Beagle

Beagle

Energetic, lovable Beagles have a sweet disposition and friendly nature. They are considered smart and agreeable dogs and are popular companion animals. Their size and stamina make Beagles a wonderful choice as a hunting dog. Training Beagles may be difficult, but that is attributed to their independent streak rather than low intelligence. The breed is known for its taste for adventure and silly antics. The term 'beagle,' while historically used to describe hound-type dogs and later most hunting dogs, now refers to the modern Beagle breed.


Other Names

The Beagle may also be known as the English Beagle or the American Beagle, though there is only one Beagle breed.


Beagle Mixes

Beagle mixes are common in many shelters and rescues. A Beagle mix may present physical traits and temperament similar to a purebred Beagle, and most Beagle mixes are quite hound-like by nature. Specific traits cannot be guaranteed as its genetics are unknown. Most shelters do not do DNA testing, so breed assignment is usually based on appearance and any information shared when the dog is surrendered and may not be accurate.


Shelters and rescue groups often have many Beagle mixes and AKC registered Beagles available—especially in more rural areas. Even if a Beagle in a shelter is AKC registered, its temperament may differ from the breed standard due to unique genetics, experiences, training, and socialization.


Common Beagle mixes include various hounds and terriers, as well as Corgi, Pug, and Labrador Retriever.

Physical Description

Coat

The Beagle's medium-length coat is thick and coarse. The breed standard includes eleven colors in combinations of black, tan, and white. The most recognizable Beagle coloring is tri-color. A ticked marking is the one standard marking style. Beagles always have a white-tipped tail—the tip is the result of breeding and is meant to help hunters spot the dog when her nose is to the ground on the hunt.


Height

Average Height: 13-15 inches


Weight

Average Weight: up to 30 pounds

Breed Standard & History

A solid dog in two varieties, the 13-inch variety stands no taller than 13 inches, while the 15- inch stands between 13 and 15 inches. Long ears with a rounded tip rest close to the head. Gentle brown or hazel eyes. Sloped, muscular shoulders and a sturdy, well-built body.


AKC standards for a pack require dogs be cheerful, well-mannered, and uniform in appearance. – AKC Breed Standards


Hound dogs similar to the modern Beagle have been used since the fifth century, but there was no uniformity to these hunting dogs. The name 'beagle' was given to a variety of speedy, determined hounds used to hunt rabbits and hare. Tiny versions called pocket beagles—named as they were small enough to carry in a saddlebag while on the hunt—were kept through the Elizabethan era. References to beagle-type dogs have been made throughout history, with mention even in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, written in the 1600s.


A pack of Beagles more closely resembling the modern breed was bred in the 1830s, likely the result of pairing Northern Hounds and Southern Hounds, and possibly Harriers. Work to standardize the breed began in the 1840s, a pack of sturdy Beagles came to America in the 1860s, and the National Beagle Club formed in 1888. Different varieties of Beagles popped up throughout the breed's development; some have become their own breed and others are now extinct or have been absorbed into the modern Beagle standard.


AKC Breed Category

Hound Group

Personality

General Temperament

The determined Beagle is gentle and even-tempered, giving the breed a place both as a family pet and as a working dog. While smart and trainable, the Beagle is an independent thinker with a tendency to follow its nose rather than a request. Bred for the hunt, Beagles are eager to please but their enthusiasm is often misplaced if instinct takes over. They are loyal and loving and thrive on time spent with family—the breed can be destructive if left alone.


Family Life

Are Beagles Good with Kids? The gentle, friendly Beagle is considered a good match for children.


Are Beagles Good with Other Pets? Beagles are pack dogs and generally get along with other dogs. They often appreciate having other dogs in the home. Beagles also enjoy living with cats if introduced properly, though chasing is a favorite pastime of the Beagle and a cat who runs away will invite a chase.


Protective

The Beagle is an outgoing dog. While they may bark when a stranger approaches, they are not overly protective and will likely greet new people with their tail wagging. They do not possess the behaviors typical of a guard dog, but their loud bark may make them useful as a watchdog.


Energy Levels

The active Beagle has a medium energy level. The excitable breed appreciates activity and exercise.


Specific Concerns

  • Has a tendency to roam
  • Known to bark or bay
  • Often has separation anxiety
  • Can be stubborn

Requirements

Indoor

While the Beagle's size makes them a good fit for many living situations, the breed is often destructive when left alone. Separation anxiety is common in the breed and destructive behaviors or barking may annoy neighbors. They're suitable for apartment living if they are provided enough opportunity to walk, run, and play outdoors. They may be slow to housebreak. Exercise and time spent outside can help with these concerns.


