Dog Breed Info Center(R) DBIC

North Country Beagle

Information and Pictures

Side view drawing of a brown, tan and white hound dog with a long tail and ears, a blocky muzzle with a large black nose standing

The extinct North Country Beagle dog breed

Other Names
  • Northern Hound
  • Northern Beagle
  • Old Northern Beagle
  • Old Northern Hound
  • Old English Beagle
Description

There are few records left describing the appearance of the North Country Beagle except that it looked similar to the modern day Southern Hound, English Foxhound, and Harrier. It was said that the North Country Beagle was shorter than the Southern Hound and had bigger bones even though they still were able to run long distances and were known to be an athletic breed. They did not have a dewlap of skin although they were known to have loose skin without any wrinkles.

Temperament

Again, there are only few records stating the temperment of the North Country Beagle. They would sniff and follow a trail for hours without getting tired and were strong willed, extremely fast, and determined when hunting. They were known to get along with other dogs but they were not trusted around other animals. Compared with its ancestors, this dog was also probably friendly towards humans as well.

Height, Weight

There were two size varieties

Height: Small - About 13 inches (33 cm)

Weight: Small - 35-55 pounds (16-25 kg)

Height: Large - About 15 inches (38 cm)

Weight: Large - 55-90 pounds (25-41 kg)

Health Problems

There are no records showing whether this breed was prone to health issues.

Living Conditions

This dog was used as a hunting dog by both the nobility and farmers therefore they probably needed a large open space to run and explore. They probably needed to be taken on long walks and needed a larger space to live.

Exercise

These dogs had high energy because they were used for hunting. When not activly working, they probably needed at least a long daily walk and a place to run around and explore.

Life Expectancy

There are no records for how long the North Country Beagle lived.

Litter Size

There are no records for the North Country Beagle’s litter size.

Grooming

These dogs had a short coat and probably only needed to be brushed and bathed when necessary. Their ears needed to be kept clean.

Origin

The North Country Beagle was one of the oldest hound breeds in England. Since this dog is so old, not much is known about how they originated. We do know they were located within the region between the Scottish Border and River Trent but since the North Country Beagle was popular before records were kept, experts can only speculate the history of this breed. Some say that the North Country Beagle was descended from other British dogs while others agree that the North Country Beagle was bred in the 11th century from dogs brought over by the Normans. No one is certain which theory is correct.

One theory is that the North Country Beagle has been around in England since before the Roman period and were developed by the Pre-Roman Celtic people. During this time, one of the main trading aspects in England were scent hounds that were similar to the North Country Beagle. If this is true, that means that the North Country Beagle has been around in England for longer than some realized. If they were not North Country Beagles, some say they were probably Terriers or Spaniels. It is said that the North Country Beagle looks extremely similar to the modern day Beagle that is still quite popular in England however there is still no proof of where they came from or what they looked like at this time.

According to the other popular theory, the North Country Beagle was bred from dogs that were imported from France in 1066 from the Norman Conquerors who were descendants of the Vikings. In this theory, it is said that the North Country Beagle was crossed with various other French breeds such as the Bloodhound, the Grand Bleu de Gascogne, and/or the Saint Hubert Hound, possibly along with a few other British hounds. After the North Country Beagle was bred, it then spread throughout the region, mainly to England and Wales.

Others say that the North Country Beagle was a descendant of the Talbot breed. Talbots were extremely similar to Bloodhounds but they were white. It is unknown whether the Talbot was actually a native French breed or if they originated from the Anglo Saxons. Still, there is no evidence whether or not the North Country Beagle was related to the Talbot.

According to records, there were two types of hounds that were divided by River Trent. They were simply known as the Northern Hound (which is the same as the North Country Beagle) and the Southern Hound. Since these two regions on each side of River Trent never crossed due to political reasons, some say that the North Country Beagle is simply the original, older native British hound while the Southern Hound was bred by crossing the North Country Beagle with hounds found in that region. This is because the Southern Hound appears to be more similar to the Bloodhound, such as wrinklier skin and a dewlap on the chest, while also having traits of the North Country Beagle. Because both the North Country Beagle and the Southern Hound are now extinct, no one will ever know the real answer.

It is still unclear whether the North Country Beagle was developed around the 1200’s or whether they were around for thousands of years before the 1200’s.

The North Country Beagle was known among the nobility as one of the preferred scent hounds to train and use for the popular sport of hunting. In Europe at this time, hunting was a way of showing political and social power over other nations. Friendships, political alliances, and personal bonds were formed through hunting together. Land was set aside specifically for hunting and it was illegal for the lower class to own hunting dogs.

In Northern England, the North Country Beagle was one of if not the most popular pack hound that was used above the River Trent. They were used to hunt game such as deer, boar, fox, and wolves.

Because of the political and agricultural changed in England, hunting was changed forever. New crops were being imported meaning more land was being farmed and less land was being used as hunting land. The population of deer, boar, and other game that was frequently hunted was now smaller than it ever was before. This meant that hunting was less frequently done than before. These changes did however make it easier for the red fox to grow in population. Red foxes were now seen as vermin as they would destroy crops, hunt farmers lamb, steal eggs, harm the horses and cattle, and kill chickens. Because they red foxes were now compared to rats and other vermin, the red fox was not hunted by the nobility until the 1500’s.

Since the red foxes were a huge problem for the farmers, they began to illegally keep scent hounds such as the North Country Beagle in order to get rid of the pesky vermin. Many poor farmers only owned one or two North Country Beagles although in the 1500’s farmers began to come together and keep packs as large as 10–20 scent hounds. Most of these scent hounds were probably North Country Beagles while others were mixed breeds. The new popular sport became fox hunting, created by the farmers. The nobility would soon make this sport their own and adopted the North Country Beagle once again.

Since the North Country Beagle did not have the best nose for hunting fox, the nobility began using other dogs such as the Southern Hound that was popular south of the River Trent. They mixed the Southern Hound with the North Country Beagle along with other breeds such as Greyhounds, Bulldogs, Terriers, and Collies. Through this breeding, the nobility came up with the English Foxhound which began to replace both the North Country Beagle and the Southern Hound.

The North Country Beagle was bred with the English Foxhound so many times, it began to resemble that breed. The original North Country Beagle was almost completely gone and was last written about in 1809 in The British Encyclopedia written by William Nicholson.

Some think that the North Country Beagles blood still lives within other breeds such as Beagles, Harriers, and the English Foxhound. Others think that the North Country Beagle was simply not used anymore and died out as a breed entirely. Another group of people think that the North Country Beagle had little to do with the new hound breeds. It is also not certain when exactly the North Country Beagle went extinct. Some say they were extinct in the early 1800’s, others say the North Country Beagle was gone by the 1820’s, and some say they were around as long as 1859.

Group

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Recognition
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Front side view drawing of a tan and white bicolor hound dog with a long tail, black nose and long ears that hang down to the sides sitting down

The extinct North Country Beagle dog breed