Kerry Beagle

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Kerry Beagle
Kerry Beagle from 1915.JPG
Kerry Beagles circa 1915
Breed statusNot recognized as a standardized breed by any major kennel club.
NotesFully recognised by the Irish Kennel Club as a native Irish breed with championship status.
Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

The Kerry Beagle (Irish: An Pocadán Ciarraíoch) is one of the oldest Irish hound breeds, believed to be descendant from the Old Southern Hound or the Celtic Hounds. It is the only extant scent hound breed native to Ireland.



Kerry Beagle - 18-month-old 40lb Kerry Beagle mix circa 2012

It is unclear why the name 'beagle' has been applied, as the Kerry Beagle is a medium-sized hound; height is between 56–61 cm (22–24 in), weight is up to 27 kg (60 lb), sharing little in common with the Beagle. The Kerry Beagle has a broad head, a short coat and long ears, black and tan is the more common colour but the coat may be tan and white, blue mottled and tan or black. The breed's looks suggests speed and endurance.

The name 'Beagle' is thought to derive from the Irish word 'beag' meaning 'small'[1]


This breed of dog is a pack hound and does hold the hunting instinct strong. They do however make very good pets as they are good with children and other dogs. They require a lot of exercise, regular twice to three times daily walks and free runs.

History & use[edit]

The Kerry Beagle is an ancient breed, believed to date back to the 16th century; detailed pedigrees date back as far as 1794. It is said that the “gadhar,” a dog written about in ancient Irish texts, is a direct ancestor of the Kerry Beagle. Local legend has it that when Noah's ark came to rest against Galtymore, the highest peak in Tipperary, two black and tan hounds scented a fox and leapt off in pursuit, never to be seen again.[2] By the 1800s the Kerry Beagle's numbers had dwindled in Ireland, with only one major pack maintained, the famous Scarteen of County Limerick belonging to the Ryan family, which still exists today.[3]

Originally bred as staghounds, today they are used to hunt fox and hare and take part in drag hunting.[4]

The Kerry Beagle was taken by many Irish immigrants to the Americas, and is considered a foundation breed in the development of the Coonhounds.




  • Alderton, David, Hounds of the World, Swan Hill Press, Shrewsbury, 2000, ISBN 1-85310-912-6.
  • Cunliffe, Juliette, The Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds Parragon, 2001, ISBN 0-7525-6561-3.
  • Fogle, Bruce, The Encyclopedia of the Dog, DK Publishing, New York, 2009, ISBN 978-0-7566-6004-8.
  • Hancock, David, Hounds: Hunting by Scent, The Crowood Press Ltd, Marlborough, 2014, ISBN 978-1-84797-601-7.
  • Holland, Anne, Hunting: portrait, Little Brown, London, 2003, ISBN 0-316-86069-7.

External links[edit]