|13 – 16 inches
|20 – 25 pounds
|12 – 15 years
|Brown, pied, red, white, black
|Hunters, those who want a happy-go-lucky pet
|Happy, fun-loving, easygoing, intelligent, determined, distracted
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more carefree dog than the Beagle. They’re happy doing whatever you’ve got planned for the day, but they truly come alive when it’s time to track something.
In fact, they become so single-minded when on a scent trail that they’ll forget you’re even there. As a result, they can be challenging for first-time owners — and they can disappear forever if you let them off their leash in a wide-open space.
lBeagles are one of the most popular dog breeds in the world for a reason, but that doesn’t mean people are as familiar with the breed as they should be. In the guide below, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about these fantastic pups.
These tiny little furballs have the most adorable faces you’ve ever seen, with long, fuzzy ears and sad eyes. It’s nearly impossible not to scoop one up and refuse to put them down again.
That’s not necessarily a good thing, however. Many people fall in love with these dogs as puppies but have no idea what they’re getting themselves into. Given that these dogs can be notoriously difficult to train, bringing one home without planning ahead can cause all sorts of problems.
They are just as distractible and independent as puppies as they are when they’re fully grown. Let’s just say that it’s a good thing they’re cute, because they can certainly try your patience in ways you never thought possible.
3 Little-Known Facts About the Beagle
1. The White Tips on Their Tails Are No Accident
Beagles were bred to be hunting dogs. A big part of their job was to run into tall grass or deep brush to flush out their quarry in order to give the hunters a clear shot.
That meant they often worked in areas of poor visibility, and the last thing hunters wanted to do is shoot their dog by accident. The white tip was bred into them so the hunter would always know where the Beagle was — and therefore knew where not to shoot.
2. The Long Ears Are On Purpose Too
Those long, floppy ears aren’t just to make the Beagle look cute (although they do a good job of that as well). They actually help the dog smell.
As the pup runs, the ears swing in the breeze, bringing up air from the ground — and with it, the scent of whatever the dog is chasing.
The dog’s entire face is like a finely-tuned machine with a single purpose: to redirect as many scent molecules as possible to that powerful nose.
3. They Like to Talk — and Howl and Bark and Bay and Yodel
Beagles are not a breed that’s often tongue-tied. These dogs love to communicate vocally; it stems from being bred as a pack hunter. They have to communicate anything that they’ve found to the other dogs in the pack so they can better chase their prey.
They have a wide range of vocalizations, each of which has a different meaning. These vocalizations are loud too — they’re designed to be heard by other dogs from great distances.
That’s great if you’re out hunting in the woods, but it’s not quite as wonderful if you’re trying not to get evicted from your apartment. You’ll either need to train these dogs to put a lid on it or find very understanding neighbors.
A Brief History of the Beagle
No one knows exactly when Beagles came into existence. The name was used for centuries to describe any small hound; it’s thought that the first dog to earn the title was a mix of St. Hubert Hound, Talbot Hound, and Greyhound.
Many of the first Beagles were called “Glove Beagles,” as they were small enough to fit on a glove. These pups were often carried in saddlebags while on hunts; hunters would use larger hounds to corner their prey in dense underbrush, then release the Glove Beagles to finish the job.
In the 1830s, an Essex reverend named Phillip Honeywood established a Beagle pack that’s thought to form the basis of the modern breed. This bloodline consisted of two basic types, the rough-coated and smooth-coated Beagle. The rough-coated variety is now extinct, having been absorbed into the smooth-coated Beagles’ bloodline somewhere around the turn of the 20th century.
For reasons unknown, the breed almost went extinct toward the end of the 19th century; in fact, at one point, there were only 18 Beagle packs left in England. Breeders came together to rescue the breed, though, and their numbers recovered within a few decades.
After World War I, the breed once again experienced a dip in popularity in the U.K., but this was offset by their immense popularity in the United States and Canada. Today, they’re consistently one of the most-owned breeds in North America, and while they’re not quite as popular in England, they’re no longer at any risk of going extinct.
