Beagle Dog Breed

Black, Tan, & White Beagle
iStock.com/alaskla
  • Other names:
  • English Beagle
Overview

The beagle is a small, short haired, hound with a happy and fun loving attitude. This purebred dog breed was originally bred to be a scenthound for hunting small game like rabbits. Beagles will generally walk with their nose to the ground in search of a scent to follow on walks, playing fetch, and whenever they catch a faint whiff of something interesting.

Beagles are very friendly affectionate dogs and will quickly bond with everyone in the family, including pets. They can be somewhat challenging to train and require creative owners to find the best approach to keeping the dog in a state of obedience.

Beagle Breed Details

Breed Specs
TypeLifespanHeightWeight
Purebred10-15 yrs.13-16 in.20-30 lbs
  • Friendliness
  • Overall
  • Family Friendly
  • Kid Friendly
  • Pet Friendly
  • Stranger Friendly
  • Maintenance
  • Easy to Groom
  • Energy Level
  • Exercise Needs
  • General Health
  • Shedding Amount
  • Behavior
  • Barks / Howls
  • Easy to Train
  • Guard Dog
  • Playfulness
  • Watch Dog
  • Ownership
  • Apartment Friendly
  • Can Be Alone
  • Good for Busy Owners
  • Good for Novice Owners
  • Intelligence
* The more green the stronger the trait.

Beagles are hunting dogs, but they don't hunt to kill but to track and tree, or corner, game. Still, with the right home, they make good family companions and can be fun. While first time dog owners can find their behavior frustrating, and Beagles for kids might not be the best dog, they aren't impossible. There is a lot of information about Beagles that you would need to know, however. These dogs are both like the one in the Peanuts cartoon strips (as in aloof) and not like Snoopy — as in they don't fly doghouses posing as World War I aces! They are best in rural areas where barking won't bother neighbors, where they can run freely at times, and where they will have lots of things to do.

Below are some facts on Beagles regarding their problems as well as why some people think they are the best dogs:

  • Pros
  • Cute
  • Small
  • Remarkably sturdy
  • Great in the outdoors
  • Relatively easy to groom
  • Good for highly active people
  • Amicable enough with friends and strangers
  • Cons
  • Loud barker
  • Can be smelly
  • Lots of health concerns
  • Needs a very secure yard
  • Constantly heavy shedding
  • Quickly gets separation anxiety
  • Needs a great amount of exercise
  • Selective hearing when focused on a scent

Beagle Breed Description

While the beagle's direct ancestors have been around since 400 B.C., the beagle we see today were not bred until the 1800's. The breed has long been used for its scenting skills. Originally the breed's scent skills were used for hunting rabbits, but today they are mostly used as service dogs for detecting bombs, bed bugs, and drugs.

The beagle's small size, calm temperament, and pleasing attitude has made it a favorite dog among many families and law enforcement. Unlike larger scent hounds, which many people consider intimidating when used by law enforcement, beagles appear pleasant and sweet making the job less frightening for those scared of larger dogs.

The beagle has been bred to be a pack dog, meaning they expect companionship with other animals. Because of this, it's recommended to have another dog or cat the beagle can bond with if you're away frequently. Even though the beagle is an intelligent dog breed, they can be a bit difficult to train (since they will be easily distracted with their nose finding scents during training). Therefore it is recommended that inexperienced dog owners spend time researching proper training techniques before adopting a beagle.

Beagle Breed History

The history of the Beagle is not entirely agreed upon. Some say the forebears of these dogs were already known in Greece as early as the 5th century BCE. Others say the hounds, which eventually became Beagles, were first seen in the now-named British Isles before Roman times. The country of origin is not the only Beagle origin fact disputed. Some dog breed histories state that the first actual Beagles were tiny dogs that stood no more than 8 or 9 inches high.

Regardless of where Beagles originated from, at least one predecessor of this breed was the St. Hubert Hound. These dogs were used to produce the Talbot Hound. During the 11th century, William the Conqueror traveled to England and with his forces took Talbot Hounds. The scenting abilities of these dogs made them popular. Still, the Talbots were not fast runners, and they were mated with Greyhounds to produce scent hounds that could run much faster.

The tiny Pocket Beagles, mentioned above, were said to be the first Beagles by name. Developed during the mid-18th century for the amusement of English royalty, these dogs were said to also be used by hunters. The early Beagle no longer exists. Hunting with hounds was nonetheless a growing sport and lifestyle, and many new hound breeds were developed. A handful of Beagle varieties was also conceived at this time.

Having been introduced to the U.S. in the 1870s, the American Kennel Club had formally recognized Beagles in 1884. Four years later, in 1888, the National Beagle Club was established. Around the same time in England, the popularity of Beagles had waned greatly. To save the dog, clubs began to be founded. In 1890, the Beagle Club was established. The following year, 1892, saw the Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles started. Both clubs sought to drastically increase the number of Beagle packs.

