Miniature and Teacup breed versions, such as teacup Chihuahuas or Yorkies, are very popular these days. Most breeds are pushed to limits to get this small size and fragile body and creating teacup dogs is very often considered unethical.
Then you have the Pocket Beagle, which actually started as a very tiny dog that was small enough to fit into hunters pocket and saddle bags and over the time it was bred into the larger version of Beagle we know today.
It is believed that dogs similar to Beagles existed in ancient Greece since the 5th century. They were not called Begles, but it is believed that they were the ancestors of the modern day Beagles.
Back in the Middle Ages England, all the small hunting dogs were called as Beagles. Those dogs were most often used to hunt hares or rabbits by scent in large packs.
During those times, most Beagles were very small dogs, most of them stood approximately at 8 inches, which is 20 cm. For comparsion, the breed standard for modern day Beagle say, that it should be approximately 14 inches tall, which is 35 cm.
These old dogs were called Pocket Beagles as they fit easily into the pockets of hunters and thanks to that they could, for example, ride on horse with the hunter.
So why dont we see small pocket Beagles nowadays? In the 1800s, fox hunting became very popular, but Pocket Beagles were too small to hunt foxes. But since they proved as excellent rabbit and hare hunters, many owners decided to cross them with larger dogs, hoping that they will gain larger and stronger body, but that they will remain their hunting abilities. Pocket Beagles were crossed with different larger breeds, such as Harriers.
Over the time several different types of Beagles existed, such as smooth and rough coated Beagles, fox beagle, medium beagle and dwarf beagle, but over the time most of these varieties became extinct and only the smooth coated Beagle we know today was standardized.
Does it mean that there are no Pocket Beagles today? Well, there are acutally many breeders that are selling dogs labeled as Pocket Beagles, but most of them are selling just Beagle crosses. Some breeders are trying to miniature Beagle into pocket size, but very often they use unethical methods to achieve that, such as malnourishing the puppies or breeding runts of the litter, often times creating dogs with many health issues.
But that does not mean that there are no quality Pocket Beagles anymore. If you would like to add Pocket Beagle to your hunting pack, or just as family companion, there is the Olde English Pocket Beagle Registry, that connects good Olde Pocket Breeders in the USA and Canada. These dogs should have the same qualities of hunters as the original Pocket Beagles in 18th century.
I would be very careful when buying a dog labeled as Pocket Beagle and i would definitely check out the breeder properly, because in most cases, you will really be offered a small Beagle cross. Ask about the breed to other people, check the breeder online, ask him directly about the dogs.. Good breeder will know everything about the breeds history.. But you should do that any time you buy a dog from a breeder you do not know yet.
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