Beagles are small to medium-sized hound dogs bred for chasing small game such as rabbits. Their origins trace back to Roman and Medieval times. They were made popular in the United States through the dog Snoopy in the comic strip "Peanuts." They have a terrific sense of smell, which causes them to be used not only in hunting, but also in detecting quarantine items at airports and other border areas.
The name beagle comes from the French word "begueule," which means "open throat." The beagle makes three types of sounds, including a standard bark, a bay when it is tracking game and a howl when it is bored or sad. Its noisiness makes it unsuitable for apartments. However, they are good with children and make great pets for active families.
The beagle's sense of smell is one of the best of any breed of dog. It is able to detect subtle differences in odor. Its long, floppy ears help trap smells close to its nose. Because it has a tendency to run off after unusual odors, it must be kept fenced or leashed at all times. Beagles also need to be bathed more often than other breeds, as they often roll in the sources of the odors they detect.
Beagles generally do not have many health problems. Their food needs to be portioned properly or they may overeat and become obese. Their short-haired coat needs occasional brushing.