Beagle FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions About Beagle Dogs
By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2013
How big are Beagles?
Beagles stand 13-16 inches at the shoulder and weigh about 18-30 pounds. Any size can occur within the same litter, though some breeders focus on producing individuals on the smaller side (13 inches and 18-20 pounds).
Where does the Beagle come from, and why was the breed developed?
A scenthound from England, the Beagle trails rabbits either singly or in packs, baying as he goes.
Because of their fantastic scenting ability, Beagles are also used as sniffer dogs for drug, bomb, and termite detection.
How did the Beagle get its name? What does Beagle mean?
The origin of the name is uncertain, but it was used as far back as 1475 to describe smallish English hunting hounds. The word might come from an Old English, French, or Gaelic word beag (meaning "little") or from the French words begueule (meaning "open throat") or beugler (meaning "to bellow") -- both references to the Beagle's baying on the trail.
What kind of temperament and personality does the Beagle have?
To get an idea of what a breed might be like, always look at what he was developed to do (see the question above). Many of the Beagle's characteristics -- his energy level, independence, persistence, strong chasing and digging and baying instincts -- are hardwired into his genes because they helped him excel at his work.
I give you my honest opinions about Beagle temperament and personality -- positives AND negatives -- in my dog breed review, Beagle Temperament (What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em).
What colors do Beagles come in?
The vast majority of Beagles are some combination of white, brown, and black, either in a tricolor (most common) or bicolor pattern.
The typical tricolor pattern is a black "saddle" on the back, with white legs, chest, stomach, a tan head, and tan markings around the edges of the saddle. Or the tricolor pattern may be "broken" (pied), where the dog is mostly white with patches of brown and black.
Interestingly, most tricolor Beagles are born black and white, with some of the black areas morphing into brown over the first year or two of their life.
In the bicolor pattern, the predominant color is usually white. The second color is usually medium tan or reddish, but may be orange, lemon (cream), liver (brown, with yellowish eyes), blue (smoky gray), or black (very rare).
Bicolor Beagles are often born white, with the second color developing later.
Any Beagle color can be freckled, ticked, mottled, or grizzled.
What kinds of coats do Beagles come in?
Shorthaired only. Befitting a hound who hunts in all weather, the Beagle coat is harsh, dense, and double (which means a harsh outer coat, plus an insulating undercoat). This coat SHEDS a goodly amount.
How much grooming do Beagles need?
Just occasional brushing to keep dirt and dust out of their dense coat. During shedding season (see the next question), you should brush your Beagle every day to pull out the worst of the dead hair so less of it ends up on your floor and furniture.
How much do Beagles shed?
On the high side of average, i.e. moderately heavy. They shed some hairs here and there throughout the year, with the bulk of their shedding occurring twice a year, for three weeks in the spring as their winter coat switches over to a cooler summer coat, and three weeks in the fall as their summer coat switches over to a thicker winter coat.
Do Beagles have a doggy odor?
Yes, all hounds have a doggy odor and it can be quite strong.
Are there different builds in Beagles? My brother has a Beagle from hunting lines, and my sister has a Beagle she rescued from the pound, and both of them look very different from the Beagles at the Westminster Kennel Club show.
Yes, breeders who show their dogs in the conformation ring produce Beagles with a distinctive "chiseled" head and build.
There are also Beagle lines with a square build, and Beagles with shorter legs and a longer back. The square build is definitely preferable -- it's a natural, healthy build. All Beagles from show lines have a square build, and many Beagles from hunting and "pet" lines do, too.
But many "pet line" Beagles have a short-legged, long-backed build. This can be okay if the legs are straight. But when the legs are bowed (like Queen Anne furniture legs), this build is neither natural nor healthy. It's caused by a genetic skeletal deformity called chondrodysplasia, which translates roughly to faulty cartilage.
When a puppy is developing in the womb, his skeleton is first formed in cartilage as a sort of model. As he continues to develop, the cartilage is supposed to be replaced by bone. But if, because of certain inherited genes, the cartilage doesn't get enough blood to transform properly into normal bone, the puppy will be born with incorrect proportions of cartilage and bone. The result is a large head and chest, short, thick, bowed front legs, and a longish back with calcified disks that lack elasticity and cushioning powers and are predisposed to coming loose and protruding into the spinal canal (intervertebral disk disease). Chondrodysplastic dogs are also more susceptible to joint problems, and later in life, arthritis.
So what's a puppy buyer to make of all this? Well, the choice of build is yours, as long as you're aware of the potential risks.
