Cheeky and mischievous, the beagle is a breed steeped in history.
They may have been depicted in art as far back as 1500 years ago; as ancient Greeks hunted with dogs of similar size and shape. William the Conqueror then bought the now extinct Talbot hounds to the UK back in 1066 and it is believed that these dogs became the ancestor of the beagle.
Designed to hunt rabbits and hares, the Beagle was replaced by the foxhound in many parts of the UK as this form of hunting became more popular. Luckily a few dedicated enthusiasts persevered and the Beagle finally hit the show ring at the end of the nineteenth century. It has now made the transition from hunting dog to successful show hound and much loved pet.
Personality of the Beagle
The Beagle is a cheeky dog. It is a hound and as such can be strong willed and stubborn! Yet despite this they have a real happy go lucky attitude, wanting to be with people and are great with children. Their small size makes them ideal for many family homes; with their outgoing and playful nature making them great family pets. They are not a yappy breed, the Beagle has a distinctive bark in addition to a baying howl and a bark/howl combination used when they start to chase quarry.
Grooming a Beagle
Beagles are easy to groom as they have a short, no nonsense coat. Use a grooming mitt to remove the dead hair once a week followed by a bristle brush to keep the rest of the coat in good condition. Any gunk around the eyes should be wiped away to prevent them becoming sore. Due to the inquisitive nature of the breed and their strong urge to explore, check the pads and feet for any thorns on a regular basis. Also keep an eye out for ticks that they may pick up when rummaging through the undergrowth. Otherwise, your beagle will be easy to maintain.
Size of the Beagle
Small and compact, the beagle should measure between 13 and 16 inches at the withers (the highest point of the shoulder at the base of the neck). The weight range is from 18 to 30 pounds, this is a stocky little dog full of muscle.
How much exercise does my Beagle need?
The Beagle is a hound and bred to cover a lot of ground in a day. They need regular exercise each day for both their physical and mental well-being. Ideally, they should get at least an hour each day; more if you can.
Make sure your beagle has a good recall if you are letting them off the lead. Bred to follow their nose, they can become selectively deaf if they find an interesting scent! If you are worried, use an extendable lead. They are good running companions once they reach adulthood, as they are great at endurance. Saying this, as adults they can become lazy and obese if not exercised enough. For the health of your dog, do not let this happen.
Diet – what should I feed my Beagle?
A beagle will do best on a good quality feed. Avoid cheap foods with a low meat content, these are often bulked out with carbohydrate ‘fillers’. This has little nutritional value for your dog and encourages weight gain. Be guided by the brand as to how much to feed and if you have any concerns always speak to your vet.
Puppies can be fed a specialist puppy formula to ensure they receive the required nutrients before moving onto an adult formula at 12 month of age. Puppies should be on three meals a day when you first get them home. They can gradually be reduced to two meals and then one meal a day if required once they have matured.
Breeders – Where can I get a Beagle?
With its hang dog expression and adorable good looks, many people try to cash in with breeding Beagles. When searching for a Beagle puppy, do your research and try and find a reputable breeder.
Puppies are better adapted to being pets when they have been raised in the home. Here they are able to experience the sights and sounds of family life which improves their socialization. Pet shop puppies often come from puppy farms so do not buy from them. You should be able to visit the breeders home and see the puppies with their mother; never agree to meet anyone half way or in a car park. This is likely to be a poorly raised puppy where the breeder has no interest in where they end up. Finally remember that good breeders may have a waiting list, their puppies will be in demand!
There are also specific Beagle rescue charities that may be an option if having a young puppy is not essential. Giving a rescued dog a second chance can be a very rewarding experience and many of these dogs need new homes through no fault of their own. Divorce, a house move or a new babies allergy are all reasons that they may have had to give up their Beagle.
How much does a Beagle cost?
Expect to pay between 500 to 900 euros plus for a Beagle puppy. When purchasing from a breeder, make sure that you see the mother and that all the relevant health checks have been completed. In the case of the Beagle, the essential test should be for Musladin-Lueke syndrome (MLS) with many breeders also now testing for Neonatal Cerebellar Cortical Degeneration (NCCD) too. MLS affects the development and structure of connective tissue whereas NCCD results in hind limb paralysis. Both of these are recessive genes and the parents can be tested to make sure that the puppies are clear. Good breeders will make sure the parents have been tested before breeding from them.
Puppies should have been well reared and handled. They should also have been wormed and if old enough, vaccinated accordingly. If they are registered make sure you get the relevant paperwork at the time of sale.
Should you get a Beagle?
If the idea of a cheeky chappie companion appeals to you then the Beagle may make an ideal pet. Loving to its family, great with children yet small in stature, they are suitable for most homes. Just make sure they receive enough exercise each day to keep them happy. A sense of humour is a must for this breed, they will test your patience but it is impossible to stay mad at them for long!