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Honest FAQ for Beagles

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books


It's tough to find a good Beagle. There are more poorly-bred individuals than well-bred, and poorly bred Beagles can be neurotic creatures with numerous health problems. Well-bred Beagles are hardy dogs with a merry temperament.

What kind of temperament and personality does the Beagle have?

The most descriptive words that come to my mind regarding Beagle temperament and behavior are:

lively, easygoing, independent, stubborn, noisy, food-oriented, wanderer

I give you my honest opinions about Beagle temperament and personality traits and characteristics – positives AND negatives – in my dog breed review, Beagle Temperament and Personality Traits (What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em).

Where did the name Beagle come from?

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 or Gaelic word beag  (meaning "little").

Or it might come from the French words begueule  (meaning "open throat") or beugler  (meaning "to bellow") – both references to the Beagle's baying on the trail.

What were Beagles used for?

Beagles are scenthounds (hunting by scent) from England. The Beagle bays enthusiastically as he trails rabbits, either solo or in a pack.

What traits would help Beagles accomplish their work? That's right... high energy, powerful nose, very vocal, strong chasing instincts, athleticism, endurance, persistence, and independent thinking.

Because of their fantastic scenting ability and convenient size, Beagles are also used as sniffer dogs for drug, bomb, and termite detection. Yup, termites!

How big are Beagles? Height and weight?

Most Beagles are 13-16 inches at the shoulder, and 20-30 pounds, which puts them in the MIDSIZE category.

However, some lines are smaller: 10-13 inches, and 15-20 pounds, which are in the SMALL category.

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 a tan head and tan markings around the edges of the saddle, plus white legs, chest, and stomach.

Alternatively, the tricolor pattern may be "pied": mostly white with random patches of brown and black.

In the bicolor pattern, the predominant color is white, and the second color is usually tan or reddish, but may be lemon (cream), or smokey blue/gray, or occasionally some other color.

Do Beagles come in different "types"?


Show type Beagle

Yes, breeders who show their dogs in the conformation ring produce Beagles with a distinctive "chiseled" head, a consistent square build (length about the same as height) and flashy color pattern.

"Field" type (or hunting type) Beagles, on the other hand, vary more in size, shape, and colors.

Let me emphasize the proper square build... it's the healthiest shape for Beagles.


Short-legged, long-backed Beagle

Unfortunately a lot of poorly bred Beagles have short legs and a long back. Now, if those short legs are straight, it might still be okay.

But when the legs are bowed (like Queen Anne furniture legs), this is not a healthy build. It's caused by a genetic skeletal deformity called chondrodysplasia, which predisposes the dog to intervertebral disk disease and joint problems.

Do Beagles have a doggy odor?

Yes, Beagles, like most other scenthound breeds, tend to have a distinctive doggy odor.

How much exercise do Beagles need?

Beagles need much more exercise than most owners give them, which is why you see so many pudgy, unhealthy Beagles. Start with walks, sure – long brisk walks. But you also need a good-sized yard for romping, else your Beagle will vent his pent-up energy through barking and baying and chewing destructively.

You can also set up a miniature obstacle course and run around it with your Beagle, coaxing, encouraging, and rewarding. Your Beagle will love you even more if you get him involved in AKC activities called Scentwork.  and Beagle Field Trials.

Do Beagles need a fenced yard?

Absolutely... preferably with a high solid fence, as young Beagles can climb wire or chain link. Why a fenced yard? and best and worst fences.

Are Beagles easy to train?

Yes and No. Beagles will do anything for food, but once the food is gone, pfftt. So is a Beagle's likelihood of obeying your commands.

Like all scenthounds, Beagles are independent thinkers. They have little desire to please – everything is on a "What's in it for me?" basis. They're experts at clowning around to distract you from even a well-deserved correction. If that fails, a Beagle will give you his saddest, most pitiful look, gazing at you with his large, liquid eyes that accuse you, "How could you do this to me...?"

You must persist with a Beagle until he recognizes that HE is the follower in your leader-follower relationship. Then a Beagle can be great fun to live with. But first they need to know their place.

