Beagle Temperament: Gentle and loving souls with an extraordinary sense of smell
If you're debating whether or not to enrich your life with a Beagle, you've sniffed out the right place. This post will help you decide if this hound breed is the right fit for your lifestyle.
They are one of the friendliest dog breeds and see hoomans as friends. Beagles have a lovely and outgoing temperament but are sensitive dogs as well. However, they do come with some challenges as well. We'll break down everything from their personality to their exercise needs so that by the end of this post, you'll have a good idea if the Beagle is right for you. So, without further ado, let's get started!
History of the Beagle
The Beagle has been bred for hare hunting and is one of the best scent hounds, only rivalled by the Bloodhound or Basset Hound.
Beagles have 220 million scent receptors in their nose, making them extraordinary scent trackers. In comparison, the average Dachshund would have around 125 million. Beagle's short legs keep them close to the ground, and their necks are built perfectly to pick up scent trails. This way, they can continue sniffing without the need to stop—their long floppy ears aid in attracting scent particles directing them towards their nose.
The foundation of the Beagle we know today was laid in the 1820s from various hunting dogs, including but not limited to the Talbot Hound and the North Country Beagle. Hunting with a pack of Beagles was called "beagling" in the 1820s. We can all imagine the importance of Beagles in the world of hunting at that time. Once they picked up a smell, they howled to communicate with the pack and their hooman.
Queen Elizabeth kept a pack of Beagles so small that they could fit into a saddle or a pocket. The height at the shoulder wouldn't exceed 13 inches. They were called Pocket Beagles.
Today, Beagles are most used as sniffer dogs at airports or border controls to sniff out explosives or drugs. Their advantage is that they're cute and don't intimidate people at airports whilst still performing the job to the highest standards. Furthermore, they have conquered the heart of many people and made the perfect companion dog.
The UK Kennel Club recognises 19 standard breed colours. The most common out there are probably the Beagles with the tri-cloured markings. A white tip on top of their tail helped keep them visible in higher grass or bushes during hunting sessions.
In 2021, the Beagle ranked the 17th most popular dog breed in the UK and 2,491 Beagles were registered with the UK Kennel Club. The numbers have fallen since and only 375 Beagles have been registered in Q2 2022.
Source: https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/media/2403/quarterly-breed-stats-hounds.pdf October 2022
What is it like to live with a Beagle?
Beagles are friendly and see the world and all hoomans as friends and family. For that reason, they can be quite rubbish guards or protection dogs. However, that makes them a great addition to more families with children as they will display endless patience and gentleness in their interactions. Beagles love cuddles and fuss.
Even adult Beagles will display a lot of energy. If you have a high energy lifestyle with loads of walks and hiking, the Beagle is your “spirit animal” dog. Are you a jogger or cyclist? Great. Your Beagle will most likely love the experience. Get a handsfree lead and off you two go! Outdoor experiences are where they thrive the most.
Beagles are usually peaceful and agreeable with other animals or dogs. They will be up for anything that you are up to. Their small size makes them suitable for apartment living if they get enough exercise outdoors. The coat is short and easily maintained, but they seem to shed more than other short-haired dog breeds.
They are gentle, cute and will make you laugh. Sometimes your laugh might turn into tears. Because of their high attention need, Beagles can be destructive if left alone for several hours. They have a pack dog heritage—another reason why they love to be part of a family. If you leave your home for several hours a day with no one to look after them, this breed is not for you. They will howl and bark for attention. Because of that pack heritage, they tend to be a vocal dog breed.
Being scent hounds, they love to follow their noses. And here we are, already at the second challenge. Training a Beagle is somewhat described as hard work. Some owners cite that it took them a good year to prepare their four-legged friend properly. Obedience training is a must if you don’t want your Beagle to wander off into the forest as they catch an enticing scent.
As their new dog pawrent, you need to have the time to dedicate one hour a day to training in the first year. Beagles are clever, but they can be stubborn. If they haven’t mastered basic recall, please don’t let your Beagle off leash or only allow them to run in a fenced area with a sufficiently high fence. They can jump surprisingly high, especially if an exciting scent comes into play, increasing their motivation. Owners would often describe them as escape artists.
