The Beagle breed is one of the older dog breed, recorded from as far back as 400 B.C. Greece and A.D. 200 Britain. The Romans are also thought to have transported to England with them small rabbit hunting hounds and bred them with the local hounds. Talbot Hounds were brought to England from France during the Norman Conquest in 1066 and are considered to be ancestors to the Southern Hound, the Beagle and the Foxhound.
Beagles became quite popular with the British monarchy in the 1300 and 1400's. Edward II and Henry VII both kept packs of Glove Beagles, so named since they were small enough to fit on a glove. Elizabeth I kept packs of Pocket Beagles which were only nine inches high at the withers.
By the 1400's Beagles existed in Britain, Italy, Greece and France. The word "beagle" has two possible origins. It either originates from the Celtic word "beag" which means small or from the French word "begle" meaning "useless or of little value".
By the 1700's two types of hounds existed for hunting rabbits: the Southern Hound and the much quicker North Country Beagle. Since fox hunting was becoming increasingly popular, Beagles were being kept less and less in favour of Foxhounds. Fortunately for the continuing existence of the Beagle, farmers in England, Ireland and Wales continued to keep packs to hunt with.
In the mid 1800's Reverend Phillip Honeywood established his pack in Essex, England which is thought to be the progenitor of the modern Beagle. He was breeding for hunting skills though, not looks. A fellow Englishman, Thomas Johnson, was responsible for breeding lines of Beagles that could hunt and look attractive.
Beagles were imported into the United States in 1876 and accepted as a breed by the American Kennel Club in 1884.
- Cherry eye
- Retinal dysplasia
- Progressive retinal atrophy
- Elongated soft palate
- Cleft palate
- Intervertebral disc disease
- Pulmonic stenosis
- Ebstein's anomaly