Beagle

Beagles are loving, people oriented dogs, eager to please their human companions. These medium-sized dogs, with their kind and affectionate character have been a popular choice of family dog for years. It’s hard to resist the lovely, kind expression in their dark brown or hazelnut eyes. Being pack animals, they generally get along very well with other dogs and pets. Beagles are scent hounds by nature and are always sniffing the ground searching for an interesting trail to follow.

Beagle Close Up
Original image by user Jim Leary on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.
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Key Breed Stats

Alternative names: The Beagle breed is also commonly known by the names English Beagle.

Popularity: Very popular

Life expectancy: 12 - 15 years

Breed group: Hound Dogs (AKC), Hound Dogs (KC), Scenthounds Dogs (FCI)

Size: Small

Male Female
Height 13 - 16 in 13 - 16 in
Weight 18 - 29 lbs 18 - 26 lbs

Coat:

Colors: Black and Tan, Red, Tricolor, White

Key Breed Facts

Shedding: Average shedder

Grooming requirements: Low

Good with children: Definitely

Good with other pets: Definitely

Intelligence / Trainability: High

Exercise needs: High

Tolerates being alone: Absolutely not

Hunting drive: Very high

Suited as Guard dog: Average

Sensitivity: Very sensitive

Good for novice owners: Average

Hypoallergenic breed: No

Drooling: Very low

Barking: Very frequent

General health: Poor

Cost to keep: Average

History

The origin of the breed isn’t very clear. Beagle-like dogs have been around for centuries. Smaller wirehaired versions were depicted in paintings and literature dating as far back as the reign of King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I. These dogs were used for hunting rabbits and small prey. When fox hunting became popular in the beginning of the 18th century, they fell out of favor and were replaced by faster Foxhounds. However, Beagle-like dogs continued to be used by farmers to catch rabbits and hare.

The ancestors of the current Beagles were bred by Rev. Phillip Honeywood. His Beagles were bred for hunting skills, not for their appearance. Thomas Johnson later refined the breed, making them both attractive and good hunters.

American breeders started importing Beagles from England. English Beagles were bred to hunt fox, and were quite big (15-17 inches). American breeders began breeding them smaller so they could be used for rabbit hunting.

The Beagle Club was established in 1890 in the UK with the first breed standard being drawn up at the same time. The American Kennel Club and the first Beagle specialty club were both founded in 1884. In that same year, the AKC began registering Beagles.

Appearance

None

Temperament

Intelligence/ Trainability

Beagles are intelligent dogs but it is important to start their training as early as possible as they are generally very strong-willed. Without proper training, they develop a mind of their own and can become unruly. They are gentle and funny dogs, and willing to please their owner, but can be a challenge to train. Training a Beagle requires a lot of lot patience, skill, and perseverance. Therefore, they are not generally recommended for novice owners.

Beagles tend to bark, which can be quite annoying, especially if you have close neighbors. Train your Beagle when to bark, and more importantly, when not to bark. As Beagles love to follow their nose it’s very important to teach them the "recall" command from a young age and to reinforce the command throughout the dog's life, especially if you intend to let your dog off-leash.

Beagles respond well to positive reinforcement training, but do not react well to harsh training methods.

They can be difficult to housetrain – in some cases, it can take up to a year. Crate training often helps with this issue.

Activity

Young and adolescent Beagles are full of energy and require a lot of exercise. They love to go out on long walks with their family. When they get older, they can become quite lazy, laying around the house all day, with their only exercise the walk to food bowl twice a day. It's important to keep your older Beagle active so that they do not become obesity.

As the owner, you should spend a considerable amount of quality time with your dog (at least one hour per day).

Part of it should be physical exercise – like long walks or jogging. The other part should be mental stimulation. Beagles have an extraordinary sense of smell – try tracking games or hiding treats in your yard.

Exercising your Beagle puppy requires a few special considerations. Beagles have an increased risk of hip dysplasia. Avoid exercising on slippery surfaces and climbing stairs under the age of 3 months. Exercise is needed, however, as strong muscles will increase the stability of the hip joint. Outdoor exercise on soft, uneven grounds seems to have a lower risk. Try to avoid exercise that involves running, jumping and playing on hard surfaces until the age of 2.

Independence

Beagles are pack animals and cannot be left alone. Another dog or even a cat would help fulfill the Beagle's need for constant companionship. Even then, they shouldn't be left alone for longer periods

Protective

Beagles are wonderful dogs, but not very well suited as a watch dog. They are usually very friendly to everyone they meet, including any intruder in your house.

Living Conditions

Beagles are quite small and gentle and can adapt to apartment living if their owners are willing to take them out several times a day (regardless of weather conditions).

