Beagles usually have a happy or gentle nature, although some may be highly energetic. The Beagle's excellent scent detection combined with its athleticism and stamina make them good hunting dogs as well as their current use as service dogs, primarily in detection of bombs, drugs, or illegal agricultural products. However, as with other working breeds, the Beagle needs physical and mental stimulation in the family environment. Beagles are commonly quite food motivated which facilitates learning and training, thus furthering the dog's bond to the family. However, this bond can be impaired by other conduct derived from the breed's hunting background such as chasing wildlife or barking.
The Beagle is a long-established breed, descending from the Foxhound, the Harrier and the Kerry Beagle. They were most commonly used for hunting hare, quail and pheasant, although nowadays they also make excellent family dogs and have even been used in police work. The origin of the Beagle's name is debated. Some people believe the name derives from the Celtic word "beag," which means 'small" or from the French word "begle," which means "useless" or "of little value." The Beagle was introduced to the United States in the 1860's and the breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885.