The Beagle is a small and fun-loving dog that can make the perfect companion for both adults and children. Originally bred as a scent hound, these dogs are happiest when following a smell and, although they love to be around you, can be quite stubborn. This can mean training is a little more tricky and requires patience and creativity!
With their nose constantly to the ground trying to sniff something out, they are often used across America as scent dogs in airports. Don’t let that deter you though — they are still a loving, playful and happy dog! Read on below to learn more about this interesting breed.
History Of The Beagle
Because of their excellent sense of smell, Beagles are often used to sniff out contraband food being brought into the United States across 20 different international airports. Because they are small, friendly and cute, Beagles don’t intimidate people who are afraid of dogs, and with their super nose power, they are trained to identify specific food articles while bypassing those that aren’t contraband. They are also used for the hunting of small game in the US today. But where exactly did these dogs come from?
The origin of the Beagle can be difficult to pinpoint. Greek documents from around 400 BC describe Beagle-like dogs and William the Conqueror brought Talbot hounds, which are now extinct, to England with him during the Norman Conquest which are thought to be the ancestors of Beagles.
Beagles became very popular in England in, especially during the reigns of Edward II, Henry VII and Elizabeth I. They were used as hunting dogs originally, but, unfortunately, began to decline in popularity in the 1700s when the larger Foxhound became the dog of choice for hunting. However, the farmers of England kept the breed going as they kept packs of this dog breed for hunting rabbits and hares. Without the farmers, this breed would probably be extinct now.
In the mid-1880s, Reverend Phillip Honeywood was responsible for breeding Beagles in Essex, England. These dogs were bred for hunting and not for looks, so Thomas Johnson, another Englishman, decided to breed these dogs that were both attractive and good at hunting.
Meanwhile, American breeders started importing the Beagle from England so they could create a dog that was small enough to hunt. The American Kennel Club (AKC) began registering Beagles in 1884. Today, there is a National Beagle Club too.
Characteristics Of The Beagle
There are two different sizes of the Beagle, both of which are recognized by the American Kennel Club.
The only real difference between the two Beagles that are recognised by the AKC is their size. Beagles are small and compact dogs with drop-ears, but they can be either 13-inch or 15-inch. The 13-inch variety is for hounds that don’t exceed 13 inches in height at the shoulder, and the 15-inch variety is for hound dogs that are between 13 inches and 15 inches at the shoulder. Depending on what their height is, a Beagle can weigh between 18 and 30 pounds.
The Beagle coat is smooth and dense and resistant to rain. It is a double coat and need to be brushed at least once a week to prevent shedding. They do not shed a lot, but their coat tends to be thicker in the winter so they will likely shed in the spring. We go into more detail about grooming your Beagle later on.
The breed standard for the Beagle breed states that they can be any “hound” color, but this color is normally tricolor — a black saddle (the area across the back), white legs, chest, belly and a white tip on the tail, and tan on the head and around the saddle.
A red and white color combination is also common within Beagles that gives an Irish spotting pattern on the face, neck, legs and tip of the tail. Whatever color their bodies are, the tip of their tails are normally white so that hunters can see them in the grass.
A Beagle is a sweet, gentle and loving dog who loves to be around people. This dog breed is active and thrives when outside smelling things, which can mean that they get bored and destructive very easily. Beagles are known for being a naughty dog from time to time so they do require quite a bit of training. They also have a stubborn streak that can mean training can be a little difficult, but as long as you are positive with them and use food as a reward, they will learn.
That being said, these pups really are family dogs and get on well with both children and other dogs. Of course, socialization is always necessary when you have a new pup in the house, but with their kind and funny nature, this shouldn’t be hard for your Beagle.
The average life expectancy of a Beagle is 10 to 15 years. They can be prone to some health issues, which we have set out below.
Known Health Issues
The best way to prevent your Beagle from suffering from health problems is to buy your Beagle puppy from a reputable breeder. A reputable breeder will show you health clearances for both your puppy’s parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition.
The most common health issues within Beagles are:
- Intervertebral Disk Disease — this is when the jelly-like layer of the intervertebral discs protrudes into the spinal canal and pushes against the spinal cord. This can cause pain, paralysis or lack of bladder control. It can be treated with surgery.
- Hip Dysplasia — this is when the thighbone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but you may not notice any signs of discomfort in a dog with hip dysplasia.
- Cherry Eye — this is when the gland under the third eyelid protrudes and looks like a cherry in the corner of the eye. Your vet may have to remove the gland.
- Glaucoma — this is when pressure in the eye is abnormally high and the eye is constantly producing and draining fluid.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) — this is an eye disorder that eventually causes blindness from the loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eye.
- Distichiasis — this is when an extra row of eyelashes grow on the oil gland in the dog’s eye and protrude along the edge of the eyelid. They can be removed with surgery.
Other Common Conditions Include:
- Epilepsy — this seizure disorder can be treated with medication.
- Hypothyroidism — this can be caused by a deficiency of the thyroid hormone and may produce signs that include infertility, obesity, mental dullness and lack of energy. It can be treated with medication.
