Beagles 101

Backyard Beagle?

We at HBHR feel that NO dog should be a “back-yard” dog, but this is especially true for Beagles. The Beagle was developed as a pack animal. When brought into a family, that family becomes the Beagle’s pack. Companionship for the Beagle must be present, or the dog will become a neighborhood nuisance with its barking, howling and “singing”. Another reason not to try to keep a Beagle in the backyard is its propensity to follow interesting scents. A Beagle will follow a scent for hours, perhaps days. A Beagle can get lost, and then we come to a host of other problems. Yet another reason is the elements. Would you want to be outside all day and night in 90-degree weather – in a FUR COAT???

Beagles unleashed?

It is very important that a future owner of a Beagle consider that a fenced yard is necessary to keep the Beagle from roaming. It is also VERY IMPORTANT to keep your Beagle on a leash at all times when in an unfenced area. The Beagle is a “scent hound” and will follow a scent, ignoring your calls. Allowing your dog to wander on its own is dangerous to its health. Not only are there other animals that could fight and/or injure your Beagle, the biggest danger is being hit by a car. Do you really want to consider the thought of your beloved dog, laying on the side of the road with no one to help him, perhaps already dead?

Do Beagles make good watchdogs or guard dogs?

Some people think that with a voice like a Beagle possesses, it would make a good watchdog. Well, it will bark at things and people it cannot identify right away, but a Beagle is also a friendly personality and makes friends with almost everyone that is willing to pat it, scratch its ears or give it a treat.

No.  A Beagle will usually let out a “warning” bark when someone knocks on the door, or if they hear a strange noise.  But if an intruder actually entered your house, he or she would probably be licked to death, or greeted with a Beagle carrying a toy and wanting to play.  If you are looking for a guard dog, do not get a Beagle.

Grooming Your Beagle

The Beagle has a medium length coat, and it has a soft undercoat. A Beagle needs minimal grooming efforts: combing and brushing of the coat as needed, checking the length of its nails, and weekly checking and/or cleaning of the ears. Bathing is an as-needed option.

Beagle Sizes

Beagles usually fall into one of two size categories. The first is a Beagle that measures ten to thirteen inches at the withers. These Beagles average eighteen to twenty pounds. The second is for Beagles that measure more than thirteen inches and not more than fifteen inches. These dogs weigh between twenty and thirty pounds. These sizes are important only if you are going to show your Beagle in conformation or enter it into a field trial. If all you want is a family pet, the size does not really matter. It is possible for a Beagle to get larger than fifteen inches at the withers.

The Beagle Lifespan

The average life expectancy of a Beagle is fifteen to eighteen years. Some have lived beyond eighteen years.

Beagle Intelligence & Training

Training a Beagle can certainly be classified as one of life’s challenges. As with any hound, training them requires a great deal of patience. Part of it is individual, some Beagles are easier to train than others. A Beagle can be stubborn about some things, and if training is not interesting, the Beagle will find a way to convince you the training session is ended. Early obedience training is very necessary and will save you many gray hairs.

Beagles are by no means “stupid”. In fact, they can be quite clever in figuring out ways to trick YOU. They can be EXTREMELY stubborn. However, they can learn basic commands such as “come”, “sit”, “stay”, etc.

Beagles do not do well in the “obedience” category, but they aren’t entirely difficult to train.  They can most definitely be crate-trained and house-trained.  They can be trained to “Come”, “Sit”, “Lay Down”, etc.  Beagles are not “stupid” by any means – just very stubborn.

However, you should not get a Beagle if you are wanting a dog to run alongside you when you jog, or to run anywhere off-leash.  Beagles are scent hounds and will follow a scent until they find the animal, food, or whatever they are “tracking”.  Beagles are very clever, but they are inherently stubborn and can be mischievous when it comes to acquiring food (beagles are notorious “chowhounds”). But they respond well to diligent and consistent training, particularly if a positive approach with food rewards is used. This is true for puppies as well as adult dogs. 

The Amazing Beagle Appetite

The Beagle possesses a ravenous appetite. It loves to eat. Therefore, it is apt to put on a bit of weight. The owner needs to keep it eating healthy and wisely. Free-feeding is usually not an option for a Beagle. When it comes to food, the Beagle’s cleverness can come into play. They can be relentless when it comes to food – stealing from the table, the trash, the counters, pantries, children, etc.

Where should I get my Beagle?

