September 26, 2020 4 min read

The beagle is a dog breed that is becoming an ever-more familiar sight on the streets and in the dog parks of the UK as more and more people get to know the breed and appreciate their good points as pets. 

This small, comical and very personable little dog from the hound grouping has a lot to recommend them to various different types of owners, but they’re not the right choice of pet for everyone – and up until as recently as a couple of decades ago, the beagle wasn’t widely considered to be a viable pet dog as opposed to working hound at all.

If you are wondering if a beagle might be the right choice of dog for you or if you’re trying to narrow down your options of breeds to consider and the beagle is one that you’re thinking about, you need to do plenty of research and do your homework first, to ensure that you don’t rush into a decision that you later regret.

With this in mind, this article will tell you ten things you need to know about the beagle dog breed, before you go ahead and make a final decision on buying one. Read on to learn more.

Beagles have only transitioned to pet life relatively recently

Up until around a couple of decades ago, beagles really weren’t a common sight in suburban Britain, and they were kept almost exclusively as working dogs and in rural areas. 

Beagles were originally used for hunting hares, which was known as “beagling” (hence the breed’s name) and they were widely kept in rural areas as working hunting dogs for most of their history, only transitioning to life as pets in large numbers relatively recently in their history.

They thrive in a pack environment

Beagles are very social dogs that historically, worked in packs or pairs with other beagles, and that would have been housed in communal kennels, with most beagles never spending any time at all outside of the company of other dogs.

They are still very social and outgoing with other dogs today and love the company of others, which means that they thrive in a multi-dog household and get on well with newcomers in the dog park too.

They have excellent scenthound skills

Beagles are scenthounds rather than sighthounds, and historically, hunted for their prey of hares by scenting them, and they retain strong scenting skills today.

This means that they spend a lot of their time when out on walks sniffing around and picking up interesting aromas to pursue, and can often be found rooting about in the undergrowth and hedges if something catches their attention or smells particularly exciting!

Beagles have a very strong prey drive

When you combine the traits of excellent scenting abilities and a long working history as a breed widely used for hunting, the end result is a dog with a very strong and innate prey drive. This means that beagles can and will instinctively chase after hares and rabbits when out on walks and may be very efficient at catching them too, and so care must be taken to protect wildlife and keep the dog in check or muzzled.

They will also of course chase domestic pets like cats as well if not properly controlled and restrained, and so beagle owners must bear this in mind and take steps to protect other animals.

They can be rather challenging to house train

The beagle has a reputation of taking longer than most dog breeds to house train properly, which can be challenging and frustrating for their owners. 

It may take several months to fully house train dogs of the breed, and a calm, consistent approach is required, as getting frustrated or annoyed will only make things worse, not better!

Beagles do not do well when left alone

Because beagles are very social with other dogs and historically would rarely have spent any time outside of the company of another dog or person, they tend to suffer from acute separation anxiety and do not do well when left alone.

As long as you begin when your beagle puppy is young and take things carefully, you should be able to condition your dog to accept being left alone for a couple of hours at a time, but unless someone will be able to stay home with the dog for the main part of the day, a beagle may not be a good pick.

They’re not the sharpest knives in the drawer!

Beagles are objectively not the smartest of dog breeds by any means – in fact, based on Stanley Coren’s ranking of canine intelligence by breed, which is widely accepted as the standard, they fall right down in 131st place out of 138 breeds in total.

This means that beagles can usually only learn a small number of commands and execute them reliably, and training can take longer than with most other breeds – also, they will often need several repetitions of each command before they are apt to comply.

They can be quite vocal

Beagles tend to be fairly noisy dogs, and they are often very excitable too. They bark a lot and may howl and yip as well, and are very easy to set off if another dog starts making a lot of noise!

Additionally, their propensity to separation anxiety means that they might bark a lot when you leave them, which might be very annoying for your neighbours if not yourself.

They can be prone to ear problems

Beagles have long drooping ears like many scenthound breeds, which means that air cannot circulate freely in the ear canal. This makes the breed more prone than most to developing ear problems like infections, and also, makes them harder to treat if they do.

Beagles are generally great with children

Beagles are kind, personable, laid back and fun loving, which are all traits that tend to make them a good choice for family homes. They generally get on well with children and often have a great affinity for them, and so this is a breed worth considering if you’re looking for an outgoing, lively family pet.

Jan Helge Mathisen
Jan Helge Mathisen

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