Beagles are one of the most used dog breeds for laboratory testing. You don’t want your Beagle running around outside all by themselves, potentially being in danger of being stolen and sold. We will talk about this topic at the end of this blog post.
Training should be performed with positive re-enforcement methods because Beagles can be submissive due to their gentle nature. Harsh training will make them scared or make them ignore you altogether. Instead, they should adore you and not fear you.
The best way to train your dog and get the best out of this fabulous breed is consistent training, dedication, a healthy diet, a knowledgeable breeder, early socialising, exercise and clear health history. Make the training fun and see it as a bonding experience with your canine companion.
Beagle temperament in a nutshell
Gentle and loving personalities
Needs plenty of exercise and stimulation
Shouldn’t be left alone due to their sensitive temperament
Distinguishable scent hound and escape artist
Can be stubborn and harder to train in comparison to other dog breeds
Potential diseases in the Beagle breed
There are some genetic predispositions in the Beagle breed, as with many purebred dogs, that should be checked out regularly. However, buying a Beagle puppy from a reputable breeder is always the first step to ensuring your pup has reduced risk. Also, this blog post does not replace a talk with your vet. There are simply some diseases to be aware of, and this post doesn't replace your own research with a vet before buying a puppy.
In general, long and floppy ears can be susceptible to chronic ear infections due to less air circulation. Therefore, check ears regularly to treat ear infections quickly and effectively to avoid more severe conditions like deafness.
The Musladin-Lueke Syndrome is a disease that affects connective tissues and can cause stiffness in joints. It's a required test in the US when breeding Beagles as they seem to be more susceptible than other breeds.
1 in 48 Beagles is also a carrier of open angle glaucoma, which is a disease affecting eye pressure. The increased pressure can lead to nerve damage and cause vision loss.
Hip dysplasia and luxating patellas are other conditions that your Beagle should be checked on.
Beagles may also suffer from seizure disorders and various cancers.
Most diseases are inherited in a recessive manner. It means that the puppy must inherit the gene from both parents to become dominant. If the mutation is only present in one parent, the puppy becomes a carrier. Hence, it is vital to choose a reputable breeder who has done genetic testing on his Beagles.
The more aware you are of these diseases, the higher the chances that you can prolong the life of your dog if problems arise. Same as with your child, you should be aware of all required vaccinations, risks and even risks outside of your home. This blog post for example outlines all toxic spring plants to your dog that can be harmful.
Many dog owners are unaware of the danger in some pet toys and accessories that can worsen health issues when they innocently buy cheap products from the Far East. Avoid synthetic rubber play things like chew bones or tug o' war ropes from polyester; polyester collars could cause skin irritation and are not breathable like natural materials. Swap out those harmful materials with eco friendly pet products from hemp here at Hooman’s Friend. Breathable, eco-friendly and sustainable!
Beagle fun facts
Beagle noses have also been used for lung cancer detection. Three Beagles were able to sniff out correctly malignant lung cancer in blood samples 96.7% of the time. In addition, they were taught to sit down if they sniffed the tumour and walk to the following piece if there was no cancer present. These results are astonishing and show again how far we can get by using the natural traits of our canine companions positively.
In this study, the Beagles were trained with clicker training, and no harmful methods were used. This is an excellent introduction to a cause close to our hearts.
Beagle Hounded Campaign
After reading all the above, one thing becomes evident. Beagles are small, gentle, not very territorial, and friendly. Unfortunately, their loving temperament makes them one of the preferred breeds for cruel animal testing in laboratories. It is sad that our society still relies on animal testing with injections when science is so far advanced. In 2020, 4340 experiments were carried out on dogs in the UK, and 4270 (98%) were Beagles. We believe that no animals should ever be used for testing. You can sign up to the newsletter of the Hounded Campaign to receive updates on progress being made by this ambitious project to ban all testing on dogs in the UK.
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Beagle Summary Info box
average 11kg - 13kg