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'Jest' beagles
and Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen


A Breed Profile compiled by Sandra Green for the Official NZKC Website

Physical Description

The beagle is an attractive, merry little hound who is of good substance for his size, which should measure somewhere between 13" and 16"  (English Breed Standard) at the point of the shoulder. He is one of the very few short-coated medium-sized breeds, and comes in a variety of colours, the most common being tricolour (black, tan and white) or red and white, often called 'tan and white'.

Behaviour / Characteristics

The beagle is an outgoing, active little dog.  He is very social and happiest when he is in the company of his 'pack', be it canine or human.  Owing to his pack- hound origins he has a  somewhat determined streak, and a tendency to follow his nose when the opportunity arises so a well-fenced property is necessary.   He is a good natured, fun-loving fellow who makes a delightful companion.


The beagle is the smallest of the pack hunting hounds and one of the oldest of all the hound breeds.  His origins are obscure, but his history can be traced back to the pre-Christian era.  It is believed that small hounds that followed hare by scent and were followed on foot were taken to Britain from Rome during the Roman occupation.

The word 'beagle' has two possible origins, either from the Celtic word 'beag' meaning 'small' or from the French word 'begle' meaning 'useless or of little value'.

The first beagles reported to be introduced in to New Zealand were imported in 1868 by Governor Sir George Grey.

Ownership Preferences

Beagles have lots of energy and are well suited to owners who are active and enjoy exercising and playing with their pets.   Their pack origins also make them very social and they will generally get on well with other dogs and cats.  They are great with children if socialised with them.

They are a breed that prefer to be in company - human or canine - than be left alone.   As with many other breeds they can sometimes become destructive if unhappy or bored.

Housing Requirements

A well-fenced property is essential for a beagle, and they require a reasonable sized back yard.  Their short, weatherproof coat means that they are suitable to be kennelled, but they also make an excellent house dog.  A sturdy wire or plastic crate is ideal for a bed, a good way to keep him confined when necessary and to travel him  in.

Feeding Requirements

Beagles are quite greedy by nature and are not fussy eaters.  They  need to have their diet carefully watched by their owners so don't give in to that pleading  'I'm starving again' expression or you will end up with a very fat little dog!  There are many excellent prepared foods on the market that will give the correct amount to feed on the package to maintain a healthy weight.


A beagle has a thick double coat which they do shed, and they will moult once or twice a year.  A work-over  with a grooming mitt weekly will loosen and remove dead hair.  Nails should be clipped short regularly and ears checked every week.  The occasional bath will also be necessary.


Beagles have a reputation for being difficult to train.  While it is true that they can be rather determined and a bit more headstrong than some other breeds they can be taught to be quite reliable.  Food is a great motivator when training a beagle!

Leisure Pursuits

An adult beagle will love to walk with you for miles.  They need to be kept on a lead at all times, especially near traffic.  If you let him off, be prepared to have to chase him if he gets the whiff of an irresistible scent!  Some of the Beagle Clubs around New Zealand have social hunts and walks, and these are a great way for you and your beagle to socialise and have fun together.


A healthy beagles average life span is about 12 years, with many living up to 15.


Beagles are very hardy dogs and generally don't suffer from many ailments.  There are very few inherited problems associated with the breed, but some which have been detected in New Zealand are:
- cherry eye
- dry eye
- epilepsy

Undesirable Traits

Prospective owners are often attracted to the beagle by his 'chocolate box' looks and must  understand that underneath that appealing exterior there is an active little dog who  requires plenty of attention and exercise.  They make wonderfully loyal and loving pets but you must always remember their pack origins and desire to hunt.

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