Complete Guide To The Beagle: Care, Feeding, Grooming and More

Beagles are proof that good things come in small packages. Born to hunt, they’re smart, athletic and persistent dogs, ready to work or play. There’s no finer family companion.

I’ve seen and worked with hundreds of Beagles over my life. Not only have I been a veterinarian for the past 21 years, but I also worked at large dog kennels for years before I became a veterinary student. I know dogs.

How Big Do Beagles Get?

There are two classifications of Beagles (although they come in many variations of this):

  • Less than 20 lbs – 13″ or less in height
  • 20-30lbs – 13″ – 15″ tall

What Do Beagles Look Like?

Coats are short to medium with a hard, tight texture. Standard colors include:

• Black and tan
• Black, tan and white
• Black, red and white
• Black, tan and blue tick
• Brown and white
• Brown, white and tan
• Red and white
• Tan and white
• Lemon and white

Ears hang long and low — soft, puppy-dog eyes are round and wide-set in shades of brown or hazel. Tails are long with a gentle curve and broad sweep — and they’re almost always in motion. The cheerful beagle is rarely mistaken for its larger hound cousins but may be confused with the similar Harrier.

What Kind Of Personality Do Beagles Have?

Beagles are spirited, dynamic dogs with an endless appetite for fun. Happy-go-lucky, they thrive with active families and are content to be city or country dwellers as long as they’re included in adventures.

Perfect for children, they’re intuitively protective, but they don’t pick fights. Give them a ball and they’ll sleep well after exhausting each other. Energetic but not high-strung, they’re impeccably mannered when trained and happiest with human companionship.

With nothing to do, Beagles can howl or be destructive — their instinct to work is strong. Exercise is a must, but they’re not fussy about their activities. Bred to track, they’ll tunnel and give chase after anything intriguing, so fenced-in play areas are the safest.

What Kind Of Grooming Do Beagles Need?

Beagles have short, dense double coats that shed moderately year-round and on overdrive in the spring. But grooming is painless with the right approach — consistency is the key.

Twice-weekly brushing with a medium-bristled brush or a hound glove removes loose hair before it accumulates on the floor. It also tames shedding by distributing skin oils that prevent dryness.

Regular bathing isn’t necessary for Beagles unless they get messy — brushing alone eliminates most surface dirt and debris. A shampoo when the spring shedding season is over is refreshing and may promote new hair growth.

While most Beagles are active enough to wear their nails down on rough outdoor surfaces, they can get caught in and torn if too long. Trim or file them every two to three weeks.

What Is The Best Dog Food For Beagles?

Beagles require no special dietary considerations other than they tend to lean towards obesity as they get older. They’re notorious scroungers and you’ll want to make sure you keep your trash containers closed and locked. Also, if your Beagle is anything like my Beagle mix, be mindful of whether or not they can access the kitchen counters when you’re not around.

Before we start with the food lists, just know that grain-free dog foods are a myth. There’s zero science showing that they are helpful. In fact, there’s increasing evidence that it’s causing issues in certain breeds of dogs (so far not Beagles). Food allergies are the only reason to even consider a grain-free diet but only choose one with the help of your veterinarian.

Basic dog foods that I recommend include:

Over the Counter Weight Management Diets:

How Long Do Beagles Live?

10-15 years based on information given by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

What Health Conditions Can Beagles Have?

Beagles are a fairly healthy breed. If you read other breed guides, they’ll discuss issues such as epilepsy, eye diseases, hip dysplasia, and patella luxation. However, in my experience, those issues are pretty uncommon and I see them less in Beagles than in many other breeds.

There are three issues that I do see in Beagles fairly regularly that you should be aware of:

  • Obesity
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Dental Disease

For more information about these conditions, check out my article on Beagle Health in which I go into far more detail.

Where To Find More Information About Beagles

American Kennel Club – Beagles

National Beagle Club

Interesting Facts about Beagles

Beagles are easy to recognize, but here are a few notable things you may not know about these cute and curious dogs.

Beagles Have a Mysterious Past

An ancient breed’s ancestors are tough to track. Most lived before written records. We know Beagles were popular hunting dogs in Europe, and that they most likely arrived with the Roman Legions around 50 B.C. But evidence suggests they may have predated the Romans by centuries — we may never know.

What’s In a Name?

The origin of the Beagle’s name isn’t clear, but canine historians have two good guesses. It could be derived from the Gaelic word beag, meaning “little,” or the French word begueule, meaning “open throat.” Both would be right on the money.

They’re Top Canine Communicators

Beagles do more than howl. They vocalize three different ways — a standard bark for everyday chit chat, a distinctive bay when they find quarry and a mournful howl to convey emotions, including boredom and loneliness.

Their Nose Knows

Hounds are famous for their powerful noses, but Beagles are among the world’s top trackers. With a moist nose that attracts scent molecules and more than 200 million smell receptors, they can identify at least 50 different odors with 90-percent accuracy.

A Beagle’s Work is Never Done

A Beagle’s incredible sense of smell is ideal for screening luggage. Dogs in the so-called “Beagle Brigade,” train three months to help Homeland Security find contraband foods at airports. In civilian life, they help hotels find bedbugs and work with zoos to determine if polar bears are pregnant.

They’re Cartoonists’ Inspirations

Snoopy may the world’s most famous cartoon Beagle, but he’s not alone. Odie, from James Davis’s Garfield, Gromit of Wallace and Gromit fame, and the brash Poochie, from The Simpsons, are all beagles.

They Have the Right Stuff

Some celebrities want dogs that do more than just look pretty. Past and present owners, including US President Lyndon B. Johnson, singer-songwriter Barry Manilow, television and film actor Frankie Muniz and television producer Andy Cohen, value them for their athleticism and companionship.

Best in Our Hearts — But Rarely Best in Show

Despite being America’s 7th most popular dog, only two Beagles have claimed the Westminster Dog Show’s coveted “Best in Show” title — Uno, in 2008 and Miss P. in 2015.

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