Welcome to the BarkPost guide to dog breeds where we belly flop straight into the depths of dog breed origin, evolution, and purpose. Follow along each week as we publish new guides that highlight the strangest, most interesting, and most surprising stuff about these creatures who have been our best buds the last 30,000 years.
Intro / Overview
The Beagle is one of America's most popular dogs for good reason. Known for their puppy-like expressions, floppy ears, loud braying bark, and happy-go-lucky attitude, Beagles make for loyal and entertaining companions. This breed is also frequently chosen as a family dog due to their reliability around young children and other animals. Even with minimal socialization, they tend to be good-natured and friendly.
Still, Beagles are hound dogs, meaning they'll often alert you to the presence of squirrels, birds, the mail carrier, your neighbors, a gentle breeze, and on and on. In fact, these little hounds are famous for their incredible noses.
Originally bred as hunting dogs, Beagles have about 220 million scent receptors. (For comparison, humans have an average of five million scent receptors.) Like basically any dog, they can be a handful, but with a consistent amount of exercise and some much needed time in nature, these white, black, and brown cuties will have your heart.
Also Known As...
English Beagle. Lil' Noisemaker. "Please, stop howling, I beg of you!"
Beagles are thought to be thousands of years old, stretching back to ancient civilizations in Greece. Although their history is a bit murky, one thing is clear: Beagles have been tracking and hunting prey for centuries.
The earliest dogs referred to as "Beagles" were notably smaller. Standing only 8 or 9 inches tall, they were called "Pocket Beagles," as hunters actually carried them in their pockets. In the early 1800s, breeders in the UK raised several different varieties of larger Beagles to use as hunting companions. These varieties included the Medium Beagle, Dwarf Beagle, Fox Beagle, and the Rough-Coated/Terrier Beagle.
Still, despite their adorable faces, sturdy bodies, and keen sense of smell, Beagles nearly went extinct by the late 1800s. Luckily, a group of Beagle lovers in England formed the Beagle Club and Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles. By the early 1900s, they joined together to raise the number of packs of Beagles living in the UK.
Meanwhile, Beagles crossed the pond in the early 1870s. A man named General Richard Rowett from Illinois imported them from England in order to start establishing a bloodline. Largely in part of Rowett's efforts, Beagles were recognized by the AKC in 1884. Beagles also became popular as family dogs during the 1900s. Now, Beagles are consistently ranked in the "top five" of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S.
There are two varieties of Beagles. The smaller kind is 13 inches tall and under. The other is 13-15 inches tall.
Beagles that are under 13 inches tall weigh under 20 pounds. Larger sized Beagles weigh 20-30 pounds.
Beagles are often described as curious, playful, loud, and loving. Although each individual dog's personality is different, it's rare to meet a shy or cranky Beagle. They're always up for a little fun and adventure.
Although most Beagles enjoy a long romp through the woods, their laid-back personalities also make them the ideal home companion. They love to go for brisk walks, follow their noses through open fields, socialize with other dogs, and then take a nap on your finest couch. In fact, one thing this floppy-eared breed is known for is laziness.
Intelligence / Trainability
Most Beagles can be singular-minded. Why? These hound dogs were bred to find a scent and then follow it to the ends of the earth. Thus, their focus is their nose. Therefore, they're not always as easily trained or interested in complex tricks and tasks as other breeds. Yet, as anyone who has experience with this breed can testify, Beagles are incredible escape artists and tricksters. What's all this mean? They're very bright dogs, but just may not be interested in pleasing you all the time.
Best Training Techniques For Beagles
Although Beagles have been described as "less easy" to train, many people find this to be untrue. All it takes is a leash, some treats, and a calm and positive outlook. In fact, once a Beagle's nose is engaged, basic training could go remarkably quick.
Looking for proof that these little hound dogs can have impeccable behavior? Due to their incredible noses, Beagles have become a highly popular choice not only for hunters, but for law enforcement. They're able to track prohibited and illegal items, such as drugs or explosives, with remarkable accuracy. Thus, nowadays, very well-trained Beagles can often be spotted happily trotting through airports, checkpoints, and other high-security areas.
This high energy breed does best with a yard to roam. That said, they're the right size for an apartment, and they shed minimally. If you can tire them out in the mornings and evenings, they'll likely live a happy life in a small space. (Hint: Hiring a dog walker may be key.) If a Beagle is suffering from pent-up energy, you may receive several noise complaints from neighbors.
Good For Families And Kids?
Beagles were originally bred to be hit the trails. That said, they're notorious for their energetic, playful, merry, and relaxed dispositions. This makes them an excellent breed for young children. Like all dogs, however, they should have a careful and polite introduction with kids. This highly-vocal dog may obsessively bark at running children if not properly socialized. And of course, as with any dog, they're animals, and thus should not be left alone with small children, for the dog and the child's sake.
The life expectancy of a Beagle is 10-15 years.
Beagles are generally strong and healthy dogs. As this popular breed continues to attract more breeders though, issues such as hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, epilepsy, luxating patella, and eye disorders are on the rise. If you buy a Beagle from a breeder, make sure to do diligent research ahead of time. Responsible breeders screen for these chronic issues.
