A sturdy hunting dog, the Beagle should look like a foxhound in miniature. His hunting ability, combined with a merry personality, has made the Beagle one of the most popular dogs in the United States according to AKC® Registration Statistics. The most famous Beagle of all is Snoopy from the comic strip “Peanuts.” Today’s Beagle comes in two height varieties (13 in. and 15 in.) and any true hound color, including tri-color, red and white and lemon.
A Look Back… The A Quick History of Beagles
Beagles have a long history. Historical fact indicates that the Beagles ancestors date all the way back to the ancient Greeks. These dogs were similar but were much smaller then the breed that is celebrated today. Eventually, the popularity of Beagles extended beyond the Greeks and continued on to the French Normans. The Normans liked the dogs for their impeccable sense of smells, and used them to track hares. They gave them the name “Beagle” which roughly translates to “gape throat” or may have been derived from the French term “be’geule,” referring to the baying voice of the hounds when in pursuit of game, or possibly the diminutive size of the hound.
The UK established their first Beagle Club in 1895, and their popularity took off through Europe, and Beagles eventually came to America in the late 1800’s. Today, Beagles remains one of the most popular dog breeds in the world.
Right Breed for You?
Beagles are a very happy go lucky breed that is friendly, sociable, loyal, courageous and smart. They are happy with both active individuals or with families. They love children, and are eager to play and are great company. Beagles have a sweet expression and are a nice medium sized dog. This makes them ideal for both the city and country. They are easy to take care of, as their coat requires little grooming. In fact, Beagles do a good job taking care of themselves, but keep in mind their coat does shed.
Even though Beagles are very friendly and excellent family dogs, there are certain aspects about this breed that some owners don’t find so charming, and why many Beagles are given up to rescues. Since they lived in packs for hundreds of years, they naturally enjoy the company of other dogs and humans. Curious and comedic, they often follow their noses–which can lead to some mischief if they are not provided with daily activity. Beagles love to howl, and have a loud baying cry that can seriously get on your nerves as well as your neighbors’. Beagles tend to howl a lot when they are left by themselves. Thus, if you are really interested in this breed, but will be out frequently, you should consider getting a second one for company.
Furthermore, their natural tracking instinct takes over when they are outside. Therefore, they should not be let off the leash, as they could easily run off on a tracking quest if their scent picks up something that interests them. Beagles are friendly with other dogs, but can not be trusted with other family pets such as cats and rodents. They must first grow up and be socialized with other non-canine family members before accepting them.
Finally, even though Beagles are an exceptionally smart breed, they are stubborn when it comes to training. Therefore, you will need plenty of patience and the time to take them to a proper obedience class. Beagles are wonderful pets for those who understand what it means to be committed to this breed. If you have any doubt at all in regards to owning a Beagle, make it fair to yourself and the dog and don’t get one.
Frequently Asked Questions about Beagles
What colors do they come in?
The American Kennel Club and National Beagle Club of America recognize “any hound colors” as acceptable. Hound colors include all shades and combinations of white (or cream), black, tan/lemon/red, brown/liver, blue/grey, and the colors of the hare or badger. The color combination which most people associate with a Beagle is the black, tan & white tricolor, with a black saddle marking, and white occurring in an “Irish spotting” pattern on the face, neck, legs and tail tip. Second most common color combination is probably the red & white coloring, also known as lemon & white or tan & white depending on the depth of color. Tricolors can also occur which have a “faded” black saddle, or with the dark pigmented areas being brown/chocolate/liver in color, or even with the black or brown pigment diluted to blue or lilac. Patterns of markings in beagles can range from predominantly solid black & tan, to the typical “Irish spotting”, through open marked or piebald hounds where the background is white with smaller patches of color. Blue tick or red tick hounds are those with heavy speckling known as “ticking” throughout the white portions of the coat (also called “mottles”).
How big will my Beagle get?
