07 Jul 2014
Beagles are one of the most popular breeds in the United States today and they’re dogs that nearly everyone can recognize. Cute and friendly, Beagles make great pets. Beagles are happy-go-lucky and they have a short coat that’s easy to care for. They’re the perfect dog for many people.
Small hounds, like the Beagle, date back to around the 16th century, when every English gentleman had his own pack of hounds for hunting. Larger hounds were used to follow deer while the smaller hounds were used to hunt rabbit. These smaller hounds became the first Beagles. The breed was further established in the 18th century when there was breeding to produce Foxhounds as distinct from Beagles. The breed as we know it today was set in type in the 19th century.
Beagles are a friendly, cheerful breed and they make an excellent family pet. They are gentle and love children and they are especially good at getting along well with other dogs. They love to be around people. Beagles tend to be very curious and they are also clowns. They like to entertain. However, if you are thinking of getting a Beagle you should know that these dogs are natural hunters and they will follow their nose wherever it leads. They have one of the keenest noses of any dog breed. Sometimes this means a Beagle will dig under a fence or try to escape in order to follow an interesting smell. If you are out walking your Beagle, keep a firm hold on the leash because if he sees a rabbit or squirrel he could race off after them. Beagles need plenty of daily activity and a good fence.
Beagles do have a “voice” and they are not recommended as apartment dogs unless you have very tolerant neighbors. They tend to bark or “bay” at times. In fact, the name “Beagle” may come from the French “be’geule” referring to the baying of the hounds when they are after game.
Beagles come in two height varieties – up to 13 inches at the shoulder and up to 15 inches at the shoulder. They may be any “true hound color,” including tri-color, red and white and lemon. (Here is a complete list of colors and marking for these dogs: http://www.akc.org/breeds/beagle/color_markings.cfm) They look like foxhounds in miniature and they are sturdy little hunting dogs. They are compact dogs with a short, hard coat. The coat is dense and it does shed quite a bit, though it’s easy to care for. If you run a brush over it once or twice a week it will cut down the shedding significantly. They generally weigh 20 to 25 pounds though, as a breed, Beagles are prone to overeating and gaining too much weight. Plenty of daily exercise is important for these dogs.
Beagles typically live 10 to 13 years but, like other breeds, there are some health problems that can appear in individual dogs. Some of the issues that can crop up include epilepsy, hypothyroidism, and dwarfism. “Funny puppy” – a developmental disorder seen in young Beagles – also can occur. Hip dysplasia occurs rarely. Disc problems with the back can occur. Possible eye problems include glaucoma and corneal dystrophy, as well as “cherry eye” and distichiasis where eyelashes grow into the eye and cause irritation. Retinal atrophy can also occur.
If you are interested in getting a Beagle puppy or any Beagle, be sure to talk to the breeder about health issues in the breed.
Beagles are smart dogs but they are not the easiest dogs to train. Their strong sense of smell will often cause them to be distracted during training. They can also be a little hard-headed and focused on whatever they are doing so they can ignore your commands at time, especially if they are investigating something. If your Beagle is off chasing something, you can forget about him coming when you call him, especially if he’s after a rabbit or some other prey. Fortunately, they are food-motivated so positive reinforcement methods using food as reward will give you a chance to train your Beagle to learn some basic obedience. They often excel as hunting dogs and in field work.