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History of the Beagle: Origins and Its Journey Through Time

At A Glance

Have you wondered where did Beagle originate from? What is the story behind the history of the beagle? Let’s travel through time to know how Beagle history unfolded over the years.

Last Updated on: Jan 06, 2022

Have you ever wondered where did Beagle originate from? What is the story behind the beagle dog history? Let’s travel through time to know how the Beagle history has unfolded and how Beagles have developed into the beloved pets they are today.

custom oil-painted dog portraits by Poshtraits

beagle in the fields

Origin of the Name Beagle

Although there is no definitive way to know the Beagle name origin, there are a number of theories to draw upon.

Some believe that the name traces its origins from the French word “begueule,” meaning “open throat.” Another French word “beugler,” meaning “to bellow,” has also been credited as the origin of “Beagle.”

Other theories have pointed at the Old English word “beag,” implying “small,” and at the German word “begele,” which means “to scold.”

Also Read: Beagle Traits and Characteristics

Why Were Beagles Bred?

In 16th-century England, Beagles were being bred as scenthounds to trace small animals like rabbits and hare on hunts. They were popularly known as rabbit-running hound dogs. This is because Beagles are known to have an acute sense of smell.

To date, in several countries like the United States, Beagles continue being employed for this very purpose.

Did You Know: The beagle was originally bred for hunting.

Additionally, Beagles have some very loving traits that make them excellent family dogs and companions. This is especially true for first-time pet owners since Beagles are easy to train and exceedingly loyal.

beagle in the woods

Beagle History Through Ancient Times

The physical and personality traits of Beagles are a result of years of breeding and training. One can better analyze these qualities when we know where did Beagles originally come from and why were they bred.

Sources about the ancient Beagle breed history are ambiguous. However, there are many who contend that the Beagle’s ancestors originated in Greece back in the 5th century. Let’s understand this history in detail.

Also Read: Do Beagles Make Good Pets?

Ancient Times

5th–8th Century

Beagle finds its ancestral origins in ancient Greece, dating back to the 5th century. The Beale back then resembles the modern-day Beagle we know now. As we proceed to the 8th century, Normandy witnessed the development of a new breed called the Talbot Hound from the St. Hubert Hound. Being a scent hound, the Talbot Hound was largely used for hunting.

Fun Fact: The early beagles were small enough to fit in your pocket.

11th Century

In the 11th century, the Talbot Hound and St. Hubert Hound were brought to England by William the Conqueror. Since these breeds did not have enough speed in running, they were crossed with the Greyhound breed.

The goal was to increase their speed and endurance, which could help with deer hunting. These Beagles resembled the Harrier breed, and some believe that they looked like the now-extinct Southern Hound.

Medieval Era

This was a time when any hound dog was called a “Beagle.” The medieval times also saw a number of small hound dogs that were between 8 and 9 inches tall and were thus called “Pocket Beagle.” One such Pocket Beagle was even owned by Queen Elizabeth I.

The era of Edward II and Henry VII also witnessed “Glove Beagles” that were so tiny they could be easily kept in a glove. Towards the 1900s, however, these small breeds became extinct.


Two breeds of Beagles emerged in the 1700s — the Southern Hound and The North Country Beagle. Both breeds were employed for hunting hares and rabbits. The Southern Hound was tall and bulky, while The North Country Beagle was of a smaller size and had a pointed muzzle.

Although the Southern Hound did not much resemble the modern-day Beagle, its long, soft ears are very reminiscent of the hound we know today.

We saw four types of beagles in 1856 – Medium Beagle, Fox Beagle, Dwarf Beagle and the Terrier Beagle


In the early 19th century, Reverend Phillip Honeywood of Great Britain started a breeding program. This is believed to have laid the foundation for the modern Beagle.  By the 1840s, a certain breed standard was emerging. The differences between the North Country Beagle and Southern Hound diminished, except their size and character of course.

1887 proved to be a difficult time as the breed was slowly fading away, with only 18 packs remaining in England. To save this breed from the jaws of extinction, “The Beagle Club” was formed in 1890, followed by the Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles in 1891.

beagle puppy

Modern Era

Beagles made their mark in the United States in the 1840s when they were exported to America solely for hunting activities. Indeed, these dogs did not highlight the looks of the modern breed of Beagles. They often represented the straight-legged Dachshunds. Thus, efforts were made in the 1870s to breed good sustainable quality Beagles.

General Richard Rowett from Illinois took up this task of breeding Beagles after importing dogs from England. The animals bred by Rowett were finally classified to be the American Standard Beagle. In 1885, the American Kennel Club officially acknowledged this dog. It was in the 20th century that Beagles became increasingly popular globally.

The modern-day Beagle is one of the most popular breeds throughout the world. It is owned by a great majority of people. Beagles are known more for their intelligence, affectionate nature, and lack of aggressiveness despite being used for hunting rabbits even today.

This breed not only made a mark in history but has also been featured in comic strips in the 1950s. The animals have been adored worldwide as cute and friendly who mingle well with children.

Beagle is the most popular hound dog across the south and north America.

Are Beagles a Part of the Hound Family?

Yes, they are. The animal has been bred as hound dogs to hunt rabbits and hare since its origin. It exhibits immense curiosity and acts as a clever hound breed.

They hold over 220 million scent receptors and can adapt to more than 50 distinct odors. Their wet nose helps to attract and retain scent molecules and remember them for the future.

beagle history - conclusion

Beagles are loved for being exceptional hunting dogs and loyal mates. They display a vibrant, funny, and enthusiastic attitude and are always inquisitive. They thrive in the company of others and easily mingle with other animals and humans. Check out other Fun facts about Beagles.

You may now realize that the animal you are petting has a deep-rooted, fascinating history. The Beagle history indeed has been a spectator to several transformations to give us the dog we adore today!



Meet Paul, a devoted dog dad to the delightful French Bulldog, Cofi. With a flair for humor and a deep understanding of Frenchie quirks, Paul brings a lighthearted touch to his writings. His relatable stories and practical insights are a blend of laughter and valuable advice and resonate with fellow dog owners.

Through his words, Paul aims to celebrate the joys and challenges of being a dedicated pet parent, reminding you that life is simply better with a four-legged, snorting sidekick by your side.