Frequently Asked Questions
1. Where did the Beagle come from?
With ancestry dating back to 200 AD., the beagle was originated to hunt/trail small game (the hare and rabbit) by scent. The early development of the breed took place primarily in Great Britain. Imported from England to the U.S. early in the history of this country, beagles were used not only for the pursuit of game for food, but also are hunted as packs or braces for the pleasure of the sport.
Hare hunting with small hounds was popular in England as early as the 14th Century, and while these hounds were likely of beagle type, that breed name was not yet in use. The actual origin of the name “beagle” is uncertain. It may have been derived from the old French “be’geule”, meaning “gape throat” and referring to the baying voice of the hounds when in hot pursuit of their quarry. It has also been often suggested that the term refers to the diminutive size of the hound, possibly deriving from the Old English “begele”, or perhaps the French “beigh” or Celtic “beag” (all of which mean small).
While the little beagles of the Elizabethan period were persistent pack hunters, possessed of great stamina and keen noses, they were lacking somewhat in speed and dash, and failed to remain in favor very long. During the mid-18th century, foxhunting was growing in popularity among those who wished to pursue a more exhilarating sport than watching hounds puzzle out the intricate mazes of the hare. (In fact, the larger breeds of foxhounds and harriers were developed from the crossing of beagles and other scent hounds - the beagle was not "bred down in size" from the foxhounds, a common misconception.)
A revival of interest in hunting with beagles began around 1830, and the Rev. Phillip Honeywood is credited with being the chief pioneer. Most of the foundation hounds of the breed in this country (USA) were imported from the finest British hunting packs. These were truly “dual purpose” beagles, possessing both correct conformation and field abilities. The first definite operations of which there is record credit General Richard Rowett of Carlinville, Ill. as being one of the earliest importers of beagles during the 1870’s, aided in part by Mr. Norman Elmore of Newark, NJ. The Rowett strain of beagles was later carried on by Mr. Pottinger Dorsey & Staley Doub of MD. These hounds were known for their uniform type, and bench show quality of conformation combined with remarkable field ability.
2. What colors do they come in?
The American Kennel Club and National Beagle Club of America recognize "any hound colors" as acceptable. Hound colors include all shades and combinations of white (or cream), black, tan/lemon/red, brown/liver, blue/grey, and the colors of the hare or badger. The color combination which most people associate with a Beagle is the black, tan & white tricolor, with a black saddle marking, and white occurring in an "Irish spotting" pattern on the face, neck, legs and tail tip. Second most common color combination is probably the red & white coloring, also known as lemon & white or tan & white depending on the depth of color. Tricolors can also occur which have a "faded" black saddle, or with the dark pigmented areas being brown/chocolate/liver in color, or even with the black or brown pigment diluted to blue or lilac. Patterns of markings in beagles can range from predominantly solid black & tan, to the typical "Irish spotting", through open marked or piebald hounds where the background is white with smaller patches of color. Blue tick or red tick hounds are those with heavy speckling known as "ticking" throughout the white portions of the coat (also called "mottles"). For more on colors in beagles.
3. How big will my Beagle get?
Beagles are a small to medium sized dog, typically ranging from 10" to 16" in height at the shoulder when mature. In the USA, our breed standard disqualifies beagles which exceed 15" in height from participation in conformation or field trial competitions; most other countries recognize 16" beagles as the desired maximum height. Divided into two varieties for competition purposes in the US, the under 13" variety typically weighs less than 20 lbs., and the 13" to 15" hounds range from 20 to 30 lbs. It helps to keep in mind that parents of either size can and do produce offspring of either size, often within the same litter. An experienced breeder may be able to give you a good estimate as to the future, adult size your beagle might reach . . . but no one can be expected to guarantee the eventual, exact height at maturity.
