The beagle is a small hound that is similar in appearance to foxhounds. They tend to have a spotted coat mixed with areas of white. Their coat coloration in the spots ranges from brown to black, and some of them can have multi-colored spots that overlap their white fur.
This breed was developed for hunting rabbits, so their incredible sense of smell is one of their primary attributes. Beagles have superior tracking instincts linked to their nose, which is a trainable behavior that can be useful in a variety of ways. Many governments use these dogs to inspect food items and other products in quarantine to determine if they are safe.
Unlike most breeds, these dogs do not come with a lot of inherited health problems. Beagles are generally sturdy, strong, and come with a good temper. The modern version of this breed was developed in the early 19th century in Great Britain, and the first dogs were brought to the U.S. in the 1840s to help with hunting.
Beagles were accepted by the American Kennel Club in 1885.
List of the Pros of Beagles
1. This breed loves to be around people.
Beagles are a breed that is naturally sociable with everyone around. If you have people over to your home frequently, then your dog is going to be in heaven. They love to play with kids as well since their energy levels match. Smaller children might need an adjustment period since these pups love to jump around as they play, but there are more opportunities for some horseplay than you’ll find with some other breeds. Some of them are less social than others, so you’ll want to see how your new friend reacts when you have people over.
2. Beagles love their food.
Although a beagle with an unsupervised food dish can be a bad thing, you’ll find that this breed isn’t very picky when it comes to food. As long as there is something available for them to eat when they’re hungry, you won’t hear any complaints. You’ll see those begging eyes whenever you’re making something that smells delicious in the kitchen too. This robust motivation level makes it very easy to do obedience training and housebreaking since they are strongly motivated by treats.
3. A beagle is usually a pet-friendly dog.
Beagles tend to be sociable with other animals in your home as well. Their prey drive is not as strong as other breeds, so the barking and tail wagging you see is more about wanting to play than anything else. If your dog sees another one across the street, then they’ll want to introduce themselves. That means adding this pup to your home will give you a family ambassador that others cannot help but to love! They’re usually good around cats and other animals too, but you might want to think about a different breed if you have a rabbit.
4. Beagles live to play.
If there is a game that you want to play, then your beagle is going to be ready to go at any time. Playing fetch is always a popular option. Their tracking ability is excellent, so playing hide-and-seek with a favorite toy that you’ve hidden is a great pastime as well. Treasure hunts that involve doggy treats are a great game to play as well. If your beagle is a little larger, you can play with a Frisbee or try agility training to keep their minds and bodies active.
5. You’re going to get some extra cuddle time with a beagle.
Beagles might have an independent spirit when they embrace their curiosity, but they don’t want to go exploring by themselves unless there is no other option. These dogs love to cuddle with their humans. You’ll find them wanting to jump up on the bed, on your recliner, or anywhere else you want to be. Expect to have some snuggle time happen when you’re sitting on the floor. This need to be around humans can sometimes develop into high levels of anxiety if the dog is left alone for an extended time, but you can usually manage this issue with some crate training.
6. Beagles are a low-maintenance breed compared to some other dogs.
The short coat that you’ll find on a beagle means that you don’t need to spend a lot of time brushing out the fur to prevent tangles. As long as you brush the dog about 2-3 times per week and give then a bath a couple of times per quarter, then you’re going to be fine. This breed loves to dig and go exploring, so their paws tend to get very dirty. If you want to avoid prints throughout your home, it is okay to wash their feet with warm water – but no soap. Washing with soap too often will dry out the paw pads, increasing the risk of cracking.
7. These dogs have a big personality in a little package.
Beagles always seem to be finding new ways to make you laugh at them. When you see the combination of big ears and cute eyes as they chase their tail or go bouncing after a favorite toy, it is almost impossible to resist the urge to play along. Even when your dog displays unwanted behaviors, you’ll find that they are very forgiving and intelligent – their primary desire is to please their humans. You might get a friendly lick, an offer to play, or a chance to snuggle, and all of those behaviors let you know that things are going to be all right.
8. Beagles are excellent therapy dogs.
Even though beagles were initially bred for hunting, this breed is exceptionally versatile. They are employed in a variety of professions, ranging from detection to personal therapy. The quick bonds that they make with humans make then an excellent support animal, and their intelligence and superior nose can help them to detect if something is wrong in their environment. A trained assistance dog from this breed is even credited with saving its owner’s life because it was able to dial for emergency services on a cell phone.
It was also a beagle that rescued someone in 2010 after the devastating Haiti earthquake after the person was buried in rubble for over 100 hours.
