Beagles are the classic American dog breed. Not only are they great family pets, but they are also one of the hardiest dog breeds out there.
How long do Beagles live? 10-15 years based on information provided by the American Kennel Club. Life expectancy is affected by various issues such as body condition (are they chronically obese), genetics, and how well the pet owner takes care of their dog.
As a veterinarian with over 20 years of experience, I believe we can get Beagles to live consistently longer. I will lay out a plan on how you can accomplish that. Trust me, I LOVE my Beagle patients and I want then to stick around as long as possible for their families. If you’re looking for a general guide to Beagles, check out my in-depth article here for information on grooming, exercise, and other areas of care.
How To Pick The Healthiest Beagle Puppy
Having a healthy Beagle starts first and foremost with picking the right breeder. There are two ways you can go about finding a quality breeder:
- Use the AKC site to find one
- Go through the National Beagle Club of America to find a reputable breeder
- If you’re lucky enough to already know and love a Beagle, find out who the breeder of the litter was. That’s a great start.
If you’re getting a Beagle from a rescue organization, try to find out the medical history of the dog as completely as possible. Understand that, while problems can emerge at any time, chronic health conditions that have been dealt with (successfully or unsuccessfully) for years are going to be your responsibility going forward.
What Are The Most Common Diseases That Beagles Can Suffer From?
Beagles are a very hardy breed with few commonly seen diseases. These include:
- Dental Disease
Getting Beagles to lose weight starts and ends with diet. In many cases, you need to start by reducing the volume of calories that your dog eats per day.
Note that I didn’t say volume of dog food. C’mon, we all love to give our dogs a little something extra at times. I’m not saying don’t treat your dog occasionally. What I am saying is that you’ll need to cut their overall caloric intake per day so, if you feed them a few treats, you’ll need to cut back on the regular diet instead. Consult with your veterinarian on how much you’ll need to cut back on your Beagle’s daily intake if they are obese.
If your Beagle loves to eat, you’ll likely need to put them on a low-calorie diet. For some Beagles, that means an OTC (over the counter) diet. I will usually tell clients just to use the low-calorie version of the dog food brand their dog is already on. That will minimize any problems changing their diet might cause.
A few other lower-calorie diets that I recommend for overweight dogs include:
- Purina Pro Plan Weight Management (has a Beagle on the bag!!)
- Purina ONE SmartBlend Natural Healthy Weight Formula
For the most problematic obese dogs, a prescription diet such as Purina OM (Obesity Management) or Hill’s R/D (Reduction Diet) may be the only thing that can get your dog to lose weight. These high-fiber diets should only be used while your dog is trying to lose weight.
The unfortunate nature of dog foods on the market today is that the vast majority don’t put calorie totals on their labels. If you could compare one dog food’s caloric content per cup versus another, it would make it so much easier for pet owners to keep their dogs at optimal weight.
Diet is, by far, the most effective way of reducing your dog’s weight. Exercise helps, but it’s far more effective to cut calories. If you’re struggling to get your Beagle to lose weight, consult with your own veterinarian. They may want to check some bloodwork to check the thyroid or use a prescription diet.
If you’re lucky, your Beagle’s obesity will be a direct result of being hypothyroid. I may sound callous, but weight gain due to hypothyroidism is so much easier to get off than that brought about by overfeeding.
This hormonal condition is quite common in many breeds of dogs (as well as humans). Having an inadequate amount of thyroid hormones in your body can be damaging to the metabolism of your Beagle. This can result in persistent obesity despite exercise and dieting, very poor new hair growth, mental dullness, and lethargy.
A simple blood test can diagnose this condition. For most Beagle owners, you’ll start to wonder about this when your adult Beagle is overweight and, no matter what you try, can’t lose the weight.
Routine annual bloodwork at around 5-6 years of age can help to identify this type of problem early.
Dental disease is the most common problem I see in my Beagle patients. Do you own a Beagle? Look in their mouth right now and see the pre-molars that are actually situated almost perpendicular to the rest of the teeth. Over time the tartar will work its way up the root of the tooth, pushing the gum away and causing the tooth to begin to loosen in the mouth.
Beagles are usually pretty rampant chewers and can do a pretty good job in keeping tartar off their teeth by regular chewing. What’s the best chew for a Beagle? The one that they actually chew on and don’t swallow whole.
The best way to prevent tartar in your Beagle will be to “brush” their teeth daily. By brushing, all I mean is to put a bit of dog-specific toothpaste on your finger and then rub that toothpaste along the outside part of your dog’s teeth. You don’t need to force the mouth open. In fact, it’s easier and faster if they hold it closed.
You’ll likely need to start getting your little Beagle used to this as soon as you bring their home the first time as they are quite stubborn and will be difficult later in life to train for brushing. In any case, in a perfect world, do this daily and it’ll only take you about 15 seconds total. Get as close to perfect as you can.
How Can I Get My Beagle To Live Longer and Healthier?
Watch Their Weight!
There is no “magical weight range” for a Beagle. Each dog is different and their optimal weight will vary based on their height and the amount of muscularity. Typically you should see an hourglass shape when looking at your Beagle from above. Bigger chest, narrow waist.
Beagles that are overweight will be less likely to exercise and more likely to develop arthritis as they age. The longer this is allowed to go on, the more likely that the muscles will weaken and your dog will struggle later in life with getting up and simply walking around.
If your Beagle is overweight, and you can’t get the weight off with reducing their diet, have a thyroid screen done. A hypothyroid dog can not lose weight unless they get proper thyroid supplementation.
Exercise And Stimulation
A happy Beagle is an active and mentally stimulated Beagle. These dogs will have far less anxiety and issues and this will naturally result in a healthier and longer life.
Whether you take your dog to the dog park every day, train them to do lots of fun tricks, or enter them in advanced agility competition, giving your Beagle the active life they demand will reward you with many years of a fun and healthy life.
Preventative Medicine/Wellness Exams
I’m a veterinarian so of course I’m going to tell you that regular wellness exams at the vet is extremely important. A good vet can spot conditions sometimes earlier than even the most dedicated owner can.
When your Beagle reaches 5-6 years of age, there are two things that you should consider doing:
- If you haven’t already had it done, have the vet run some bloodwork to check out all the internal organs. Primarily we are screening for kidney and liver disease, but there are literally hundreds of disease conditions that can be picked up by basic lab tests. Start doing this every year to catch issues early.
- If there’s any level of dental disease and you haven’t already had a dental cleaning done, do one now. It will hopefully get ahead of more chronic issues down the road.