Snoopy, the most iconic character from the Peanuts cartoons and beloved pet of Charlie Brown, is a beagle. He was inspired by the creator’s childhood dog, Spike, who was the subject of many of Charles Shulz’s earliest comics.
Spike had a history of eating unusual things and getting into mischief, which made him an obvious choice of subject for a young cartoonist. Shulz submitted a picture of Spike with the caption, “A hunting dog that eats pins, tacks and razor blades” to Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and had it published in Robert Ripley’s syndicated panel in 1937.
Interestingly, Spike himself is referenced in the Peanuts universe. He is Snoopy’s brother, identifiable by his long whiskers and battered hat. Spike is thinner than Snoopy and lives in a desert town, but the two seem to get along well whenever Spike manages to visit.
The character of Spike first appears in a 1975 Peanuts strip and was last seen in a 1999 strip as well as the 2015 film, The Peanuts Movie.
What Do Beagles Look Like?
A beagle is a small hound originally bred to hunt small game. They are scent hounds with strong wills and a penchant for following their nose. Outgoing, even-tempered and very intelligent, beagles are popular pets and enjoyed an especially big boom of popularity in the 1950s when they were America’s most popular dog.
Most beagles are tri-colored, with fur in patches of white, brown and black. They most commonly have a white chest and legs, brown bodies and black saddles on the back. Other coloration and marking configurations are also possible but are somewhat less common.
A beagle’s long floppy ears is one of it’s most identifiable traits. They are also among the smallest of the hounds, averaging just over 20 pounds in weight and measuring about 15 inches at the shoulder. Despite their small size and sweet tempers, beagles make poor city dogs thanks to their loud barking and curious noses; left to their own devices, clever beagles can cause quite a bit of mischief. These traits have led to a decline in the breed’s popularity, but they are all quite familiar to fans of Snoopy.
Does Snoopy Actually Look Like a Beagle?
To the casual observer, Snoopy doesn’t seem to have much in common with a beagle. Part of this is because beagles look much different in the modern day than they did in the 1930s when Charles Shulz was growing up.
Old photographs of Charles Shulz and Spike make the link quite clear. Spike the dog had white fur, floppy ears and distinctive black patches on his head and back. As a working dog, it’s likely that Spike had a heritage including a bit of pointer or other hound that helped to account for his appearance.
Nevertheless, Snoopy embodies many beagle traits, from the long floppy ears to the playful and active personality. Snoopy is best known for his intelligence and active imagination, and he gets into trouble just like any other bored beagle would.
What Did Snoopy Originally Look Like?
Snoopy’s design changed over the decades as Shulz’s style changed and the comic transformed. The earliest comics showed Snoopy as a white-and-black dog that walked on four legs. In his first appearances in the comic, he didn’t seem to belong to Charlie Brown; he wouldn’t become Charlie Brown’s pet until later.
As Snoopy became a more prominent character, his appearance became more exaggerated and human-like. His ears became smaller and thinner, and he began to walk on two legs instead of four. His muzzle also became thicker and more rounded rather than the slender snout he bears in the earliest cartoon strips.
A few things about Snoopy’s design have never changed. He has always had black ears, a black oval-shaped nose that protrudes from his snout in profile, and a black saddle marking. He has also always worn a simple black collar with no tag.