Are Beagles easy to housebreak?

Some Beagles have no problems with housetraining. Others can be a bit... dirty, which will require more time and persistence. Use a crate or pen and don't give in to the temptation to let a Beagle loose in the house too soon. Sadly, the vast majority of non-housebroken Beagles were made that way by their owner.

Are Beagles friendly with people?

Most Beagles are friendly with everyone. Some Beagles, especially mature individuals, can be more reserved with strangers, although still polite. And some are a bit timid. A well-bred Beagle is never aggressive; unfortunately, a poorly-bred Beagle CAN be aggressive.

Are Beagles good with children?

Well-bred Beagles are usually fine with children. Poorly-bred Beagles should not be in homes with small children, as these dogs can be on the high-strung and may react defensively if a child steps over the line.

Are Beagles good with other dogs?

Well-bred Beagles from show lines or field lines are good-natured with other dogs. Poorly-bred Beagles are unpredictable... might be ok, might not.

Are Beagles good with cats?

Beagles are usually fine with cats in their own family. But they have excitable chasing instincts, so don't keep one with smaller prey animals like pet rodents or rabbits.

How much do Beagles shed?

Befitting a hound who hunts in all weather, the Beagle coat is harsh, dense, and double (which means a protective outer coat, plus an insulating undercoat). This coat sheds a lot, all through the year.

Are Beagles hypoallergenic? Good for people with allergies?

Absolutely not.

How much grooming do Beagles need?

Just occasional brushing to remove dirt and dust from their dense coat. During heavy shedding periods, brush every day to pull out the worst of the dead hair so less of it ends up on your floor and furniture.

What's a good training schedule for training Beagle puppies?

Here's the puppy training schedule I use for Beagles: Puppy Training Schedule.

What behavior problems do Beagles tend to have?

The Beagles in my obedience classes are there because they've been baying for all the neighbors to hear, stealing food whenever the owner turns his back, jumping on people, digging holes, and destructive chewing. Poorly bred Beagles may have temperament flaws – reactive aggression, or fearfulness, or food guarding.

What health problems might Beagles have?

Skin disorders (growths, itching), chronic ear infections, serious hereditary eye diseases that can lead to blindness, intervertebral disk disease, epilepsy, heart disease, urinary diseases, low thyroid... lots of health issues in Beagles.

What breeds are similar to the Beagle?

  • The Harrier looks nearly identical to a Beagle, just bigger: 19-21 inches and 45-60 pounds. Although the Harrier is an AKC-recognized breed, it is very uncommon and hard to find.
  • Next up in size are Foxhounds (American, and English). Both breeds are AKC-recognized but are almost never seen outside of hunting venues.
  • Then there are Coonhounds, which are more common than Foxhounds, but still primarily used for hunting.
  • Basset Hounds have a similar history as a rabbit hunter, which means a similar temperament and behavior. But Basset Hounds are a much heavier breed than the Beagle, and the Basset's unique appearance is loved by some potential owners, and hugely disliked by others.

Where can I buy a Beagle puppy?

Show breeder, field/hunting breeder, pet breeder? Read my article.

Where can I adopt an older Beagle?

Rescue group or humane society/shelter? Read my article.

I just got a new Beagle. Which pages should I read first?

  • Beagle Health, which includes my advice on feeding, vaccinations, and daily 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.

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

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 responsible Beagle breeder 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 pick the best Beagle puppy from a litter?

You can do puppy personality tests. Visit How To Choose a Good Puppy.

What's the best dog food for Beagles?

3 Best Ways To Feed Your Dog Healthy Food.

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 unfortunately most vets are not telling you this, because a good chunk of their income depends on frequent vaccinations. Please don't get any more shots for your Beagle 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.

I have a question about Beagles that I don't see answered on your web site.

It's probably answered in one of my free online books.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

My best-selling books – now available  FREE  on my website

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy is for puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know. Click here to read for free.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say. Click here to read for free.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life. Get my honest advice about all 11 Things before you bring home your new puppy, because some mistakes with early health care cannot be undone. Click here to read for free.