Most sources on the origin of the Beagle’s name are in accord that no one really knows the origin of the Beagle’s name, but there is no shortage of good theories:
- It derives from the Gaelic word for “little” – “beag;”
- It comes from the French term “be’geule,” referring to the hound’s baying while pursuing game (alternately explained as the Old French word, “begueulle,” meaning ‘noisy shouting person;’
- It’s an Americanized spelling of the German word, “biegel” or “begele” meaning “to scold;”
When a breed is as old as the Beagle, we suppose a little bit of mystery “goes with the territory” regarding the origins of its name. Being known by a number of names over time is also not unusual. In the Beagle’s case, we can add “Glove” or “Pocket” Beagle to its resume of monikers (from a time during the Elizabethan era when the breed was small enough to be held in a gloved hand), as well as “Singing Beagle,” which we “get” because of the breed’s wonderful voice. We also understand “English Beagle,” and “Regal Beagle” for the breed’s popularity with British royalty. What we don’t understand is the Beagle’s other nickname, “Jelly Hound.” Beagle friends, can anyone help us out with this?
Interestingly, there’s another name attached to the Beagle, and that is the “Patch” Beagle. This was a strain developed by New Yorker, Willet Randall around 1880. It was so named because these Beagles were largely white colored dogs, but that had a very large tri-colored spot. These dogs were quite popular in the 1940s and 1950s because they were said to be able to run “wicked fast.” These days, lemon and white, or red and white Beagles are often called “Patch” Beagles.
Image: “Beagle on White Plastic Chair” by Jenni Cator