4. Do Beagles require a lot of grooming?
Not especially, although ears and feet will require special attention. Beagles have a smooth lying, hard, medium length coat with a finer undercoat. Females will "blow" their coat after each season, and males will "blow" once a year, generally when the weather grows warmer in the spring. A good brushing once or twice a week is usually sufficient to keep your beagle's coat clean and healthy. A bath in warm water when the coat starts to loosen up will hasten the shedding process, and keep your dogs clean too. Otherwise, bathing is rarely necessary, unless your hound has found something smelly to roll in. The beagle's pendulous ears are especially prone to developing infection or ear mites, and will require weekly checks and careful cleaning. Toenails also require regular attention, with frequency of trimming dependent on how well your beagle wears them down during his normal, daily activities.
Grooming the beagle for show ring competition, however, is a whole different story. Current trends include trimming, stripping and sometimes even clippering of the coat to neaten the appearance and create a stylish outline.
5. Are they noisy?
The normal, active Beagle will bark when strangers arrive, at the neighbor's cat or trespassing wildlife, and at strange goings on in the neighborhood. But beagles in general are not nuisance barkers, unless given good reason to do so. Beagles can, on rare occasion, become prone to howling if they are left alone for long periods of time and become bored. As a result of their hunting heritage, beagles may be quick to bark when they discover an intriguing scent, and will “tongue” (produce a baying sound) when in pursuit of their quarry.
6. Do Beagles have a hound odor?
The typical house beagle does not have any noticable body odor. The one exception might be an unspayed female during her estrus cycle, due to the vaginal discharge. In general, unless your beagle finds something odiferous to roll in, the family companion hound is a clean and pleasant smelling character. Dogs will often develop an offensive odor quite often if anal glands need expressing or if they are on a food too low in fat content.
Usually, when we hear remarks about a smelly beagle, it is one that has been housed outdoors, and continually runs through or rolls in urine and feces or other interesting scents. To a beagle, these odors can be somewhat appealing. But this is clearly different from any natural body odor of the hound.
7. Are Beagles good with children?
In most cases, yes! Beagles tend to love social interaction with people, and children especially. Well bred and socialized beagles are very gentle with youngsters, and they can be wonderful companions for older children as they typically enjoy attention, rough housing, and interactive activities such as playing ball. The beagle is a "big dog in a little package"; small and unthreatening, yet sturdy built and ready for action. The one area of caution, however, concerns food. Beagles take their food very seriously, and so children must be taught to understand that the hound should be treated with respect and never to tease or approach a beagle while eating.
8. Are they "one man" dogs?
Not particularly, since beagles are such social hounds. As a "pack animal" the beagle makes a wonderful family companion; he loves the entire family. They are easily adaptable to new situations and new people. Beagles that have been raised and socialized in the home are truly "people dogs"; they need companionship and are rarely happy without their human pack members around them. While highly adaptable, it is important to remember that every hound is different. Some Beagles will enter a new home & act like they've been there their entire lives. Others may take a few days to settle in.
9. Are Beagles nervous or shy?
Not typically. Beagles are friendly, social animals that enjoy companionship and have a zest for life. Beagles can sometimes be a little reserved towards strangers, but to people they know they should be loving, and outgoing. A shy, nervous Beagle is not typical of the breed, and may have been poorly socialized. Occasionally an older dog will be shy due to the treatment in a previous home and love, good care, and patience can usually bring around these animals. Again, individual personalities vary. While most beagles will be true social extroverts, an occassional hound may prefer the quiet and security of their own home setting.
10. I've heard that you should not buy a dog that is inbred. What does that mean?
This is not true. Dogs are bred in three ways: Inbred...which generally refers to the very closest breedings of mother/son, father/daughter, sister/brother... Linebred - which is a less severe form of Inbreeding, such as half sister/half brother, granddaughter/grandfather etc., or by Outcrossing...which is having no related animals within three generations. There is NO single right way or wrong way to breed dogs, and all three types of breedings can potentially produce acceptable quality puppies. When a breeder inbreeds, it simply means they are attempting to intensify traits within a family line for breeding/competition purposes - to make an animal "dominant" in the hard to get areas of quality. Inbreeding/linebreeding do not create shy or sickly animals any more than outcrossing, and an outcross dog does not have more vigor than a linebred animal. Inbreeding or linebreeding merely increase the chances that certain traits will be intensified, whether those traits are desirable or undesirable. Most breeders will selectively utilize all three breeding practices in their breeding programs at some time, and line breeding is the most common practice.
