Beagles have had a place in the hearts and homes of dog parents for hundreds of years—it doesn’t take much research to find out why. When it comes to their intelligence and personality, Beagles are well-rounded dogs. They get along splendidly with about anyone who will give them an ear scratch, and they will just as happily join you for a walk in the woods or a nap on the couch.
There’s a reason Beagles are one of the most popular family dogs—they are extremely friendly. Although your Beagle will alert you if someone is approaching the door, the second that person walks into your home, your dog will most likely see that person as their new best friend.
Even though this breed is a great choice for singles and couples of any age, families are often drawn to these hound dogs because they do great with children and other pets in the household. After bringing a Beagle into your home, you must teach your children (especially those of a younger age) how to interact with their new four-legged family member. Beagles can be quite protective of their food, and they can get mouthy when they want to play. Although Beagles are about as far away from being aggressive as one can be, these protective or mouthy behaviors can be scary to kids. As a good rule of thumb, all interactions between young kids and your Beagle should be supervised.
Because Beagles are so friendly, it comes as no surprise that they adore being around others, whether that is other dogs or people. This breed is not one that does well with being left alone for long hours every day. An isolated Beagle can become destructive or bored, and a bored Beagle often means a loud Beagle. Like many other hound dogs, Beagles seem to enjoy barking, howling, and baying. They will do so excessively if they are left alone—a habit your neighbors will definitely not appreciate.
Beagles are perhaps happiest when they are roaming in their backyard (which must be fenced-in) or when they are being taken for a walk. Activities like these give your dog mental and physical stimulation, and it allows them to put their nose to work. There’s a reason that Beagles are often referred to as “a nose with four legs.”
Beagles have one of the most powerful noses among dogs, which is why they have been used for hunting dogs for over 500 years. However, once a Beagle picks up on a scent that interests them, they will only think with their nose, and their listening abilities diminish greatly. It is because of this that your little super-sniffer friend should never be outside off of their leash unless they are in a securely fenced-in area.
It isn’t easy to trace all the way back to when these dogs first came into existence, but there is some evidence that a dog similar to the modern-day Beagle existed in 400 B.C.
It wasn’t until the 1300s that more records existed about this breed. Popular in England, hunters used these dogs for hunting small game, such as rabbits. Even though Beagles have been around for centuries, their physical appearance has remained nearly the same for their entire existence, except for one major difference.
Sometime between the 16th and 19th centuries, a new size of Beagle quickly gained popularity. Known as Pocket or Glove Beagles, these miniature hounds measured only 8-9 inches to their shoulder, while a regular Beagle stood around 13-15 inches. As a result of their smaller stature, these dogs ran much slower than their taller counterparts, but that turned out to be the exact reason people wanted them.
People who did not hunt frequently (which was typically women or older individuals) found that following a slightly slower dog was better suited for their skill level. Plus, for hunters that chose to travel by foot instead of by horse, they found that it was much easier keeping track of a slower canine and much less work carrying these smaller dogs.
Right around this same time, more and more Beagles were being imported to America. Various American breeders took an interest in these talented dogs, and they have been thriving in the States ever since. Over the years, Beagles have become sought-after hunting dogs, prize-winning show dogs, and loving family dogs. Beagles have appeared in comic strips, cartoons, movies, television shows, and some have even lived in the White House.
Around the 1700s, fox hunting became popular in England, and many hunters began replacing their Beagles with Foxhounds. Had it not been for farmers in England, Wales, and Ireland who continued to breed Beagles for rabbit hunting, these dogs could have gone extinct.
Before adopting a Beagle, many people have questions about the breed that they first want answered. Some common questions include,
The life expectancy for a Beagle is between 10-15 years. This number can be greatly affected by your dog’s overall health, including their exercise routine, their diet, and whether they have any health conditions.
Classified as a medium dog breed, Beagles should weigh around 20-35 pounds. Every dog is unique, so your Beagle could weigh more or less than the average. It is important to discuss with your veterinarian what a healthy weight would look like for your dog.
A Beagle’s weight can also be affected by their height—Beagles can fall into one of two categories: 13 inches or 15 inches height at the shoulders.
Beagles have many reasons for howling, including howling just because they want to. More often than not, Beagles howl when they see something they want to chase (like a rabbit or squirrel), and many will howl at other dogs that pass by. Beagles have also been known to be more on the dramatic side, so sometimes they will howl just because they are lonely or bored. Besides howling, Beagles also bark and bay.
Due to their overall smaller size, Beagles can adjust well to apartment living. However, it is essential that you still give your Beagle plenty of outdoor time every day, multiple times a day. One vital item you need to consider before bringing a Beagle into an apartment is their tendency to make noise.
Between their howling, baying, and barking, your Beagle could quickly get you in trouble or have all of your neighbors perturbed at your four-legged friend. You can help alleviate some unwanted barking by teaching your dog that it’s okay not to bark at people who walk by the door or window.
