Beagles are born in litters of 2 to 14 puppies, though the average litter is about 7 pups. The males grow to be about 16 inches tall and weigh in at 25 lbs. Females grow to be 15 inches and weigh around 23 lbs. Beagles live for roughly 12-15 years, although some as lived as long as 18 years.
Beagles are lively and smart little dogs. They are expressive, joyful, and affectionate. They have a sweet temperament, and easily attach themselves to those giving them attention. They are very sociable, and are recommended as a great breed for families with young children. They are not known to be a particularly aggressive or protective breed.
Beagles have a long history as hunters, which gives them keen intelligence and quick thinking. They are considered to be quite smart, and easy to train. They are able to perform a variety of tasks, and enjoy games and play. They are very curious, and love opportunities to explore new territory.
Beagles have been bred as hunting dogs for over a century. Their hunting instinct is so ingrained that while they may get along fine with other dogs, they do not socialize well with felines or other small pets. Their instinct is to give chase, and they can become unfriendly or watchful when confronted with another animal in the house.
Beagles are social animals. They do not like to be left alone for long periods of time, and will become neurotic or destructive without socialization. It is suggested that they have a fellow beagle or other dog for companionship. They crave attention, and love to spend time with people. While beagles will bark, they quickly warm up to strangers and are not overly protective.
Beagles do have a tendency to bark, and their bark has quite a distinctive sound. It is described as a “loud braying,” and while useful to hunters, may not be appreciated by others in the neighborhood. Because they are natural hunters, Beagles require a fenced in yard. They will follow their nose wherever it leads, and will not hesitate to take off after other small animals or a mysterious scent. They have a lot of energy and will need ample room to run and play.
Beagles have a smooth, short haired coat that is fairly low maintenance when it comes to grooming and brushing. Beagles are considered to be average shedders, but do need to be brushed regularly with a firm bristle brush. They only need bathing with mild soap or a dry shampoo occasionally, unless their love for mischief and the outdoors gets the best of them and they get dirty. They will need regular nail trimmings and it is important to check the ears to make sure they stay clean. Tooth brushing is also advised, and they should have their teeth scaled by a veterinarian once a year.
Beagles need a great deal of exercise in order to prevent them from getting bored and causing mischief. Daily walks are a requirement. Beagles enjoy running and make great companions for a daily jog. This breed is naturally curious, and they love to explore new areas. They benefit greatly from excursions to the park, walking trails, and other outdoor areas. They should be kept on a leash at all times in order to prevent them from taking off after other animals or following an intriguing scent.
Beagles will require a great deal of training in order to manage their high energy level. They are smart and adaptable dogs, and the training can be suited for their lifestyle. Beagles that will be family pets can start with regular obedience training. Those learning to hunt or show will begin training with a specific set of goals in mind.
Many Beagles can begin training as early as 6-8 weeks, and have even been trained to hunt rabbits at a very young age. However, young Beagles have a notoriously short attention span, so any type of teaching will have to be done in short sessions. Beagles love to work for treats and praise. Positive attention will make for a successful training session.
It is important to socialize young Beagles as a part of their training. Whether they will be domestic dogs who share your home, show dogs, or pack hunters, it is important to make sure they are comfortable being around other dogs and people.
Like all dogs, Beagles will need regular veterinary care. They are a hardy breed that is prone to few health ailments, though there are some conditions they are susceptible to. Hip dysplasia is a common canine illness that can cause lameness or walking problems. Achondroplasia is a genetic disease that affects the front legs. Beagles are also prone to epilepsy, heart disease, back problems, and some eye problems.
Owning a Beagle
Those who consider owning a Beagle as a pet must consider whether or not this breed will suit their lifestyle. Do they have a fenced in yard? Will the Beagle’s braying annoy close neighbors? Will they be able to spend enough time with the dog, or will it be left alone during long work hours? These are all things to consider prior to visiting a breeder or animal adoption center, as these very same questions are the reason many Beagles are abandoned at pet shelters. Many owners don’t anticipate the amount of energy Beagles have, their tendency to chase or follow a scent, or how loud that bark actually is.
For those who feel their family life can accommodate a Beagle, the only decision to be made is whether to go with a Beagle puppy or adopt an adult dog from a shelter. If adopting a puppy, it is important to go with a licensed breeder who can provide a clear picture of the dog’s history and bloodline. Older dogs from shelters also make excellent pets, as the Beagle’s adaptive and friendly personality lends itself to re-training and bonding with a new family.