Perhaps the most famous Beagle is Charlie Brown's dog, Snoopy. This spotted Beagle is one of the best loved cartoon characters in the world and there is a good chance that he contributed to this breed’s current popularity as a family dog.
Here you can read about the history of the breed, their appearance and characteristics. You can also learn how to raise your Beagle puppy and the grooming and feeding needs of Beagle dogs.
The history of Beagles
As early as the 1500s, this breed was used in the UK for hunting. They had a good nose and were small enough to be carried in a shoulder bag. Beagles were not usually not the only dogs taking part in the hunt. They were most often part of a pack of dogs tasked with tracking game like hares and rabbits.
Because they are so small, Beagle dogs were generally not used for attacking prey. Their loud barks would flush out the game, giving the hunters an opportunity to shoot. This breed is still used for this type of hunting, referred to as Beagling.
Because of their keen sense of smell, this breed is also used at customs control in a number of countries to sniff bags to detect contraband. Sadly, this is also the breed most often used as laboratory animals. Their gentle character makes them particularly suitable for scientific research.
The name Beagle comes from the word Beag, Beg or Beigh, which is Celtic for something small. The first records of this word in relation to this breed’s name date back to the time of Henry VII, who reigned between 1457 and 1509.
Beagle dogs’ appearance
Most Beagles are black, tan, and white. Some also have wheat and sand tones and, in exceptional cases, blue and grey tones. The tip of their tail is always white, as are their chest and muzzle.
This breed has a tight skin, without any wrinkles. Even when older, their skin remains tight, although some grey hairs might appear.
This is a medium-sized dog breed, reaching a height of 30-40 centimetres at the shoulder. A healthy adult Beagle weighs between 10 and 18 kilograms. While these dogs might not be very big, they have a very strong and solid build. Their paws are relatively large and athletic, which allows them to walk for a long time and over long distances.
Beagle character traits
There is almost no character trait that does not apply to Beagle dogs. On the positive side they are cheerful, affectionate, intelligent and active. On the other hand, they could be stubborn and independent. As a result, these dogs have many different needs.
You have to make sure that your dog is allowed outside often enough and that they get quite a lot of exercise daily. Once indoors, these dogs are very calm. Beagle puppies are often somewhat busier than average and you will need to keep them entertained and out of mischief. This might be difficult to believe because of their sweet appearance but proper training will ensure that you have a calm adult dog. If you are looking for a watchdog, a Beagle is not the right choice for you. They will always bark In potentially dangerous situations. However, they will never approach the danger or warn you in any other way. In general, these dogs are very friendly to strangers, so chances are that they will happily welcome unwanted visitors as well.
The ideal environment for Beagle Dogs
If there's one thing that Beagles hate, it's being alone. When they are left on their own they will bark, howl, and even cause destruction in your home. This won’t just annoy your neighbours, but is also unpleasant and stressful for your dog.
Generally you cannot teach these dogs to behave while they are alone. Even an adult dog can only be left alone for about 2 hours at a time, after a lot of training. Always make sure that another person or dog is there to keep them company when you have to go out. Unfortunately, if you already know that you won’t be at home most of the time, this is not the right breed for you.
Because the breed has a strong hunting instinct it does not get along very well with other small pets. Other dogs are not a problem, but they might see smaller animals like cats, rabbits and birds, as prey. Also keep an eye out for your neighbour's cat or other small animals who might walk around in your backyard. Children are no problem, these dogs love having a playmate to run and romp around with.
Raising a Beagle puppy
When you bring a Beagle puppy into your home, you should be fully available for at least three weeks to give them the necessary attention. Even more than other puppies, these pups really can’t be left alone and will panic if you are gone for more than 5 minutes.
You must train them from an early age to return to you when called to ensure that they will obey once they are adults. By nature, Beagles will always follow their instincts and chase other animals into the bushes. To prevent your dog from getting lost at some point, they must learn to come back to you when called. Keep your young dog on their leash until you are sure that they will always respond to your call.