List of the Cons of Beagles
1. Your beagle is going to dig in your backyard all of the time.
Beagles are best friends with dirt. They love to dig in it, roll around in it, and sometimes even eat it. Don’t be surprised if you find a large hole in your backyard if you’ve let your dog be out there without supervision. You can train away some of this behavior by telling the pup to stop when they start digging, especially if you use treat reinforcement. You can’t take their instinct away completely. Even if you live in an apartment, your furry friend will find your potted plants and dig in those too.
2. Some people are not big fans of the famous beagle bark.
The way that beagles bark is closer to a howl. It doesn’t have the same authority that you can hear in other breeds. Although this can be funny when your dog wants to sing along with the radio, it can generate some noise complaints if you’re living in an apartment. Since this breed can get spooked by almost anything, you will need to think about your environment and what the expectations are for your home. Some beagles will even bark at spiders, flies, or imaginary sounds, so keep this disadvantage in mind before bringing home a new friend.
3. A short coat on a beagle is still going to shed all over the house.
You don’t need to put in as much grooming work with a beagle as you do with other breeds, but they will lose their fur due to shedding in the spring and fall. If your dog loves to spend time on the couch, then you’ll see their fur covering it during these seasons. It is not unusual for the hairs to migrate to your clothing as well. You can avoid some of this problem by brushing your dog daily when the shedding season arrives, but it is an impossible fight to stop this issue entirely. If you don’t like the idea of dog hair floating around, this breed may not be the right choice for you.
4. Beagles have a strong fight-or-flight instinct.
Most dogs are territorial, which means they’ll stay and fight to protect their homes. Beagles take the opposite approach. They prefer to run away when there are uncertainties in their environment. That means you should never walk your dog without a leash.
Another reason why they take off is because of their tracking instinct. If their nose catches something that smells intriguing, then your pup is going to be off to the races. You can try to call them all you want, but the brain in their smeller isn’t going to be listening to you. Make sure that you have a sturdy fence in place to stop this trait, and then consider adding digging guards to prevent them from creating tunnels.
5. This breed is surprisingly stubborn in their behaviors.
Beagles seem to have a mind of their own with regards to their training. They will perform tricks or follow commands based on what they think is beneficial to them at that moment in time. You can teach your dog to sit successfully with treats in less than an hour, but then your pup might decide that sitting isn’t going to happen anymore unless there is the possibility of more treats in the future. It is not unusual for this breed to stare you down when you call them, and you can see the wheels turning in their minds when they look at you. They’re clearly deciding whether or not there is value in listening to you.
6. Beagles can become very distracted in common situations.
When you go for a walk, your beagle is going to want to sniff everything. They love to detect new scents, so expect to stop every few steps so that they can smell something new. If you’re looking for a dog that will run with you as part of your exercise regimen, this breed isn’t the right choice to make. You’ll also discover that the idea of meeting a new friend, whether it’s another dog or a squirrel that just ran up a tree, is the best part of a beagle’s day. There’s a lot of jumping, pulling, and barking that happens when you’re out and about.
7. You must closely supervise how much food a beagle eats.
Beagles love their food a little too much. If you have anything within their reach that they think is something that’s potentially edible, then it will be consumed. That includes your shoes, clothing, or even the occasional tin can. Comparing them to a goat with this behavior is scarily accurate for some individuals. You’ll need to keep everything out of their reach, and then carefully monitor how many calories they consume each day. Even if they get a lot of exercise, this breed tends to put on weight rather quickly. It won’t take long for your dog to start becoming overweight.
8. Beagles have lots of energy that you’ll need to keep under control.
Your beagle is going to be up for a new adventure all of the time. They seem to have an unlimited source of energy that never expires. Even if you come home from a long walk, your dog is going to be ready to start doing another activity. Unless you have a way to let them take things outside, you’ll find your pup running laps all over your house as a release. That can seem cute at first – until you realize just how many fragile items exist in your home.
When you review the breed standard for the beagle, you’ll find that many of them around the world say that the temperament of this dog is “merry.” Most of them are not timid, and it is rare to find one that is aggressive. Because of this trait, they are not great guard dogs. If someone brings them a treat, then you’ll get more tail-wagging than barking.
Beagles are excellent with children, which is why they are a popular family pet. They prefer to be in a pack, so leaving them alone will generate separation anxiety.
If you can manage the pros and cons of beagles successfully, then you will discover that this breed can be an excellent addition to your home. Make sure that you work with a licensed breeder in your area or your local shelter if you’ve decided that this breed is the best one for you.
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.