Ah, the Beagle. A happy-go-lucky little hound dog with the cutest face of the canine world. These pups may have been bred to hunt, but they are huge heartthrobs, too…which explains why they’re one of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S.
Heck, even Charlie Brown had one. Little Snoopy was a Beagle, after all!
But before you fall in love with those floppy ears and puppy-dog eyes, read up on the breed. He’s a dog that lives to smell and loves to “sing”.
…which can be problematic if you prize your sanity.
Well for one, the Beagle’s “song” is not very soothing. In fact, it’s likely to drive your neighbors crazy and keep you up at night.
So make sure you’re prepared to deal with that. You’ll definitely need to set some strict rules about barking.
(Unless you don’t mind a 3 am “Aaaarrrroooohhhh!” that is.)
But despite his crazy antics, the Beagle makes an excellent companion and family dog. As long as you’re willing to put in the work, he’ll be worth the trouble!
Early Beagle history is unclear.
We’re not even sure where their name comes from. It could be from the Gaelic word beag for “little”, the French term be’geule for “open throat”, or the German word begele meaning “to scold”.
Maybe it’s a little bit of all three…who knows?
But we at least know that these dogs go pretty far back.
In fact, there’s evidence that Beagle-like hounds existed before the Romans arrived in England in 55 B.C. These ancient dogs were used to track hares and were widely popular in England as foot hounds.
That is, hunters were able to keep up with Beagle packs on foot. No horse was needed, as was the case with larger hunting dogs. So if you couldn’t afford a horse back in the day, the Beagle was your pup.
Popularity also shone upon American Beagles. First registered with the AKC in 1885, the breed was also a big hit with U.S. rabbit hunters.
He was just that good.
Are Beagles Good Family Dogs?
Being expert hare hunters isn’t the Beagle’s only strong point.
This little hound also makes one of the best family dogs.
Unlike some breeds, the Beagle bonds closely with all family members and especially with children.
He loves a good play session. And he and the kids will have a great time wearing each other out!
It is important to note, however, that the Beagle can be a high-energy player. He’s likely to be too rambunctious for very small children.
The breed also tends to be mouthy.
Which means he may try to bite at hands and fingers while playing. He means no harm, but his mouthing could scare little ones.
Luckily, this is a habit that can be trained out with time and practice. You’ll just need to teach your pup to bite at toys instead of at hands!
As far as living situations go, the Beagle would do best in a home with a fenced yard.
These hound dogs have lots of energy, and they can be very vocal–two qualities that aren’t great for apartment living.
So if you’re looking for an apartment-friendly dog, the Beagle probably isn’t your best bet.
While owning a Beagle can be lots of fun, it’s important to understand how to care for the breed before bringing one home.
As with any dog, the Beagle has a few basic needs that you’ll have to provide for. These include nutrition, grooming, exercise, training, and health.
And lots of activity and attention!
Beagles need a balanced diet of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals to stay healthy.
Of course the amount of food this breed needs is determined by activity level, metabolism, age, and overall health.
But as a general rule, a Beagle should eat between ¾ to 1 ½ cups of high-quality dog food each day.
You should feed your pup twice daily on a schedule, dividing his daily portion into two meals. Don’t leave food out for your dog all the time as this doesn’t allow you to watch how much he is eating.
Beagles are big food lovers, so you’ll have to make a conscious effort to not let him get too fat. Avoid giving people food, and be sure to adjust his meal portion if he’s received a lot of treats on a particular day.
Since the feeding range suggested for the Beagle is rather wide, you should check out the guide listed on your dog’s food bag. You may also want to talk to your veterinarian about exactly how much your individual dog should be eating.
Again, several factors affect feeding amounts, and each individual dog is different. But these tips should give you a good starting point.
When it comes to grooming, Beagles are quite easy to care for.
They have a short double coat that needs only weekly brushing. You’ll want to use a bristle brush or a rubber grooming mitt on this breed to remove dead hair.
As for bathing, the Beagle doesn’t need to be soaped up very frequently. A bath a few times a year will suffice. (Unless, of course, they happen to roll in something smelly!)
Unfortunately, the breed does shed year-round, so you’ll need to be okay with some fur around the house. This is especially true in the spring months when the Beagle sheds more heavily. Though more frequent brushing during heavy shed season helps.
Beyond that, the Beagle will need the grooming care required by all breeds:
- Brush his teeth at least once a week to keep him healthy.
- Trim his nails.
- And check the ears regularly for signs of irritation or infection.
That last bullet point, ear-checking, is especially important with Beagles. Those floppy ears are super cute, but they are more prone to infection since air can’t circulate as well in the ear canal.
Just something to keep in mind!
Beagles may be small, but please don’t underestimate their need for exercise! Beagles are active and have a practically endless supply of energy.
