Tricoloured Beagle in typical pose

Beagle

I'm off then...following my hunting and eating instinct

The Beagle was bred as a British pack dog for hunting and this still strongly influences his character. The Beagle is almost always a good-tempered, gentle and happy dog that should never be aggressive. As a pack dog he shows great friendliness towards people and children and is therefore very suitable as a family dog. On the other hand, he has a strong hunting and eating instinct, a lot of energy and great independence, which can be seen as stubbornness when trained. You should also know that Beagles, who are very sociable, do not like to be left alone. This breed of dog is often not quiet either; expect loud barking and even howling.

Top Facts

  • Hunting and pack dog: Strong hunting instinct and very greedy
  • Good-humoured, gentle and happy character
  • Always with my pack: Beagles don't like to be alone
  • Needs consistency: not a beginner's dog
  • Pack howling is rather undesirable in everyday life
  • Intelligent bundle of energy: exercise and task needed

Breed Overview

Height
33,0 - 40,0 cm
Weight
10,0 - 18,0 kg
Life Expectancy
10 - 13 years
Use as
Hunting and companion dog
Origin
Great Britain
Coat
short, often strikingly tricoloured
Personality
Good-humoured, gentle, active, greedy, independent

Personality

"I'm off then" - Waiting for the Beagle

Beagles are primarily hunting and pack dogs whose task historically was to persistently pick up and follow the scent of hares, primarily as part of a pack, while the hunting party followed on foot or on horseback.

So any Beagle can have a very strong hunting instinct. If you intend to use your Beagle for hunting, this is a great thing. If not, it is a different story. Once he has discovered hunting - and sooner or later he will - the only thing that helps is either a drag leash or very good and consistent training, possibly anti-hunting training.

It is also helpful if you offer your Beagle other common activities that he enjoys. Tracking work or search games for example, but also dog sports such as agility, dog dancing, flyball, man-trailing or obedience.

Always with the pack...

As he independently roams around outside, he knows that his humans are close by. But if he is left alone at home, the Beagle can mutate into a drama queen. Because as a pack dog you are never alone. Therefore, training should be early, consistent and gentle.

Why are Beagles little eating machines?

Beagles were always fed in a group; the food had to be devoured quickly so that the individual Beagle got his share. Most Beagles gobble and are insatiable.

Many Beagles are independent and inventive in their search for food: they steal like magpies, rummage in rubbish bins and sniff out everything imaginable to eat outside. He might be ignoring his humans, but it can also mean that the Beagle - once again - is on the move on his own.

This can be dangerous, especially with poisoned bait or inedible food. That's why consistent training is often essential with the little eating machines. But there is also one good thing to say on the subject: Beagles are easy to train with food!


Independent and intelligent also means: I have my own mind

When a Beagle has set his mind to something, he is good at ignoring his humans. This can be the case indoors as well as outdoors. If they have food or hunting instincts, they can quickly go deaf to the plight of their owners. On the other hand they can be very demanding when they are not getting what they want. This requires a lot of love and patience from the owner.

Beagles are not quiet dogs

The beagle's pack howl is rather undesirable, whether out for a walk or alone at home. The Beagle is a loud dog that can yelp on its own, announce new things with a yelp and enthusiastically chase yelping after other dogs in a game. The very cheeky ones bark and demand something like: "come on, let's go for a walk" or "I want some of that delicious food".

Sporty people wanted: persistent and full of energy

Beagles need lots of exercise and are full of energy and stamina. If they don't get enough exercise for body and mind, they can become a nuisance.

Why do we love Beagles so much?

The answer is simple: Beagles are very lovable and almost always in a good mood and happy. They are very gentle and are wonderful with their humans, as long as they are well trained and properly exercised. It is fun to work with them, but that is exactly what is needed for a nice relationship, especially with a Beagle. Of course, not every Beagle has all these qualities equally, though there is a general tendency in this direction.

The description of the Beagle's character in the FCI breed standard fits this portrayal, but it leaves out what it means when you do not want to keep a Beagle as a hunting dog: "A cheerful dog, whose main purpose is to hunt, mainly hares, by following the scent, fearless, extremely lively, with tenacity and determination. Alert, intelligent and of even temperament. Amiable and alert, showing no signs of aggressiveness or timidity."