Beagle Appearance

Although a popular breed, you may still wonder, what does a Beagle look like? This is a breed of dog that is small to medium in size, is hardy but not too sturdy, fast but not swift. In general, their features tend to make them look like overgrown puppies.

The domed head is equal part forehead and snout. The snout, mouth, and muzzle are a bit boxy even as they have jowels that hang down. These dogs have a scissor bite and a black, triangular nose. The large, round, floppy ears hang forward and down and are of medium weight. They have big, round, wide-set eyes that are seem to be born to look sad. The short neck and fragile-looking small torso may seem a little out of proportion to the stubby legs that are medium in length and have large paws. The forelegs should look strong, and the rear legs should look even more powerful. The skin should have only a little play and should have no real wrinkles even as it's easy to wiggle a little with your hand. The medium-length tail should stand up and be slightly curved too.

Although there are two coats, the far more common one is short, rough, and thick. It's a single coat, however.

Beagle Coloring

Many people may think that Beagles only come in one color: the basic white background with black and tan patches. While there are many such Beagles, this breed comes in a great many coat colors. There are some rare colors such as the blue tick (or blue ticked) Beagle, the lemon Beagle, and the red Beagle. It should be noted that the blue tick is not a mixed breed with a Bluetick Coonhound.

Here is a list of the many colors:

  • Red
  • Tan
  • Blue
  • Black
  • Lemon
  • Black and tan
  • Tan and white
  • Red and white
  • Red and brown
  • Brown and white
  • Lemon and white
  • White (or blanco)
  • Blue, tan and white
  • Black, tan and white
  • White, tan and black
  • Red, white and black
  • Tan, white and brown
  • Bluetick, tan and black

Beagle Size

Because Beagle size is determined by height according to AKC, UKC, and other major kennel club standards, there may be some confusion regarding actual height. The two basic variations, which are discussed in the Variations section, imply that Beagles grow no larger than 15 inches tall. Those are merely maximum height allowances for Beagles submitted for dog shows. There are some breeders who seek to produce taller Beagles, and there are Beagles that simply grow taller than the show standard allows. Regardless of all that, the height of a Beagle, once fully mature, is 13 to 17 inches. Females tend to be shorter and average the lower range of 13 to 15 inches whereas males tend to be the full range described above.

The average beagle weight is not the same as the way adult beagle weight works, however, in that males and females are the same. Grown-up Beagles of both sexes tend to be around 18 to 30 pounds.

Average Adult Height

13-16 in
*Height is measured in inches from the front paws to the top of the shoulder while the dog is standing on all four legs.

Average Adult Weight

20-30 lbs

Beagle Variations

There have been many variations of the Beagle since the breed's informal establishment, and nearly all of them no longer exist.

The Pocket Beagles were the first variety. They were very popular among British royalty in the mid-1800s. These miniature dogs were sometimes so small as to be able to fit in the pockets of royals. These dogs were also used by hunters as they could be let loose when a scent was found or game spotted. This tiny varietal is no longer around, but there are people who advertise them for sale under the name teacup, toy, micro, etc. Most dog breeders and lovers will argue that such puppies are actually runts, dwarfs, or hybrids, however.

By the middle of the 19th century, there were four varieties: the Dwarf (or Lapdog) Beagle, Fox Beagle, Medium Beagle, and rough-coated/terrier Beagle. It may have been that most of these kinds died out a few decades later, in the 1880s, because Fox Hounds and other faster, more popular scent hounds replaced Beagles.

These days, you may hear mention of the English variety and the American variety. You might have also read about the Patch Hound, which is a famous strain based on a bloodline and which is not really a variation. There is sometimes a mention of the short-legged Beagle, but these are not purebred dogs.

The AKC recognizes only two varieties, and they define them by size: the 13-inch Beagle and the 15-inch Beagle. The first one is for all Beagle Hounds less than 13 inches high, and the second one is for those that stand between 13 to 15 inches high. Although there are Beagles that stand taller, they are not a separate variety despite some folks' insistence that they are a super, king, or giant variation.

Beagle Temperament

The Beagle temperament is not an easy one. While hunters love these pack dogs, their behavior tends to be somewhat aloof of anyone not involved in hunting. As they are also one of the "selectively deaf" dog breeds, this can be a bane to non-hunting dog owners. It's a characteristic that works well when these dogs require focus to track down elusive, fast, and wily targets, however. Along with their stubbornness, these traits can make Beagles very difficult for people who demand a dog that obeys all the time. Although not aggressive dogs by a long shot, they have an amiable personality which they easily exhibit when they wish to have attention paid them. As a puppy and well past the first year, you can expect a jumpy, easily excited dog that will bark a lot and very loudly. It may take a couple years for your Beagle to calm down.

