The Beagle: An energetic dog and a great escape artist

The sweet, adorable Beagle is one of the most hard-working pooches around.

With a naughty streak, this small breed can be quite a handle to live with but give this dog enough time and energy, and you’ll always be entertained.

Discover all you need to know about the Beagle below, from how best to care for this playful pup to what you can expect in terms of health problems.

Beagle puppy sitting on the grass

Where did the Beagle originate? 

The Beagle has a long history that dates back to around 400 B.C when Beagle-like dogs were mentioned in Greek documents.

Some believe that these small hunting dogs found their way to the United Kingdom with the Romans, who then bred their dogs with local hounds. 

It is also thought that Talbot hounds brought to Great Britain by William the Conqueror in 1066 during the Norman Conquest could be Beagles’s ancestors.

As the early history of this breed, the origin of the word Beagle is also uncertain.

It either comes from the begueule or beugler, French words for open throat and bellow, the Old English or Celtic word beag, meaning small or the German for to scold, begele.

One thing that is for sure is that small beagles were popular in England during the reigns of Henry VII and Edward II.

Also known as Glove Beagles, these tiny dogs could fit in a gloved hand while noisy Singing Beagles were also known to have existed around this time. Elizabeth I also had small beagles, known as Pocket Beagles.

These Pocket Beagles can be seen in various paintings and are easily identified by their pointy noses and short legs.

They only reached 9 inches (23 cm) in height and were popular hunting dogs but not very fast because of those little legs.

By the 1700s, the Beagle had become less and less popular in the United Kingdom as Foxhounds were used more frequently for hunting.

However, a few farmers who used Beagles to hunt rabbits and hares managed to keep the breed alive.

In the 1800s, Reverend Phillip Honeywood bred Beagles for their hunting abilities.

In contrast, a fellow British citizen, Thomas Johnson, also bred these dogs for their hunting skills and adorable features. These dogs are thought to have given birth to the modern beagle as we know it today.

American breeders then started importing these cute English Beagles to the United States, breeding Beagles below the height of 15 to 17 inches (38 to 43 cm) so that they were suitable for rabbit hunting. 

Beagle ready for winter hunt
Image source

One particular variety of Beagle found in New York, which Willet Randall developed, became popularly known as the Patch Beagle because of its sizeable tri-colored spot.

The Patch Beagle was speedy and thus an excellent scenthound for tracking small game, leading to an increase in this dog’s popularity between the 1940s and 1950s.

Even today, they are among the top five popular breeds in the United States.

The first Beagle club was started in 1884, and in the same year, the American Kennel Club began registering the breed as a member of the hound dog group.

In 1916 members of the National Beagle Club purchased land in Virginia where field trials to test these dogs hunting skills were held. 

The National Beagle Club’s Institute Farm still holds these AKC-sanctioned field trials to this date and several other Beagle competitions and shows.

Hunting is so intrinsic to this breed that the AKC Beagle breed standards include a section on beagle packs and master and hound appointments and apparel.

Even today, Beagles are still commonly used as hunting dogs while you may have also spotted this breed working at airports.

Beagles are commonly used to check baggage-claim areas, looking for illegal contraband and food, weapons, and drugs at various entry points into the United States, including over twenty international airports. 

These dogs have proved the right choice for this job because their cute, friendly appearance doesn’t frighten or intimidate passengers the way larger dogs do. 

Some famous Beagles include Snoopy in the Peanuts cartoon developed by Charles Schulz. The beloved Snoopy has had a significant role to play in the Beagle breeds popularity.

Famous real-life Beagles include Uno and Miss P, two Beagles who won Best in Show at the televised Westminster Kennel Club event in 2008 and 2015, respectively. 

President Lyndon B. Johnson also had three Beagles, named Edgar, Him, and Her, and he caused a great deal of controversy when he was seen picking up one of his dogs by its ears.

Charles Darwin’s ship was also named the HMS Beagle after this popular breed. 

What does a Beagle look like?

Muscular Beagle standing on the meadow

Beagles are small dogs, but with a muscular, solid body, looking something like a miniature Foxhound. They have a deep chest with a straight back, square shape, and a long tail that is carried up off the ground but is not curled. 

Their face is domed and extended with a square medium-length muzzle with a black nose and wide nostrils, with large hazel or brown eyes with a pleading expression and adorable ‘puppy-dog’ look.

Wide, pendant shaped, floppy ears hang down, framing the face.

The most important feature on their face is the nose, which houses over 220 million scent receptors, compared to a human’s 5 million.

It means the Beagle is typically seen with his head down, close to the ground, following his nose as he picks up on various scents. 

The Beagle has one of the most acute senses of smell in the dog world, alongside the Bloodhound and Basset Hound.

Cute Beagle walking and smelling on the grass

How big do Beagles get?

