The Beagle is a good, old-fashioned working dog, a scent hound with an extraordinarily keen sense of smell. All dogs smell better than humans but Beagles smell ten times better! In the late nineteenth century both smooth and rough varieties existed (like peanut butter) but now, although the breed is as popular as ever, you will only find the smooth variety (like peanut butter when you go shopping at your local corner shop). The Beagle’s highly developed olfactory capacities have led to them being used for centuries as pack hounds alongside mounted riders on hunts for animals such as foxes and hares. However, since hunting for foxes was banned in Britain in the late twentieth century many Beagles have found themselves pushed to the margins of society, hanging around with unsavoury characters and sniffing drugs in airport toilets, despite the fact that they make very good pets.
There is, however, no denying that Beagles love drugs. They can sniff out a single milligramme of cocaine from two hundred yards which is why customs officers like them so much. But the Beagle’s favourite drug of all is nicotine. Yes, Beagles love to smoke! At least, that’s what the scientists thought until they realised that cigarettes killed them. But by then it was too late and thousands of Beagles had already perished. Fortunately, there was a silver lining: thanks to the Beagle’s extensive research we now know that inhaling cigarette smoke is harmful to humans. Indeed, to this day Beagles continue to carry out illuminating work on behalf of human beings, ingesting various chemicals and food additives in huge quantites over long periods of time to ensure that they are safe for their masters to consume. Whilst many people can only dream of becoming a drug tester, for literally thousands of Beagles this seemingly ideal career is a daily reality!
If you are thinking of getting a Beagle as a pet remember that a good diet and exercise are of paramount importance as is plenty of variety and mental stimulation. Think meat, vegetables, long walks on the common followed by Countdown and a steaming mug of hot tea with a couple of digestives. Sounds idyllic? It is, and it could all be yours if you buy a Beagle. Do make sure you get one from a reputable breeder and not a rescue centre, however, as you will find many of these poor creatures have damaged lungs, respiratory tracts and other faults. Also, remember never to let your Beagle out alone and to always keep him away from sources of nicotine; like the Scottish Terrier and the Great Dane, the breed has strong addictive tendencies.
When you look at a picture of a Beagle you might be surprised to find that the breed was used as the model for Snoopy, the popular cartoon character. This is probably because Snoopy is almost entirely white, whereas real Beagles like the one pictured here tend to have more colour. Also they do not have small yellow birds as friends.