It often happens that when a breed wins a large show such as Westminster or appears in a feature film such as 101 Dalmatians, the public runs out and decides that the featured breed is the perfect kind of dog for their family. Cute, cuddly, perfect. They are basing this decision on what they saw on the screens in front of them, and not actual research into the breed that they now own. About 6 months down the line, breed rescues are inundated with adolescent puppies who have been given up – usually due to behaviors that are typical to the breed. (NPR Radio just did a piece on this subject. To listen to it click here). With Uno the Beagle’s big Westminster win, we can see this trend about to happen again. So we’d like to bring you a list of facts about the breed and what it is like to actually live life with one of these little hounds.
They Come in 2 Sizes: Beagles come in a 13 inch and a 15 inch size. They come in many colors including black, tan, white, lemon, red and any combination of the colors.
Photo by vantes
They Can Be Escape Artists: Because Beagles are scent hounds (bred to track game), they often desire to follow the “trail” out of a place of confinement! This can mean climbing over or digging under a fence. For this reason they should never be left unattended in a yard. If a Beagle catches a scent – no matter how well trained – no matter how loudly you yell “come”, he will not come back. It is his instinct to track and he is only doing what he is bred to do. It is your responsibility to keep him safe at all times.
Garbage Hounds: That nose will get them into trouble. The sniffer will pick up everything – rotten food at the bottom of the trash can, kitty litter, garbage on the sidewalk. Beagles are notorious for wanting to get into everything and will often want to devour it.
Photo by Christina Welsh
Positive Reinforcement is the Way to Go: Because of the Beagle’s stubborn nature, negative training techniques aren’t going to get you anywhere with these dogs. The louder you yell and the angrier you get, the less your dog will learn. Using food motivation and praise during training is the way to work your magic with this breed. With lots of time and patience a Beagle can excel in obedience and even dog sports such as agility (and tracking, of course!)
They Have A Powerful Voice and Will Use It!: A Beagle’s bark is called a “bay”. It sounds like an “Awooo” type noise and it is unmistakable once you hear it! Beagles will bark if they hear another dog, out of boredom, if they are unhappy, at dinner time, to get your attention, if they see a squirrel, etc. While there are exceptions to every rule, most Beagles are too vocal to be good apartment dogs. In a situation with shared walls, you will probably end up with unhappy neighbors.
Not Ideal With Toddlers: Beagles are small dogs who are extremely food motivated. If a child is too close to a Beagle’s bowl or is trying to hand the dog a treat, it may receive a nasty nip. Beagles are also quite exuberant about jumping and can easily knock over a toddler. It is a very hard behavior to correct in this breed. These dogs are reccommended for homes with children above the age of 6.
Coat Care: Beagles do have a short coat, but they are shedding dogs and do so quite a bit. They should be brushed once or twice a week to remove all the dead hair and keep their coats healthy.
Photo by Yaletown Yuppie
They Can Become Couch Potatoes: Because of their propensity for food, Beagles often suffer from obesity. They *must* get an adequate amount of exercise and stay on a healthy diet in order to stay fit and trim!
Beagles with Jobs: In the mid-1980s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recruited Beagles to sniff out prohibited food being brought into the United States through airports. These dogs were known as the â€œBeagle Brigade”. They sniffed baggage to detect food articles that could be harboring pests that would endanger the nation’s native crops. Beagles were chosen because the USDA wanted dogs that could do the job without intimidating travelers.
Strange Health Issues: There are 2 health conditions that are unique to Beagles. The first is Funny Puppy Syndrome, where a puppy is slow to develop and eventually develops weak legs, a crooked back and is prone to a range of illnesses. The other is a syndrome where the eyes are slanted and the outer toes are not developed correctly but otherwise the dog is normal.
A Well Trained Beagle Can Be A Great…: Therapy Dog! Because of their small size and gentle demeanor, these dogs can be excellent therapy companions. They are ideal guests at hospitals and nursing homes because of their outgoing temperaments and funny personalities.
They love friends: Because Beagles were bred to hunt in packs, they are usually excellent with other dogs and cats. They enjoy companionship and even thrive on it.
Photo by Darth Panda
Here is a time-lapse video of what a Beagle did when left alone for an 8 hour time period!:
As you can see, he’s not too thrilled. These dogs need companionship and won’t thrive if left by themselves for long periods of time.