Intelligence

Beagles are very independent and intelligent dogs who have to find their own solutions when hunting.

Attention

They are extremely attentive and eager to work, though primarily when it comes to a task similar to hunting. They can also be terribly stubborn because of their independence.

Exercise needs

Due to their origins as hunting and running dogs, Beagles are very tenacious and persevering and require 2-3 hours of exercise per day.

Time required

Beagles have strong endurance and high energy levels. As running dogs, they require 2-3 hours of exercise per day and need to be both physically and mentally exercised. They are curious and want to learn new things.

On the other hand, the grooming requirements are quite low due to their short coat. Their hunting instinct means consistent training is necessary. Therefore, despite its friendliness and manageable size, the Beagle is not a dog breed that simply "runs alongside".

Training

Hunting management of the Beagle

As a hunting dog, a Beagle feels happy when he is given the opportunity to pursue his passion. The Beagle is recognized by hunters for his unique bark which is called a bay. This distinctive sound can be heard deep within the woods. Beagles have a strong will to search.

For drag hunts the Beagle is a popular pack dog, but it is also used as a lone hunter. He is definitely not a retriever, but he is very fond of water.

Other activities and training for a Beagle that is not used for hunting

If you don't want your Beagle to hunt, there are dog sports which make use of the Beagle's excellent nose and intelligence.

  • Any kind of nose work, from simple search games to tracking, dummy training or man-trailing, will keep your Beagle enthusiastic and busy..
  • Agility
  • Flyball
  • Obedience
  • Dogdancing
  • Trickdogging 
  • Therapy dogs

Suitable for flats

With appropriate mental and physical exercise Beagles can be suitable for a flat, despite their high energy. However, a large garden with appropriate fencing would be preferable.

Loyalty & friendliness

Beagles are very loyal and devoted to their "pack" and are very socially minded. At the same time they are bred to be independent when hunting and demonstrate this clearly in the open fields.

Hunting drive

The Beagle naturally has a very strong hunting instinct and many Beagles, despite consistent training, can only take part in walks with a lead (possibly a drag line). Beagles are known to be extremely resourceful in breaking out of fenced gardens as soon as they smell a scent and want to indulge their hunting instinct. Many an effort has been made to ensure that the Beagle does not escape the garden, as Beagles are adept at undermining fences and are also good jumpers.

Staying alone

As a pack dog, a Beagle does not like to be alone. Certainly, with consistent training and patience, these dogs can be made to stay home alone, but it is definitely more difficult than with other dog breeds. Beagles can be quite stubborn here, becoming exhausting both with their pack howling and their destructive behaviour.

Note: No dog should be left alone for more than four hours at a time.

Barking

Beagles howling in a pack are certainly familiar to many from films and so forth, but an individual beagle can also be very loud with his persistent howling.

Alertness

Beagles are very alert and make a noise as soon as they hear something strange. From this point of view they are good watchdogs.

Protecting

However, Beagles do not make good guard dogs because of their friendliness and their size

Dog-friendly

Beagles are friendly towards other dogs and as pack dogs are very social.  This requires good socialisation from puppyhood onwards.

Pet-friendly

Provided the Beagle is accustomed to other animals such as cats in good time, he can be compatible with them. However, his strong hunting instinct can also be transferred to cats if he is not already socialised in puppyhood

Kid-friendly

Are Beagles good family dogs?

Beagles are universally considered to be friendly family dogs that always want to be around and, due to their lack of aggression, are also very well suited to children.

Children should learn how to handle dogs and not see them as toys (and allow them to have a rest when needed).

Children should never be left alone with dogs.

Openness to strangers

After initial reticence, Beagles quickly become well compatible with strangers.

Character & Compatibility

Personality
Intelligence
Attention
Exercise needs
Training
Loyalty
Barking
Alertness
Suitable for...
Living in a flat
Hunting
Staying alone
Protecting
Beginners
Compatible with...
Dogs
Other pets
Children
Strangers

Health and Care

Healthy and robust dogs with slight weaknesses

By pedigree, most Beagles are a rather healthy and robust breed of dog.