11. What is a pedigree?
Your Beagle's pedigree is his family tree. It shows three, four or sometimes five generations of his family. While it may be gibberish to a pet buyer, to a breeder it is a blueprint of heritage and genetic qualities. The male relatives are always on the topside, while the females are on the bottom. A few of the abbreviations (relating to titles & awards earned) most commonly used include:
Initials at the Start of a Name
Initials at the End of a Name
|CH. - AKC Champion||
|CAN.CH. - Canadian Champion||
C.D. - Companion Dog
|INT.CH. - International Champion (FCI or UCI)||
C.D.X. - Companion Dog Excellent
|OTCH. -Obedience Trial Champion||U.D. - Utility Dog|
|BIS - All breed Best In Show winner||T.D. - Tracking Dog|
|BISS - Best in Specialty winner||TDX - Tracking Dog Excellent|
|FC - Field Champion||
|FTC - Canadian Field Trial Champion||T.T. - Temperament Tested|
|IFC - International Field Champion (Am. & Can.)||
CGC - Canine Good Citizen
|CHB - Certified Hunting Beagle||
|AOM -Award of Merit|
|LPH - Large Pack on Hare|
|SPO - Small Pack Option|
13. Are Beagles difficult to house train?
No more so than any dog. The secret to housebreaking is timing and consistency. The most successful method in the majority of cases is to crate train; the theory behind this being that dogs insitictively dislike soiling their "den", and will do their best to wait until released to the appropriate outdoor location to relieve themselves.
Be very consistent right from the start... Always crate your hound when you can not properly supervise and then immediately take outside to potty when you release them from the crate. To properly housetrain, it is important to not give the puppy the opportunity to repeatedly make mistakes (never allow freedom to roam the home unsupervised before a dog is very reliably housebroken... this is where many people make a big mistake). You must be consistent, even if your beagle buddy protests the restricted activities. If allowed to roam the house unsupervised, and permitted to relieve themselves in the home it is likely to become a difficult habit to break.
As for the occassional spotting around the house: accidents will happen, especially if not closely supervised. Remember, young puppies will need to relieve themselves quite frequently. Ignore mistakes and praise/reward all successes. Be sure to clean up all accidents extremely well... or the beagle is likely to return to the scene of the crime later and "mark" the same spot. Use of one of of the enzymatic cleaners that remove all traces of odor, such as "Fresh & Clean" is a good idea. Remember that the crate must be used wisely, and that young puppies typically can not hold their urine for more than a few hours at a time. With patience and consistency on your part, your beagle will eventually develop bladder control, establish a routine for voiding, and learn the appropriate location to do so. Puppies do not have complete bowel and bladder control, physically, until about 9 months of age.
14. Should I take my Beagle to obedience class?
YES! Any family pet needs rules to live by, and an obedience class is just the ticket. You and your Beagle will learn to work together as a team and you'll probably enjoy it too. By the end of the course you will find your Beagle has mastered basic manners, and can sit, stay, come when called, lay down, and walk nicely on a lead, all of which will make him a more pleasant companion to live with. You may be amazed at how quickly your Beagle might learn with a little practice and the reward of a tasty treat.
15. What would be a good age to start training?
We recommend that basic manners training begin as soon as you bring a new puppy into the home. They have a wonderful ability to learn things at this age, and you want to establish good habits right from the start. Just remember, that like children, their attention span is rather short and they easily become bored with repetition, so keep lessons short. Be consistent.
