The Beagle has a lot of great qualities. They are loving and playful and make for great companions. But, like any dog breed, they have their quirks. So if you’re thinking about bringing home a puppy or a rescue, Beagle Breed Information: The Realities of What to Expect is just for you!
This article will help you understand some of the challenges of caring for this breed so that you can make an informed decision as to whether or not a Beagle is the right choice for you and your household.
Intro to the Modern Beagle
- The beagle breed is a scent hound, which was originally bred for hunting hare and rabbits (beagling). The English began breeding the modern beagle around 1820 from its now extinct predecessor – the Talbot Hound
- The beagle’s excellent sense of smell, tracking instincts and short stature made them perfect for tracking and hunting small game
- Contrary to popular belief, beagles were not bred to hunt foxes as they don’t have the stamina to keep up with them
- In modern times, beagles are most often kept as pets or family companions rather than hunters
Beagle Breed Size, Coloring and Markings
- The beagle is a medium-sized breed and usually weighs between 20 to 30 pounds (9 to 14 kilos)
- They have an average height of 13 to 15 inches at the shoulder (33cm to 38cm)
- Beagles come in a wide range of colors and markings. The most popular color of beagles is tri-color: black, tan and white. Lemon and white or black and white are also very common.
- On the beagle’s head there is usually a single white blaze from its eyebrows to its nose, which extends to the sides of its face
- A white tip on the tail was bred into the beagle so that their owners could easily spot them when out on hunts
The beagle breed can live up to 15 years providing they are fed a high-quality diet and given plenty of exercise (and love of course!)
The leading cause of death for beagles is cancer, followed by trauma – in many cases these are sadly road traffic accidents.
Spaying and neutering can add 1-3 years to the life expectancy of a beagle as this keeps reproductive cancers at bay and positively affects their long-term hormonal balances.
Butch from Virginia, USA (the oldest beagle in the world) lived to be 28, so there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic about the number of years your beagle will enjoy!
Temperament and Personality
The beagle’s temperament is playful, curious and stubborn, with a moderate dose of naughtiness! They are very well known for testing the patience of their owners, so an equal amount of resilience will be required from any owner!
Their keen sense of smell and obsession with food is probably the single most challenging part of owning a beagle, however, this can be used to your advantage with the right training techniques.
Beagles will follow you around the house or yard no matter what you’re doing. Some people can find this tiresome, whereas others love the attention. The real reason is that they have fear of missing out, and will regularly place themselves in a position where they can keep an eye on you and the fridge at the same time!
They are also very gentle and cuddly dogs, making them a popular choice for families with young children.
Extra measures will be required for beagles, such as keeping food and other easily accessible items out of their reach. And you’ll need to find creative ways of keeping them entertained!
The beagle is a low-maintenance dog when it comes to grooming. Their coat needs to be brushed only occasionally and does not need trimming or a trip to the groomers.
Their coat is water-resistant and repels dirt fairly well, so beagles rarely need a bath (unless they have rolled in fox poop, dog poop, or their favorite – fermented fish!) They are naturally smelly dogs, however, there is plenty you could do to stop your beagle from smelling bad.
Beagles shed year-round, slowing down in the winter months. However, the saying “my dog only sheds twice a year – for 6 months at a time” is all too true for the beagle! Beagles are definitely not shed-free dogs and can cause quite a build-up of hair around the home, particularly in smaller apartments or houses where there is less room for the hair to escape.
You may also find you need to change your entire wardrobe if your favorite color is black – beagle fur is one of the worst when it comes to embedding itself in clothing!
Training a beagle may take a bit longer than some other breeds out there, but with a little patience and practice, you should have no trouble teaching them new tricks!
Beagles largely have a stubborn streak and will want to do things their way, so be prepared for some resistance. Your personality is just as important as theirs! It requires a certain level of stubbornness on your part for any success.
