He is the venerable companion of Peanuts’ most iconic character, Charlie Brown. He has graced countless media ever since his creation in October 1950. As a matter of fact, he is even more popular than his human master, Charlie, in other parts of the world with many believing that he is actually the star of the show. With his lovely floppy ears, an adorable expression, and an unquestionable loyalty to Charlie Brown, Snoopy is your quintessential Beagle: amiable, even-tempered, loving, and gentle with a streak of scenthound determination and an intelligence that is blighted by occasional stubbornness. Yes, Snoopy the Beagle can be full of joy at times, but also lethargic at other times.
The Origins of Snoopy
Snoopy made his debut on the popular comic strip on the 4th of October 1950. He was created by Charles M. Schultz, drawing inspiration from one of the creator’s childhood dogs, Spike. Interestingly, the original Snoopy never actually did look like a Beagle because it has a rather pointed nose rather than the now-iconic rounded one. He was also depicted as any other normal dog, walking on all fours.
Fans of the comics series were given a glimpse of Snoopy’s thoughts with the introduction of a thought balloon to depict what this lovable Charlie Brown pet had in mind in March 1952. Fast forward some 4 years later in January 1956, Snoopy has definitely morphed from a quad-pedaled hound to a bi-pedaled ice-skating dog. Since then Snoopy has always been depicted as a dog with human-like character including the ability to move more like humans, having thoughts, and being able to communicate (not verbally, though) with his human friend, Charlie Brown.
Loyal, good-natured, and innocent. These are the things that have endeared Snoopy to many. However, if there is one thing that Snoopy loves, it’s imagining things. Of all his imaginations, being an aviator is very strong. He loves wearing an aviator’s scarf as well as goggles and helmet of those types worn by pilots of open-cockpit biplanes.
One might ask why Snoopy loves to retreat to a rather fanciful world. As his creator once explained in an interview, Snoopy turns to imagination as a way to get rid of boredom. Technically, it is the epitome of what dogs go through every day. Sadly, we often don’t think much about it because there is this belief that dogs don’t imagine things. While this is true, what we have to realize is that they are very much prone to boredom. If we fail to provide them with the mental stimulation that they need, our dogs will usually present with a variety of behavioral problems stemming from boredom.
Interestingly, imagination has always been equated with intelligence as part of the complex process of cognition. Sadly, no one among Snoopy’s friends knows exactly what he has in mind. No one among his human friends is fully aware of Snoopy’s intellectual musings. Yes, we may read the thought bubbles, but the human characters in the story cannot.
Snoopy in Real Life
The Beagle we know in real life isn’t actually that very different from Snoopy. Here are some traits of the Beagle that you can somehow see in Snoopy.
- Acute sense of smell
Being scenthounds, Beagles can go on all day trying to pinpoint where that ‘interesting scent’ is coming from. After all, these dogs were specifically bred to assist hunters in keeping track of their game. While their sense of smell is not as acute as the Bloodhound, the Beagle is nevertheless number 3 in the world’s best dog sniffers. It is their acute sense of smell that actually drives them to explore. Just like Snoopy, real-life Beagles will never stop following the trail of the scent, even if it means they will be landing on top of their dog house.
Known as the ‘nose with feet’, the Beagle can never be disturbed once the 220 million scent receptors on its nose have started homing in on the odor or scent that caught its attention. Scientists say this is a form of selective deafness. Once something catches their sense of smell, there’s nothing that can dissuade them from pursuing that scent. Beagles will ignore your calls or even your whistles. They have this single-minded behavior to track the scent that they are particularly curious about.
You can actually snap a Beagle out of its scent-induced trance. You can use a really enticing smell such as a really delicious doggie treat to put your Beagle back on track – by your side, we mean. In hindsight, Snoopy has this uncanny ability to discern whether the fridge door is open or not. Now, that’s the power of a Beagle’s sense of smell.
- Loud and proud
Okay, so Snoopy isn’t really particularly loud. But if you were to give voice to those thought bubbles that he always has, then you know what we’re talking about.
Beagles are loud and proud. They bark not necessarily to annoy you or to make your neighbor fuming mad, but rather to announce something interesting. When tracking an interesting ‘scent’, the only way it can communicate back to its hunter master that it has found something really interesting is by barking. So don’t snap at your Beagle when it does tend to get loud. It is just telling you that they’ve found something and that they want you to check it out. The type of bark that they usually let out in such cases is a half-howl which is somewhere between a frantic bark and a baying howl. Of course, you’ll also hear them half-howl at you when you’ve overslept your alarm clock.
Like Snoopy, Woodstock, and Charlie Brown howling at the moon, you can also join your Beagle lip-sync to your favorite tunes or perhaps try your thing like a werewolf. But if this is not for you, then a Beagle is definitely not a good idea for a pet.
