- Breed group — Hound Group (American Kennel Club)
- Height — 13-15 inches
- Weight — 18-35 pounds
- Coat length & texture — Short, smooth double coat
- Coat color — Tri-color (black, tan, and white) is the most common color, although there are up to 25 possible color combinations
- Exercise needs — Daily
- Intelligence — Medium
- Barking — More vocal than most
- Life span — 10-15 years
- Temperament — Playful, adventurous, joyful, and spunky
- Hypoallergenic — No
- Origin — Great Britain
Beagle fun facts
- Beagles tend to be more food obsessed than many other breeds and this can make them prone to obesity.
- Charlie Brown’s Snoopy was the American Kennel Club’s first registered fictional beagle.
- Beagles love to work. Known for their sense of smell, beagles are great rabbit hunters and are even employed as airport security’s “Beagle Brigade.”
Beagle temperament and characteristics
Despite the pleading expression, these medium-sized dogs are known and loved for their playful and affectionate temperament. Black, white, and brown (tri-color) beagles are the most common, but many different colors, including tan and white or the less-common lemon, are possible. Puppies are born black and white, and their color can change throughout their lives.
This breed tends to get along well with other animals, but it’s important to remember their natural instincts. Beagles were bred for hunting and have strong noses and prey drive. Some beagles will instinctively chase other animals that they might perceive as prey. Still, the beagle breed are pack animals and may even come to see the neighborhood cat as one of their own! Generally speaking, beagles are great with children of all ages. The National Beagle Club of America points out that families with small children should first consider the workload required to train a beagle puppy, as they can be quite stubborn and need a lot of attention. Beagles resent being left alone and can get bored or stressed easily. They are prone to get into mischief when left alone too long, including digging or howling for attention. Beagles are not good guard dogs because they commonly act friendly, even toward strangers.
The Beagle has a short, smooth, traditionally tri-colored coat with a black saddle, tan head and legs, and white chest and muzzle. They may also have different variations of these colors, such as red and white or lemon and white. The AKC breed standard accepts only solid colors (no mixes). Any true hound color and up to 25 possible color combinations are possible. We teamed up with FidoTabby Alert, and according to their database, a common coat pattern for the Beagle is (32%) tri-color.
Common beagle health problems
Beagles are a generally healthy breed and can have a lifespan of 15 years or more when well-cared for. There’s no guarantee that your dog will develop certain problems, but there are issues common to beagles that you should know about.
- Hip dysplasia. Although it is more common in large breeds, hip dysplasia can affect beagles. Possible culprits for hip dysplasia are overfeeding as a puppy and too much high-impact exercise on a hard surface (like concrete). Pain and severity from dysplasia can gradually happen over time. Look for signs like sensitivity in the hip area, limping, moving less, and depression. A hip X-ray or MRI may be required to diagnose this condition, and it can be managed with anti-inflammatory medication or surgery.
- Hypothyroidism. Beagles are predisposed to hypothyroidism, a common ailment for dogs. Pet owners can look for signs like lethargy, unexplained weight gain, cold intolerance, excessive shedding, thinning coat, and increased susceptibility to skin and ear infections. A blood test is needed for diagnosis and treatment. The disease is treatable but not curable, and the severity of each dog’s condition will determine how much it will affect their lives. Most dogs will have a normal life span by managing hypothyroidism with oral medication.
- Epilepsy. Like hypothyroidism, beagles are prone to epilepsy or seizure disorder. The condition is considered genetic and typically develops between the ages of one and five. Though uncommon, a beagle can develop epilepsy as late as nine years old. A seizure can be very distressing for a dog owner, but the best thing to do is stay calm and time the episode. If the seizure lasts more than five minutes, go to an emergency veterinarian immediately. Avoid touching your dog during a seizure unless they need to be moved to safety. Not all seizures are convulsions, so pay attention to other signs like falling to the floor rather than laying down normally, staring blankly while standing, and more. Typically, epilepsy can be managed with lifelong medication.
- Cherry eye. Beagles and other hounds commonly suffer from cherry eye, a condition that occurs when your pup’s third eye gland slips out of place. If you notice a red mass in the inner corner of your dog’s eye, it’s time to call the vet. The red bulge can come and go, so it’s not a good idea to assume the issue has self-corrected. Thankfully, cherry eye is usually painless. Surgery is typically necessary to prevent a recurrence that can cause issues as they age.
Cost of caring for a beagle
Apart from the cost of vet visits, beagle owners may incur the cost of monthly medications. Conditions like hypothyroidism and epilepsy require lifelong medication to manage. While confirmatory testing may cost more, testing for hypothyroidism will typically be under $150 in the initial phase, and owners can expect to pay $20-$50 monthly if medication is necessary. The cost of caring for an epileptic dog, on the other hand, can vary greatly depending on the severity. The most common drug prescribed for epilepsy (phenobarbital) can range from $30 to $110 monthly.
Since beagles are predisposed to several health conditions, health insurance may be a way to reduce out-of-pocket expenses. Pet owners who sign up their pets early reap insurance’s greatest benefits. A pet savings account is a viable alternative and will help owners prepare for routine vet visits and any health issues that may arise.
