The beagle is a small hound breed with origins which are unknown. They can be traced to 16th-century England, and almost all modern beagles are descended from a single pack kept by a member of the English clergy in the middle of the 19th century. Later in the same century, a type of beagle with some of the characteristics of a basset hound was known in the southern United States.

Since around 1870, beagle packs imported from Britain have greatly improved the American strain. The typical American beagle is short-legged, stands 30 to 41 centimeters high at the shoulder, and has a smooth coat that is usually a mixture of brown, white, and black. It has a long, slightly domed head; brown eyes; drooping ears; a square-cut muzzle; sloping shoulders; muscular hips and thighs; and a short, slightly curved tail.

Overall, the beagle is said to look more like a minature foxhound. The beagle hunts by scent and is used for tracking down small game such as rabbits. It is also one of the most popular house pets as well as hunting dogs.

The HMS Beagle was the ship that brought Charles Darwin, among others, to South America in 1831. The voyage's purpose was to chart the South American coast. It was captained by Robert FitzRoy.