Outdoor

A fenced yard is often necessary for the curious Beagle. Most will ignore a recall when their nose is to the ground. Even with a fenced yard, it is necessary to supervise a Beagle as they are known escape artists. They tend to climb or dig, and will chase squirrels or rabbits at any chance.


Exercise

The athletic, energetic Beagle is happiest with lots of exercise. The breed is prone to overeating, so regular exercise can prevent weight issues.


Endurance

Bred for the hunt, the Beagle has high endurance and enjoys any opportunity to run.


Activity distance rating

  • Running Miles: A healthy Beagle may have a range of about six miles at a moderate pace, or three to five at a quicker pace. They prefer to sprint rather than run long distances.
  • Hiking Miles: Sturdy, energetic Beagles can hike up to 10 miles if well conditioned. With training, Beagles can be good hiking companions, though a leash is often required or their instincts to chase or roam may take over.


Food

Beagles often overeat and are prone to weight gain. The general recommendation for how much high-quality dry dog food (based on average weight and activity level) to feed is 1 to 1 ½ cups of food per day, split between two or three meals.


Beagles can be possessive over their food and treats. Children should never be allowed to touch or remove food from any dog while it is eating.


Alone Time

Strong attachment to family and a tendency toward separation anxiety mean the social Beagle does best with family home. If she must be left alone for more than five hours, it may be helpful to have a dog walker spend time with her. Crate training may help prevent destructive behaviors and excessive barking when left alone.

Health and Grooming

Life Expectancy

10-15 years


Grooming

The Beagle's thick coat requires weekly brushing, perhaps more during heavy shedding periods, but is generally easy to care for. Their ears should be cleaned regularly to prevent ear infections. Regular bathing may be necessary to prevent the strong odors hounds are known for.


Common Health Issues

Beagles are generally healthy, though they may present breed-specific health concerns, including:


  • Hip dysplasia
  • Cherry eye
  • Epilepsy
  • Ear infections
  • Disk disease
  • Joint issues
  • Obesity

You can minimize serious health concerns in a Beagle by purchasing him from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.

Trainability

Basics

Eager to please and food motivated, the Beagle can learn basic obedience and be well-behaved. They are known for their stubborn streak and can be easily distracted, so they may not learn quickly. Boredom can be a trigger for stubbornness, so keeping training sessions short and offering praise for even small successes is ideal. Beagles may be slower to housebreak than other breeds.


Advanced Training

With patience and positive reinforcement, a Beagle can learn agility or advanced tricks, though they tend to be easily distracted. Their impressive sense of smell makes the Beagle a wonderful breed for scent work. Some pest control companies have even added Beagles to their team for bedbug sniffing.


Sporting Dog Training

The instinct to chase is strong, even in Beagles who have not been trained for hunting. Beagles make wonderful sporting dogs, especially in packs. They are ideal for small game hunting and as scent dogs. Their hanging lips and floppy ears help them catch a scent while they're on the hunt, and they won't hesitate to bay when they've found something.

Breed FAQ

Here are a few commonly asked questions about Beagles.

Explore Other Breeds

While many Beagle owners don't notice it, hound dogs are said to possess a distinctive odor. This scent is attributed to both their skin and fur, as well as their anal glands. This scent may help a Beagle identify members of its own pack. The breed also loves to roll in things—anything that smells interesting to them—when they're out for a run, which can add to the doggy odor. Regular bathing and grooming can help minimize an undesirable odor. Expressing anal glands may also help lessen unwelcome odors.

Many dogs snort, cough, and suck air through their nasal passages, this behavior is called the 'reverse sneeze.' Usually, this is of no concern and is similar to cleaning the throat. Beagles often display this behavior. It is likely caused by irritation or allergies and does not often require special care.

Beagles appear in pop culture regularly, in comic strips, movies, and cartoons, and as famous pets. Former President Lyndon B. Johnson kept Beagles in the White House, and Barry Manilow featured his own Beagle named Bagel on album covers. Comics, cartoons, and television shows have featured the lovable Beagle through the decades. The most famous comic strip Beagles are Snoopy in Peanuts and Odie in Garfield. Sci-fi fans may recall Porthos, Captain Archer's lazy and well-behaved Beagle from Star Trek: Enterprise. Shiloh was the beloved star of a children's book and film by the same name, and Inspector Gadget had a Beagle companion named Brains in the movies.