Beagles are small, compact dogs that weigh between 18 and 30 pounds (8 and 14 kg), with females typically coming in between 20 and 22 pounds (9 and 10 kg) and males averaging 22 to 24 pounds (10 to 11 kg). 

There are two varieties of Beagles that are recognized by the American Kennel Club by their height.

The first variety is for dogs smaller than 13 inches (33 cm) at the shoulder, and the other variety is for dogs that stand between 13 and 15 inches (33 and 38 cm).

The smaller height dogs can weigh as little as between 15 and 18 pounds (7 and 8 kg).

No Miniature Beagle is officially recognized by the breed standard, although some people refer to the 13-inch Beagle as a Pocket Beagle.

But due to their small size and gentle natures, Beagles are a comfortable size for most environments, even if you are on the move a lot or live in an apartment or condo.

Beagles are considered fully grown at 18 months of age. At this point, their skeletal system is developed.

Attentive Beagle walking on the grass

Coat and color of the Beagle breed

While the AKC breed standard for Beagles says that these dogs can be found in any hound color, the most common variant is a tri-color version with a black back and white markings on the chest, belly, legs, and tip of the tail.

Red and white Beagles with a spotted pattern are also very common.

Despite any color being considered acceptable, only Beagles showcasing one of the standard eleven colors will be allowed to participate at competitions and shows run by the AKC.

Beagles with specific colors are being unofficially preferred, such as the tri-color.

Patch-colored Beagles usually are lemon and white or red and white without black markings, while other combinations include black, brown, white, red, or blue.

Beagles with flecks or speckles are also found, similar to that of a Redtick or Bluetick Coonhound. Saddles in a liver or reddish-brown color, as well as a blue or smoky grey, can also be found.

No matter their coat coloring, Beagles will have a white tip on their tails, which helps them be spotted by hunters when they run in tall grass.

The coarse coat is of medium-length and is hard and dense to protect these dogs from the brush. It is also rain resistant and easy to care for and maintain. 

Two adorable Beagles under a blanket
Image source

Are Beagles good family dogs?

Happy, loving dogs, Beagles make great companions no matter your family. They are active dogs well suited to single and couples who love the outdoors.

While their small size but sturdy build makes them the perfect companions for children, even seniors will love this breed who doesn’t mind a slow walk where they can sniff until their heart’s content. 

Although outgoing in nature and game to join in on any adventure, Beagles are also incredibly gentle and tolerant.

This breed of dog has an affinity for children, although they can get a bit carried away and overly mouthy, using their mouth to play, so they may need to be supervised with tiny kids. 

In return, your Beagle also has lots of love to share. As pack animals, these dogs will become very attached to their pack and crave companionship from humans and other dogs alike.

They generally get along with everyone and are quick to make friends, but smaller family pets, such as cats and rabbits, may be seen as prey and accordingly hunted. 

What problems do Beagles have?

They’re so merry and fun-loving that Beagles don’t make good watchdogs as they are usually way too friendly. 

What this does mean, however, is that Beagles can also get bored easily if they are left alone without any companionship for too long, which can lead to destructive behaviors as your Beagle tries to find ways to amuse itself. 

This can cause them to dig, howl, or even try to escape when suffering from separation anxiety. You might even find your dog eating poop when bored or seeking attention.

With an independent, stubborn steak, Beagles can be tricky to train. Obedience training is highly recommended to ensure that behavioral issues such as snapping, barking, and biting don’t become commonplace.

You will need to use a range of creative training techniques to keep the curious Beagle mind entertained with food favored as a reward by this breed. 

Positive reinforcement is also an excellent way to go as Beagles will shut down if treated negatively. At the same time, owners will also need to ensure that they establish themselves as the dominant pack leader.

Crate training from a young age is also recommended with Beagles, with many Beagle owners saying that it can take up to a year to fully house train this breed. 

Another thing to be aware of with Beagles is that while they aren’t yappy dogs, Beagles are known to make a noise!

These dogs typically have three distinct noises they commonly make, a bark, a howl, and a half howl, half frantic baying noise they usually use when they catch sight of their prey while out on a hunt. 

Listen to the many vocalizations of the Beagle in this adorable video:

How to take care of your Beagle

Hardy dogs with an easy to care for coat and fun-loving nature, there is a reason Beagles are always rated as one of the most popular dogs around.

If given the attention and exercise requirements they need, Beagles are versatile companions who can handle various environments. 

And while just as happy on a ranch as in the city, these dogs need to live indoors with their family and are not suited to a life confined to a doghouse. 

Little girl hugging her Beagle

How much exercise does a Beagle need?

Beagles have a moderate to high energy level and need plenty of exercise, including walks several times a day, for around 30 minutes to an hour in total. 

As these hunting hounds are happiest when following a scent, be sure to always keep your Beagle on a lead when out for a walk as they are quick to wander off, following their nose.

