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Tally Ho!

by Rev. John Parks
          That's the rallying cry that many Beaglers use to call their hounds, and other Beaglers, to the spot where a rabbit has been jumped. That's also the rallying cry that I am sending out to you Beaglers throughout the world, calling you to a new column here at BEAGLES UNLIMITED.

          This is the spot where we shall take a close look at when and where the Beagle originated. We shall also examine the characteristics of good Beagle hounds. Then, in due time, we shall launch into the process of breeding good Beagles. I love to talk about heredity, so this will figure strongly in most of my articles for BEAGLES UNLIMITED.

          Before going further, I need to clarify something. I am not an "expert" with all the answers. I still have a lot to learn about breeding Beagles. However, I am a serious student of our breed, so I will be sharing with you as one student with another. We will be learning together as we go.

          If you disagree with what I say, that's fine. You can write and tell me so at 4255 S. 1000 East, Upland, Indiana 46989, and if you want an answer, please enclose a S.A.S.E. (self addressed, stamped envelope). Sorry, I am not including an E-Mail address at this time; you see most of the time I am out running hounds. Also, the kennel needs to be cleaned! So I am reserving most of my time for the hounds that I love, and my family (I have a wonderful wife of forty-nine years, four children, and fourteen grandchildren!) Enough about me though, let's turn our attention to the origins of our breed.


          In the book "The New Complete Beagle" by Henry J. Colombo, et. Al., Howell Book House, 1967, the authors give us on pages 10 and following, some glimpses of the early development of the Beagle. Hare hunting was a popular sport in England as early as the fourteenth century. Edward the Third (1312-1373) was said to have been a devotee of hare hunting and historians report that he had a pack of more than sixty hounds.

          The name Beagle was not used in describing these early hare hounds though. The earliest mention of the name Beagle in English literature was in the "Esquire of Low Degree," published in 1475. Then in the fifteen-century there were more frequent references to the Beagle by name. How the Beagle got its name is uncertain. It has been suggested that the name was derived from the French begueule, which was from the words beer, meaning to gape or open wide: and guele meaning throat. So the term open throat" may have been the descriptive term for the small rabbit hounds that call after its prey. The Old English term begle meant "small" and also had a bearing on the hound that was smaller than foxhounds or deer hounds. Chaucer also referred to the Beagle as the smallest of the hounds. Hare hunting on horseback was enjoyed by England's King James I (1566-1625), and the Earl of Salisbury often referred to "My Little Beagles."

          The Sportsman's Cabinet, published in 1803, describes the Beagle as having and 'outstanding ability to scent game…" In 1892 a joint studbook, listing packs of Beagles and harriers, was published in England. In 1891, The American Book of the Dog, edited by G.O. Shields describes the Beagle as an American field dog and states that these hounds were bred specifically for hunting rabbit and hare, although some had also hunted pheasants and game birds with them.

          Early in the 1870s, General Richard Rowett, of Carlinville, Illinois became seriously interested in Beagles and developed a kennel of hounds imported from early English strains. After Rowett took the lead, at least a half dozen other breeders took up the quest and some imported new bloodlines from England.

















          As you can see, Card's Blue Cap was rather "closely" bred. He was heavy in the blood of Mr. Shadwell's Leader and William Watts Countess. Most of the Beagles of today trace back to Card's Blue Cap, at least in their male lines.

          The Blue Caps were marked and colored differently from other Beagle bloodlines of their day. They were largely black on their backs, with rich tan heads, and the white under parts had a mottled blue and sometimes tan ticking. This ticking was the Blue Cap "trademark," so to speak.

          Of course the Beagle was originally bred solely as a gundog and hunting companion. Rabbit hunting is probably the most universally accepted sport among hunters. The skilled hunter, with a well-trained Beagle is a great combination. Most hunters allow the Beagle to circle the rabbit around to them before they shoot. This not only adds to effectiveness, but the hunter gets to listen to the music of the hounds while he is waiting for the rabbit to come around. If he doesn't get a good shot on the first round, no matter; he knows that his hound will give him another try.

          Beagle field trials started soon after 1900 in America, and have continued to this day. At present there are so many different kinds of trials that space prohibits any listing and describing of them this month. Perhaps later. I enjoy field trials. There is a friendly camaraderie among the Beagle owners that are stimulating. Also, the owners are entirely dependent on their hounds when it comes to winning ribbons. Who you are is immaterial, how your hound performs is paramount.

          If you are interested in Beagles, and are contemplating buying a puppy, be with me next time when I will give you some pointers in selecting a puppy.

          Did I hear someone holler Tally Ho!? Excuse me, I gotta go. It sounds like a rabbit chase is starting!

Should you have a concern regarding the health of your Beagle(s), you should contact your veterinarian. All information on this site is presented solely for educational and informational purposes and should not, at any time, be considered a substitute for seeking or receiving veterinary care for your Beagle(s).