Beagle: Breed Facts & Temperament
The Beagle is a laid-back breed that has the ability to be an excellent hunting dog thanks to their superb sense of smell but they are equally happy as a family pet. They are classed as a medium-sized dog and have a muscular, stocky physique. You will recognize them instantly from their cute facial features and a natural pleading expression that few humans can resist!
Thanks to their low maintenance requirements, adorable appearance and gorgeous personalities they are the fifth most popular breed in the US today. Here’s all you need to know about the Beagle and their temperament.
History of the Beagle
The Beagle breed has been around for centuries and may even have evolved from the pack hounds of Roman times. Dogs very similar to today’s Beagles were used for hunting hares in England as far back as the 1300s but were first referred to as Beagles in 1475. The name is thought to be based on the French word for open throat thanks to the musical sound that the dogs make when they bay. Others claim that it comes from the Celtic word for small.
The Beagle as we know them today were bred in the 1800s in England as hunting dogs. They were imported to the US and cross-bred with similar dogs to create the American Beagle that e are no familiar with. They were first recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885 and in 1888, the National Beagle Club was set up. Today, they are a very popular US pet.
Things You Should Know About the Beagle
You can’t go far wrong with this lovely natured, happy-go-lucky breed that requires very little in the way of specialist knowledge or maintenance. However, as with all breeds, you should think carefully and do your research before you welcome one to be a part of your family. Here are the main things that you should bear in mind.
The first thing you must realize before attempting to train your Beagle is that they will like to please you – but not that much! They are not one of the devoted breeds whose sole purpose in life is to make you happy. In fact, your Beagle will not be that bothered if you are pleased or not and that can make training a challenge, especially for first-time dog owners.
It is essential that your pup learns that you are the boss and this must start as soon as you get them back home. You need to be very firm and consistent about teaching them routines and expected behavior and this is best achieved using word commands. Your pup must learn to respect you because you are the leader of the pack and not because you always offer tasty treats. Snacks can be of limited use but they don’t always work as a training incentive for Beagles because they will ignore them (and you) if they are not hungry.
It is strongly recommended that you take your Beagle pup to a puppy training class where they can learn socialization with other dogs and a professional can help you to steer them away from undesirable behavior. You may have to try a few different techniques before you find one that works for your particular dog. The earlier you start these classes the better. Beagles never respond well to harsh training techniques but if you are patient and use positive reinforcement you will get there in the end.
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You don’t have to worry too much about your Beagle’s diet because they will happily eat anything. You have the option of buying commercially prepared dog food or preparing your own. Dietary requirements will change as your pup grows so always consult your vet about the best food for your dog based on their age. Beagles are naturally active dogs and so they burn up a lot of calories but it is possible for them to over-eat and they can become obese. This can happen very quickly and is very bad for their health so it should be avoided.
You will probably find it easier to split their daily food portion into two and feed them in the morning and in the evening. This can prevent then getting very hungry and scavenging in the garbage etc. for food scraps.
Beagles are a hunting breed and are happiest when they are romping around the countryside. You may find that they are not the breed for you if you live in an apartment and rarely go out. It is likely that they will become bored and frustrated and this will show itself as unwanted and destructive behavior.
They need plenty of exercise and playtime and preferably you should have a yard or garden where they can run around off the leash. Remember that they are hunting dogs so if you let them off the leash in your local park, they are very likely to run away if they pick up the scent of something interesting!
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Beagles are pack animals and love to be with other dogs. However, it is still important that you provide them with plenty of company from a young age. Puppy classes are a great way to meet other dogs and their owners.
They will like nothing more than a trip to the park where they can meet up with their doggy pals.
The Beagle coat is fairly low-maintenance compared to some of the longer-haired breeds. Beagles can be several different combinations of shade including pied, white, brown, red and black. Their coat is of a medium length and is not very dense. It is also straight and smooth rather than wiry. They would be classed as a medium shedder so you will have some clearing up to do and they are not hypoallergenic so they will not suit people who have a dog-hair allergy.