When a Beagle catches a whiff of an interesting smell, nothing else seems to exist.

Beagles will also enjoy a good jog but be sure not to do a repetitive exercise like this until after 18 months when your dog is fully grown.

These dogs also excel at activities where they can put their skills to the test, including hunting and field trials, rally, obedience, and even agility training. 

Playful Beagle fetching a blue ball

If you want to get a dog that enjoys swimming, then the Beagle is not the best choice for you. Some of these dogs will even do everything they can to avoid the water. 

A fenced yard will also provide a secure space where your Beagle can play and explore the outdoors without getting lost. Your dog will also enjoy playing tracking and scent-based games in the yard with you. 

Older Beagles can get lazy and are pretty happy to lie around all day but be sure to keep this breed busy as they can be prone to obesity. 

Are beagles hypoallergenic? 

Beagles shed consistently, but their short coat means it is not as noticeable as some other breeds and is easier to look after.

With the changing of the seasons, especially in spring, they will tend to shed more as they get rid of their thicker winter coat, and their grooming needs will increase during this time. 

Beagle jumps while owner vacuums the floor

Brushing your Beagle at least once a week with a hound glove or medium-bristle brush will help to remove any dead hairs and encourage a healthy coat. 

Bathing is only necessary when very dirty and should be done with a mild soap or dry shampoo, but be sure to check the ears of your Beagle regularly as their drop-ears can lead to the buildup of wax and ear infections.

Water and oils shouldn’t enter the ear, and pay attention if your Beagle scratches his ears regularly or shakes his head. 

Also, be sure to brush your dog’s teeth at least twice a week to prevent the build-up of tartar and bacteria while nailing trimming should also be done regularly.

If you can hear your dog’s nails clicking on the floor, this means they are too long. 

How much should I feed my Beagle?

Beagle enjoying its dog food

The Beagle is one breed that is very focused on food. These dogs love to eat and will overeat if given half a chance.

They are so skilled at finding food that they will resort to thievery, raiding your pantry and garbage if you don’t monitor them.

So be sure to keep your bins and cupboards properly secured and warm children not to tease your Beagle with food.

Also, be extra careful to monitor the amount of food you give your Beagle each day and limit the number of treats. For training, stick to bit sized smaller treats as opposed to big biscuits.

The recommended daily amount of food for this breed is three quarter to one and a half cups of dry dog food divided between two meals.

As a pretty active breed, Beagles can benefit from a high-quality sport specific formula of food but be sure to discuss this with your vet. 

What health problems do Beagles have? 

Behave Beagle inside the vet clinic

Beagles have a life expectancy of between 10 and 15 years.

Some of the problems that can affect your dog include intervertebral disk disease, patellar luxation, distichiasis, hypothyroidism, and chondrodysplasia, also known as Beagle dwarfism.

Also, Beagles are prone to several eye diseases such as cataracts, cherry eye, progressive retinal atrophy, and glaucoma, and some lines are known to contract epilepsy and even heart disease.

Other conditions that are occasionally seen include hemophilia, deafness, Musladin-Lueke Syndrome, also known as Chinese Beagle Syndrome, mast cell tumors, and umbilical hernias.

When you buy a Beagle puppy, you should get some health clearances.

These include one for hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia (with a score of fair and up), hypothyroidism.

And Von Willebrand’s disease and eye disease from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, another for thrombopathia from Auburn University.

You can check these certifications by looking up a dog on the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals website

How much does the Beagle cost?

Three sleeping adorable Beagle puppies

Beagles typically have between two and fourteen puppies, with litters of seven being the most common.

Beagle puppies at a breeder usually cost between $800 and $1,500, while Beagles at adoption centers can go for as little as between $50 and $250.

Several factors will influence a Beagle puppy’s price, including the location, health, breeder’s reputation, and the parent breeds’ pedigree. A Beagle from a championship lineage can cost as much as $6,000.

The time of year you are looking for a Beagle puppy will also affect the dog’s cost.

Many people look for puppies in summer when longer days and better weather means they can spend more time outdoors training their puppy and playing with the dog.

Thus getting a dog in winter can mean you find one for a lower price. 

Also, the Beagle color will affect the price, with specific colors being in more demand.

However, do be warned of Beagle breeders that try and advise rare color breeds, often putting on a mark up on these dogs. Also, be wary of dogs that are too cheap as these can come from puppy mills.

Purebred Beagle puppies should be registered with the American Kennel Club with registrations costing between $100 and $200, although reportable breeders will include this in the cost of your Beagle puppy.

Unregistered dogs are cheaper but make sure you do your homework on the breeder first.

Additional costs can also rack up, costing around $1,700 a year to look after your dog. Microchips are essential for this breed due to their tendency to escape, while thieves also love to steal Beagles.

