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Species group:

Other name(s): English Beagle

The basics:
Rated by the AKC as the fifth most popular purebred dog in the United States, the Beagle is one of the world's most highly regarded family dogs. They're adaptable, energetic, and seemingly always ready to work or to play. Worth noting: although it's a mid-sized breed these days, it's said that the Beagles of Henry VIII's time were pocket pets only 8-9" tall.

Documented to be owned by kings at least as far back as the 1300s, this ancient breed was developed as a hunting hound in Great Britain. They retain their hunting dog traits to this very day, including a keen sense of smell and a need to chase. As one of the most popular scent hounds, Beagles are currently being used to detect narcotics and contraband food products entering the United States.

Be aware that these dogs do have an instinct to chase and to run. They need exercise and lots of it. They're a good choice for the active family-- and a less good choice for people with limited time and space.

Appearance / health:
The Beagle reveals his loving personality through his eyes; he is a trustworthy friend to the family who is happy to romp and play with the children. What lies behind those warm hazel or brown eyes is valiant courage, hardiness and a staunch watchdog. Left alone, the Beagle may howl, but otherwise possesses what has been referred to as a “sweet” voice. Because of their natural hunting instincts and excellent scenting abilities, they should not be left alone for long periods of time and their outdoor area, while it does not have to be large, must be regularly and diligently inspected to ensure they cannot escape. The Beagle’s length is slightly longer than his height and he should be small and lean, with naturally drooping ears.

Little effort on your part is required to keep your Beagle’s short-haired, smooth coat in top condition. Because the Beagle typically has no coat odor, there is no need for frequent bathing; in fact, use of a dry shampoo is usually sufficient and, should you need to give your Beagle a water bath, be sure to use a mild shampoo and take extra care that his coat is rinsed free of any soap residue. Check his ears regularly for any signs of infection or ear mites. Trim his nails regularly. Brush him with a firm bristle brush.

Females will blow their coat after each estrus cycle and the male typically blows his coat once per year when the weather begins to warm. When this happens, a warm bath will hurry the shedding process and somewhat more frequent brushing will aide in keeping your Beagle tidy.

A backyard and some children or someone willing to go play a good game of fetch will satisfy most of your Beagle’s exercise needs. If you are an apartment dweller, he will require regular long walks and a romp in the local dog park. Ensuring a study collar and leash cannot be over-emphasized due, again, to his nature of following an interesting scent.

Beagles can be prone to heart disease, epilepsy, eye and back problems, chondroplasia, hip dysplasia, skin conditions, cleft palate, luxating patella, digestive ailments, reproductive disorders, hypothyroidism and obesity. Ears should be regularly checked and cleaned to avoid ear infections and ear mites, both of which are common in any dog with long, low, floppy ears.

Behavior / temperament:
Beagles are determined little dogs and are known for having minds of their own. Be careful when walking your Beagle as they love to follow their noses and tend to take off on their own exploration mission. Beagles do have a tendency to chew and dig, so extra care should be taken to ensure their outdoor area is secure and inescapable and follow this up with regular, closely spaced inspections. The majority of Beagles are little social butterflies who love interaction with almost anyone; but, there is the occasional Beagle that will prefer the security and quite of their own home environment.

The Beagle is easy-going, courageous, affectionate, sweet, gentle, curious, loving and loveable, sociable, intelligent, brave and an all-around little “tail wagger.” Because his watch-dog abilities are high he might be a little reserved with strangers, but that is not usually the case; typically the Beagle is very friendly with strangers as his guard-dog abilities are low. He does not like to be left alone, so please consider getting two of them if someone won’t be home most of the day. Always keep in mind that every dog is as individual as every person and will vary in matters of their personality.

With a learning rating of high, a problem solving rating of high, and an obedience rating of low, your Beagle will require firm, but patient, training and socialization and you will want to start his training and socialization as early as possible. Beagles respond well to basic obedience training, but cannot be said to be extremely easy to train.

Beagles can be a noisy dog. The loud bay that has delighted hunters for centuries can be a nuisance to neighbors and, occasionally, even to the family. This can be avoided by keeping your Beagle entertained and not leaving him alone for long periods of time. Occasionally, however, an interesting scent on the wind will trigger this baying instinct and that is just part of him being a Beagle. The Beagle will bark at anything (doorbells, arrival of strangers, the neighbors pets, activity in the neighborhood, wildlife in their field of vision), but are not known to be nuisance barkers who bark just for the sake of barking.

Is a Beagle right for you?

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What owners are saying about Beagle health

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What owners are saying about Beagle behavior and training

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Easy Going and Loud

When I turned eight I watched “Where the Red Fern Grows” and decided that I desperately needed a hound dog. I begin begging for a beagle, and my mother finally gave in and bought me one from a litter she found out of the newspaper. Understand that the beagle that I owned was...

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