Like most hounds, the Beagle has a rich history as a hunting dog and was developed in England in the 19th Century. With its keen sense of smell and small stature, it proved to be a great help at tracking down smaller prey, like rabbits, hares, foxes, and pheasants
Although its hunting days are far behind it today, the Beagle has managed to remain quite popular and is one of the most beloved dog breeds. In fact, the American Kennel Club named it the 5th most popular breed in the US for 2015, right behind Labradors, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers and Bulldogs.
The Beagle is a small to medium-sized dog, with males reaching a height of 38-41cm and females being about 3cm shorter. They are a sturdy little hound with an average weight of about 9-11kg for both males and females.
Beagles look like smaller-sized foxhounds and are recognised by their medium-length muzzle, wide, hazel eyes and floppy ears. Tricolour Beagles (white with black and brown areas) are the most common type, but they can also be found in a range of other colours and colour combinations.
The Beagle is a brave little dog with a sociable, sweet and gentle nature. This makes them great with children and with other dogs. However, the Beagle’s hunting nature means they should not be trusted with non-canine pets, unless they are socialised with other household animals when they are young.
They are quite intelligent and sometimes have a mind of their own. They need a strong pack leader and will need loads of mental and physical exercise to avoid them acting up and developing unwanted behaviours.
They are pack animals and prone to suffering from separation anxiety, which can lead to them destroying things when left unattended.
Beagles are quite energetic and have a great stamina. This means they need plenty of exercise to ensure they are well adjusted. A brisk, daily walk should do. If you do intend to walk your Beagle without a leash, make sure you always have an eye on them. Beagles tend to wander off when they follow scents and might not hear you calling them back.
Provided they receive enough exercise and go outdoors regularly, Beagles will do okay with apartment living. A home with a small yard will also be sufficient.
When it comes to health problems, Beagles generally don’t have too many. They are prone to epilepsy, but this can be controlled with medication. They can also suffer from dwarfism, back problems and heart disease.
Inactive dogs will gain weight easily as the Beagle will eat whenever food is available. Owners will therefore need to regulate their weight by keeping an eye on the amount they eat.
Like most dogs of its size, the Beagle has a life expectancy of between 12 – 15 years.