In terms of maintenance, you will need to get a soft rubber curry brush and groom your pooch once a week to remove any dead hair and encourage healthy growth. Your Beagle will not give you too much of a problem with their doggy odor so a bath every four to six weeks will be plenty. If you bathe them more often it can result in an overproduction of oils and this can cause skin problems. Just wipe them down if they are muddy after a country walk. However, their ears are floppy and can get very dirty especially if they spend a lot of time outdoors. You should wipe their ears with a soft cloth to avoid dirt and debris causing ear infections.
It would also be wise to invest in a nail clipper because their nails need to be trimmed every three to four weeks. Overgrown nails can cause discomfort and difficulties with walking.
Dental care is very important for all breeds so you will need to brush your Beagle’s teeth regularly. Also, provide healthy snacks that will scrape the plaque off the teeth and consult your vet if you have any concerns.
Beagles are considered to be one of the healthier breeds. Provided you give them plenty of exercise and feed them a healthy and balanced diet, you are unlikely to encounter huge vet’s bills. They have a lifespan of around 12 to 15 years.
However, they obviously can suffer from some health issues are here is a summary of the conditions that Beagles suffer from most often.
- Patellar luxation – an inherited condition where the patella (knee cap) moves out of its normal position. Some cases can be treated with surgery.
- Glaucoma – this causes squinting, watery eyes and bulging. If left untreated, it can cause blindness.
- Epilepsy – primary epilepsy in Beagles is an inherited condition and the seizures typically start at six months old. It can be controlled with medication but the seizures can be fatal.
- Dental problems – this starts with a build-up of plaque and can develop into bleeding and a loss of teeth.
- Diabetes – this is common in Beagles and may require daily insulin injections to control blood sugar levels.
- Cherry eye and keratoconjunctivitis sicca – this is caused by extra hairs growing inside the eyelid and causing irritation. It can lead to corneal ulcers.
- Deafness – this could result from ear infections so it is important to check under your Beagle’s floppy ears for signs of a problem.
- Cataracts – these are common in older Beagles and can be corrected with surgery.
- Hemophilia A – this is a bleeding disorder that prevents the blood from clotting correctly. A test is available for this condition.
- Beagle Pain Syndrome – this affects Beagle pups of around five months old. It is a type of meningitis and causes severe neck pain and depression. It can be treated with steroids.
- Intervertebral disk disease – the discs between the vertebra rupture and cause a great deal of pain. Surgery is often required.
- Congenital heart defect – these can be detected in an annual heart health check and some can be treated with medication.
- Hip dysplasia – the hip joints do not form properly and this leads to arthritis. Obese dogs suffer more pain and surgery may be needed.
- Liver disorders – Beagles can suffer a liver disorder called Copper Hepatopathy. It causes toxic levels of copper to build up and trigger liver failure if it is not treated early.
- Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s Disease) – this is a problem with the adrenal glands that develops slowly and results in a high concentration of steroid hormone in the body. Symptoms include drinking and urinating very often and it is treated with medication.
- Cancer – because Beagles live longer than many other breeds, they are more likely to develop cancer. Some cancers can be treated with chemotherapy or surgery.
If you notice any changes in your Beagles appearance or behavior it is always wise to get them checked out by your vet.
It’s not hard to work out why so many US families have chosen a Beagle as their family pet. The breed is extremely laid back and easy to be around. They are very friendly and hassle-free. They love to be with people and with other dogs and they crave companionship. The advantage of this is that they will love being with you and are very suitable pets for families with children of all ages. They are very tolerant and will put up with the enthusiastic attention of young children. The downside is that they will not like to be left alone when you are all out at work and school and this can lead to behavioral issues and frustration.
They also love exercise and spending time outdoors so they are ideal pets for families that love long walks in the countryside. They do need quite a lot of exercise so you need to be sure that your lifestyle can accommodate this. However, once you are out in the countryside you may find that your Beagle is rather independent and may wander off following their nose rather than spending time with you. Also, be prepared for several holes to appear in your garden because Beagles do love to dig!
There can be a conflict with cats in the home or those who stray into your garden! You can help to overcome this with early socialization. They can also bark, howl and bay a little more than you’d like and early training techniques are needed to deal with this annoying character trait.
Beagles can be stubborn when it comes to training so be prepared for it to take some time and to call in some professional help.
Overall, the Beagle is a trouble-free and charming breed that is universally well-liked. Provided you are firm with your training techniques from a young age and give them sufficient exercise and stimulation, they will make the perfect family pet.