A microchip will set you back between $25 and $50, while dog food can cost around $55 – $100 per month and pet health insurance about $34 and $51 per month.

As intelligent dogs that love playtime and walks, you will also need to buy a leash and collar and plenty of toys and puzzles to keep your Beagle entertained.

Breeders: Finding Beagle puppies for sale

Due to the Beagle breed’s popularity, it is not uncommon to find these dogs in pet stores, although many states have banned dogs’ sale in pet shops in America. 

A reputable breeder will be able to provide you details about your puppy’s lineage and pedigree and, therefore, the health of your puppy. 

Look for a breeder with a Breeder of Merit badge from the AKC as only the most prestigious breeders display this badge, which recognizes those who go above and beyond.

In the UK, breeders like this will belong to the Assured Breeder Program.

Breeders should not sell you a puppy that is younger than the age of seven weeks.

Here are some Beagle Breeders of merit to get you started in the search for a Beagle puppy to call your own:

Rescue/for adoption

Unfortunately, Beagles are often found in the care of rescue or adoption centers looking for a good home.

One of the most common reasons why rescues are surrendered by their owners is their constant howling, which annoys neighbors. Beagles are one of the most commonly found breeders at shelters.

Here are some Beagle specific rescue groups to start your search for a Beagle looking for adoption: 

Similar Breeds to Beagle

Various other breeds are similar to the Beagle in that they also have loving, family-friendly personalities that are combined with energetic natures. 

Some of the most popular similar breeds include:

  1. Labrador Retriever
  2. Springer Spaniel
  3. Jack Rusell Terrier
  4. Italian Greyhound

Popular Beagle mixes

There is a variety of popular Beagle crosses out there. Some of these involve the Beagle being crossed with small breeds similar in nature while others cross the Beagle with larger dogs.

Beagle Lab mix (AKA Beagador)

Beagle Lab mix named Willow
Meet Willow, a Beagador dog – Image source

The Beagador is one such trendy mixed breed. This cross is a mix between a Beagle and a Labrador. 

The Beagle Lab mix is a medium-sized dog, similar to the Beagle in height, but with a more elongated body.

The general appearance on any crossbreed will vary depending on the parent breeds, but typically, the Beagador will have the Labrador Retriever parent’s short coat.

However, the color will be unpredictable due to the range of colors Beagle’s usually represent.

Even within the same litter of Beagador puppies, you could have brown, black, yellow, or tri-colored pups. The loving temperament of the Beagle Lab mix is what makes this dog such a popular crossbreed.

This Beagle mix loves attention and their family, but as a mix of two high energy breeds, they also like to play and require quite a bit of exercise.

Beagle English Bulldog mix (AKA Beabull)

Beagle English Bulldog Mix named Elvis
Meet Elvis, a Beabull (Beagle English Bulldog Mix) – Image source

Another popular Beagle mix is the Beabull. A cross between the Beagle breed and an English Bulldog, this mix features the English Bulldog’s short and stout body and is a medium-sized breed.

Mixing the Beagle with the English Bulldog helps create a longer muzzled dog, thus avoiding some of the many breathing issues associated with the English Bulldog.

Their personalities mix some of the best traits of the Beagle and English Bulldog. Social and loving, Beabull’s love a good cuddle.

However, due to the Beagle breed’s intense prey drive, there may also be times when they have a burst of energy and need some active playtime. 

Unfortunately, as the offspring of two quite stubborn parent breeds, The Beagle English Bulldog mix can be challenging to train, with a strong willed, mischievous nature.

Although social, they can also be quite protective of their family and, thanks to the Beagle parent, even quite vocal.

Beagle Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mix (AKA Beaglier)

Beagle Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Mix named Lola
Meet Lola, a Beaglier – Image source

One more of our favorite Beagle mixes is the Beaglier. Cross a Beagle with a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and you will get this cute, compact crossbreed.

These adorable dogs are on the smaller side and come in a range of colors, often being dual or even tri-colored. Unlike the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, the short and shiny coat of the Beaglier is easy to groom.

Affectionate and loyal, the Beagle Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mix may look like it is always up for a cuddle. While friendly, it is more than likely that these energetic dogs will prefer a good play session.

However, what this cross does get is the well-mannered, even temperament of the spaniel temperament that helps water down that high prey drive of the Beagle.

Here are some other popular Beagle cross breeds:

Boxer Beagle mix (AKA Boggle Dog)

Corgi Beagle mix (AKA Beagi)

Who should get a Beagle dog?

Cute little Beagle puppy
Image source

If you are prepared to cater to their mental and physical exercise needs and provide adequate training to control their barking and howling, the Beagle can be a calm dog breed and one of the best companions in the world.

Show that you are the pack leader, and you’ll be rewarded with a sweet, affectionate family dog. 

Do you have a Beagle? Let us know in the comments below.

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