Obviously, we prefer RESCUE as a first choice. There are so many unwanted Beagles who need good homes. Rescue dogs are NOT “problem” dogs. Most are loving, friendly and loyal dogs. Plus, when you adopt a rescue dog, you know what you are getting: housetrained? crate-trained? child-friendly? Good with cats?

But, if you are heart set on a puppy, please find a RESPONSIBLE BREEDER. The Beagle has always been a popular breed of dog, and due to this popularity, these dogs have been exploited by puppy mills and back yard breeders. This has unfortunately introduced genetic and medical problems into the breed. You need to get a puppy from a responsible, reliable breeder – one who cares about the breed, seeks to improve the breed, and treats the puppies like they were their own children. Ask to see the parents, if the father is not present, the mother will do. Are there health guarantees? What tests have been performed? Worming? Shots? What condition is the kennel area in? Is it reasonably clean? Is it organized and free of hazards to the dogs? Are the puppies being kept separate from the rest of the population of dogs, or are they all thrown in together in the same area? Will the breeder take the dog back if you are not happy with it? To get the best possible temperament of dog, and the healthiest, it is best to get your dog from people who truly care about their dogs

So You Want A Beagle Puppy

There is nothing more adorable than a Beagle puppy. But are you ready for it? Puppies are a LOT of work. There’s the crying every few hours, the house-training, the crate-training, the chewing, the series of puppy shots and checkups, etc. etc.

Can I let my Beagle run free off of his/her leash?

No. when beagles are outside, they must always be either on a leash or in a securely fenced area. If they are loose, they will run away. And 95% of the time, they WILL NOT come when called (unless you have a big slice of cheese pizza with you). While they are busy tracking whatever scent gets their interest, they will not pay any attention to cars.

I want to get a dog for my children. Are Beagles easy to take care of?

Beagles are VERY easy to take care of – very low-maintenance.  However, are you prepared to provide the majority of its care? Don’t make the mistake of getting a dog “for the kids” and assuming they will take care of it. You will have the ultimate responsibility. And if your children are toddlers, are you prepared to supervise all interaction between them? This is an absolute necessity in order to prevent accidental nipping or worse.

Many Beagles are turned over to shelters or rescue organizations because “the kids wouldn’t take care of him”, or “I got tired of being the only person to take care of the dog”.  It isn’t the dog’s fault that “nobody wants to take care of him”.  Adopting or owning a dog is a HUGE responsibility and should be taken very seriously.

Do Beagles shed?

Yes, Beagles shed – not as much as some longer-haired dogs, but they do shed. Purchasing a high-quality food can reduce shedding.

I've noticed that some dogs are really smelly. Do Beagles smell?

Beagles smell only if they’re really dirty, or if they have rolled in something. If you feed them high-quality dog food and bathe them only when they need it, they should not smell. There is nothing inherently “smelly” about a Beagle unless it has indulged in one of its favorite hobbies and rolled in something yucky. That usually requires an immediate bath, after which you will be entertained by the well-known “post-bath beagle frenzy” during which they run around the house as fast as they possibly can, pausing only to roll around on the floor in an attempt to dry themselves off.

Are Beagles good with kids?

Beagles generally love children. They are ready, willing, and able to play with you and/or your children in a controlled area (like a fenced-in backyard). They make great family dogs. However, some older or “not-so-active” beagles may not do well with small children that may poke them or pull their tails.

I've heard Beagles howl a lot. Is this true?

Beagles can be VERY vocal. They may bay loudly when they catch a scent while on a walk or in the backyard. They often bay when playing with other dogs! They also can bay when you’re not home. This trait causes the most problems for people who share walls with others, i.e., townhouses and apartment dwellers. Most beagles are quite gregarious, outgoing, and playful.

A lot of times it really depends on the Beagle, though. For instance, my female is VERY vocal. She howls when she hears other dogs bark, howls at dogs when we go for walks, and barks when playing with my male. However, my male is not very vocal. He will usually only let out a low, muffled bark if someone knocks on the door, or if he hears a strange noise outside. He normally only “howls” when my female begins to howl quite a bit.

I have heard that Beagles like to dig. Is this true?

Yes, most Beagles will dig if left unattended. In fact, most dogs, regardless of the breed, will dig if left unattended. If you keep your Beagle occupied while outdoors, and use a firm “No” when you catch him/her digging, that should help. Most people who have problems with dogs digging are leaving them outside all day long with no supervision. Confining your dog to a crate while you are away makes for a happy Beagle and happy “parents”.

Have Questions?