The beagle is a compact little rabbit hunter, one of the smallest members of the hound group that relies on scent to find his quarry. Though the precise origin of the beagle is unknown, the breed seems to have been a favorite human companion and vigorous rabbit hunter for centuries. Since the 1950s, the beagle has consistently ranked as one of the top 10 most loved breeds in the United States. In modern times the beagle has become popular due to its large brown eye, playful demeanor, and boundless energy. The beagle has been one of the top breeds based on the American Kennel Club (AKC) tallies for years. And due to the popularity of films such as John Wick, Inspector Gadget, and Shiloh more and more prospective pet owners and thinking of adding a beagle to the family. Below is a full profile of the beagle breed that includes the benefits and challenges that come with this loveable hound.
History and Origin of the Beagle
Though extensively researched, the origins of the beagle can only be traced back to the mid-19th century, though a beagle-like hound was used to hunt rabbits in the 14th century. The origin of the name “beagle” is likewise obscured by history; some believe the word comes from the Old English word “begele,” or the Celtic “beag,” both of which mean small. Despite a limited recorded history, it is generally believed that the beagle is one of the oldest breeds and is one of the breeds closest in appearance to the original hounds.
The breed was developed in the British Isles. Besides being favored as a rabbit hunter, the beagle was a favorite breed of Queen Elizabeth. It belongs to a group of hunting dogs known as scent hounds, which use scent to search and find their prey.
The beagle was officially recognized by the British Kennel Club in 1873 and brought to the United States. The National Beagle Club was formed in 1888. The American Kennel Club recognizes the beagle as a member of the hound group.
Unfortunately, because of their compact size and friendly temperament, the beagle has been one of the most popular dog breeds to be used in medical research.
Appearance and Size of Beagles
Beagles are small, short-haired hounds with long ears that lie against the head. The coat colors are a combination of tan, black and white. As with most hounds, the eyes of the beagle are soft and pleading.
The adult beagle is a small breed and, in the United States, is divided into two size categories, 13 to 15 inches at the shoulder and under 13 inches at the shoulder. In England, there is only one class, with a maximum height of 16 inches. Beagles average between 18 to 30 pounds.
Personality of Beagles
Friendly and lovable, the beagle’s tail is perpetually wagging. The breed is not aggressive but, with his baying bark, will alert the homeowner of intruders. They are intelligent, good-natured, and docile companions. Read below in the Special Care section to read more about the care and attention this special breed requires.
Home and Family Relations in Beagles
Beagles are excellent choices for families with children. The breed’s easygoing nature makes them tolerant family members that love to participate in games. Beagles do not enjoy being left alone for extended periods of time. They can easily become frustrated and bored, leading to behavior problems, including destructive behavior and excessive baying.
Training your Beagle
In general, the breed does well in obedience training, but some find the beagle somewhat stubborn. Beagles can also be easily distracted by their strong sense of smell while training, making capturing their attention very difficult. Additionally, some have trouble with housebreaking. Lastly, you will need to pay special attention to vocal training to keep your beagle from barking and baying at visitors, other pets, and outside interests.
Grooming your Beagle
Due to their short hair coat, beagles do not require special grooming. They should be bathed regularly, and their nails will need to be trim consistently. Due to their long ears, beagles are prone to ear infections and ear-related issues. Make sure that you and cleaning your beagle’s ears regularly.
Special Care for Beagles
Beagles love to hunt. This results in a strong desire to dig, which can be problematic for some homeowners and gardeners. Some beagles tend to be quite vocal and, if not given appropriate home care, may excessively bark. On the plus side, they don’t drool, shed little, and they have minimal doggy odor.
Since beagles thoroughly enjoy hunting and digging, providing a safe and adequate confinement may be difficult. For some persistent dogs, special fencing may be required. Beagles are a working breed dog and can develop destructive habits if they are not given a job to perform or enough exercise. Apartment living is possible with a beagle, but not recommended unless you can provide ample time for exercise. Beagles need long walks and stimulation to keep them fit and happy. Beagles can become overweight quickly due to their small size if they do not receive the proper amount of exercise.
Beagles have an above average sense of smell. The way to a beagle’s heart is through its nose. This trait can be both an asset and liability while training. While your beagle will be quickly won over by strong-smelling treats such as cheese, it will also be easily distracted environmental smells such as other animals and plants. This can become an issue if you let your beagle off leash in an area that is not fenced in. Once he catches a whiff of something yummy, a beagle is liable to take off in pursuit. Beagles should only be let off leash in fenced-in areas or after extensive training.
Due to their strong hunting instincts, beagles are very vocal animals. Without proper training. Beagles can become somewhat of a nuisance with their constant barking and baying. Beagles, like all hounds, have the ability to bay, not just howl.
Common Diseases and Disorders in Beagles
Just like any other breed, there are a number of diseases that can affect beagles.
- Dermatitis is a general term used to describe inflammation of the skin and can be caused by allergies, infections or even parasites such as mange.
- Epilepsy is a disorder that results in seizure activities.
- Intervertebral Disk Disease is a painful condition that can develop when the disk material between the vertebra of the spine moves out of place. The disk material extrudes into the spinal canal and can impinge on the spinal cord, resulting in pain, difficulty walking or even paralysis.
- Diabetes Mellitus is a disease of the pancreas related to insufficient amounts of insulin production.
- Chronic Hepatitis is a chronic and progressive inflammation of the liver of dogs that leads eventually to the replacement of normal liver tissue with scar tissue.
- Lymphosarcoma (lymphoma) is a malignant cancer that involves the lymphoid system.
- In addition, although these occur infrequently, the following disorders have also been reported:
- Cataracts are opacities within the lens of the eye that affect vision.
- Amyloidosis is a disease involving abnormal deposits of starch-type material throughout the body. A primary target is the kidney.
- Glaucoma is a disease of the eye that develops when the pressure within the eye increases. There is a high risk of permanent blindness associated with glaucoma.
- Deafness can be present at birth or develop later in life.
- Prolapse of the third eyelid also known as cherry eye, is not painful and occurs spontaneously.
- Lymphocytic Thyroiditis is a condition causing Hypothyroidism results when the thyroid gland does not function adequately. Without enough thyroid hormone, illness can occur.
- Hyperadrenocorticism is a disorder affecting the adrenal glands. When overactive, the adrenal glands secrete excessive cortisol, resulting in illness.
- Developmental Kidney Disease is a disease that can result in kidney failure early in life.
- Congenital Hypotrichosis is a congenital problem causing symmetrical hair loss.
- Mast Cell Tumors are malignant tumors than can occur in the skin or within the body.
- Lens Luxation is a dislocation or displacement of the lens within the eye.
Diet of Beagles
Beagles are not picky eaters, in fact, the opposite is true. Beagles can very easily become overweight, so you’ll need to watch what your beagle eats. This breed only needs about 700-950 calories a day, of course, each beagle is different, so speak with your vet to find their ideal balance. Beagles need a high-protein diet to support their boundless energy and can do well on either wet or dry food.
Lifespan of the Beagle
The average lifespan of the beagle ranges between 12 to 15 years.
We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.