Beagle: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

beagle dog breed
Rolf Kopfle/Photolibrary/Getty Images

The beagle is one of the most recognizable medium-sized dog breeds, known for its large, expressive eyes; long, floppy ears; and an upright, white-tipped tail. It has a short tricolored coat typically dominated by white and varied shades of brown. Beagles are scent hounds, hunting and tracking their prey by ground-scenting, and their keen sense of smell ranks with bloodhounds and basset hounds.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Hound

HEIGHT: 15 inches or less in height at the shoulder, with two varieties: those under 13 inches and those from 13 to 15 inches

WEIGHT: 20 to 25 pounds

COAT: Short

COAT COLOR: Tricolor combinations can include tan, black, white, reddish brown, and pale lemon

LIFE SPAN: 10 to 15 years

TEMPERAMENT: Active, companionable, keen, attentive, fearless

HYPOALLERGENIC: No

ORIGIN: England

Characteristics of the Beagle

Beagles are energetic, carefree, and optimistic dogs, and they are considered one of the most popular breeds for active households. They can be wonderful companions and great family dogs when properly trained and socialized. Having been bred to be in packs, they also get along well with other dogs, and most do well with cats, especially if raised together.

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly Medium
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Trainability Medium
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark High
Amount of Shedding Medium
1:51

Click Play to Learn More About the Carefree but Stubborn Beagle

History of the Beagle

The breed was originally bred in 16th-century England as rabbit-hunting hounds. Beagles can be traced back to 16th-century England, where wealthy Englishmen often owned packs of hounds. The smaller hounds were the beagles, which were used in hunting rabbits and other small prey. They were also used as gun dogs, flushing game for hunters.

Over time, the breed was developed in England and, later, in North America. Beagles became more refined and widely recognized in North America by the late 19th century, eventually becoming one of the most popular breeds. Though still used in packs for hunting today, beagles are more commonly seen as companion and family dogs. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1885.

Snoopy from the Peanuts cartoons is a beagle, reflecting the breed's popularity at the time Charles Schulz began to draw the comic strip in 1950. President Lyndon B. Johnson owned several beagles while in the White House. Today, beagles are used by the United States Department of Agriculture for detecting contraband food items in luggage.

Man exercising the hunting beagles. (Ph
Hunting Beagles The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images / Getty Images
President Johnson With Pet Beagles
President Johnson With Pet Beagles Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Beagle Care

These fearless hounds are well-suited to both hunting and companionship, but they need adequate daily exercise, regular grooming, and proper training. They require human companionship or the companionship of other pets throughout the day. Because beagles get along with other dogs, freestyle running in a properly enclosed dog park can be fun exercise for both of you. Beagles instinctively will bay and bark when they detect an interesting scent, but they may also become problem barkers due to boredom or separation anxiety, and training may help.

Exercise

Though they may sometimes act lazy on the surface, beagles have loads of energy and need regular exercise to use it up, even more so than other dogs. Otherwise, the dog may release that mischievous nature inside. Walk your dog once or twice daily and give it plenty of chances to run and play to result in at least a full hour of exercise a day.

Grooming

Beagles have short, water-resistant coats with a moderate to high rate of shedding. Routine basic grooming is all that is typically necessary to keep beagles looking their best. Luckily, their coat doesn't pick up much debris, so you won't need frequent baths or cleaning up what your dog tracks into the house.

Be sure to keep their floppy ears clean to prevent ear infections. Also, remember to trim the dog's nails regularly to prevent overgrowth, which can affect the gait. It is also good to brush your dog's teeth at least a couple of times per week to maintain good oral health.

Training

As scent hounds, they enjoy sniffing everything along your walks, which will exercise your dog's mind as well as his body. However, you will need good leash control and training, so you can control your dog if he gets a scent that he wants to track.

Without proper obedience training, beagles can be become unruly and defiant due to their strong-willed nature. They are notoriously difficult to train and command, and you have to make it fun and interesting for your dog to pay attention to your wishes.

Beagle On Walk in Forest Park
RyanJLane / Getty Images

Common Health Problems

Responsible breeders strive to maintain the highest breed standards as established by kennel clubs like the AKC. Dogs bred by these standards are less likely to inherit health conditions. However, some hereditary health problems can occur within any breed. In general, beagles are usually healthy dogs. However, they can still develop health conditions. The following are some conditions to watch for:

beagles as pets illustration
Illustration: The Spruce / Emilie Dunphy

Diet and Nutrition

Beagles love to eat and are notorious for detecting, raiding, and eating anything they can find. You should provide two meals a day of up to 3/4 cup of dry dog food per meal. The amount will vary by the dog's size, age, activity level, and other factors. Keep the dog food and your human food well-secured against this hungry canine. Because of their omnivorous appetites, you will have to monitor your dog's weight and take action if you see it is becoming overweight. Discuss your dog's needs with your veterinarian to get recommendations for the right food, feeding schedule, and amount.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Beagle

Before adopting or buying a beagle, remember this dog needs a family that can genuinely and consistently offer it a lot of time and attention. Check your local animal shelter to see if there's a beagle in need of a home. Additionally, check state and regional rescue groups, which include but are not limited to:

The National Beagle Club of America also lists breeders on its website, though the group does not endorse or guarantee any organization or person.

Beagle Overview

Pros
  • Great family pets

  • Gets along with other animals

  • Won't need much grooming

Cons
  • Loves to dig

  • Loud, howling bark

  • Sheds regularly

  • Can be hard to train

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you think the beagle is right for you, be sure to do plenty of research before you get one. Talk to other beagle owners, reputable breeders, and rescue groups to learn more.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, look into these to compare the pros and cons:

Explore the many dog breeds out there. With a little research, you can find the right one to bring home.

FAQ
  • Why do beagles bay so much?

    Beagles are known for their tendency to vocalize, especially with their signature bay, which is more like a howl than a bark. Some beagles vocalize out of boredom, but many bay just because they want to, no matter how much activity they get.

  • Do beagles get along with small children?

    The comical and even-tempered demeanor of this breed makes it a great choice for families with children. They are excellent with children as long as the child is old enough to treat a dog with respect and tolerate the high energy the beagle may display. Also note that these dogs are considered to be mouthy, so they may mouth a child's arm to play, which can be frightening. Remember, however, that not all dogs get along with kids, regardless of the breed.

  • Are beagles well-behaved dogs?

    In general, beagles are well-behaved, but they can be a bit stubborn, and they are known for their persistence, especially if they catch the scent of something interesting. They will dig furiously under a fence to find a way to escape to catch what it spots. A yard with a physical fence is preferred to one with an electronic fence, but be sure your dog has an identification collar or microchip for your little escape artist.

Watch Now: If Your Dog Could Text, They Would Say This