16. When/How should we enroll our Beagle in obedience training classes?
Many clubs/trainers offer what they call a "Puppy Kindergarten" class, which is for pups three months of age, sometimes younger, and up which provides very basic manners training and socialization. Formal obedience training usually begins at around six months of age, and if this is your first experience with training a beagle you probably should enroll in at least the "beginner obedience" classes to establish basic training (such as sit, stay, come on command, etc.). If you do not know of classes in your area, you can access the AKC web site to find contact info. for your closest dog/kennel clubs... most clubs will either sponsor training classes, or at least can recommend a good trainer in your area that holds them. Your veterinarian may also know where there are training classes within your home area that you may attend.
17. Do Beagles eat a lot?
Beagles, when fed a recommended, premium quality food actually need only one or two cups a day, a surprisingly small amount for such an active, medium sized dog. It is very easy to overfeed, as most beagles are "good eaters" so you must monitor their weight carefully. If you try to feed a cheaper, grocery store type food, you will be feeding almost twice as much (up to five cups) to maintain the same weight, so no money is saved with this practice, and you'll end up scooping twice as much poop. It is important to remember that rapidly growing puppies need to consume approximately twice as much volume of food per pound of their own body weight as do adult hounds. You will need to gradually increase the portion amounts as your puppy grows, then begin to again reduce the intake to the proper amount for maintenance as he approaches maturity. Most dog foods will include a chart regarding suggested amounts of daily intake right on the bag. Use thesse charts as a guide, modifying the amounts slightly as necessary to maintain your beagle in top condition.
18. Do Beagles require a lot of exercise?
The Beagle himself will generally tell you no; left on his own, the adult "house pet" beagle is actually often a fairly lazy animal. The adolescent beagle, however, is an exhuberant creature who will need adequate opportunities to exercise his growing body and mind. The prefered forms of exercise include leisurely walks with their family or a good run while out hunting. Many beagles are enthusiastic retrievers, if taught when young. The beagle also can be a faithful jogging companion if you wish, but it is important to not over-exercise a young animal as you could do damage to the skeletal development. If you like to take walks with your dog or jog, please remember that it is very unwise to take a puppy under the age of 18 months on walks or jogs of more than 1/2 mile as their skeletal systems are not yet solidified enough to take the stress. After 18 months gradually extend the walks a 1/2 mile every week or so.
19. Do I need to fence my yard?
Yes, a fenced yard is preferred. It is highly recommended that your Beagle always be kept in a safe, secure environment. The securely fenced yard provides an area where your beagle can exercise without fear of his wandering off in pursuit of an intriguing scent trail. Because of their scenthound heritage, beagles should not be permitted outdoors off lead unless confined to a safely fenced area or while afield hunting. If you are not home during the day, a 6'x8' kennel enclosure placed on a concrete paved run with an insulated doghouse is a fine place for your Beagle to hang out in. Beagles enjoy being outdoors, but hate to be tied-out, and can become escape artists. A kennel run is not always the best solution, however, as a bored beagle may tend to pace back and forth and bark. A crate in a quiet location inside the home is the alternative solution. Some breeders will not sell a dog unless there is a fenced yard due to the incidence of "hit by car" deaths. An invisible fence with collar does not prevent another animal from entering your property and attacking your dog. Many breeders will not sell dogs to homes where the dog will be a strictly outdoor dog, either, as they feel that beagles, being the pack-oriented animals they are, need the companionship of their human pack. A beagle left outside can quickly become bored and destructive or noisy, even with another dog in the yard.
Beagles are also very intelligent and will quickly discover a way out of the yard if there is one. For this reason, it is not enough that the yard be fenced, but it must be beagle-proofed, as well. This means having a fence that cannot be climbed or dug under, or one whose material is such that a beagle cannot go through it or under it. It is surprising what small spaces they can escape through and how determined they can be to find a way out.
20. What if I live in an apartment?
While a securely fenced yard is a plus, it is not an absolute necessity if you are willing to commit to walking your beagle on lead several times per day in any and all weather conditions. Because of their smaller size and gentle temperaments, beagles can be wonderful apartment pets. But such a situation will require a major committment on your part to providing adequate exercise and opportunity to relieve themselves.
