BEAGLES AT A GLANCE
Weight: 9kg (20 lbs) – 12kg (26 lbs)
Height: Male: 30cm (12 inches) – 41cm (16 inches)
Life span: 12 – 16 years
Coat: Short, hard, medium length fur
Colour(s): Tricolour (white with black and brown shading) is most common. Two colour varieties are less common but come in white + either light tan, red, brown, liveer and black.
Litter size: 5 – 7 puppies is common, but litters can be as small as a single puppy or as large as 10
Breed group: Hound group
Small, hardy and almost universally good natured, the fun loving Beagle is an ever popular companion for active families.
While the more distant origins of the breed are a little cloudy, the modern day Beagle stems from England in the early 1800’s. The now standard type Beagle began to develop around 1840, with other varieties such as the Rough-Coated Beagle being absorbed into the standard bloodline over the next few decades.
Breeders in America began establishing a quality Beagle bloodline in the early 1870 until the Breed was accepted by the American Kennel Club in 1885. Over the years that followed the Beagle became a popular breed worldwide.
Don’t let the sometimes sad-looking face and pleading eyes fool you, these little dynamos are always ready to play. Originally bred as scent hounds for tracking small game, the Beagle is ruled by their nose and a game of fetch can be suddenly cut short if and when they smell something worth investigating and head off on the trail, forgetting there even was a ball to retrieve.
The word “merry” is used in describing the Beagles temperament by several breed standards. While not timid, they can be standoffish with strangers initially but it doesn’t take long for the Beagle to make new friends. Aggression is uncommon and they’re typically great with children making them a family friendly choice.
Though loving and loyal the Beagle is not eager to please; They’re headstrong and independent.
Beagles have a terrific sense of smell, with around 225 million Olfactory receptors compared to a humans 5 million, and are considered to be around the third “best” of all breeds when it comes to sniffing something out. If you’ve travelled much you’ve probably seen them patrolling the baggage areas of airports, the Beagle has been adopted for this purpose in countries such as America, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Japan and the People’s Republic of China.
For all their benefits Beagles do have their challenges.
They can be difficult to house train, taking significantly longer than most breeds. They’re highly social and if left alone for long are prone to howling and destructive behaviour. If given the chance Beagles will eat anything they can get their paws, feeding amounts need to be controlled and alternate sources like trash cans must be protected to avoid over eating and weight issues.
Though friendly, their overly rambunctious play style can be too much for other dogs, so learning when to back off is important for their own sake lets they be told off by a larger dog. Early socialization is a must but Beagles readily take to to this and make new friends easily (even the man in the balaclava climbing over your fence is likely to be met with excitement and friendship, so if you’re looking for a guard dog the Beagle is not for you).
Beagles will dig and are naturally driven explorers, a high fenced secure back yard with something in place to prevent tunnelling under is a must to stop them escaping to go wandering. They will require walking on-leash as almost any new smell is going to hold there attention more than an oncoming car if left to charge off by themselves.
Their energy levels should not be underestimated. Even as adults Beagles require a high amount of exercise and as puppies and adolescents require multiple exercise sessions each day.
CHARACTERISTICS AND SUMMARY
Suited to indoor living: 4/10 – While the Beagles compact size might suggest they’re well suited to indoor living, their energy and temperament doesn’t immediately lend itself to apartment living. Beagles are highly sociable, curious and energetic dogs. They want to run, play, smell, discover and explore, all day if they could. If you’re going to make living in an apartment with a Beagle work you will need to provide enough stimulation and daily exercise to burn off all that energy. 45 minutes running with dogs at the park will do it, a 15 minute walk will not. A restless Beagle is almost certain to resort to destructive behaviours to try and entertain themselves.
Owner experience required: 6/10 – On one hand Beagles are sweet, loyal, friendly dogs that are great with kids, strangers and other dogs alike which make them great for novice owners, however they’re strong willed and stubborn and when they pick up an interesting scent they’re likely to follow it to the end, oblivious to all else. Beagles are not easy to train, experience, lots of patience and a firm, 100% consistent hand are required. I you just want a friendly, energetic, gentle, playful dog and won’t be frustrated by disobedience they’re still a dog with a lot to offer.
Sensitivity: Low – Beagles are a happy go lucky dog and aren’t phased by much. Busy environments, people coming and going are not going to upset your average Beagle.
Needs company: Beagles do not like being left alone. As with all dogs the best solution to this is vigorous exercise and entertainment, though the Beagles high energy levels and need for stimulation can make this challenging. They’re best suited to households where someone is home most time or failing that with a companion animal.
Suitable climates: Beagles are well suited to moderate and warmer clients, but don’t like it too cold.
FAMILY, FRIENDS AND OTHER DOGS
Friendly with family: 10/10 – Beagles will love the whole family…
Child friendly: 10/10 – …Including the kids
Friendly toward strangers: A moments hesitation while sniffing strangers out is common but Beagles make friends fast
Dog friendly: 8/10 – As with strangers they make take a moment to introduce themselves to other dogs but a moment is all it takes then it’s usually play time.
One master dog: Beagles are headstrong and difficult to train and could jokingly be called a “no master dog”. When trained though they will respond to the whole family.
Intelligence: 7-10 – Beagles are intelligent but single minded and when focused on something can become oblivious to all else, including trainer commands.
Ease of training: 4/10 – Beagles are difficult to train for the reasons already stated. Being smell driven, food rewards go a long way in training a Beagle. They are not often featured in obedience trials as even with food rewards they are quickly bored and easily distracted.
POSSIBLE UNDESIRABLE BEHAVIOURS
Mouthing: 3/10 – Beagles are not known for being mouthy as adults but chewing when bored is common.
Prey drive: 8/10 – As a scent hound bred for hunting a Beagles prey drive is high.
Tendency to bark/howl: 3/10 – Beagles are not prone to barking, but if left alone for too long, especially if not exercised, barking for attention and howling isn’t uncommon.
Goes wandering: 10/10 – Smell is everything to a Beagle, once they find a fascinating smell they’re off after it, guaranteed.
Shedding: 6/10 – Beagles are heavier side of the scale when it comes to shedding.
Grooming required: Brushing at least once a week is required to keep shedding under control. Beagles also have that noticeable dog smell so be prepared for that.
EXERCISE NEEDS & GENERAL HEALTH
Energy level / Intensity: 9/10 – A definite high energy breed with a vigorous play style.
Playfulness: 8/10 – When not distracted by their nose Beagles love to play.
Exercise frequency : 9/10 – Vigorous exercise is required every day; rain, hail or shine!
General health: 7/10 – Beagle health is generally quite good with few inherent problems though there are a few things to be aware of. Beagles can develop epilepsy though this can usually be managed with medication, their large floppy ears limit can be prone to trapping moisture leading to ear infection but this can be easily managed by checking and lightly wiping out the dogs ears regularly. Eye problems are more of a concern for Beagles who suffer from Glaucoma, which can be treated with medication or surgery, or “Cheery Eye”, a glandular problem which often requires surgery to remove the gland.
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