The Kerry Beagle is one of the most ancient breeds of Irish dog. Popularly thought to have descended from a dog known vaguely as “The old southern hound”. Next to the Irish Wolfhound the Kerry Beagle may actually be the oldest native Irish breed, it is generally assumed that the dog referred to as “GADHAR” in Old Irish texts may be the direct ancestor of the modern day Kerry hound.
The most likely outline of the history of this breed is a Celtic hound going back probably to the time of the first Celtic settlements in Ireland, which in the middle ages and later centuries was mixed through breeding experiments with hounds from the continent to produce a very efficient hunting dog. Their fortunes suffered during the great hunger in Ireland in 1847 when they were decimated by starvation.
The name Beagle curiously enough is thought to be derived from the Irish word “beag” (meaning small) and certainly the Beagle is a small hound used to hunt small game like hares, whereas the Kerry Beagle was often used to hunt stag. The present day word for the Beagle in Irish is “Pocadan” which refers to its use as a hunting dog rather than its size.
F.C.I :Standard not recognised. Origin - Ireland
Today in rural Ireland there are many fine packs of Kerry Beagles, which hunt regularly. The main quarry is the hare. This exhilarating form of foot hunting is pursued purely for the enjoyment of following a fine pack of hounds. It is extremely rare if a hare is caught, the Hunt Master invariably calls off the hounds should the hare be in any danger or distress. Drag hunting competitions are also regularly held.
IRISH CLASSIFICATION: Hound Group.
BEHAVIOUR & TEMPERAMENT
A vibrant hound built for speed and endurance. Temperament is an important way to distinguish the Kerry Beagle from other Fox Hounds. The Kerry Pack will fan out in a large circle when casting and always turn to the first hound that opens. They are also noted for astonishing speed and independence, so that it takes a really good hunter to keep up with them. Their music as their baying is called, can be heard for miles.
HEAD: Moderately long, broad skull, oval from eyes to poll, about the same length from the nasal indenture between the eyes to point of nose should slope or slightly arch from eyes to point of nose. Forehead low, eyebrows strong and raised somewhat, cheeks not full. Eyes large, bright and intelligent varying in colour from bright yellow to deep buff, and deeper brownish yellow. Muzzle long, slightly arched round, and full under. Nose fine in texture, not square, but slightly tapering, Nostrils Large. Upper lips hanging, and fuller towards the corner of the mouth.
TEETH: level, of elegant form and strong.
EARS: Large, pendulous, falling below the neck, and set on low on the side of the head.
BODY: Muscular, fairly thickset, moderate length, strong, well set on legs.
NECK: Slightly arched, thick nearly level with the back of the skull at the point of joining. Skin
full in front and dewlap developed.
CHEST: Deep, not broad underneath. Shoulders strong, and broad across the back, which is
moderate in length, and strong.
LOINS: Broad and muscular, and slightly arched. Thighs thick and slightly curved.
TAIL: Long and evenly furnished with hair, thickset at the root, and carried curved upwards
from the loins.
LEGS: With plenty of bone and muscle, short and strong; feet round and close.
COAT: Hard, close and smooth.
COLOUR: Black and tan; blue mottled and tan; black, tan and white; tan and white.
HEIGHT: 24 inches (61cm), more or less, which should depend upon the depth of the body.