However, some hereditary diseases are more common in them than in other dog breeds and are tested for by reputable breeders. While these tests do not rule out the possibility that these diseases will not occur, they do reduce the risk.

Due to their gluttony, Beagles tend to be overweight.

Robustness

With a healthy diet and sufficient exercise, Beagles are considered robust and easy to care for.

Health Problems

If you want to buy a Beagle puppy, look for responsible breeders. They will have the parents examined and tested for breed-specific diseases. Ask the breeder about the health tests and health certificates of the parents.

These diseases are more common in Beagles than in other dog breeds:

  • Pulmonary stenosis (congenital heart disease)
  • Hound Ataxia (Wobbler Syndrome), gait becomes wobbly due to damaged nerves in the spinal cord or cervical spine.
  •  Meningitis-arteritis (Beagle Pain Syndrome) - inflammatory disease of the spinal cord in dogs
  •  Lafora epilesia (genetic disease in which glucose cannot be converted into glycogen).

These diseases are less common in Beagles but still more common than in other dog breeds

  • Bleeding tendency: Factor VII deficiency
  • Brittle bone disease (osteogenesis imperfecta)
  • Imerslund-Gräsbeck Syndrome (IGS) - Vitamin B12 cannot be absorbed from food.
  • Musladin-Lueke syndrome (MLS), skin and joints
  • Neonatal cerebellar abiotrophy (NCCD) - disturbance of motor function and balance
  •  Pyuvate kinase deficiency
  • Deafness and hearing loss
  • Obesity, diabetes due to poor nutrition
  • Eye diseases such as:
    • Glaucoma
    • Cataract
    • Corneal dystrophy
    • Nictitating gland prolapse (cherry eye)
    • Retinal dysplasia

Heat tolerance

The Beagle does not tolerate heat very well.

Cold tolerance

Winter cold rarely bothers the Beagle, as long as he can move around a lot.

Grooming

Grooming is not very demanding for a Beagle. The short, dense coat should be brushed occasionally.

Occasional baths can be beneficial if the Beagle has rolled in something smelly.

The claws should be checked regularly and trimmed if necessary. Floppy ears are generally more prone to dirt and infection than prick ears. They should be looked at weekly and mildly cleaned if necessary to prevent parasites and inflammation.

Bathing

Dogs do not need to be bathed and shampooed regularly. However, after a hunting or hiking trip with your Beagle, or after extensive rolling in fox poo, for example, an occasional bath with a mild dog shampoo may be necessary.

Combing & Brushing

Beagles shed moderately throughout the year, but naturally more during the spring coat change. Therefore, weekly brushing is generally advisable and more frequently in spring.

Shedding

Beagles shed moderately throughout the year, but naturally more during the spring coat change.

Clip & Trim

Beagles do not need to be clipped or trimmed.

Hypoallergenic

Beagles shed and are therefore not a dog breed that is particularly suitable for allergy sufferers.

According to the latest findings, there is no dog breed that is 100% hypoallergenic, i.e. cannot cause allergies in humans. Basically, every person and their allergy is individual and it is always advisable to test for allergies or suspected allergies before purchasing a dog.

Drooling

Due to their relatively long snout, Beagles do not tend to drool. However, they may drool when begging, as they are very greedy.

Health & Care

Health
Robustness
Heat tolerance
Cold tolerance
Health Problems
Hypoallergenic
Grooming
Bathing
Brushing
Shedding
Clipping & Trimming
Drooling

Nutrition

I am never full - watch out for Beagles becoming overweight

The Beagle's diet, as with all living creatures, has a very great influence on his health. Be sure to feed him a balanced and natural diet.

As pack dogs Beagles are extremely greedy, because in a pack, only those who quickly devour their share will be full. A Beagle is basically always hungry and will gladly steal and beg - if you let him. However, the Beagle, with its great urge to move, is also allowed to eat corresponding amounts.

The treats used for training should be deducted from the daily ration.

As responsible dog owners, you should make sure that your dog maintains a healthy weight whilst eating all the important nutrients in optimal amounts and types. Overweight dogs can lose up to 20% of their lifespan. Therefore, the amount and type of food should always be adjusted to the size and exercise level of the dog.

Greediness

All Beagles, as pack dogs, are gluttons, because in a pack only the one who knows how to devour his share quickly will be full.