Beagles are a small to medium sized dog, typically ranging from 10″ to 16″ in height at the shoulder when mature. In the USA, our breed standard disqualifies beagles which exceed 15″ in height from participation in conformation or field trial competitions; most other countries recognize 16″ beagles as the desired maximum height. Divided into two varieties for competition purposes in the US, the under 13″ variety typically weighs less than 20 lbs., and the 13″ to 15″ hounds range from 20 to 30 lbs. It helps to keep in mind that parents of either size can and do produce offspring of either size, often within the same litter. An experienced breeder may be able to give you a good estimate as to the future, adult size your beagle might reach… but no one can be expected to guarantee the eventual, exact height at maturity.
Do Beagles require a lot of grooming?
Not especially, although ears and feet will require special attention. Beagles have a smooth lying, hard, medium length coat with a finer undercoat. Females will “blow” their coat after each season, and males will “blow” once a year, generally when the weather grows warmer in the spring. A good brushing once or twice a week is usually sufficient to keep your beagle’s coat clean and healthy. A bath in warm water when the coat starts to loosen up will hasten the shedding process, and keep your dogs clean too. Otherwise, bathing is rarely necessary, unless your hound has found something smelly to roll in. The beagle’s pendulous ears are especially prone to developing infection or ear mites, and will require weekly checks and careful cleaning. Toenails also require regular attention, with frequency of trimming dependent on how well your beagle wears them down during his normal, daily activities.
Are Beagles noisy?
The normal, active Beagle will bark when strangers arrive, at the neighbor’s cat or trespassing wildlife, and at strange goings on in the neighborhood. But beagles in general are not nuisance barkers, unless given good reason to do so. Beagles can, on rare occasion, become prone to howling if they are left alone for long periods of time and become bored. As a result of their hunting heritage, beagles may be quick to bark when they discover an intriguing scent, and will “tongue” (produce a baying sound) when in pursuit of their quarry.
Do Beagles have a hound odor?
The typical house beagle does not have any noticable body odor. In general, unless your beagle finds something odiferous to roll in, the family companion hound is a clean and pleasant smelling character. Usually, when we hear remarks about a smelly beagle, it is one that has been housed outdoors, and continually runs through or rolls in urine and feces or other interesting scents. To a beagle, these odors can be somewhat appealing. But this is clearly different from any natural body odor of the hound.
Are Beagles good with children?
In most cases, yes! Beagles tend to love social interaction with people, and children especially. Well bred and socialized beagles are very gentle with youngsters, and they can be wonderful companions for older children as they typically enjoy attention, rough housing, and interactive activities such as playing ball. The beagle is a “big dog in a little package”; small and unthreatening, yet sturdy built and ready for action. The one area of caution, however, concerns food. Beagles take their food very seriously, and so children must be taught to understand that the hound should be treated with respect and never to tease or approach a beagle while eating.
Are Beagles nervous or shy?
Not typically. Beagles are friendly, social animals that enjoy companionship and have a zest for life. Beagles can sometimes be a little reserved towards strangers, but to people they know they should be loving, and outgoing. A shy, nervous Beagle is not typical of the breed, and may have been poorly socialized. Occasionally an older dog will be shy due to the treatment in a previous home and love, good care, and patience can usually bring around these animals. Again, individual personalities vary. While most beagles will be true social extroverts, an occasional hound may prefer the quiet and security of their own home setting.
Do Beagles require a lot of exercise?
The Beagle himself will generally tell you no; left on his own, the adult “house pet” beagle is actually often a fairly lazy animal. The adolescent beagle, however, is an exhuberant creature who will need adequate opportunities to exercise his growing body and mind. The prefered forms of exercise include leisurely walks with their family or a good run while out hunting. Many beagles are enthusiastic retrievers, if taught when young. The beagle also can be a faithful jogging companion if you wish, but it is important to not over-exercise a young animal as you could do damage to the skeletal development. If you like to take walks with your dog or jog, please remember that it is very unwise to take a puppy under the age of 18 months on walks or jogs of more than 1/2 mile as their skeletal systems are not yet solidified enough to take the stress. After 18 months gradually extend the walks a 1/2 mile every week or so.
How long will my Beagle live?
It is not unusual for beagles to have a life span of 10 to 15 years. By that age, they will require special care for some of the typical infirmities. The new glucosamine/chondroitin/ester “C” supplements can be especially helpful in aiding with joint care.
Information from National Beagle Club of America.