Ideally, Beagles have a large yard where they can roam around. As they are escape artists and will follow a scent wherever it leads them, you must make sure your yard and fence is secure.

Children and Other Pets

Most Beagles like children and family life. But, they can be a bit wild when playing. They can be mouthy as well, grabbing all kinds of thing in their mouth (including your child's hand).
That said, extra care should be taken, especially with young children (under the age of 6).


  • Beagles take food very seriously – you must make sure that your children respect his personal space, especially while eating.

  • Young children may unintentionally invade the personal space of your dog and are unable to interpret the warning signals of your dog.

  • Dogs consider the family as a pack, and may consider the younger children as subordinates and may try to correct them.

  • Young children are very time-consuming. They may take away from the time you have to spend with your dog and he may become bored or frustrated.

No dog, regardless of breed, should be left unattended with young children.

Beagles are very tolerant, and in general get along very well with other dogs and pets, especially if he was properly socialized as a puppy. Special care needs to be taken when introducing a new puppy to your other pets. It needs to be done slowly and very careful to make sure that everything goes smoothly and that it is a calm, positive experience for the puppy.

Health

The average life expectancy of a Beagle is between 12 - 15 years. Like all breeds, the Beagle is prone to certain hereditary health conditions. A responsible breeder will only breed with dogs that have been cleared for these conditions. A Beagle is prone to these diseases:
  • Patellar Luxation (hereditary) : Patellar luxation is a very common orthopedic disorder in dogs. A patellar luxation occurs when a dog’s kneecap (patella) is dislocated or slips out of its normal position. More info»
  • Chinese Beagle Syndrome (CBS) (hereditary)
  • Beagle Dwarfism (hereditary)
  • Hypothyroidism (hereditary)
  • Epilepsy (hereditary)
  • Distichiasis (hereditary)
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) (hereditary) : Progressive retinal atrophy refers to a group of inherited degenerative eye disorders, which lead to loss of vision. PRA affects both eyes simultaneously and is not painful More info»
  • Glaucoma (hereditary)
  • Cherry eye (hereditary)
  • Canine Hip Dysplasia (hereditary) : Canine hip dysplasia (CHD) is a very common genetic orthopedic trait, which is affected by environmental and dietary factors. Canine hip dysplasia occurs when there is an abnormality in the development of the hip joint. More info»
  • Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) (hereditary)

Grooming

Beagles are low maintenance dogs. However, they still need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition.

They need to be brushed once a week, to keep the shedding under control; with their short coat, it's very easy. This especially true in Spring and Autumn when they shed the most.

They don’t really need a bath too often. If they are dirty, just wipe them clean with a wet sponge. When you bathe them, make sure to use a dog-specific shampoo that maintains the skin's natural PH balance.

Ears should be checked regularly for dirt, redness or a bad smell that could indicate an infection. Clean your dog'sears when needed with an ear cleaner made specifically for dogs. Nail clipping won't be necessary if your dog walks/runs on concrete/stone surfaces. However, long nails will require clipping and all puppies should be introduced to nail clipping early on so that it will be easier when they are older.

Consider brushing their teeth with a soft toothbrush and adapted dog toothpaste two or three times a week. Daily is even better. All puppies should become accustomed to having their mouths and teeth checked regularly.

Feeding

Beagles need to be fed a high-quality diet, with a healthy blend of fats, proteins, carbohydrates and minerals. Recommended daily amount: ¾ to 1.5 cups of high-quality dry kibble, divided into two meals. How much your dog needs depend on his size, age and activity level – a very active dog will need more than a lazy one. It also depends on the quality of the food - higher quality food will be digested more easily so you will need to feed less.

Beagles love to eat and are prone to gain weight. Obesity will affect the overall health and will shorten their lifespan. It can also lead to joint problems and heart problems. If you can’t feel the ribs when you move your hands over his sides, your Beagle needs to be put on a diet.

Special attention is needed when feeding puppies. Puppies need to be fed 3 to 4 times a day. This might seem like a burden but it will help when it comes to housebreaking. A puppy’s digestive system works very fast. Five to 30 minutes after his meal, he will need to go out to do his business.
Older dogs, like puppies, might need a diet adapted to their needs. In some cases, it is advisable to feed them smaller portions 3 to 4 times a day.

Just like any other breed, they need to have free access to fresh, clean water at all times.

Older dogs, like puppies, might need a diet adapted to their needs. In some cases, it is advisable to feed them smaller portions 3 to 4 times a day.

When changing your dog’s diet, it’s recommended to do it gradually over a period of a few days to avoid stomach problems.