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What do you need to know before you adopt a Beagle? We asked the experts!
Beagles are wonderful dogs! They are friendly, loving, smart, curious, and happy...and most definitely pack animals. Whether their pack consists of other dogs, or just their single human, they want to be with them.
Beagles have a reputation for being noisy, but our experience indicates that they are no noisier than any other breed and it varies greatly by individual. If they are kept indoors and given the attention given any other family member, most do not bark excessively. We think those who inspired the reputation are tied out in the back yard and deprived of companionship.
One thing we stress HEAVILY with potential adopters is that either your yard must have a secure fence (believe me, we check closely and the fence must be repaired before they take a dog home!) and/or the dog must be leash-walked. No beagle should EVER be off lead unless they are contained somehow. Their nose short circuits their brain every time. For that reason, we seldom adopt to people with electronic fences. Once that squirrel/rabbit/fox/leaf crosses their path, they will take the hit going out, but suddenly remember the shock when and if they come home, and won't come back into the yard. The infamous ‘Beagle Bolt’ will occur when the front door is left open to bring in groceries, or when someone just isn't paying attention while answering the door. You learn to body block.
Beagles are highly food motivated, consequently, treats work best when training. That said, if you want a dog that will obey every time and at all costs just because you said so, a beagle probably shouldn't be your first choice. We’re not saying they can't be trained, but it does require patience, persistence, and reinforcement from time to time. They are clever little dogs and have their own agenda sometimes.
Beagles are a great medium-sized dog and generally get along with children, dogs and people.
Beagles are scent hounds and follow their noses. Unless they are heavily trained, they should not be let off leash, as they will follow their nose and be gone. Because Beagles are scent hounds, they are super clever at getting ahold of food, and many of them can open cabinets, drawers, doors and even refrigerators. If you can’t lock your kitchen down, this may not be the dog for you.
Beagles love to eat and will always make you think they are hungry. Watch the snacks and food, as it is easy for beagles to get overweight, which is extremely unhealthy for them. Yet because of their love of food, even though they have a stubborn nature, they can easily be trained with treats.
Medical issues more common in beagles are: hypothyroid, intervertebral disc disease, epilepsy/seizures, allergies, and obesity (this can be controlled with diet).
Beagles do bay, but it is a myth that they constantly bark and howl. They are pack animals so most do better with more than one dog in the house. Ear infections are common if regular care is not given to clean their long ears.
Here is what we think people need to know about beagles:
1. Beagles are wonderful, friendly, dogs that can be good for a family or for a single person. Each Beagle is different and each good and bad quality depends on the individual Beagle. Some Beagles like to bark a lot, some have the traditional “AROOOO” bay, and some Beagles will be pretty quiet. Some will be very stubborn and single-minded, especially when they catch the scent of something interesting, be it food cooking in the kitchen or on the grill, or the scent of an animal that has recently been in the Beagle’s area.
2. Beagle are generally very affectionate, but some will want lots of attention and some will want to be paid attention to on their own terms. They can be hard to housetrain due to their very sensitive noses, and if they do have accidents in the house, the accident will need to be thoroughly cleaned up with an enzyme cleaner so that the smell is totally eliminated.
3. Beagles are sometimes referred to as “a nose on four legs”. We would revise that description: A Beagle is a nose and stomach on four legs. Beagles can be extremely food-motivated and will eat until they practically explode. They will raid the garbage can as often as possible and consume anything that is in there. Any food that the Beagle can reach, whether it’s on the edge of the kitchen counter, dining room table where all the chairs are not pushed in or the coffee table in the living room is fair game. As a result of their desire for food, Beagles can often become over weight. It is important to not over feed a Beagle even though it is difficult when they look at you with those big brown eyes.
4. One of the most important aspects of Beagle ownership, especially rescued Beagles, is that the Beagle should not be allowed to be off leash and be expected not to run off. Beagles will follow their noses where ever they take them. Once gone, the Beagle may not come back. It’s important to always keep your Beagle on a leash unless you have a fully secure fenced-in yard. Beagles can be diggers, and a fence that has holes or gaps, or does not quite touch the ground can be a means of escape.
5. Many Beagles end up in shelters because of three things: they don’t hunt well (and as a result are not wanted by hunters), they wandered away from their home and got lost, or they are turned into the shelter because of difficulty in housetraining or excessive barking. Beagles in rescue need time and patience and their new owners need to recognize that it may take time for the Beagle to acclimate to his new home. It may take a while but, in the end, the Beagle will reward the owner’s patience tenfold with love, gratitude and companionship.