Beagle and Children

Beagles are adventurous, they love to play, and they can tolerate children better than most dogs. Best of all, they are recognized by the AKC, Good Housekeeping, and other authorities on family dogs as being among one of the best dog breeds for kids!

There is an aloofness that may be disappointing, however. While they are not unfriendly, Beagles are known to not always be interested in playing and can be easily distracted by their nose. They are known to frequently take off and not care about playtime.

Like any dog, you should not leave them alone with a baby or toddler. While they won't intentionally harm them, Beagles are curious and are not at all good guard dogs. Toddlers, who are themselves very curious, might try to learn the physical properties of a Beagle's ears or tail by pulling them, which can lead to being bitten.

Beagle and Other Pets

One of the best aspects of a Beagle's temperament is their ability to get along with dogs. As natural pack animals that seem to move as a single organism as well as independently within a pack, these dogs love the company of other dogs. On the other hand, they are scent hounds who have been bred for centuries to chase down small animals, and to Beagles, cats are exactly that. If you have pet rabbits, gerbils, or other similar little furries, you should always supervise them whenever your Beagles are present. Learning how to train Beagles to hunt rabbits means these dogs will become even more focused on seeing small pets as potential prey. If you want your Beagles and cats to live together, it will take a lot of patience and training to make that happen.

Beagle Photos

Below are pictures of the Beagle dog breed.

Proud Beagle
Beagle Dog
Red And White Beagle
Lemon And White Beagle
Black Tan & Bluetick Beagle
Beagle
Black, Tan, & White Beagle

Living Requirements

Having Beagles for pets is not nearly as easy as it's made out to be in the movies. They have a lot of traits that are not good for typical domestic environments. They insist in barking, they can be aloof to your friends, and they are prone to severe separation anxiety.

Owning a Beagle in an apartment is not for everyone. These dogs are best suited to ranches, farms, and other such rural areas. If it's a suburban house with a large, very well-fenced yard, they are fine. Digging and chasing are two things at which the Beagle excels.

As for the answer to Is a Beagle hypoallergenic? No, this breed is not. They are bad for allergies and not just because they run in the woods and bring home pollen, dirt, and dust in their coats. These dogs shed a lot on a daily basis. They also have periods of heavy shedding that can be taxing.

Random Details

The Beagle is best known perhaps because of the Peanuts newspaper comic strip from mid-century (20th) America and which features Snoopy. As those pictures fade, however, there has been an ironic resurgence. Ironic because the Internet, which has allowed of the near-death of newspapers, has helped some of its inadvertent aspects (such as Beagles!) to be re-introduced in other ways. Ugly dog contests are one such aspect. The sharing of videos and photos from these bizarre contests has brought back the popularity of certain dog breeds, one of which is the Beagle. As such, the "ugly Beagle" is a popular topic in real life as well as via the TV cartoon "Where My Dogs At" as is Miss P, the Beagle that got Best in Show at Westminster 2015, and National Beagle Day.

Beagle Health

Beagles are in the middle of dog breeds when it comes to health. They have some problems, and while they don't have a shortlist of such ailments, they are not dragging a long list either. These small dogs are bred to work hard, but their specialized duty of tracking means they are great at their task even as they are more vulnerable to its many hazards and more so than most hunting breeds. They also have breed-specific problems.

Here is a list of the problems to which Beagles are prone:

  • Anemia
  • Obesity
  • Epilepsy
  • Hepatitis
  • Deafness
  • Cataracts
  • Cherry eye
  • Narcolepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Ear infections
  • Joint dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Lymphosarcoma
  • Corneal dystrophy
  • Pulmonic stenosis
  • Hypochondroplasia
  • Beagle Pain Syndrome
  • Invertebral disk disease
  • Chinese Beagle Syndrome
  • Pituitary-dependant hyperadrenocorticism


The average Beagle life expectancy is around 10 to 15 years.

  • Beagle Dwarfism
  • Cherry Eye
  • Chinese Beagle Syndrome
  • Distichiasis
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Intervertebral Disk Disease
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • View all 11...

Beagle Breed Recognition

The following dog breed registries and organizations recognize the Beagle as a dog breed:

  • American Canine Registry
  • American Kennel Club
  • America's Pet Registry
  • Australian National Kennel Council
  • Canadian Kennel Club
  • Continental Kennel Club
  • Dog Registry of America Inc.
  • Federation Cynologique Internationale
  • Kennel Club of Great Britain
  • National Kennel Club
  • New Zealand Kennel Club
  • North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • United Kennel Club
  • American Canine Association, Inc.
  • View all 14...