Beagle - Breed Information
Although they were initially bred as fierce hunting dogs, Beagles are generally well-mannered and one of the friendliest of canine breeds. It is no wonder then that the American Kennel Club ranked them as the fifth most popular dog breed in the United States. However, there are a couple of things that you need to know about these dogs before deciding to get one.
Beagles are sturdy hunting canines and look like mini Foxhounds. They are compact and have coats that need very little grooming. There are two different sizes for this type: the 13-inch tall and 15-inch tall Beagle.
Coat colors include typical hound colors -- tri-color, red, lemon and white. The large eyes are brown or hazel. The ears are broad and long, the nose is black, and the tail is set high, however, does not curl over the back.
Some records steer to the 1500s as the Beagle's origin, however, such information is yet to be verified. What is known is that these dogs existed in England well before the Romans. It is believed that they are the ancestors of most sighthounds today. One good example is the Foxhound which was a favorite breed of hunting dog in the 18th century and produced by crossing the Beagle with a Dollar Hound.
Search hounds in the southern states of America were called Beagles even before 1870. However, these dogs were straight-legged with weaker heads. Beagles from a well-bred strain were imported to the United States and crossed with native search hounds to produce the Beagles we see today.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) added the Beagle to their registry in 1885, and the National Beagle Club of America was established shortly thereafter.
One of the first things that you need to know about Beagles is that their behavior does not change whether you are getting a puppy or an adult. Beagles love the outdoors and easily get excited when they pick up a scent. This behavior stems from one of their outstanding attributes as a hunting dog which is an incredibly keen sense of smell. Beagles specialize in tracking, and they have an instinct to pursue a scent relentlessly until they uncover the source. Such behavior is one thing that you need to look out for if you want to get a Beagle for a pet. For one thing, you should never let them off their leash during a walk as they have a one-track mind once they detect an unusual scent. You will find that it is nearly impossible to catch their attention when they are on the trail.
As family pets, Beagles are not too particular about the people around them and are generally not aggressive to new people they meet. These qualities make them enjoyable to have around children and are a favorite sight in dog parks and doggie playdates.
Beagles will start showing their innate ability to track a scent even from a young age, and you must follow them carefully with a leash on hand. You will find that there are stories of owners losing their Beagle due to this unusual behavior.
As hunting dogs, they were typically raised as a pack as early breeders felt that it would be better for them to hunt in packs rather than alone. As a result, Beagles crave attention and seek companionship so you should only get one if you are sure you can give them the time and attention they need.
Potential Health Problems
Although Beagles belong to an active and healthy breed, they are still susceptible to specific illnesses which include the following:
- Heart disease
- Eye problems
- Chondrodysplasia (cartilage and bone problems)
- Mast cell growths
- Back problems
It is not to say that your Beagle is sure to develop the health problems mentioned above. Nevertheless, it is vital that owners be mindful of them and keep up with annual veterinary consultations.
Care and Grooming
Like all hunting dogs, Beagles are highly energetic. However, if given adequate exercise, you will find that they are on the calmer side. You do not have to do anything too tedious to keep them active. Talking to your Beagle over a long walk is more than sufficient.
Shedding is average, so grooming a Beagle isn't too time-consuming. Owners need only sweep their coat with a bristle brush at least once a week. Bathing is done only when necessary and not too often. Examine the ears routinely for drainage and infection.
It is likewise essential to check for ticks, cuts, and debris on Beagles that spend much time outdoors. Check and clean the teeth daily, and preserve nails at an appropriate length.
Wondering how a dog owner will always remember and appreciate you? Get that person to hang a Beagle Calendar in their room and when they look at it on their wall, they'll be grateful to you.