The Beagle is one of the most popular of the hounds, both in the show ring and as a family companion, and still retains his natural hunting instinct. He was bred to hunt with men on foot, preferably after the hare. He is still used in packs, very often organised by institutions, including colleges and schools, but it is as a first-class family pet that he really makes his mark. A bustling, eager little dog, full of enthusiasm and vigour, ever ready for any activity that involves him.
Sturdy, bold and active, he is the very essence of quality, and is blessed with an equable and merry temperament. His head is powerful but his expression benign and there is usually a most definite difference between the dogs and bitches.
Everything about the breed gives the impression of athleticism and there is no better sight than a Beagle pack in full pursuit, their heads down to the scent, their sterns up in rigid order as they concentrate on the chase. This instinct is mimicked in his everyday behaviour in the park: the man with the lead in his hand and no dog in sight owns a Beagle.
An easy dog to keep, it can get as muddy as he likes but cleans up with a sponge and water, and dries off his short dense coat in a trice.
During the reigns of King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I there were wirehaired Beagles, some of which were small enough to be carried in the pocket of a hunting jacket. Size has increased over the years but smaller versions of the breed, called ‘pocket Beagles’, can still be born.