If Snoopy has shown his proficiency in football or any other activity, imaginative or otherwise, the real-life Beagle is equally energetic. Beagles may be small but their bodies are built for the rugged world. They have muscles that make them more like miniature Pitbulls than adorable Chihuahuas. As such, they need plenty of exercise and physical activities to make sure that these muscles stay toned and strong; otherwise, they atrophy and can cause more problems in the long run. Like Snoopy, your Beagle needs the exercise to help dispense of that energy.
They can play all day, just like Snoopy playing with Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang. Just make sure there are no distracting smells nearby, lest your Beagle bolts outside the fence to track the scent.
Playing fetch with your Beagle seems a lot of fun while also expending their tons of energy. Snoopy, for his part, is well known for his uncanny ability to fetch bubbles. That being said, it wouldn’t really hurt if you’ll be playing bubbles with your Beagle. Frisbees and tennis balls work, too.
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- Intelligent but stubborn
Snoopy always has these thought-provoking questions, statements, and phrases all depicted through his thought bubble. But in real life, your Beagle won’t have those thought bubbles to convey to you exactly what it has in its mind. Instead it will look at you with its soulful eyes. Yes, they may look very melancholic at times, but don’t let this fool you.
Beagles are known for having the intelligence that should make it very easy for anyone to train them. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case. As many first-time Beagle owners find out, these dogs are anything but easy to train. They have this stubborn streak that stems from their ‘what’s-in-it-for-me’ attitude. If they sense that the training will be a drag, they don’t really care much about pleasing you. They’re more self-centered dogs.
Terriers are known to be highly independent-minded, but Beagles have a strong-minded predisposition that very few in the dog world can match. Correct its actions or behaviors and the Beagle can go on the defensive. This is why Beagles don’t really respond well to aversive training methodologies where you’re going to inflict pain or some other form of punishment.
The best way to go around this tendency of Beagles is to train them early on. But it’s not just any training that will work. You need to show to your Beagle that you’re the Alpha in your pack. Persistence, firmness, and patience are the key ingredients to letting your Snoopy know you are the boss. If not, then don’t act surprised if your Beagle will be demanding his dinner – a trait that is quite similar to Snoopy.
Here’s the thing. Beagles love food. Use this to your advantage in the same way as Charlie Brown does to Snoopy.
- Loves food
Snoopy absolutely loves pizza and root beer, but this doesn’t automatically mean you should give your Beagle the same kinds of food. Pizza is way too oily for your Beagle and may contain some ingredients that are absolute no-nos for dogs. But what we would like to point out here is that Beagles, in real life, love to eat. Remember their greatest strength? It’s their sense of smell. And food really smells good that they can literally say ‘no’ to a bowl filled with their favorite stuff. If you’ve seen Snoopy getting worried about his dinner, you have seen Beagles in real life.
Snoopy can actually hear someone opening a pack of marshmallows or perhaps even cookies from a distance, thanks to its acute sense of smell. This is often enough to flood his brain of the idea of food. The same is true with your Beagle. Any potential source of food can be literally tracked. The plate of food on your countertop, the food scraps in your garbage bin, or even scraps on the floor. These are often enough to send your Beagle on a feeding frenzy.
As such, kids should be taught never to tease pet Beagles with food. The scent of whatever food item is being dangled in front of its nose is often enough to trigger its predatory drive. Kids who have the tendency to tease their dogs with food will soon find out that the Beagle doesn’t really take too kindly to anyone messing with its chow. It can readily snap if it knows that someone else is going near its food. Moreover, you may want to look for better ways to secure your trash can as your Beagle may topple it over just so it can access whatever it smells inside.
- Very loyal
Despite their shortcomings, Beagles are very loyal to their human masters just as Snoopy is to Charlie Brown. It doesn’t occur naturally however; unlike in the comics where everything has been predestined because it is part of the plot. In real life, Beagles need to be trained and socialized early on so that they know who to put their trust onto. This is where the true pack leader can be discerned from the wannabe pet owner.
Like Charlie Brown, your own real-life Snoopy will require persistence and consistency in its training and socialization. This also means providing ample opportunities for bonding and tending to its mental needs. For it to be loyal to you, you’d have to be prepared to show your Beagle just how good an Alpha you really are. If you’re more of the punishing type of owner, don’t expect your Beagle to show its loyalty to you. Shower it with caring and affection, coupled with firmness and consistency and you’d be gifted with a hound that is not only adorable and loving but can also be a forever loyal companion.
Snoopy has a bittersweet personality, just like the Beagle in real life. It can be adorable most of the time, although it can also be stubborn and very strong-minded in other times. Beagles can be heroes and the apples of your eye or they can be quite the annoying and stubborn hounds some pet parents find them to be. But just like Snoopy, Beagles have this character that is uniquely theirs.
- Beagle, Vetstreet