21. Will my Beagle have to visit the veterinarian frequently?
A normal, healthy dog only has to see his vet once a year for his annual "booster" vacciantions, health exam, and stool check. Your "family companion" hound should be spayed or neutered at about six or seven months of age, or older, according to your personal veterinarian's or the breeder's recommends. This routine proceedure not only eliminates the possibility of unplanned breedings, but also has numerous health benefits for your beagle buddy. For more on beagle health problems.
22. How long will my Beagle live?
It is not unusual for beagles to have a life span of 10 to 15 years. By that age, they will require special care for some of the typical infirmities. The new glucosamine/chondroitin/ester “C” supplements can be especially helpful in aiding with joint care.
23. Why are purebred animals more expensive than mixed breeds?
The old adage, "you get what you pay for" is usually true of purebred animals. The price you pay includes the stud fee that was paid (or helps offset costs of maintaining a home based stud dog), the shipping and care of the bitch, the cost of tattooing or microchips for ID, worming, vaccinations, registrations, advertising, health checks, feeding, time devoted to whelping and caring for the litter...plus you are paying for the generations of quality champions that are behind your dog. You are paying for a beautiful Beagle that looks like a Beagle should, and acts/hunts like a Beagle does. You are paying for the time the reputable, responsible breeder puts into each litter and for the wonderful temperament they are producing. You are paying for a quality animal that you can be proud of for many years. You are paying for a heritage.
24. What is a pocket beagle?
Pocket beagles were very, very small beagle popularized back in the days of Queen Elizabeth I. measuring 9 inches at the shoulder, and Paintings of the time show these beagles to be short-legged and somewhat pointy nosed. In the days of Edward II and Henry VIII, even smaller beagles, referred to as "glove beagles" because they were small enough to to be held in a gauntlet, were much in favor with the Royal Family. However, today, while there may be a few really small 13" variety beagles which may approach heights of around 10", they are not a breed or variety of beagle as such, and are not recognized by either AKC or UKC. Quite often beagles of this size are often only short by virtue of shortened legs caused by poor breeding or the dwarfing of chondodystrophy (see the Health problems page) with it's ensuing health problems. It must also be noted that many times it is impossible to predict mature size of a puppy, even when both parents are under 13". Birth weight may be a good indicator of final size, as is size at around 8 weeks, but they are no means reliable. If you want a beagle that will be small get one at around 9 months when the dog has pretty well finished growing, or from a breeder who has never produced an over 13". In this way you will have a much better chance of getting a small dog. However, be also aware that usually the smaller the beagle, the more hyperactive it is. But, there are exceptions.
25. What is a Patch beagle?
The 'patch' beagle strain is attributed to Willet Randall of New York who began his strain around 1880. His and the 'patch' beagle story are chronicled in a book called 'Wilderness Patchwork'. Many people today call lemon & white or red & white beagles a patch beagle. Sometimes any pied Beagle (Open marked or Irish spotting) primarily of hunting/field trial utility were referred to as patch hounds, as well. These primarily white dogs were very much in demand in the 40's and 50's for their running skill. Genetically they are white-colored background hounds with a very large tri-colored spot. (Thanks go to Hal Davis and Robert Goodfellow for these explanations).