How long do Beagles live, and what health problems do they have?
Typically 12-14 years, but they're not necessarily healthy throughout their long life! You should definitely read my full article, How Long Do Beagle Live?
Do crossbred or mixed breed Beagles make good pets? Like Puggles (Pug/Beagle cross)?
They do make good pets, yes, but first you need to know what a purebred dog really is -- and what crossbred and mixed breed dogs really are. You might think you know, but I bet you'll be surprised by my articles: The Truth About Purebred Dogs, The Truth About Crossbred Dogs, and The Truth About Mixed Breed Dogs.
Can you help me decide whether the Beagle is the best breed for me?
Yes, I offer personal consultations on choosing the best breed for your family and lifestyle. Learn more about my Dog Breed Consulting Service.
Do male dogs or female dogs make better pets?
Ah, let the debate begin! Honestly, male Beagles have pros and cons, and female Beagles have pros and cons. Visit Male Dogs versus Female Dogs
If I just want a dog for a pet, not for showing or breeding, does it matter whether he has AKC registration papers?
First you need to know what registration papers really mean -- and don't mean. You might THINK you know -- but you might be wrong! Find out the truth about AKC Registered Puppies: Are AKC Papers Important?.
There's an adorable Beagle puppy at the pet shop. The store manager assures me they only buy from responsible breeders. Could this be true?
No. There are no responsible Beagle breeders who would ever place one of their Beagle puppies in a pet shop for resale. To find out more about pet shop puppies, visit Pet Shop Puppies: Buying a Puppy From a Pet Store.
How do I find a good Beagle breeder?
It's hard! The sad truth is that the vast majority of people offering Beagle puppies for sale are unknowledgeable, irresponsible, completely clueless -- or all of the above. Visit Dog Breeders: How To Find a Good Breeder.
How do I pick the best Beagle puppy from a litter?
You can do puppy personality tests. Visit How To Choose a Good Puppy.
I'm interested in adopting a dog rather than buying from a dog breeder. How do I find Beagle dogs for adoption?
I just got a new Beagle. Which pages should I read first?
- Beagle Health, which includes my advice on feeding, vaccinations, and health care. These pages are very important, because if you start your Beagle puppy off on the wrong foot, he will probably experience health problems later on. Starting off RIGHT is essential!
- Training Beagles, which includes my advice on respect training, housebreaking, and socialization. Again, you must start your Beagle puppy off on the right foot by teaching him what he needs to know and you must avoid doing the wrong things with him so that he doesn't develop bad habits that will be much harder to fix later on.
What's a good training schedule for training Beagle puppies? What things should I teach, and when?
Here's the puppy training schedule I use for Beagles: Puppy Training Schedule.
How do I housebreak my Beagle?
The key to housebreaking your Beagle is confinement, confinement, confinement. Visit Housebreaking Your Puppy or Adult Dog.
My Beagle has some behavior problems I'd like to solve.
Respect training solves behavior problems much better than obedience training. Visit Respect Training For Puppies and Adult Dogs.
What's the best dog food for Beagles?
Homemade dog food. Visit The Best Dog Food For Your Dog. If you can't feed homemade dog food, there are only a few (very few!) commercial dog food brands I recommend. Visit The Second-Best Dog Food For Your Dog.
I have to take my Beagle to the vet soon for shots. Which vaccinations does he really need?
The schedule of vaccinations that dogs really need has changed dramatically -- but most vets are not telling you the truth about this! Don't let your vet give your Beagle any more shots until you've read my article on Puppy Shots and Dog Vaccinations.
What are the pros and cons of spaying and neutering my Beagle, and when should it be done?
Spaying and neutering are often recommended too early, which can lead to health problems later in life. Visit Spaying Your Female Dog or Neutering Your Male Dog for the straight scoop on the safest (and riskiest) times to spay or neuter.
My vet doesn't agree with some of the things you've written about health care.
That just means he belongs to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). There are two competing veterinary organizations in the United States and they disagree on just about every aspect of canine health care. The health information on my web site comes from vets who belong to the American HOLISTIC Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA). In my opinion, AHVMA vets are better than AVMA vets. Visit Think Your Veterinarian's Good? Here's How To Tell.
I have a question about Beagles that I don't see answered on your web site.
It's probably answered in one of my books:
- If it's a question about training, check out Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.
- If it's about health, see 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy.
- If it's about buying or adopting a dog, you want Dog Quest – Find The Dog Of Your Dreams.
Copyright © 2000-2013 by Michele Welton. All rights reserved.
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