a white tip known as the flag, which allows the dog to be easily seen when its head is down following a scent.  The tail is held upright when the dog is active.  They have large long soft ears.  In other words they are extremely good looking dogs!

The exact origin of the Beagle is unknown but it's believed that they are a creation of the crossing of some breeds of English sight and scent hounds in the 1830s. 

Sense of Smell
The Beagle has one of the best developed senses of smell of any dog.  They are better at ground scenting than they are at air scenting.  Today they are commonly employed as detection dogs in the Beagle Brigade of the United States Department of Agriculture.  They are used to sniff out food items in luggage being brought into the United States.  They are also used to sniff out termites.

They are extremely even-tempered and very gentle dogs making them excellent with children.  Beagles are intelligent but can be very suborned which makes them hard to train.  They are pack animals and can be prone to separation or isolation anxiety (which Jude suffers from).  They are not demanding with regard to exercise meaning they don’t need to be worked to exhaustion but they do love a good walk and they have tremendous stamina.  They also love a good nap!  Beagles do have a reputation of being howlers but not all will howl.  My Beagles howl when I come home but rarely at anything else.  Some will bay when they catch the scent of a potential prey, which mine do.  They generally get along well with other dogs, however mine are “breedest” and prefer other Beagles.

Dreyfus and Lucy

They are generally very healthy dogs.  Typical lifespan is 10-13 years, but my Lucy lived until she was 18 and half years old and Victor is currently 14 years old.  The most common health problem they are prone to and they will spend their whole life battling is obesity.  Beagles will eat whenever and whatever food is available and as a result it is up to you the owner to regulate their weight.  If your Beagle is overweight it’s your fault. 

Other health problems that they are prone to include epilepsy, hypothyroidism, intervertebral disc disease (which Victor suffers from), “Cherry eye” or prolapse of the third eyelid (this happened to Lucy), glaucoma, corneal dystrophy, Cushing’s Disease (which Lucy had), pulmonic stenosis, lymphosarcoma, ear infections and snoring extremely loud (Jude!).
Animal Testing
Unfortunately, due to their size and temperament Beagles are the most common breed used in animal testing.  To help visit Beagle Freedom Project   

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