Appearance

Floppy ears, compact and tricoloured

The Beagle is a small, robust and compact dog with a short and weather-resistant coat. Beagles are usually between 33-40 cm tall and weigh between 10-18kg. Beagles have floppy ears and always have a white tail tip, which they wear raised straight up when working. The so-called "white flag" was bred by clever hunters, as it enabled them to keep the Beagle in sight while hunting and to distinguish it well from their prey.

Their eyes are relatively large, which makes them look particularly cute and caters to the popular preference for dogs with wide child-like eyes.

Eye colour

Brown

Coat

The Beagle has a short, dense and weather-resistant coat.

Coat Colour

Few dog breeds have such a wide range of colours as the Beagle. A white tail is required in breeding, but colours can vary greatly. Most commonly they are tricoloured in black, brown and white; less often in blue, white and brown.

However, they can also have the following colours recognized by the UK Kennel Club:

  • Badger Pied
  • Badger Pied Mottlle
  • Black & White
  • Black & White Mottle
  • Blue White & Tan
  • Blue White & Tan Mottle
  • Hare Pied
  • Hare Pied Mottle
  • Lemon & White
  • Lemon & White Mottle
  • Lemon Pied
  • Lemon Pied Mottle
  • Red & White
  • Red & White Mottle
  • Tan & White
  • Tan & White Mottle
  • Tricolour
  • Tricolour Mottle
  • White

They may be spotted. However, other colours are not permitted according to the breeding associations.

 

History and origin

The ancestors of the Beagles were bred 600 years ago in England

FCI-Classification

No. 161

Origin

Great Britain

History

The Beagle is a very old breed of dog, originally descended from the extinct Celtic Bracke, as were many of the running dog breeds of Europe. Beagles were bred as hunting dogs primarily for pack hunting on foot for hares..

English royalty loved Beagles as early as the time of King Henry VIII (1491-1547) and his daughter Elizabeth I (1533-1603) and kept a pack of Beagles. There are occasional reports here of rough-coated beagles, some of which were so small that they could be carried in the pocket of a hunting jacket. By today, of course, the size has greatly increased and the "dwarf beagles" or "pocket beagles" are considered extinct in the UK.

Where do beagles get their name from? Do they mean little loudmouths?

The origin of the name of the dog breed "Beagle" is not clear, but there are two expert opinions that are often quoted:

  1. "Beagle" comes from the Gaelic word "beag", which means small. This is because the beagle used to be one of the smallest hunting dogs.
  2. "Beagle" comes from the French "gueule", which stands for mouth, muzzle, roar, shout. The term thus refers to pack howling and barking and could be translated as "loud mouth".

Beagle in the USA

From 1865 (end of the Civil War) the first imports of Beagles into the USA took place. In 1885 the breed standard was recognised by the American Kennel Club (AKC). By the way, the first Beagle registered in the USA was called "Blunder".

Snoopy - the most famous Beagle

Probably the most famous Beagle is the cartoon character Snoopy. Snoopy was "born" by the American cartoonist Charles M. Schulz in 1950, who used a beagle as a model for this world-famous dog character from the Peanuts comics.

Beagles have also made a name for themselves in politics

Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th President of the United States (1963-1969) owned several Beagles. The most famous were "Him" and "Her", both of which unfortunately did not live very long. Later he also owned "Edgar" and "Freckles".

Suffering as laboratory dogs

Because of their good nature and their robustness, Beagles are a popular dog breed for animal experiments and laboratories. Most lab dogs are Beagles or Beagle mixes. While there are growing voices to ban the use of these animals for experimental purposes and organisations are campaigning for Lab Beagles, currently (2020) this is unfortunately still common practice.

Beagle summary

Beagle - lovable runner with his own interests.

As original pack dogs, Beagles bring qualities such as their loud bark, a possibly strong hunting and eating instinct, great independence, lots of energy and stamina, and they don't like to be left alone. All this can be quite demanding in training. However, as lively, gentle and friendly dogs of medium size, you just can't help but love them.

Therefore, the Beagle is suitable for very consistent, loving and, above all, sporty people who like to exercise and enjoy nature with their dogs.

Restrictions

Beagles are not listed dogs.

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