A few months ago, I blogged about German Shepherd Dogs (http://www.myzooanimalhospital.com/the-german-shepherd-dog) and Labrador Retrievers (http://www.myzooanimalhospital.com/the-labrador-retriever). So this next blog post is about another popular breed: the beagle. Beagles ranked 4th this year on number of registrations through the AKC.
I grew up with a beagle. I think I was in 4th grade when Mr. Bailey joined our house. Our neighbor bought an adorable beagle puppy for his significant other…who didn’t want a dog. My brother and I climbed over the fence and played with the puppy almost every day. Occasionally we even dug holes under the fence, and said the dog did it to get in our yard! It became clear that we loved that dog, and my neighbor asked if we wanted him. My brother and I joyfully ran in the house and begged our parents to keep him. He was an awesome dog for next 15 years, but he didn’t start out as the perfect pet. That first year we owned him, he nearly destroyed our house from chewing, the dog catchers knew us by name, and my mom nearly rehomed him! What changed? We got him neutered, and that helped with his roaming. We built a better fence around our yard. Every single evening my dad would work on his obedience training for an hour or two. By the end of his life, Mr. Bailey would sit, stay, roll over, play dead, speak, jump through hoop, stand on a platform, and “find George” (my brother). He passed away from old age while I was in veterinary school. He was 16 years old.
So what makes a beagle a great pet? Like any breed, they aren’t the right dog for all families. Like any other dog, they require training. Here’s some information on the breed:
Small beagle-like hounds have been around for probably thousands of years. They tracked rabbits and deer on hunts in England as early as the 1500s. Over many years of selective breeding, the modern day breed was established.
Beagles are medium to small dogs in the hound group. They range from 13 to 16 inches tall at the shoulder, and can weigh up to 35 pounds. They feature a square-ish, medium length muzzle. Most of the time their eyes are brown or hazel and feature a “houndlike-expression gentle and pleading” (AKC breed standard). They have long, soft ears that can reach to the tip of the nose. While the tricolor is most commonly what we think of as a typical beagle color, beagles can come in a variety of colors: black, brown, white, lemon, tan, and more.
Beagles are described as “happy go lucky” dogs who are eager to please. They are usually very social and enjoy the company of other dogs and people. As scent hounds, they can get in trouble following their noses to places they shouldn’t be. Beagles can be very stubborn.
Beagles as hounds
Beagles are hounds and they were bred to track animals. They have a very keen sense of smell and can be trained to detect a variety of substances. There is a “Beagle Brigade” that assists in the detection of illegally imported agricultural food for the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
Beagles are generally healthy dogs, but can be prone to a number of health issues: obesity, hypothyroidism, back issues, and heart disease. Your beagle should receive an annual exam from a veterinarian to make sure your pet is healthy.
Beagles are commonly featured in movies, comic strips, and television shows. Of course we all recognize the world’s most famous beagle: Snoopy!