- Beagle Dwarfism — this is a condition where the Beagle is smaller than normal. It may or may not be accompanied by other physical abnormalities.
- Chinese Beagle Syndrome (CBS) — this is a condition where the dog has a wide skull and slanted eyes. The dog grows normally otherwise, but they may have heart problems.
- Patellar Luxation — this is a common condition in smaller dogs and is caused when the patella is not properly aligned. This can cause lameness in the leg or an abnormal gait, sort of like a skip or a hop.
Now you know all about the characteristics of a Beagle, lets take a look at what daily life with a Beagle is like.
Food And Diet
Beagles love food. They will try to eat anything you leave lying around and won’t give up until they pop, so you will need to monitor their diet so they don’t become obese. Leaving food around for them to free-feed is never a good idea, so ensure to feed them in two meals a day. The recommended guidance for a Beagle is 3/4 to 1.5 cups of food a day.
The amount you feed your Beagle will be based on their size and you should always check the back of the food packet to see how much you should be feeding your doggie. It is important you feed them high-quality dog food and make sure not to overdo it on the treats!
If you are worried your Beagle is overweight then you can check them. At the correct weight you shouldn’t be able to see a waist and you should be able to feel but not see their ribs without pressing too hard.
Beagles love exercise and need to do a lot of it. They need about an hour of exercise a day, and will need to live with someone who is willing to take them on a walk no matter what the weather is doing. They’ll also love hiking and joking with you, although this shouldn’t be done until they are fully developed at 18 months old because otherwise it can cause injury. Beagles will also benefit from chasing rabbits in fields, but you shouldn’t do this unless they are trained to come back to you!
When out walking, your Beagle will need to be on a leash. This because they have been known to chase rabbits and other small animals, and may wander off if they’re following a scent!
As a Beagle gets older, they can become very lazy and spend their days laying around the house. Keep them exercised to ensure they don’t become obese.
A Beagle is a loving, caring dog that gets along with both adults and children and makes a great family pet. Although they can be mischievous, they love to be around children and will thrive in a family environment. They don’t like to be left alone, both in the house or in the garden, so you need to make sure someone is at home with them for the majority of the day or you can take them with you wherever you go!
Your family should be an active family that will be happy to take your pup for walks no matter the weather, and also take them hiking or jogging with you because they have big exercise needs. They will also benefit from a backyard, but your yard will need to be fenced to ensure that they don’t escape. This could be an underground fence but if your Beagle smells something they can’t resist, they won’t mind a momentary shock to be able to chase it.
Beagles can be stubborn while training and it can be difficult. Housetraining can also be a challenge and crate training is often recommended, so you will need to take this into consideration when you buy a Beagle puppy. If your Beagle gets bored, they can resort to destructive behaviors, so ensure they are kept entertained! Beagles can also be very vocal dogs. This is one of the reasons Beagles end up in shelters because their owners don’t realize how much noise they can make! To ensure your Beagle doesn’t bark and annoy the neighbors (and you!), you’ll need to train this out of them.
One thing we should mention is that Beagles are targets for thieves who steal them and can perhaps sell them to research laboratories for use in experiments. You should microchip your pup and always supervise them when they are outdoors.
We mentioned above that training your Beagle dog can be difficult. This is because they have an independent, stubborn streak. Luckily, Beagles do respond well to positive reinforcement techniques such as verbal praise and treats. We’ve already established that Beagles love food, so they’ll do anything for a tasty treat! Be careful not to be too harsh with your Beagle because they will simply switch off and not want to learn anymore.
Beagles love humans — both adults and children. This is why they don’t make very good guard dogs or watchdogs. Because they are pack dogs, they also get on well with other dogs, so if you have other pups at the home this shouldn’t be an issue. Regardless of this, proper socialization and exposure to different sights and sounds is always important to ensure they don’t develop any bad behavioral traits towards other people or animals.
Beagles do not require too much grooming because of their short coat. Your Beagle should be brushed with a medium-bristle brush or a hound glove at least once a week to loosen and remove dead hair and encourage new hair growth. These dogs do shed but because their hair is short it is not always noticeable, although their coats are thicker in the winter so they are more likely to shed in the spring. They are also very clean dogs, so do not require a bath very often.
Because of their floppy ears, Beagles are prone to ear infections. You should check their ears every few weeks for any signs of infection and make sure water and oil never enters their ears. You’ll also need to brush their teeth two to three times a week, although daily brushing will be best for preventing gum disease and bath breath. Nail trimming every few months is also important.
The earlier you begin grooming your Beagle, the more accustomed to it they will become. This will help them to realize grooming isn’t something to be feared.
Beagles are a family dog who love humans — both adults and children. This loving and playful dog wants to spend their days with you, going on walks, jogs and hikes and running around the backyard. They are known for being a little mischievous and stubborn at times, but if you train them with yummy treats as rewards they will understand the rules and become your best friend. If you’re looking for a little pup to keep you on your toes but love you unconditionally, a Beagle might just be for you.