However, most beagles are willing to do just about anything in return for a tasty treat, so this can be used as a great training aid to teach obedience.
Crate training is a must for beagle puppies, and the sooner they are comfortable with one, the easier life will be for all involved. Particularly when it comes to leaving them with friends and family, having to take them to work, or as a requirement post-surgery/injury.
Beagles have a reputation for being destructive, especially when they are puppies. If unsupervised and untrained, they can and will find anything to chew and destroy, although there are plenty of great chews you can use to divert them.
A crate provides a safe space for them and ensures that (whilst they are still young) your home will be in one piece on your return!
Effective training techniques should be used with beagles to reduce the chances of them developing separation anxiety.
A fully fenced, beagle-proof backyard is also necessary for free-roaming beagles, they are some of the world’s best escape artists! As beagles are scent hounds, they are more likely to follow their nose than anything else, and once they have caught a sniff of something interesting, they will be off in a shot!
Off-leash training is a difficult concept for the beagle breed. The best way to train beagles off-leash is by going through obedience commands and then gradually giving more freedom until they are at an appropriate distance away.
Beagles have a natural instinct to hunt small prey, which makes it quite challenging to keep them by your side. If they are given off-leash training from puppy age, this can make life far easier.
With persistent training and reinforcement, you can teach a beagle to stay fairly close by off-leash in a large area such as a park or forest. Many beagle owners believe that this type of off-leash training is the best way to stimulate their dog and allow them to keep active and happy.
However, this does not mean they should always be given free rein of an open space. When a beagle is off-leash, owners should make sure they have close supervision in case the dog decides to chase after a pigeon or squirrel. This can pose a risk for beagles, particularly when walking in areas near passing vehicles.
Therefore off-leash training should be supervised and the beagle should be microchipped and always wearing a collar with ID tags in case they can’t find their way back to you.
If you have always dreamt of owning a dog that can walk with you side-by-side without a leash – then the beagle may not be not the right dog for you!
Recall is often an overlooked but crucial part of training any dog breed, and the beagle is no exception to this rule. With some patience and foresight, you can teach them how to come back when called.
The trick is getting them excited about the reward you have waiting for them when they come back. Using high-value treats is the most effective way to train a beagle on recall.
Some beagles respond better to a firm “here” or “no” if this has been used in their training vocabulary. There will always be moments where beagles have selective hearing and it’s important to be patient and persistent when training your beagle on recall.
Beagles are naturally very active and need lots of exercise. Without it, they tend to become anxious, destructive, or gain a lot of weight – particularly once their metabolism slows down with age.
They usually become obese by scavenging, eating too many treats and not getting enough exercise. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that they get at least a 1-hour walk every day along with other methods of stimulation.
Keeping a beagle active doesn’t necessarily mean they need several walks though, they can be kept mentally stimulated by playing games around the home, such as hide-and-treat! You can mentally exhaust a beagle using their natural instincts and scenting skills!
Barking and Howling
Beagles are not silent or quiet dogs by nature. They have been bred to bark, bay, and howl when hunting, so will require a fair amount of training to teach them not to use their vocal cords so much.
If you live in an apartment or in close quarters with other people, barking and howling can become an intolerable situation for neighbors when beagles are left alone in the home. This is a key factor in owners having to rehome their beagles, so if this applies to you and you’ll be leaving your beagle at home for any extended period of time, it’s worth considering whether it is the right breed for you.
Beagles can effectively be trained not to bark or howl, but this takes time and patience (in many cases, several years).
Beagle Breed Common Health Issues
Beagles are generally a healthy breed but they do have common health issues much like many other dogs. Some of the more regular health issues in beagles are:
Beagles are prone to obesity. Even when monitoring the amount of food given to your beagle, they still manage to find scraps out on a walk that can cause obesity. This can lead to heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and orthopedic problems.
Beagles are prone to ear infections due to the shape and the large size of them. They lie over the ear canal which blocks airflow, creating a moist environment in which bacteria like to thrive in.
