Voices of Experience: The Beagle
BY CLAIRE “KITTY” STEIDEL continued
aristocracy—no longer merely means for survival. Since the English landed-gentry engaged in blood sports as a social activ- ity, they followed deer, fox, hare and badger with both large and small dogs on horse- back and on foot. In England, the British aristocracy kept stockmen to rear and select Beagles for their packs. In time, an evenness and uniformity of pack became important and very competitive. Due to regional dif- ferences in terrain the dogs did not resemble each other much in general but they were very similar to each other in a given region. Many strains developed: all were used to locate, flush and drive hare to hunters. WHAT ARE POCKET & GLOVE BEAGLES? Popular pets with the royal family were pocket Beagles, those under 10 inches, sometimes even under 9 inches, bred for
amusement and their melodious singing voices. These small Beagles could fit in a hunting coat pocket or a gauntlet. It is said the Beagle was considered little darlings of the aristocracy. However, in the lat- ter 19 century, when more interest in fox hunting prevailed with the elite, interest in the Beagle declined. With fox hunting, rather than rabbit hunting, becoming the new fashion amongst the landed gentry in England, Ireland and Wales, the Beagle instead became the favorite of the farmers and small landowners in hunting rabbit to guns. This new ownership likely saved them from extinction. BEAGLE COMES TO AMERICA It was 1873 when the British KC first recognized the Beagle; they were exhib- ited in packs at shows. Meanwhile here in
America in 1876, General Richard Rowett of Illinois imported the first Beagles from several different kennels in England. Since so many lacked the head, body and legs of a good animal, the fanciers of the day took steps to ensure that the Beagle resemble a miniature Foxhound. A Beagle Club was formed in Philadelphia and this helped to improve type and uniformity. In 1887 a first Standard for the breed was written. In America, the National Beagle Club formed in 1890 to hold field trials for improving tracking qualities and type. After rejection by the AKC, the Beagle Club merged with the National Club to be known as the National Beagle Club. They purchased a 400-acre Institute Farm in Aldie, Virginia, which to this day is home to all the NBC activities. One might wonder why we have both 13 and 15 inch Beagles in this country. The variety by size may be explained by the job he does. The 13" hound is designed to get into the brush and flush out the rabbit; he needs a very protective coat. The 15" vari- ety chases cottontail rabbits. Cottontails run in a circle to waiting guns. Yet another theory is hunters did not feel it was fair for the under 13" hounds to be competing/run- ning with the under 15". PERSONALITY The Beagle has always been a popular breed. He is amiable, friendly and alert. His disposition allows him to meet and face any situation. His handy size and good nature make him a great family pet. While not a guard dog in any sense, he will give voice freely at any intrusion or unusual event. Throughout the world the Beagle is known for his even, dependable temperament. Regardless of his size he is a solid, cheerful character and especially good with children. Beagles are found in nearly all countries of Europe and thanks to ground work of Eng- lish and American bloodlines also seen now The Beagle is described in his standard as a small breed; however, “big for his inch- es” whether 13" or 15" variety, he is strong, sturdy and sound. His weight is approxi- mately 20-25 pounds. Some of our very good Beagles that measure over 15 inches here in the US go to the UK for show. It is felt that no good Beagle is a bad color: structure is way more important. From their book, The International Encyclopedia of Dogs , Annie R. Clark and Andrew Brace describe the essentials of the breed: “The head should be fairly long, slightly domed at the occiput with moderately low set ears that can reach to the end of the nose. The stop should be moderately well in some parts of Eastern Europe. BASIC DESCRIPTION
Top Beagle 2010. Strong and sturdy. Note the straight legs, the substance, no sign of cloddiness.
276 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , A UGUST 2019
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