Don't be fooled by those sweet faces and big brown eyes. These scent hounds are active dogs that love to play and socialize. A brisk walk or two a day is satisfactory, but more active Beagles may require a daily run or trip to the dog park as well. In fact, without at least an hour of exercise a day, they'll likely start making trouble for you and the rest of the neighborhood. Going for hikes, creating games involving their powerful sense of smell, and playing with toys in the yard will also help burn energy.
Friendly With... (Dogs? Strangers? Cats/Other Pets?)
As Beagles were bred to hunt in packs, they are usually friendly with other dogs from the get-go. And despite their instinct to track and chase prey, they also have a reputation for getting along well with cats. That stated, Beagles—like all dogs—should be introduced to their new feline roommates in a safe, calm, and controlled environment.
In regards to strangers, Beagles may be initially friendly or wary, depending on the individual dog. Either way, Beagles are known for alerting to their people that a stranger is approaching.
Coat & Grooming
Beagles have smooth and shiny double coats that get heavier in the winter. Thus, spring is their major shedding season. Meaning, plan on removing a lot of loose fur come April or May. Otherwise, a weekly brushing will suffice just fine. Beagles also need to have their large and floppy ears cleaned and checked for ticks regularly.
Beagles are known for their curiosity, friendliness, and high-decibel howling. Although a Beagle's howl is its most unique attribute, its unfortunately also the most common reason they end up at shelters or rescues. While even the noisiest of Beagles will quiet down once they've been taken on a long walk or run, their status as "loudmouth" is part of what makes them such lovable, quirky dogs.
Toys Beagles Would Like Best
So you're looking for dog toys Beagles would love, huh?
Due to their history of tracking and hunting, Beagles love a challenge that involves their noses. Therefore, treat dispensers or puzzle toys can be a good choice for these energetic pups. Balls and toys with squeakers are also fun for this breed to romp around with, although they might not always bring the ball back.
All that said, some Beagles are just more laidback and uninterested in games. Thus, they may prefer to cuddle up with their favorite plush toy.
If you're looking for an extended list, make sure to check out our post "What Are The Best Toys For Beagles?" which covers all the essentials.
Recommended Diet Or Supplements
Although most Beagles live healthy lives, they're not known to be picky eaters. Their nose will lead them into consuming all sorts of things they maybe shouldn't. Thus, in order to prevent obesity (and an upset stomach), Beagles' daily caloric intake should be monitored carefully. A grain free diet might help prevent weight gain, but everything in moderation, et cetera.
Because of the rise in hip dysplasia in Beagles, you may want to consider supplements to help your guy or girl.
BARK's Full Spectrum Hemp Oil is made of organically grown whole plants, grown in Colorado, and is non-psychoactive. It comes in 100mg, 250mg, and 500mg varieties, and can help with pet anxiety and pain relief. ($17.99-22.99.)
This joint supplement is veterinarian-formulated, made with all natural ingredients (glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid), and comes in the form of 150 soft chews. Basically, it looks and tastes just like delicious treats, and it could really help your Border Collie with their hip and joint issues. ($32.99.)
If you’ve noticed your older Beagle losing energy or expressing that they’re in pain due to hip dysplasia or arthritis, give your dog a bed that treats them right. Just as orthopedic shoes and memory foam beds can help humans feel some relief throughout the day and give them a good night’s rest, they can help our canine companions, too.
This dog bed is great for supporting your pup's tired body. A high quality combination of ergonomic memory foam and gel foam helps ease body aches, joint pain, hip dysplasia and arthritis. This bed offers the best therapeutic support for your hardworking pal. ($27.99-64.99.)
Notable Rescues To Find The Beagle of Your Dreams
- The Midwest Beagle Rescue removes Beagles from high-kill shelters and places them in loving Midwestern homes. They often have at least a dozen Beagles available for adoption at one time. As well, they are always looking for families willing to adopt senior Beagles.
- SOS (Save Our Snoopies) Beagle Rescue also saves homeless or abandoned Beagles. Located in New Jersey, Tennessee, and Alabama, this team of volunteers helps match Beagles with families all over the U.S.
- The Beagle Freedom Project, based out of Los Angeles (though it operates nationwide), is a non-profit organization devoted to rehoming Beagles who've been the victim of lab experimentation. Adopting lab Beagles can be difficult to start - they have very little experience with people, other animals, or the world - but it will almost certainly be a rewarding experience in the end.
Notable Instagram Beagles
These baby-faced dogs deserve all the love and, yes, they get a lot online. @TheBeagleLouie features pics of Belgium-based Beagle friends Louie and Marie. The account also donates to Beagle rescues.
@MJ_the_Beagle also attracts a lot of Instagram fans. With a wrinkled brow, visits to famous locations, and now a little Beagle brother, this account will have you scrolling for hours.
George of Its_Georges_World is a Beagle with a ridiculously adorable face. As one of the BARK office dogs, he has the job of testing dog toys and treats, modeling for photographs, and also, uhm, well...napping? Sometimes? Hey, it's an incredibly important job!
***Looking for a gift to blow your Beagle's mind? Spoil them with a BarkBox! Every month BarkBox delivers 2 original toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and a chew. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month. <-- This deal is worth up to $120 in value if you sign up for a 12-month subscription! :)
Featured image via It's George's World/Instagram