Temperament & Intelligence of the Beagle 🧠
Beagles have been described as “amiable,” “happy-go-lucky,” and “merry” — all words meant to demonstrate that the dogs are easygoing and not that excitable. They’re even-keeled and tend to be neither aggressive nor timid.
They’re often a bit suspicious of new people, but they can be quickly won over — and once they like you, they’re completely enamored of you. As a result, they’re not well-suited for guard duty, as it wouldn’t take much for a burglar to befriend them. They can raise an incredible racket if they want to, though.
Beagles are incredibly intelligent, but they’re not necessarily predisposed to use that brainpower to help you. They can be difficult to train because they’re both pigheaded and easily distracted.
They’re absolute slaves to their snouts, and if they catch a scent trail, they’ll abandon all other connections to the outside world. They’ll follow that trail to its very end, ignoring your calls to return; many Beagles have been lost because they wandered too far from home or followed their noses onto a busy street, so keep yours on a leash at all times when outside your yard.
The breed is known for having a push/pull relationship with their owners. They’re fairly independent and don’t need constant attention from you, but they often suffer from separation anxiety if left alone. Generally speaking, they love to be around you — but they don’t necessarily need you in their personal bubble.
Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡
Beagles make fantastic family pets. They’re patient with kids and not prone to aggression; they also love to play, but they’re small enough that they’re not likely to bowl your children over while roughhousing.
Since they don’t require constant reassurance, they can hang around little ones without constantly being in their face. However, they’ll welcome any attention that your kids want to lavish upon them.
They only require a moderate amount of activity as well, so you won’t have to spend all your free time trying to tucker them out. A couple of walks a day — especially if they’re allowed to sniff around to their heart’s content — should be all it takes to keep them calm and out of trouble.
They’re low-key enough to be suitable for apartment living, but only if you’re confident that you can contain their vocalizations. Otherwise, they could bay and howl you right out of your lease.
If you plan on leaving them in your backyard unattended for any length of time, you’d better be absolutely certain that your fence is secure. If they catch a whiff of something that interests them, they’ll use their considerable brainpower to find a way to follow the trail, and that means you could come home to an empty yard.
Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽
Beagles were bred to be pack dogs; that meant living and working alongside many other animals 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
This makes them incredibly accepting of other pooches; in fact, they thrive with canine playmates. Having another dog in the house is a great way to stave off separation anxiety, and your Beagle will likely be happy to have a friend even if you’re home all the time.
If possible, get a breed that’s fairly independent in their own right. You don’t want an animal that will follow your Beagle all over creation while the hound tracks down a scent trail. For this reason, adding another Beagle to your pack can also be problematic, because if one leaves, the rest will be gone as well.
They’re generally accepting of cats and other small pets, but it’s best if the Beagle is raised and socialized with the other animals from an early age.
You do need to watch them around small animals, at least until you’re confident that they can be trusted. After all, Beagles were bred to chase down small prey, and they may not be able to turn off centuries of programming simply because you have rules in your house.
Things to Know When Owning a Beagle
Before you bring a Beagle home, you should know just what will be expected of you as the dog’s owner. Below, we’ve compiled basic facts of Beagle ownership to help you make an informed decision.
Food & Diet Requirements 🦴
When it comes to food, Beagles are known for two things: eating too fast and eating too much. As a result, you want to be careful how you feed your dog, and you might even consider buying a special bowl designed to limit how quickly they can scarf their food down.
This also makes free-feeding a bad idea. Instead of just leaving food out all the time, you should give your Beagle a set number of portion-controlled meals per day. Obesity is a huge problem with this breed and one you should take seriously, as it can wreak havoc with their health.
Make sure you pick out a top-notch food as well. We recommend one that’s high in protein, without any animal by-products or cheap fillers like soy, corn, or wheat.
Instead, pick out a kibble in which the first ingredient is high-quality meat; chicken, beef, and fish are all fine choices. You can also go with something more exotic, like bison, boar, or even kangaroo, but there’s no need — common meats will work just fine.
Also, while lean meats are great, don’t overlook kibbles with organ meats. Organ meats are filled with important nutrients that you can’t get anywhere else and dogs love them, so don’t be afraid to load your pooch up with them.
