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The Beagle is a scent hound that originated as a cross between the Harrier and other various English hounds. Since their inception, Beagles have been used solely and in packs to hunt pheasant, quail, rabbit, and hare. Beagles have also been used as bomb and narcotics detection dogs. Sadly, due to their unusually high potential to develop tumors when compared to other breeds, as well as their uniform and small, compact size, they have been extensively used in medical research.

The Beagle is a well muscled, compact hound dog that wears a smooth, shorthaired coat that comes in many colors or combinations of colors: black and tan, red and white, orange and white, or lemon and white. The skull is broad and slightly rounded, and the muzzle is straight and square, with long, wide, pendant ears. Eyes are light brown to hazel, and the tail is medium, carried upright, but never curled up.

The Beagle is a gentle and affectionate, highly intelligent, people oriented dog. They are very tolerant of small children, get along well with other dogs, but should not be trusted with non-canine or pocket pets due to their strong hunting instincts. However, if introduced with with patience and supervision, many Beagles peacefully coexist with cats.

Beagles are often stubborn and seemingly resistant to training, which often discourages novice Beagle owners to give up. However, patience is very much a virtue when it comes to training Beagles. They crave consistency and leadership, and with both, Beagles are realistically very trainable. When leadership is not displayed by an owner, it could lead to undesirable behavior from a Beagle, such as obsessive barking, guarding behavior, and even biting. These are not innate traits of the Beagle, but stem from a dog not knowing it place in the “pack.”

Beagles adapt well to apartment living as long as sufficient exercise is provided with daily brisk walks and regular opportunity to run in an open area. A house with at least a medium sized yard is ideal. It is important to make certain that a Beagle is exercised adequately, as this naturally active dog with remarkable stamina can end up acting quite naughty if their energy is not expended.

The Beagle’s short hair coat is easily maintained, with brushing a couple times a week all that is necessary for the coat to remain renewed and shiny. Bathing should only be necessary occasionally and should not be done more often than once every 2 weeks.

General measurements:

Height: Males 12-19 inches. Bitches 8-15 inches.

Weight: Males 25-35 pounds. Bitches 20-30 pounds.

Beagles are prone to epilepsy, progressive retinal atrophy, heart murmurs, and tumor growth. For this reason, it is important to ask a breeder for documentation of pre-breeding screening of the bitch and sire prior to purchase of a puppy. Life expectancy is about 12-14 years.


Roger L. Welton, DVM
Founder and Chief Editor,
President, Maybeck Animal Hospital

Article updated 9/10/2012

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