History of the beagle
There is a bit of mystery surrounding the origin of the beagle. The first mention of the beagle comes from writings from ancient Greece. Documents from 15th-century England often refer to small “scent hounds” used for hunting. Beagles have been adored since they appeared on the scene, regardless of who their early ancestors were. The term “beagle” appears in Shakespeare’s writings, and Queen Elizabeth the first was known for her “pocket beagles,” a tiny nine-inch tall breed that is now extinct. In the late 1800s, beagles were imported to the United States from England to create the modern breed we recognize today. Shortly after that, beagles were officially recognized by the American Kennel Club. Today, the AKC recognizes two varieties or sizes of the beagle breed: the 13-inch and the 15-inch.
As far as popularity, the beagle has been consistently adored in America for decades, rarely falling out of the top 10 in the perennial list of most popular dog breeds.
The word “beagle” is believed to come from the French word “begueule,” which translates to “open throat.” You’ll understand why if you’ve ever heard a beagle bay or howl!
Caring for your beagle
Taking good care of a beagle puppy can be overwhelming. Pet parents will need to make their first trip to the vet and schedule their dog’s vaccinations. Back home, owners will think about puppy-proofing the environment and getting ready for teething. Although no one likes to think about their new pup going missing, FidoAlert provides a free Fido ID and tag, so you’re prepared just in case. Unfortunately, beagles are the most common breed for lab testing and are in danger of being stolen and sold for those purposes. For that reason, microchipping is extra important.
Beagles are adaptable family dogs that do just fine in almost any environment, including an apartment, as long as they get adequate physical and mental stimulation. They’ll do well as a family dog, with other animals, and as the “only child” lavished with love! Plenty of exercise and attention is needed to keep this high-energy breed healthy and happy. Aim for a long walk or two brisk walks daily and lots of playtimes.
Beagles need outdoor time to explore with their nose, expel energy, and don’t do well being crated for long periods. Pet parents away from home for eight hours a day or more should know that beagles don’t like to be alone and may become destructive if they’re not getting enough attention.
Beagles have a dense double coat that sheds in the spring. Throughout the year, expect some moderate shedding. Brush your dog’s short coat weekly with a quality bristle brush to stimulate hair growth and release dead hair. A beagle’s coat naturally repels dirt, but bathing once a month is recommended to wash away any built-up odor.
As with any breed, keep your beagle’s nails clipped down with the proper clippers or grinder. You should also inspect those floppy ears for signs of infection and to keep them clean.
Dogs get gum disease five times more than humans, so don’t neglect your pooch’s pearly whites! Brushing three times per week is recommended. Talk with your vet about safe dental water additives to further protect against periodontal issues.
Diet and nutrition
As a breed, beagles don’t have special dietary requirements. Instead, aim to feed your beagle high-quality, nutrient-dense food twice daily. Talk with your vet about portioning for your fur baby. Generally speaking, an adult beagle should have roughly 1.5 to 2 cups of food daily, split into two meal times. Many beagles are food-motivated and “always hungry,” but it’s not necessarily their fault! Hunting dogs have it in their DNA to be constantly looking for food. Turning your precious pooch down for another treat can be hard, but remember that beagles are prone to obesity, damaging their health.
Training your beagle
Beagles can be challenging to train. They can be a stubborn breed with a one-track mind which is inbred in their genes as hunting dogs. Once something has your beagle’s attention, it can be near impossible to redirect them. The issue is not that beagles aren’t smart but that they have an instinctive intelligence that motivates them to complete the task at hand. Once you understand your beagle, training becomes easier. Beagles respond well to positive reinforcement, especially in the form of treats (food-motivated). As with most dogs, it’s best to train your beagle as a puppy. Before you set out to train your beagle, make sure they are getting plenty of regular exercise. Pet parents should expect a lot of repetition and patience to train a beagle.
The National Beagle Club of America recommends that beagles are walked on a leash at all times and ideally have a securely fenced-in area to exercise (no invisible fencing, please).
Breeds similar to the beagle
Not sure that a beagle is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:
- Foxhound. Both English and American Foxhounds are medium-sized, high-energy dogs bred to hunt foxes. Foxhounds are great family dogs with low maintenance, short hair, and a friendly disposition.
- Harrier. Harriers are the most like beagles in appearance and temperament and are sometimes known as “beagles on steroids.” They are high-energy but gentle, taller, and roughly double the weight of a standard beagle.
- Basset hound. Basset hounds are natural hunters, affectionate, gentle, and social. They are lower energy and require a more moderate amount of exercise.
Be a smarter pet parent
Sign up for the best pet advice you can get
Frequently asked questions
What is a scent hound?
Scent hounds, like beagles, track things with their incredible sense of smell. Scent hounds will follow their nose anywhere it leads and will commonly forsake all else in search of a scent.
Are beagles good family dogs?
Yes, beagles tend to be loyal to their “pack” and like to share the love equally. Unlike some breeds who cling to a particular family member, beagles are happy to be adored by all.
Are beagles a good fit for small children?
With proper training, yes! Although they’re high-energy, beagles are often gentle and small enough to be a great choice for families with small children. Beagles love both running and playing as well as a good snuggle, making them a great choice for kids of all ages.
Are beagles loud?
The short answer is yes. Beagles use their voice to communicate more than most other breeds, so barking, howling, and baying are common. Beagles may bark or howl to share their exciting new discovery with you. Beagles are naturally noisy, but adequate exercise can help with pent-up energy that can result in more barking.
Why is my beagle so disobedient?
Beagles were bred for endurance and persistence. A beagle living in an apartment rather than hunting rabbits in the woods can sometimes prove to be frustrating. Understanding your beagle and reinforcing commands and training with positivity can help.