Beagles don’t have outrageously high energy levels, but they still need a good amount of exercise per day — 60 to 90 minutes should do the trick.
However, this doesn’t have to be an incredibly strenuous activity. Regular walks are a great way to keep their energy levels in check. You can still run them if you want to, of course; simply throw a ball for them in the backyard or let them play with their canine companions.
We’d strongly urge you not to let them off-leash in an unsecured area, though, so don’t turn them loose at the park. They’re liable to catch a whiff of something that they’d like to chase down, and that may be the last time you see your pooch. Enclosed dog parks are fine, however.
They love to track things down with their nose, so hiding treats or other favorite objects around your house or yard is a great way to tax their minds. This should tucker them out quickly, and it requires little effort on your part.
Regardless of how you exercise your Beagle, don’t neglect this part of pet ownership. A Beagle with too much pent-up energy could turn destructive and rip your furniture or shoes to shreds. They’re also more prone to vocalization when they’re amped up.
It’s important to start training your Beagle when they’re young; it can also be quite difficult to train your Beagle, no matter at what age you start.
These dogs aren’t disobedient, per se; they’re just easy to distract. While most dogs can lose their focus if they see something like a squirrel or another person, Beagles can be distracted by the wind. Anything that kicks up scent molecules will be almost impossible for them to ignore.
As a result, you need to make your training sessions extremely engaging for the dog. One of the biggest mistakes that many owners make in this regard is forcing the Beagle to respond to visual cues; these dogs were bred to spend most of their time with their eyes and noses pinned to the ground, so they’re not used to visually acquiring targets.
In fact, Beagles scored low on one famous obedience and intelligence test, but many people feel that’s because the test relied solely on their ability to respond to visual commands. If you can incorporate scent work instead of just plain visual commands, you’re much more likely to be successful.
Fun scent games to incorporate into your training regimen include hide and seek, picking which hand food is hidden in, and playing shell games. You can also coat a ball or other favorite treat in a smelly substance and roll it across the house into a hidden area, then tell your Beagle to sniff it out.
If you let your Beagle follow its nose, the rest of its body will likely pay the price. These dogs will follow scent trails wherever they lead, which means they’ll wander into mud holes, thorn bushes, and all sorts of unspeakable muck without a care in the world.
They don’t really need to be bathed unless they’re visibly dirty, but as we just demonstrated, they’re quite often visibly dirty. You should brush them several times a week with a slicker or natural-bristle brush; not only will this reduce shedding, but it will redistribute the dog’s natural oils along their body.
You need to pay special attention to those long ears too, as they’re prone to infections. Clean them once a week at a minimum; you’ll also need to take special care to dry them thoroughly if your dog decides to take a dip.
Beyond that, most of their grooming requirements are fairly basic. Brush their teeth regularly, trim their nails as needed, and make sure their eyes stay clean and clear.
Health Conditions ❤️
Beagles are a fairly healthy breed, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have their fair share of problems. They’re especially prone to the following issues, so be on the lookout:
Male vs Female
In most dog breeds, you’ll find that the males are intently focused on play, making them incredibly needy when it comes to your attention. Females, on the other hand, are more laidback and willing to let you come to them.
It’s exactly the opposite with Beagles.
A female Beagle will play all day, while males are perfectly content to do their own thing. Be prepared to be constantly harassed for attention and affection by your girl dog, and don’t let your feelings get hurt if your boy puppy seems happy to ignore you.
Both genders can completely lose themselves in an intoxicating scent, however. They’re also both equally difficult to train.
As far as size differences, those are minimal, although males are usually an inch or two taller and a few pounds heavier.
Beagles are fantastic dogs, and that’s surely no secret, as they’re consistently one of the most popular breeds in America. These are true “Goldilocks” dogs: They’re not too laid-back nor too hyper, and they need only a moderate amount of exercise to thrive.
That’s not to say that they don’t have their flaws, of course. They’re easily distracted, which makes them difficult to train, and they can be extremely loud if they’re not taught better manners. They also have one-track minds when on a scent trail, which can cause them to get lost if they find a way to escape your home or yard.
All in all, though, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better dog than the reliable old Beagle.