Beagles often have skin issues and allergies that cause scratching, yeast infections and hot spots from licking their fur and paws too much. These can be allergies created by the environment as well as an intolerance to specific foods over time.
Also known as limber tail or limp tail – is a fairly common health issue in the beagle breed. With limpness to their tail, it appears to the eye as if it is broken, with beagles unable to wag or hold their tail up, normally caused by overexertion and hyperactivity.
Anal Gland Issues
Linked to scavenging, obesity, and lack of activity, beagles can have issues with their anal glands, leading to infections, abscesses, and eventually the rupturing of their anal sacs.
Seizures are an inherited condition that beagles can be prone to. The first attack normally occurs between the ages of six months and three years of age, requiring lifelong medication to keep seizures under control.
Nutrition and Feeding
Beagles are naturally very active and have higher levels of energy than most other breeds, requiring more food to maintain this high activity level (so long as they are keeping active). Beagles do not have any special dietary requirements, but they may be prone to obesity if overfed and under-exercised.
But beware – they are total food thieves, so early obedience training is necessary in order to stop them from gobbling up everything in sight!
Beagles should be fed twice daily with one meal in the morning, and another in the evening. Feeding your beagle during these times (with a large gap) allows for proper digestion without too much food being consumed in a short span of time.
Beagles are extremely fast eaters. You can slow down their eating and help aid digestion by using a Slo-Bowl
The best way to determine how much to feed your beagle is to measure the amount they need to eat per day and split this between their morning and evening meals.
Beagles generally love carrots which make for great healthy snacks, so if you can’t go without feeding them a meal for lunch – carrots are a perfect choice.
Poop Eating Habits
Beagles have all the characteristics that make them susceptible to eating their own and other animal’s poop. Although this is an extremely undesirable trait for your household pet, it’s important to understand that it’s fairly common amongst many dog breeds.
However, if you have young children in the home you will need to take some measures to prevent your beagle from eating poop.
Beagles and Children
The beagle breed makes for an excellent companion to kids. They will adapt and change their behavior around children and are gentle, kind, and affectionate with kids. However, they can be over-playful at times and should be supervised with children just as you would any other breed.
Beagles will often follow the children around the house or yard, cleaning up after them. When crumbs are dropped into the floor, the beagle will always be ready to scoop it up! They are very tolerant with children and will patiently wait for them to play or cuddle up next to them.
Beagles and Other Pets
Beagles are wonderful, social animals that can easily get along with other dogs and pets. They are pack animals who prefer the company of something as opposed to nothing!
They are fairly intelligent dogs, which means they are quite good at determining whether other pets are up for a game or not. Normally non-confrontational, they are keen to please other members of their ‘pack’ and are less likely to hold their ground than some other breeds of dogs.
Average Cost of Keeping a Beagle
The average monthly cost of keeping a beagle is $140/£100. This includes:
- Good quality food
- Pet insurance
- Worming tablets
- Flea treatment
- Yearly health checks
Veterinary fees will vary depending on how many accidents or ailments they will need to be treated for over their lifetime. On average, expect to pay around $100/£70 for each case of an ear infection, which is the most common reason beagles attend the vets. Beagles do not require any professional grooming unlike many other breeds, which can save a small fortune in fees.
Dog walking is not initially considered in the average cost of keeping a beagle, but these can add a large amount to your monthly bill. A 1-hour dog walk costs around $20/£15, so if you’re in a 9-5 job and need daily help, you can add another $400 / £280 onto that!
The beagle breed is a high-energy and active dog that will need lots of exercise and mental stimulation. A little preparation goes a long way when getting your first beagle in order to understand what drives their behavior and whether you feel equipped to deal with some of their more challenging traits.
If you can set boundaries and give them your undivided attention they will provide you with years of laughter and friendship in return.
We would love to hear from our readers in the comments section below with any questions they may have about life with a Beagle!
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