Originating in England, this small to medium size dog was bred to scent track. Their nose to the ground, ears flapping and they are off and running!
In the Hound group, there are two types of Beagles. The smaller Show type is usually a bit calmer and makes a better family pet. The Field type, is larger, more high-strung and born to work.
The ideal weight for a Beagle is 20-30 pounds. They are voracious eaters, so care must be taken to prevent them from being overweight. It can trigger health problems.
They come in the usual hound colors, most common being tri-colored.
Ask a Beagle owner to describe their dog and you will hear: independent, loving, sweet, friendly, great with the kids, even-tempered, sociable, brave, loud, and lots of fun. Rarely if ever, will you the word 'calm." They do have an exceptionally high prey drive, so they must be socialized early on with other animals. They are also highly excitable, so supervision is a must around small children and the elderly.
They make great watchdogs, thanks to their baying, barking and howling. Don't expect them to make good guard dogs. Strangers can usually win them over quite quickly with a few kind words, a pat under the chin or a treat or two.
Beagles are not the easiest dogs to house or obedience train. Positive reinforcement Puppy Kindergarten is a must, as early as possible. The one command you will have the most difficulty with is recall. They tune out the word "come!" Once a Beagle is on a scent, they will totally ignore you! Because of that, never let your Beagle off lead. If in an open field, make sure you have them on a long lead. It's an unfortunate fact that shelters and rescues are overflowing with Beagles that have strayed away!
If your Beagle is not clear on your leadership, you will find they will develop behavioral problems. Some can be serious. Make sure you establish and maintain your status and they get plenty of exercise and you should have no problems.
Beagles need more exercise than other dogs. Long walks on lead will help to reinforce your status as the leader. However they also need a large yard or dog park visits to help take the edge off on their inherent need to track. When not tracking, they get bored easily, so be prepared to find ways to challenge them mentally.
Grooming can be an ongoing thing. Beagles love to roll on anything that stinks. The more it reeks, the greater the draw to roll in it. Be prepared to bathe them...a lot! Other than that, with their short hair, grooming is pretty simple.
Because Beagles usually are free of the majority inherited health problems, they are the most popular dogs for medical experimentation. That doesn't mean they are free of all health issues. Eye problems such as cataracts, glaucoma, disk disease, arthritis, ear infections and epilepsy are what most veterinarians treat.
Their average lifespan is 12-15 years.
Reverse sneezing is something Beagles are famous for. Even though it sounds like they are choking, honking and gasping for air, it's not a serious health problem.
Bottom line: Do your homework. Learn everything you can about Beagles before making a commitment. As a family dog, they are fun. However, they can be challenging, especially for inexperienced dog owners. They need fair, firm and consistent leadership and boundaries at all times. Stay away from flea market, backyard breeders and pet stores. Shelters and rescues never have a shortage of Beagles, so check them out. Who knows, your new best friend may be there, waiting for you.