Besides being known for their fun personality and signature Beagle bark, these dogs are also easily recognizable by their appearance. These dogs have a short, thick coat that is resistant to the rain. They can be found in any hound color, including tri-color or white base with splotches of a secondary color, such as tan, red, or brown. Their tails have a white patch at the very tip, allowing hunters to spot them easily in tall grass. Overall, Beagles are strikingly similar in appearance to the larger Foxhound.
To help keep their coat healthy and clean, it is best to brush your Beagle with a medium-bristle brush or a rubber grooming mitt. If your Beagle is more of an inside dog, you may find that a bath every 6-8 weeks is sufficient. If your dog spends a majority of their time outdoors, then a monthly bath may be necessary—be sure to use a dog shampoo. Your dog’s nails will need trimmed about every 4-6 weeks, or whenever you can hear them click on the floor.
To help maintain good dental hygiene, you should brush your dog’s teeth a few times every week. This can help prevent plaque build-up and future gum issues. Not to mention, brushing your dog’s teeth can also help keep that stinky breath at bay.
Another essential part of a Beagle’s grooming routine is to check and clean their ears. On a weekly or bi-weekly basis, do a quick look-over on each ear, making sure there is no unusual redness or bad odor present—both of which could be a sign of an ear infection. Other signs of irritation could include your dog shaking their head or scratching their ears more than usual. Due to their floppy ears, Beagles can be prone to getting water trapped in them, so it’s helpful to dry out your dog’s ears after they get a bath or go for a swim. Depending on your dog’s needs, you may need to clean their ears every one to two weeks.
In addition to their grooming needs, Beagles also need an appropriate exercise routine, diet, and amount of mental stimulation. Beagles are naturally susceptible to weight gain, which is a catalyst for more health issues. To help make sure your best bud does not become an overweight couch potato, make sure you take them on daily walks. Other great forms of physical exercise can include letting your dog run around in a fenced-in area or playing games such as fetch.
Your Beagle’s diet also plays an equally important part of their health. Beagles oftentimes think with their nose and stomach, so don’t underestimate what they would do for a bite to eat. Ensure you are feeding your Beagle age-appropriate and nutritious food for each meal—do not feed them one large meal a day.
Don’t let their adorable appearance or dopey personality fool you. Beagles are intelligent dogs that require mental stimulation. For many, just going on a walk and being allowed to follow different scents is enough to keep their mind busy and active. Another great way to exercise your dog’s mind is to create games to play together and practice different commands and training techniques.
Naturally, a question that nearly all future Beagle parents wonder is, “Are Beagles easy to train?”
Compared to other dog breeds, which are people pleasers and will do anything their parent says at the drop of a hat, Beagles are a little bit trickier to teach. First-time dog parents may even find Beagles down-right difficult to train.
Don’t be mistaken, Beagles are intelligent dogs, and they are extremely talented when it comes to tracking scents, so it is more than possible to train these dogs. Still, a roadblock that most Beagle parents run into is the stubborn tendencies of this breed.
Call it what you want, stubborn, bullheaded, independent, free-spirited—Beagles often prefer only to do what they want to do. To jump this hurdle, many pet parents have found that by making training or commands into a game, their Beagle is much more willing to participate and listen. Not to mention, training is the perfect time to use delicious treats as a reward. Many Beagles are food motivated, and a person with food will almost always have their attention.
During the training process, it’s important to remember that every dog is unique, so some will inevitably learn faster than others. Training is an on-going, never-ending process, so being patient is the key to success.
If you feel as though you are making little to no progress with your Beagle, try using different techniques or different treats. And if you choose to work with a professional dog trainer, be sure it is someone who has experience with hound dogs.
Because these pups are notorious escape artists who enjoy shutting off their ears when they turn on their nose, teaching your Beagle the “come” or recall command, even at a young age, is essential.
Beagles have such powerful sniffers that the U.S. Department of Agriculture selected this breed back in the 1980s to work in airports. They’re still used to patrol luggage, ensuring no unwanted produce or meat is being smuggled.
Just like all other breeds of dog, Beagles are also susceptible to various health issues. According to our claims data,^ the top five conditions that affect Beagles include:
There is no guarantee that your Beagle will develop any or all of these conditions. However, it is vital that if you notice your dog is showing any symptoms of these issues, you take them to their veterinarian as soon as possible.
To better stay on top of your dog’s health, you should never skip their annual veterinarian checkups. These appointments allow your dog to get a professional look over. They also allow your veterinarian to stay more up to date with any conditions your dog may have.
Beagles have been around for hundreds of years, so it only makes sense that they have made their way into major media, including movies, television shows, and even comic strips. Check out these famous Beagles below.
Many of these dogs have made their way into our hearts and homes, and our love for them has no end in sight.
^Internal Claims Data, 2014-2019
The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.