They’ll need at least an hour of exercise every day.
So plan on lots of walks, lots of playtime, and maybe even some jogging. A nice weekend hike or frequent trips to the dog park aren’t bad ideas, either.
Beagles were bred to run across the countryside in pursuit of prey, after all. So it’s no surprise that being cooped up with limited activity is not the lifestyle for them.
In fact, this is why it’s not uncommon to see fat Beagles–the breed needs a lot more exercise than a lot of people give him.
And without sufficient daily physical activity, your Beagle will not only become overweight. He’ll also become destructive.
So if you ever come home to find something in shreds, it’s probably a sign that your pup needs some more adventure in his life.
Beagles are not the most easily trained dogs. But that’s not to say that teaching them is impossible.
The breed has a “what’s in it for me?” type attitude. So be prepared to use this trait to your advantage.
“What’s in it for me?!”
– Beagles, regarding training.
Positive reinforcement training does wonders with the Beagle. These dogs are HUGE food fans, so be sure to incorporate treats as rewards for good behavior. Most Beagles will do just about anything for a doggy biscuit!
As with all dogs, training will take time and patience. But the Beagle can learn just as well as the next canine. Some even excel at obedience training and agility courses.
Unfortunately, the Beagle may struggle with potty training. So much that it can take up to a year to fully housebreak him.
But never fear! Your pup will get it eventually!
Crate training is recommended to help him learn the ropes.
Beagle Health Issues
Beagles are a generally healthy breed. They usually live to be between 12 and 15 years of age.
Still, the breed is prone to certain conditions and diseases. These include the following:
- Hip dysplasia
- Luxating patella
- Intervertebral disk disease
- Cherry eye
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy
- Beagle dwarfism
- Chinese Beagle Syndrome
14 Things to Know About Beagles
1. The Dog Who Thrives in a Pack
The Beagle was bred to hunt alongside other Beagles. So it should be no surprise that he does best in a pack.
But don’t worry–you don’t have to go out and buy more than one Beagle. (Though more is always merrier!)
Your pup’s pack simply refers to you and your family.
As a highly social dog, the breed needs to be around his people as often as possible. He’s not meant to live in the backyard on his own.
Instead, he needs to live in the house with you and be treated as a true member of the family.
2. Mr. Friendly Face
The Beagle loves more than just his family, though. He’s super friendly all around and will be happy to meet just about every new person and dog he sees!
So…not the best guard dog, since he’d probably just lick an intruder to death.
But if you have lots of guests or like taking your dog on outings, then the Beagle is the perfect social butter-dog for you!
3. Beagle Separation Anxiety is Real
Unfortunately, the Beagle’s friendliness comes with a cost. The breed often struggles with separation anxiety.
So if you and your family are typically gone most of the day, then the Beagle may not be the best breed for you.
This dog needs lots of attention and companionship.
He’d do best having someone home most of the time.
If being home with your Beagle isn’t an option, you may want to consider doggy daycare. Or you could get a buddy for your pup to hang out with when you’re not home. Another dog or even a cat can help your Beagle to feel more at ease in your absence.
4. Good With the Family Cat
“A cat?!”, you might ask.
Beagles actually tend to get along very well with cats.
This is especially true if the cat and dog are raised together. But Beagles can learn to accept cats later in life, as well.
Proper introductions will need to be made, of course.
And you can’t expect your canine/feline combo to become best buds overnight. But it can definitely happen with time.
5. Doesn’t Mix with Smaller Pets
While a cat may be your Beagle’s next best friend, your pet rabbit certainly will not.
The breed’s hunting instinct is very strong.
They should not be trusted around smaller animals they see as prey.
If you’re getting a Beagle and do have a hamster or the like, then it’s best to keep the two securely separated. Especially when no one’s around to supervise.
6. Leashes and Fences are a MUST!
Speaking of the Beagle’s hunting instinct, this pup is very likely to take off after things. He’s also prone to just wandering off in whatever direction his nose happens to take him.
To prevent these things from happening, your dog should always be kept on a leash when in un-fenced areas.
He tends to ignore all else when his nose is to the ground (which is like 90% of the time). So if he smells something interesting or is hot on the trail of a critter, he could care less that you’re yelling his name.
Better to avoid the problem and have him leashed or fenced.
7. Keep a Watchful Eye
Even if your Beagle is secured by a fence, you’ll still want to keep an eye on him.
New scents are so enticing to the Beagle that he may just try to follow them even if a fence is in his way.
In other words, the breed can climb fairly well and is an expert digger. So a tall fence that goes a few feet under the ground is probably a good idea.
8. No Really, Keep a Watchful Eye
Unfortunately, the breed’s ability to escape is not the only reason to keep a close watch on him.
