Thinking about getting a beagle? Or do you want to know more about your new beagle friend? You may already know that the beagle’s distinctive looks and gentle demeanour make it one of the most popular breeds in the UK. If you’re considering a beagle puppy or just want to know more about the beagle personality, we’ve got you covered. Here at the Rover offices, we spend time with lots of beagle friends and enjoy their sweet faces and ability to howl along with sirens.
Read on to find out about the ins and outs of beagle temperament, beagle training and health needs, beagle size, beagle lifespan, and more on what to expect when you share your life with a beagle.
The beagle temperament
That thoughtful look on a beagle’s face? It has inspired fictional dogs from Snoopy to Gromit, and Brain from Inspector Gadget. And it’s not just a look: beagles are a genuinely smart breed. That ability to focus? It can also mean that your beagle takes a single-minded interest in things (like that food she smells from a mile away).
Because they are mild-mannered, affectionate, and happy dogs, we might assume that beagles would prefer lives of silent, sedentary contemplation. But remember: the drooling, fun-loving Odie from the Garfield comic strip is also a beagle. Beagles like to have fun (and a purpose), with instincts to hunt built into their bones.
These dogs are hunting hounds bred to catch a scent and run long distances, and they do best when they’re taken on long walks (or several walks), and given a chance to run and explore their environment through smell.
These scent hounds also have a tendency to be stubborn, but can be easily motivated by treats. And since they are so food motivated, they will typically eat food whenever it is available, regardless of how much they have already eaten. You might also need to watch your rubbish, cat litter, and even old food encountered on the pavement. A beagle is not as discriminating as you might think!
Like all hunting dogs, beagles have an acute sense of smell, and you must keep an equally keen eye on your beagle if he or she picks up a scent. Once used for rabbit and fox hunting, a beagle will lock on and focus exclusively… meaning they’ll turn off their hearing and won’t listen to your calls to come back. We call that beagle personality quirk selective deafness. A home with a fenced yard can give your beagle a chance to explore with his nose, without running off to catch an interesting scent without you.
What about the beagle energy level?
Many beagles are left at home without enough exercise, and because of a sedentary life and a serious eating hobby, they pack on the pounds. If you’re concerned about your beagle eating up all the dog food and more, consult your vet about giving your pet measured amounts of food each day, matched to your dog’s size and activity level.
You know that image of Snoopy lying on top of his doghouse? Those soulful eyes are saying, “I want to run! Take me out!”
Do beagles do well in flats?
Beagles typically range from 9-13kg (20-30lbs) in weight. Because beagles are relatively small dogs, many flat owners see them as a perfect fit for their lifestyles.
But with the high energy level of a beagle, that’s only accurate if pet parents committed to hitting the dog park twice a day or hiring a dedicated dog walker.
Are beagles friendly?
The good news: beagles are fast friends. Even if you have an older pet or a beagle rescue dog, this breed is ultimately easy to win over, despite an initial wariness toward strangers.
Because of this, the beagle personality is easy to embrace. Creating a rapport and enjoying time together shouldn’t be too hard.
Another bonus: beagles are great with kids, making them ideal family dogs. They also get along well with other pets.
That ability to be wooed by a relative stranger, of course, is great when it’s your first meeting with your beloved pet, or if you’re acclimatising them to a friend. The downside of that quirk, however, is that beagles don’t make great guard dogs.
A watchdog role better fits the beagle temperament—it’s a similar but different job description that makes all the difference. A hound dog will easily bark and howl when something unfamiliar is afoot. Knowing that bark and seeing what they’re sensing will help protect you from the unexpected.
I mean come on, he brought me a snack… —Flickr/Corey Seeman
Caring for your beagle
Do beagles shed? Why, yes, they do. Beagles have a beautiful, short coats of thick hair that needs to be brushed weekly, and more during moulting season. Beagles, although their owners sometimes don’t notice it, are also rumoured to have a distinct smell. Some don’t mind it, but some do. If it bothers you, you might need to regularly bathe your beagle to keep the scent at bay.
Like any breed of dog, beagles can have unique health problems, such as epilepsy, hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, cherry eye, disk disease, and more. And because of their big floppy ears, beagles are prone to ear infections, so you’ll need to clean their ears regularly as well.
Consult with breeders and vets for more information on beagle health concerns and testing for specific conditions.
The beagle’s life expectancy is typical for a dog of its size: 10-15 years.
On the lookout…—Flickr/fauxto_digit
Beagle personality = a great companion
Aside from all of their perks and peculiarities, beagles are, above all, great companions. If a rewarding relationship with your dog is what you’re looking for, a beagle is a wonderful choice. The Kennel Club has an excellent list of beagle rescues on their site as well as resources for finding a breeder (with fairly strict guidelines on who they let participate).