10 Howling Good Facts About Beagles
These lovable hounds are happy, playful companions. Find out more about why they make perfect pets.
1. Their origins are mysterious.
The beagle is such an old breed that its ancestors hunted rabbits with the Ancient Romans. Unfortunately, origins are hard to trace when they stretch that far back. No one is really sure when or where the breed first emerged.
2. You’ll hear a lot from them.
We may not know the origin of the beagle, but we do know where the name comes from. Most likely, it comes from the French word begueule, which means “open throat.” The name is pretty accurate: Beagles have impressive vocal cords that are much fuller and louder than other dogs.
3. They have different barks for different occasions.
Beagles are so talented at vocalizing, they do so in three different ways. There’s the standard bark for everyday things like the doorbell or getting a new treat. Then there’s baying, which sounds a lot like doggy yodeling. This throaty yowl is used on the hunt to alert fellow dogs that they've picked up an interesting scent. Finally, there's the forlorn howl. Beagles will howl if they are sad, bored—or if others are howling first.
4. Foxes need to steer clear.
Beagles were bred to be the ultimate fox-catching hounds. Their short legs keep them low to the ground, which means they can take in scents without having to stop. Big, floppy ears also help them notice smells, by wafting them towards the dog's nose. And their white tipped tails help hunters keep track of the dogs as they run through brush and shrubbery.
5. Their noses are powerful.
The little hounds have some of the best noses in the dog world. With more than 220 million scent receptors, beagles can pick up more than 50 distinct odors. A wet nose helps attract and hold scent molecules for better evaluation. Even more impressive: they can differentiate smells and remember them in the future.
5. That sense of smell can land them a job.
With their powerful noses and portable size, beagles are great working dogs. A common form of employment for beagles is sniffing out bedbugs (the only silver lining of contracting these pests is getting a visit from a pup). Apparently the parasites give off a “sweet yet musty scent” that only dog noses can pick up on. Another (slightly) more glamorous job is sniffing polar bear poop: Beagles can smell the droppings of female bears and determine if they are pregnant.
6. There’s even a Beagle Brigade.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture decided that beagles are the most effective (and adorable) way to prevent the spread of insects and disease. The Beagle Brigade is a trained task force of dogs that patrols airports all over the country. Using their powerful sniffers, the dogs can find meat and produce that might be carrying foreign bugs or diseases. To become one of these investigative pooches, beagles must undergo 12 weeks of training.
7. An electric fence might be your best bet.
Beagles are prone to wanderlust: If they catch a good smell, they’re going to follow it. As a result, you’re going to want to keep your pup on a tight leash. Fenced-in areas might work for some dogs, but many beagles are skilled diggers and climbers. The little escape artists are known for scaling fences, or burrowing underneath. Some are even capable of climbing trees.
8. A number of beagles have made it into the cartoon world.
Sure, most people know that Snoopy, Charlie Brown's companion, is a beagle. But he’s not the only one. Odie from Garfield, Gromit from Wallace and Gromit, Poochie from The Simpsons, and Mr. Peabody from Rocky and Bullwinkle are all beagles as well.
9. Pocket beagles predated the ones we know today.
Hunters in the 13th century employed pocket beagles, which are exactly as tiny and adorable as they sound. These miniature pups were only about eight to nine inches tall. Today, beagles are about 13 to 15 inches tall.