Beagles are among the most popular hound dogs in the United States. They were originally bred for hunting rabbits and hares owing to their good sense of smell and stamina.
They were imported from England to the United States in the 1870s by General Richard Rowett. This was to further breed them for superior features after being a big hit in Europe.
Beagles are compact, strong and sturdy dogs.
They come in two varieties; Those that grow to a maximum height of 13 cm and those that stand between 13 to 15 inches at the shoulders.
They weigh between 18 to 30 pounds depending on their height.
They share distinct features with the foxhound only that they are smaller.
They have a distinctive head and a long squared muzzle. Their ears have rounded tips, are long dropping to reach the end of the nose.
They have large expressive beautiful eyes that are either hazel or brown in color.
They have a high set tail that stands upright with a feathered end.
Their hair coat is medium in length and hard. It comes in various colors including traditional tricolor; lemon and white; red and white; chocolate; tan and white and the less traditional blue tricolor. They also come in a variety of shades and patterns.
Their front limbs stand straight while the hind limbs are more angled and muscular to give them more stamina while hunting.
They have a broad chest that is proportionate to the rest of the body while the shoulders slope downwards.
Beagles are very friendly, gentle and even-tempered. They get along with other dogs and work well in packs. For this reason, they usually view their new family as their packmates making them excellent family dogs for both couples and singles.
They enjoy the outdoors as they get the chance to make use of their sniffing abilities and to chase rodents.
They make poor security or guard dogs as they are overly friendly. However, their ability to howl and their high pitched barks make them excellent watchdogs. They also have musical voices and like to sing along to noises outdoors e.g. sirens.
They can be stubborn which can make them hard to train. This is coupled by their selective hearing making it hard for the owner to distinguish if they are being ignored or if their pooch can’t hear them.
They are also quite determined. Once they get wind of any scent it is difficult to deter them. They should, therefore, be kept on a leash while outdoors otherwise they can runoff or be placed within an enclosed yard.
They can be destructive if not given a chance to let off pent up energy . They require ample exercise and time outdoors. They are also prone to separation anxiety which can make them a nuisance by having prolonged periods of barking and howling as well as destroying things in the house or compound.
Beagles make perfect family dogs. They function best in packs and usually view their human family as their pack mates.
They also thrive around children or families with children. This means extra playtime and attention for them. Win!
Though they love the outdoors they better kept as house dogs indoors as they are prone to canine separation anxiety. They, therefore, cannot be left alone for long periods of time as they can turn destructive. If one has a busy schedule it would be wise to admit them to doggy daycare or have someone dog sit.
They also require ample exercise outdoors to release pent up energy as well as a chance to sniff and follow scents.
Beagles are naturally stubborn dogs. This makes them hard to train especially if done when older Training should start while they are puppies.
Early training is also beneficial in establishing a good relationship with their new ‘pack’.
It should be consistent and the owner should be very patient. It should be fun as beagles get bored and lose your attention pretty fast.
Just like other dogs, beagles should be socialized early for them to develop good well-rounded characteristics. This can be done by taking them to dog parks or puppy training classes.
It helps them to be more relaxed when around other dogs and new faces though they are naturally quite friendly and get along with other dogs.
Beagles are low maintenance dogs. Grooming should start when they are puppies to get them used to the routine.
A good bath helps to wash off built-up dander, dust and hair oils which if left for long can give off a bad smell. Use a moisturizing shampoo or conditioner to prevent stripping off their hair its oils which can cause dry skin which is prone to infections.
A bath brush is usually effective as it reaches down through the coat to the skin while a soft washcloth can be used for sensitive spots such as the eyes. Don’t forget to clean, the underbelly, genitals and around the tail area.
Their medium-length hard coat requires little brushing which can be done using a stiff bristle brush. To remove matted hair and to rid of dead hair especially during the shedding season use a grooming mitt or a de-shedding tool.
Nail clipping, teeth, and ear cleaning should also be done occasionally to keep them clean and in good health.
Beagles are prone to obesity as they eat whatever they are offered. Owners should be keen on offering a well-balanced diet and plenty of physical exercises to keep them at a healthy weight.
They are also prone topatellar luxation, glaucoma, epilepsy, central progressive retinal atrophy (CPRA), hypothyroidism, distichiasis, chondrodysplasia, cherry eye, and keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), deafness, cataract, hemophilia A, demodicosis, umbilical hernia, and inter-vertebral disk disease.
It is also advised to buy puppies from reputable breeders who have a good health history of the mother. This will help know which conditions the puppy is likely predisposed to later in life.