Beagle Dog Breed: Information and Characteristics

A Beagle dog is a popular choice of pet due to their energy and personality. Should you be considering adding one of these smallish hounds to your family, here is what you need to know to make the most of your pooch (or their Beaglier relative!)

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Basic stats

Size: Small – medium

Weight: between 26-33 lbs

Live expectancy: 12-15 years (pretty long!)

Commonly known as and known for: Its scent, its tail, and the noises it makes.

Coats: short, in tri or bi colour combinations.

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Temperament

Beagles are renowned for their generally good nature, even temper, and love of exercise. They can adapt to different living spaces, whether it be apartments and larger houses. Indoors, they are great at sniffing out tiny and irritating creatures residing within, such as bedbugs. Beagles do need regular walking and to be kept occupied, otherwise they may be prone to making holes and digging up large chunks of earth in the garden!

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These dogs tend to get along with cats better than most other dog breeds, which is worth a thought if you are thinking of introducing a dog into a household with a kitty.

Beagle snouts n’ howls

Beagles have incredible noses with around 220 million scent receptors in them (44 more times than we have!). This has a lot to do with why they are commonly chosen as hunting dogs. Beagles also have a pack mentality, which means they can integrate well with other dogs. This might explain why they not like being left alone too long.

Photo by karlthebeagle from Instagram

Additionally, Beagles are very vocal. These hounds are known to howl or ‘bay’. Beagle baying has a distinctive sound somewhere between howling and barking. It can occur when strangers arrive at the house. It can become quite routine, which could be unwelcome depending on the time of day or night!

Nevertheless, baying should only be discouraged if the neighbours are banging on your door or it is costing you sleep. The activity is actually pleasurable to a Beagle dog, and it is a remnant from its ancestors’ behaviour in a pack situation. Baying is about attempting to communicate with other Beagles that may be in the same vicinity. Beagles also bay during a scent trail or on a chase, and they can whine quite a bit to get your attention!

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Beagle dog – coats

Beagle dogs are very often associated with having tri-colour coats of brown, white, and black. This is the classic combination, however Beagles can also have other variations of coat shades. Some are more silver / charcoal, some have two shades of brown with white. Others have coats in such combinations with white, such as black, lemon, and tawny brown.

Many assume Beagle coats to be single-layered, but the breed actually has double coats as do most working dogs. The outer layers are short with water-resistant fur and are easy to groom. Beagles tend to shed a fair bit though, and they do this throughout the year.

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Whilst the colours of a Beagle dog’s coat can vary, one constant and defining feature of this breed is its white-whipped tail. This is due to an original breeding intention: to be trackable during a hunt through woods or other forest areas.

Be prepared for…

Beagles’ stamina is partly what makes them excellent in catching and chasing prey over extended periods, but it can also be a reason for boredom if left alone for a while. Historically, being strong pack dogs means Beagles are often prone to separation anxiety. This can spill over into destructive behaviour.

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The symptoms of this can manifest as stubbornness, and the tendency to need extensive attention and reward-based training. Just as we mentioned how Beagles are very motivated by smell and tend to follow their noses, they are often prone to trail-triggered wanderlust. This means they can be difficult to recall once their nose is tempted. It is likely that your attempts to verbally instruct your Beagle to come back will fall on deaf ears, but this can be remedied with consistent early training.

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Beagle dogs – history

It is thought that the name ‘Beagle’ originates from two old french words: ‘beer’ (open) and ‘guile’ (throat). Putting these words together meant a dog that sang with an open throat.

Beagles’ ancestors are 8th-century scent hounds, but the breed really started out as pocket-sized one 16th Century. They gained the attention of Queen Elizabeth I, as she was taken by the high-pitched timbre of Beagles’ voices. Queen Elizabeth thus named them ‘singing Beagles’. When guests came for large banquets, she let them rummage around on the tables!

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At this point in time, Beagles were ‘pocket’ sized enough to be transported in saddlebags to hunts. By the beginning of the 19th Century, pocket Beagle 1.0 had died out, and it was not until the 1830s that the modern Beagle was on the scene. The smooth-coated strain of Beagle outlived a rougher coated one and a threat of extinction. The end of this next century seeing Beagles become very popular in the United States and Canada.

Beagle homes were originally kennels, hence their’ ease of living indoors. People most often associated them with their involvement in hunting hares – an activity known as ‘Beagling’.

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Beaglier

…is a recent mixed ‘designer’ dog breed – a cross between a Beagle and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and originally comes from Australia.

Due to their compact sizes, they make good small-apartment dogs and are great around children. Beagliers have inherited most of the Beagle attributes we’ve explored. This includes the positive ones, as well as that pinch of stubbornness!

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Famous fictional Beagles

  • Snoopy – Charlie Brown’s more optimistic cartoon pal is a Beagle. Peanuts cartoonist Schultz based Snoopy on a childhood Beagle named Spike, and he is arguably the most famous Beagle of all.
  • Shoeshine is one of the main Beagles to feature in the Disney film Underdog. He has superpowers that enable him to talk to people.
  • Shiloh was the star of the children’s film of this name, who runs away from his cruel owner and meets a boy called Marty.
  • Brain is Penny’s dog in Inspector Gadget’s missions. He is the only one who knows it is actually Penny that solves them.
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Finally…

Beagles are generally low maintenance pets. Their fairly even temperaments help account for their popularity. If you decide to bring these affectionate dogs into your home, this decision should be mostly informed by whether you will be able to give it good training and attention.

Photo by bilbo.the_.tripaw.beagle.19 from Instagram

Beagles benefit from frequent company, and should be left alone for very long periods of time. Are you able to give consistent early training, and a good amount of patience as well? If so, one of these adorable pups could be a great choice for a potential best friend.

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Photo by karlthebeagle from Instagram