26. My female is in "heat". What should I do?
A normal part of the female dog's reproductive cycle is called being "in heat" or being "in season". It will begin with vaginal bleeding or spotting and progress to a heavier discharge, gradually becoming lighter in color and then going away completely. During this time the female, or bitch's, vulva is very swollen and sensitive. If your female is not of breeding quality or is too young to breed (you should really wait until they are about 2 years of age), you will want to keep her isolated during this time. By isolation, we do not mean putting her in the backyard, no matter how secure you think it is. While she might not be able to get out, although she might be so inclined, there will be plenty of male dogs trying to get in, and you never know when one might succeed. It would be much better to keep her contained in the house or garage where she is absolutely secure. (Be sure to watch her or put her in a crate or separate room if you have to open the front door). She can be exercised in your own backyard, although you might want to take her out on a lead, even there, or you can carry her to the car (don't walk her as she will leave her scent for any male to catch and you may answer the doorbell to see some Lothario sitting there with bated breath and a silly grin on his face (don't laugh, it's happened). Once in the car, drive to a place where you can exercise her on lead. Once she is done, carry her back to the car and home, carrying her back into the house. You will probably find that she will need to urinate more frequently while she is in season too, since the same hormones that cause the external swelling also cause some of her other organs to swell and put more pressure on the bladder. You can protect your furniture and carpets by using some of the panties that are sold for such a purpose, although she might find them too uncomfortable and chew them off; or you can cover the furniture with washable blankets, quilts etc., or keep her confined to a crate or other room for the duration.
The duration of the heat is basically about 3 weeks long, although some bitches will go 4 weeks. Usually, but not always, after about the first 7 days she is considered breedable and any breeding that takes place during this time will result in pregnancy. The breeding period last about another week and a half, but don't take anything in the textbooks as gospel because dogs do vary. Many bitches will stop bleeding once they are ready to breed, but some don't, and might bleed through the entire season. Just because they have stopped bleeding, don't assume they are out of heat. And then she'll repeat the whole thing in about another 6 months.
If you are considering breeding, please make sure your female receives the necessary x-rays and blood work to assure she is not carrying any known hereditary disease which can be tested for, in addition to knowing the Standard to be sure she is a good representative of the breed with no disqualifying faults, and knowing full well the problems, both financial and physical, that can arise when undertaking a breeding
Beagles make wonderful family companions, for the right family. Their typically gentle nature and fun loving personality are suitable for families with children. Social animals, they usually get along well with other family pets. Generally speaking, they can be independent and have a tendency to roam, due to hundreds of years of selective breeding for hunting instincts. For this reason, it is always highly recommended that Beagles have a securely fenced yard to exercise in. Like people, dogs have unique personalities. Some Beagles are very energetic while others are rather mellow. You should try to locate a hound that fits both your expectations and lifestyle. Please feel free to browse the additional, informative web pages found within this NBC site, including "Beagle-proofing" Your Home.
If your Beagle is going to be a member of the family, and not exhibited in shows or field trials or bred, it is highly recommended to spay or neuter him/her, not only to reduce the amount of unwanted animals, but also for the long term health of your pet.
27. What is a "Kerry" Beagle
Kerry Beagles are really not beagles at all (despite the name), but a variety of foxhound found in Ireland. They are a big, black and tan hound. There are probably no Kerry Beagles in this country at all, unless imported and incorporated into one of the organized fox hunting packs
The closest thing in America that would resemble one, would be the black and tan coonhound; they are quite similar in general appearance. Although in certain portions of the USA, it has been common for members of the hunting faction to refer to dark blue tricolor beagles as "Kerry", possibly due to the similarity in saddle color to the Kerry Blue Terrier. So what some might call a Kerry Beagle might be just a dark blue tricolor beagle.
Remember, always buy from a reputable, responsible breeder!
Pet shops and dealers can not be relied upon to provide you with healthy puppies. They may do their best, but can not guarantee the health care provided before they received the puppy, nor the medical or genetic background & early socialization. A responsible breeder plans each litter carefully and follows up their puppies with a lifetime commitment to provide advice and rehome if/when a problem arises. So always buy from a reputable breeder. For additional information on breeders, or more detailed information on beagles: Please contact the NBC members listed elsewhere on this site. Also, local breed club Breed Referral Services, and commercial websites such as Drs. Foster & Smith provide wonderful search engines for locating beagle breeders by state/location.
You may wish to view the AKC beagle conformation standard (a description of the ideal physical specimen of the breed). Also learn about the desirable and undesirable traits regarding the beagle's intended function as a scenthound that pursues the rabbit or hare (as detailed in the AKC beagle field trial rules and regulations), or access the complete field trial and show regulations at the AKC web site.