The Beagle is a small hound, developed primarily for hunting hare and rabbit, by scent and were followed on foot by the huntsmen.
Beagles were hunted in packs of 12 to 24 or more hounds, or in hunting terminology, 6 to 12 couples. Beagling was considered to be sport.
The Beagle was never hunted to supplement his master’s food table. He was therefore a dog belonging to the gentry. The Hunt Master took great pride in his pack and placed particular importance on the “levelness” of his pack, that is the uniformity to size, hunting ability, colour and voice. It is well documented that the average heights of packs ranged from 10 inches 25/26 cm through to 16 inches 40/41 cm.
Why a variation of 6 inches (15cms)?
Remember he is a sporting hound and the enthusiast followed by foot. The pleasure of watching Beagles puzzle over a scent to track a wily hare that has twisted and turned even backtracked over fields is what Beaglers found most enjoyable. Hence the size. Different sized Beagles worked over different terrain, from open fields for the smaller hound to the high and mountainous terrain of the Border Country of the UK for the larger hounds, and a variety of sizes for the in-between terrain. If the hounds outpaced the huntsmen and got too far ahead then the thrill of the chase was lost to the followers. So the smaller slower hounds worked open country and the larger faster hounds worked rougher and steeper terrain. This is important to remember today when Beagles are in the ring, both the 13 inch and 16 inch are correct.
He is a merry, versatile and adaptable hound that can be used to hunt in the morning, be your children’s companion and playmate in the afternoon, then curl up and play the part of the lapdog in the evening. He is ideal as a house dog as his tight feet leave the dirt where it belongs, outside in the garden. His short coat will repel dirt and he needs minimal grooming or bathing. So to sum up, he is a good “all-rounder”.
Image © Jill Farley