Given its friendly nature, floppy ears and sweet face, the beagle is a popular pet, but these dogs come with a warning – they need plenty of exercise, lots of early training and a backyard with a high fence.
As a hound, beagles, which have their origins in Britain, have been bred for hundreds of years. They are loyal pack animals and love children, and can live happily with other pets, including a cat, if introduced at an early age.
Most beagles have the typical tri-colour coat, which is short, dense and water resistant. Thanks to these smooth coats they don’t require much grooming, but watch your beagle as he will love to roll in anything smelly. They are sturdy and compact, with athletic figures. Male and female beagles weigh about 10 to 12 kilos, live up to 15 years and are reasonably healthy. However, there are some common ailments to look out for in your beagle, including eye problems such as cataracts and glaucoma, haemophilia, liver problems and sometimes mouth issues such as an overshot or undershot jaw.
Your beagle will have a fun temperament, but as a hound he has a one-track mind, and you’ll often find your beagle trotting around the house or backyard sniffing out his territory. Training – early and consistent – is essential, as their hunting instinct means they can be stubborn in their pursuit of a scent. They are also prone to barking and their ability to escape from any backyard is really quite extraordinary – they will dig under or climb over a six-foot fence in pursuit of a smell. They are also very messy and will overeat if you let them. The good news is that they are eager to please their owners, so firm and regular training will help settle them. Regular exercise is also essential, as they have huge amounts of energy. But don’t let them off the lead until they are well trained to return on command, otherwise your beagle will catch a scent and take off. A good idea is to go with their hunting instinct by letting them take part in dog trials.
In terms of feeding, they aren’t fussy and are inexpensive to keep. Again, watch their food intake as they are gluttons and have a tendency to gain weight.