There are two more traits that you need to consider in training. Firstly, these dogs must be taught not to eat everything in sight, not only while at home but especially while out walking. They will typically wolf down any leftover food they might pick up in the street.
The second trait that needs to be unlearned at a young age is barking. This breed is exceptionally vocal and might even bark for no reason at all, something you will have to discourage from a young age. Otherwise you might end up with an adult dog that barks all the time, which you will probably find most annoying.
The preferred way to train a puppy is to be consistent and to focus on rewarding good behaviour. If your dog is disobedient, ignoring them is the best approach. Also make sure there is enough variety in your training, otherwise your pup will get bored and lose focus, and maybe even run off and do their own thing.
Adult Beagles need a lot of exercise, but puppies are not ready for this yet. As a rule of thumb, they can exercise for one minute a day for every week of their age. This means that you can walk your 10-week-old puppy for 10 minutes a day. This breed is fully grown after a year, but you can also use the weight of 9 Kg as a guideline. In other words, once your dog weighs 9 Kg you can take them out for long walks. Finally, Beagles generally take longer than average to be completely housebroken. Your puppy could suddenly have an accident in the house after it hasn’t happened for a while. Don’t be too concerned about this as it will pass eventually. Also, don’t be too hard on your pup and just carry on with their potty training by taking them outside regularly.
Caring for Beagle dogs
Although this breed has a short coat, you should still brush them regularly to remove loose hair. Also check your dog’s ears at least once a week as all sorts of things could get stuck under their long ear flaps.
Furthermore, make sure that your dog gets enough exercise to stay in shape. With too little exercise, dogs don’t only risk putting on too much weight but they could also get restless. Watch your dog's weight by weighing them regularly. Because of this breed’s stocky build, it is not always easy to spot when they are gaining too much weight.
When it comes to walking, your adult dog needs at least one extended walk every day. Furthermore, because this breed is very intelligent, long walks provide them with the stimulation they need. For example, when you play a game of fetch while out walking. Also make sure that they have enough different toys to play with at home.
Feeding your Beagle
Originally, Beagles were usually part of a pack of dogs. As a result, they will often run for their food bowls - the last dog to reach the food risks finding an empty bowl. Even today, they still tend to eat greedily and too fast. Make sure that you don’t feed your dog too much and try not to reward good behaviour with treats all the time.
If your dog’s tendency of eating too fast causes problems, try to give smaller portions of food several times a day. Also always feed your dog at fixed times during the day. This way they will eventually learn that they get food regularly and that they don’t need to whine or bolt down their meal.
At Yarrah we have special dry dog food made from organic chicken, MSC fish and organic peas for small and medium dog breeds. This food contains slightly fewer carbohydrates than that for bigger dogs so your Beagle can enjoy a full bowl of food without having too much to eat. The kibble size is also slightly smaller so that it is easier for smaller dogs to chew.
Not sure how much to feed your dog? Then use the nutrition guide on each product page on the Yarrah website. You only have to indicate your dog’s weight and level of activity. For example, the dietary advice for an active dog weighing 12 Kg is 250 grams per day of kibble for small breeds.
Be careful not to give your dog too many snacks. Beagles are real foodies and once they get used to regular snacks, they will start whining for them. If you want to use snacks as a reward, choose small snacks that contribute to your dog’s daily nutritional requirements. For example, at Yarrah we have organic mini snacks for dogs, with 97% meat. They also contain only pure ingredients, without any artificial fragrances, colouring, flavours, pesticides or GMO. So you can give your dog a healthy, guilt free treat.
Beagle dog’s general health and lifespan
On average, this breed lives to between 12 and 15 years of age and they are not particularly prone to any diseases. Besides their tendency to put on too much weight, you also need to keep an eye out for a condition called the Beagle Pain Syndrome.
This is a very painful disease caused by inflammation of the spinal cord, the meninges and blood vessels. Fortunately, the symptoms are easy to recognize. If your Beagle puppy between the ages of 4 to 10 months is suddenly very calm, or even listless, you should visit your vet right away. The condition can be controlled with medication and, with early treatment, your dog should recover fully without any long-term consequences.