Beagles are also an easy target for thieves. Especially since they are the breed most often used in animal testing laboratories.
The reason why is pretty painful. Beagles are most often tested on because of their good behavior traits and docile temperament.
It’s a sad reality, but that’s the truth:
The Beagle’s good qualities and sweet personality are easily taken advantage of.
So be sure to protect your Beagle from harm. Because unfortunately there are people out there that might steal him in order to make a quick buck.
Microchipping your pup can also help protect him against such horror.
On a happier note, if you are looking to get a Beagle, you may consider adopting one that was rescued from such a situation.
It would mean the world to one of those pups to get a loving home where he’s treated like a member of the family and not like a science experiment.
9. The Singer of Three Different Tunes
Okay, so I’ve mentioned a few different times that the Beagle is a vocal dog. But let’s talk a little more about what that means.
First off, Beagles bark.
They’ll bark to alert you to things like the doorbell or the mailman. You know–the typical everyday type bark that’s pretty standard for all dogs.
Not too troublesome.
Then there’s the Beagle howl, also not entirely unique to the breed.
Lots of dogs howl. But for some reason, Beagles are particularly prone to the practice. Especially if they hear another dog howling first. (They’re a little like wolves in that sense.) But howling can also indicate boredom, anxiety, or sadness.
Okay, so far so good, right?
Well, now let’s talk about baying.
It’s not really a bark or a howl, but more like a mix of the two.
A throaty sound reminiscent of yodeling. In the field, this sound is useful. It lets the hunter know the dog’s location and if the dog is on an animal’s scent trail. But at home, it can be a bit of a nuisance.
Check it out to see if it’s a noise you think you can put up with. (Or at the very least have the patience to try to lessen with training.)
10. A Dog that Loves to Smell
I’ve already made it pretty clear that the Beagle loves to follow his nose. (He is a scent hound after all!)
But this breed “smells” in more ways than one. And unfortunately the second way is not with his nose.
Yeah…you guessed it. Beagles can be a little stinky.
As a hound, the Beagle tends to have a stronger doggy odor than other breeds. So if dog smell is something you want to avoid, then you should maybe consider a different breed.
(Or invest in some doggy perfume!)
11. Do Your Ears Hang Low?
One thing about Beagles: their ears are crazy adorable! It’s really hard to resist a dog with such floppy ears. Especially during the puppy stage when the dog is still trying to grow into them!
But as cute as they are, the Beagle wasn’t bred to have long ears for the aesthetic. There’s actually a purpose.
As a scent hound, smell is crucial. But it’s not just the nose that’s at work. A Beagle’s ears are also part of the process. Their long length helps to waft scents up around the Beagle’s face.
This allows the dog to better analyze what his nose is taking in.
Who knew ears could be used for smelling? That’s definitely not something our ears can help us humans with…
Guess the Beagle just one-upped us there!
12. The Dog with a Job
His superior nose skills would definitely explain why the Beagle can land himself a few jobs that no human is qualified for.
For starters, there’s the famous Beagle Brigade. This team of hounds has the all-important job of sniffing out food in passengers’ luggage before people board a plane.
It may not sound super special, but it does help prevent the spread of foreign parasites and diseases. So that’s a pretty big deal.
Sniffing out infected food isn’t the Beagle’s only job.
The breed is also used to detect bed bugs.
And pregnancy in polar bears.
Yep, you read that right. One Beagle named Elvis was trained to smell the difference between a pregnant polar bear’s poop and just regular ol’ not-pregnant bear poop.
That’s definitely something you’ll never be able to put on your resume. (Not that you’d ever really want to..some jobs are just better left to Beagles!)
13. The White Tail Tip
Beagles come in all sorts of colors, but they all have one thing in common:
A white tail tip.
It’s a trait that was strongly bred into them as hunting dogs. That’s because in the field, hunters needed a way to keep track of their pack of dogs. And white tail tips were much easier to see above all the underbrush.
In fact, the white tip is a trait so ingrained in the Beagle that it’s impossible to find a pup without one. (And if you do, then it’s probably a mixed breed.)
Still, the amount of white in the tail can vary.
Sometimes you’ll find Beagles with a long white tip. And other times you’ll find Beagles that have a few white hairs visible only upon close inspection.
But either way, there’s white in their tail tip somewhere!
14. What Are My Beagle Color Options?
Okay, so some white in the tail is always going to be a thing. But as for the rest of the Beagle, you’ve got a lot of color choices!
By far the most well-known is the tricolor black, white, and tan. But there’s lots more out there. The possibilities are too extensive to list here. But they basically include various combinations of:
15. This is How You Wake a Beagle Puppy
So have fun choosing your favorite Beagle color!