A Bunch Of Beagles Doormat
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The origin of the beagle is not known. In the 11th century, William the Conqueror brought the St. Hubert Hound and the Talbot hound to Britain. In Britain both of these strains were then crossed with Greyhounds to give them speed and stamina for deer hunting. Beagles are similar to the Harrier and the extinct Southern Hound, though smaller and slower.
From medieval times, beagle was used as a generic description for the smaller hounds, though these dogs differed considerably from the modern breed. Miniature breeds of beagle-type dogs were known from the times of Edward II and Henry VII, who both had packs of Glove Beagles, so named since they were small enough to fit on a glove, and Queen Elizabeth I kept a breed known as a Pocket Beagle, which stood 8 to 9 inches (20 to 23 cm) at the shoulder. Small enough to fit in a “pocket” or saddlebag, they rode along on the hunt. The larger hounds would run the prey to ground, then the hunters would release the small dogs to continue the chase through underbrush. Elizabeth I referred to the dogs as her singing beagles and often entertained guests at her royal table by letting her Pocket Beagles cavort amid their plates and cups. 19th-century sources refer to these breeds interchangeably and it is possible that the two names refer to the same small variety.
In George Jesse’s Researches into the History of the British Dog from 1866, the early 17th-century poet and writer Gervase Markham is quoted referring to the beagle as small enough to sit on a man’s hand and to the: little small mitten-beagle, which may be companion for a ladies kirtle, and in the field will run as cunningly as any hound whatere, only their musick is very small like reeds
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