- Dog suitable for owners with some experience
- Extra training required
- Enjoys active walks
- Enjoys walking one to two hours a day
- Medium dog
- Some drool
- Requires grooming once a week
- Non Hypoallergenic breed
- Very vocal dog
- Not a guard dog
- May require training to live with other pets
- Great family dog
Beagle Key Facts:
Lifespan: 12 – 15 years
Weight: 10 – 11kg
Height: 33 – 40cm
Colours: Tricolour (black, tan and white); blue, white and tan; badger pied; hare pied; lemon pied; lemon and white; red and white; tan and white; black and white; all white. These colours can also be mottled, with the exception of all white.
Kennel Club group: Hound
Exercise needs: 4/5
Easy to train: 1/5
Tolerates being alone: 1/5
Likes other pets: 3/5
Energy level: 4/5
Grooming needs: 1/5
History and Origins
The Beagle is the smallest of the British pack-hounds - and was developed many centuries ago to hunt hare - and also when hare were scarce, rabbits. They were developed as ‘foot hounds’ i.e. for hunters to follow on foot rather than horse-back hence their diminutive size when compared to larger pack hounds such as the Foxhound. Most hounds were owned by nobility and the Beagle was no different, and in fact for a while was known as the ‘Royal Beagle’ but the ability to be able to follow them without a horse, made them become more popular with less regal sportsmen. Their happy cheerful disposition won them many devotees from outside of the sporting field and they moved from the hunting field to the show ring with ease at the end of the 19th century becoming one of the most popular of the hounds and a much-loved companion dog.
This is a happy, easy-going dog who is full of life and fun to be around. Beagles are good natured and, as they were bred to be pack animals, will get along with most other dogs. They love children but need to be exposed to cats at an early age in order to develop good relationships with them and may never be safe with strange cats or small furries. The Beagle is a good watchdog, barking at anything unusual, although once the burglar is indoors, the Beagle may prefer a game with him!
The Beagle suits an owner or family who want an active, affectionate, cheerful dog who loves getting involved in games and activities but who are able to cope with their selective attitude to obedience and lack of reliable recall.
Health and Common Issues
Beagles are generally a robust and healthy breed. However as with many breeds, they can suffer from hip dysplasia (a condition that can lead to mobility problems). Hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important. Epilepsy and a type of meningitis (Beagle pain syndrome) also occur more frequently in this breed.
The Beagle needs a great deal of exercise – around two hours a day. For many Beagles, this will be on-lead and because of his strong hunting instinct, he should not be let off-lead until owners are confident he will return when called, or else (and more likely!) only in a safe enclosed area. One of the best ways to keep your Beagle happy and well-exercised is to play scenting games and give him a chance to use his exceptional nose.
Like most hounds, Beagles are happiest in the countryside as they love the scents and open spaces of the great outdoors - and need a lot of exercise. A medium house with a decent sized, well-fenced garden is a must - with lots of close-by walks. They enjoy living with other Beagles too - which increases the space you will need!
Nutrition and Feeding
Your dog's diet needs to have the right balance of all the main nutrient groups including a constant supply of fresh water. It's important to conduct regular body condition scores to ensure you keep your dog in ideal shape and remember to feed him at least twice daily and in accordance with the feeding guidelines of his particular food.
This breed is easy to keep, requiring a quick brush once a week to remove dead and loose hairs. One slight problem is that Beagles do love to roll in foul smelling material. Luckily, they are quite easy to bathe. The ears should be checked on a regular basis to ensure they are clean and free from infection.
Beagles are a challenge to train because of their natural scenthound instincts. Scenthounds were developed to find a trail and then to follow it to the exclusion of everything else and not be distracted no matter what might happen. This means that your Beagle is likely to tune you out totally if his mind is occupied with an interesting sniff! This isn’t him being ‘disobedient’, it is him doing what he was bred for.
Recall is a real challenge for Beagles - and while you should spend as much time as possible teaching your Beagle to come back when you call him, it’s wise not to rely on that! He is an escape artist too, so good fencing in vital.
What a Beagle can do is sniff - and so find a reward-based training class who can teach you how to play scent games and exercises with your dog as this will improve the bond between you and give you both something you can excel at.
Did you know?
- The Beagle is one of the healthiest of pedigree dog breeds, and this coupled with his good nature has not always been good for him, as it has sadly led to the breed being widely used in vivisection and animal experiments.
- As the Beagle is such a manageable size, and has such an incredible nose, he has found work around the world as a drugs and food sniffer dog in many airports. He is extremely successful in this work – and his appealing look means he doesn’t frighten the passengers.
- The most famous Beagle of all is Snoopy – who, while he may not look like a Beagle, has made the breed very popular.
Best Family Dog Breeds
Happy and friendly, but still solid and robust the Beagle makes a great family dog. He is gentle enough not to frighten smaller children and active enough to join in games and family activities. Just watch out for children leaving doors and gates open as the Beagle is an expert escape artist!
While many dogs are traditionally thought of as being good with children, all dogs and children need to be taught to get on with and respect each other, and be safe together. Even so, dogs and young children should never be left alone together and adults should supervise all interactions between them.