Hi, I love beagles, or bagels as I like to call them. They are simply adorable. Thinking about getting a beagle?
Well we will try and give you a helping hand listing what we believe to be the positives and negatives, the beagles pros and cons as per say.
A little About the Breed
First things first, let’s talk generally about the breed. The name beagle has some speculation to where it was derived from.
My personal favourite, however true it may be is that it is based off old French words meaning ‘open throat’. Perhaps a nod to the dogs wide range of vocal abilities.
Alternatively it could just mean small from some old Celtic words which is a little less exciting.
The Kennel Club states that the breed was established in the 15th century and is the smallest of the English hunting hounds.
Even Queen Elizabeth had the smaller of the two varieties of beagle; the adorably named pocket beagle.
Of course, Queen Elizabeth had her own pack, a formal hound hunt it is quite a sight. People dressed in their finest gear on horseback, surrounded by various hounds.
An excitable pack of beagles impatiently waiting for the scent of hare to chase with those without horses waiting to follow on foot. All of this in hope to have hare for lunch.
Today, although the smaller pocket beagles are less popular in the UK, beagles themselves rank 6 of the popular dog breeds for the American Kennel club.
Meaning there are many happy dog owners with their loveable beagle. There floppy ears, dark playful eyes make them a favourite with many dog lovers. Many will deny any cons at all!
What’s to Love Other Than Their Cuteness?
9 Pros of a Beagle:
1) They are small
Males are the larger of the two genders being 41cm tall and weighing around 11kg. This makes them the Goldilocks porridge of dogs at just right.
Not too small that they are breakable but not too large that they can fit happily into a small house with a small garden. They were once carried to the hunt site.
2) They are intelligent
They are very able to trained for a variety of agility and obedience tasks as well as sniffing out a biscuit anywhere in the house!
3) They are friendly to other dogs
These dogs were bred to hunt in a pack. This means they love to meet other dogs, although you might be at the park longer than expected after a good playtime.
4) They are kid-friendly
They are small enough to not knock a child flying by accident but also large enough to not get hurt by a bit of boisterous play.
5) They are friendly to people
Beagles love companionship and to them there is nothing better than guests to come and play.
6) They are low maintenance
Dogs require a lot of time and effort so the less time spent grooming is a plus in my opinion.
Their hair is short and therefore won’t require many trips to the groomers. An occasional brush and a wash will suffice as you won’t have to worry about hair matting.
7) They can be independent
These dogs love your company but also wont overwhelm you. They are happy walking alongside, getting on with their own thing without constant attention seeking.
8) They are energetic
Their predecessors were bred to chase rabbits in the roman times then hares in more modern hunts.
Which are likely a little trickier to catch than yourself. They need at least an hour of exercise, which is enough to be a good amount of fun without being too tiring.
If you don’t have the time for a proper walk, whatever the weather then another breed may be more suitable.
9) They are a healthy breed
Of course some dogs are luckier than others so make sure you are prepared with a good vet and insurance before you consider getting any sort of dog.
Many breeds come with a whole host of issues caused by a mixture of inbreeding (mating with closely related individuals) and physical characteristics of the breed such as short faces, but beagles tend to be relatively healthy dogs.
They do have some tendency to eye, thyroid and hip problems worth looking into but otherwise this is a small risk of health complications compared to other breeds.
What’s not to Love About a Beagle?
If you love beagles you can take the question above as a rhetorical one and just assume to next paragraph is just a list of technicalities and adorable cheeky traits.
7 Cons of a Beagle
1) They don’t just bark
A lot of dogs love to tell you all about it but beagles take this to the next level and actually howl.
A trait which without the proper training WILL annoy your neighbours, however much they love beagles.
2) They will sniff out something more interesting than you
They are bred to have an excellent sense of smell and be attentive to it.
This can mean that they are rather prone to running off to find whatever has tickled their noses whether you want to be part of the hunt or not.
They are bred to be followed, not necessarily to come back when called or remain within your garden.
The American Kennel club suggest always keeping this breed on a lead when on walkies.
3) They are stubborn
These dogs can be trained but they aren’t that fussed about pleasing their owners as much as some other breeds so training can be challenging if they decide something is more interesting.
They are pack hounds, therefore you must be the alpha to prevent possessiveness of both food and toys and bouncing around on new pack members (aka. your guests).
4) Potty-training can be a nightmare
This breed can be particularly difficult to house-train. This likely goes hand in hand with their stubborn tendency.
Real dedication, commitment and routine is needed to ensure that you’re not scrubbing your beagles presents off the rug longer than necessary!
A beagles nose can sniff out where they last ‘went’ above even the strongest cleaning products.
If they have been once they are likely to assume they can go again in places you rather they didn’t.
5) They shed
Beagles hair may be short but it will fall out naturally and be replaced by new hairs.
This is because they have a fairly thick, coarse coat to help then run through the underbrush unscathed by brambles on the hunt.
Their coat also gets thicker in winter, hence shedding will only get worse in the spring.
People react differently to long hair than short hair so it will likely be beneficial to spend some time with this breed before getting one to ensure it does not irritate you.
This is especially true if you have any allergies to air allergens such as pollen or other pet hair.
Otherwise, make sure you happy to find pet hair around your house for the next 15 odd years!
6) They do like to dig
Got a beautiful manicured garden? Want to keep it that way? Then maybe a beagle isn’t for you. They chase. Although some chase hares and these do not burrow, rabbits do.
They are full of energy, if they want something they can smell in the ground or just for the sheer fun of it they may dig up your garden without proper training and stimulation.
My dog loves nothing better than to dig, not in the grass but the flowerbeds. He just loves to ‘help’. If I bury a bulb into the ground he thinks he is so helpful resurfacing it for me.
This is amusing for the first few times but will get tedious over time. You may be able to train your dog out of doing this but that will require lots of time and attention to the outside toilet breaks.
I personally find frequent trips to the beach help, my dog loves digging in the sand and that satisfies him for a while but I understand that this is not an option for everybody or all year round.
7) They can be prone to obesity
Although a healthy dog is fed correctly, there stubborn nature can lead to the overuse of treats in training and hence lead your dog to get on the porky side.
This can be easily minimised if you ensure that your energetic dog does get enough exercise and keep treats to a minimum despite their begging puppy dog eyes. Resist the cuteness!
To help this check out our article on the best healthy dog treats for beagles.
Final Thoughts: Is a Beagle Right for you?
In my opinion, the pros of a beagle outway the cons and I didn’t even include how adorable they are as a pro!
But the best way to decide on a dog breed is to rank what characteristics are most important to you. For example;
My ideal dog must have…
My ideal dog must not be…
Fill in the blanks above with good thought. Visit friends, parks anywhere which may have a beagle and see if you can spend some time with the dog.
Common must-haves for a dog are a good temperament (beagles do!), medium sizes (yay!) and healthy (all good here!).
Common traits which people usually dislike are hard to train (beagles are sort of average for a dog breed here) and amount of shedding (at least its short hair).
In short beagles are adorable dogs, with a nose to rival and intelligence to know what they want.
They are amazingly social with people and dogs alike, with a sturdy build and size making them suitable to a range of families including those with relatively small children (please note that all dogs behave differently and playtime should be supervised for the safety of the kids and the dog).
They do require a firm hand in training to prevent them running off with their nose and other issues associated with their more stubborn nature.
If you love the hound look and a beagle doesn’t feel like the right addition to your family, other breeds to explore include foxhounds and harriers.
Hope you find this helpful in deciding which new addition to add to your family or to help your beagle feel more at home if you already have their adorable face in your life.