Pros & Cons of Beagle Ownership
Know your breed!
Yes, beagles are a fabulous breed. We love them, we adore them, we KNOW about them. You need to also if you are planning on adopting one! There are many challenges with beagles that you may not realize. We find people do not know or understand our breed of choice, so as a result many Beagles wind up homeless, being dumped at shelters, and neglected. Information is power, so please read up on this breed! They aren’t for everyone, but they can be the best dogs on the planet.
Beagles are very unique little characters. There is nothing cuter than a beagle puppy but just remember, they don’t train themselves! Beagles need guidance as they are extremely smart. They are problem solvers and if you don’t give them boundaries, they will find a problem to solve all by themselves….a problem you didn’t exactly need solved. Do not even consider adding a Beagle to your family based on looks alone. Behind that sweet face is a very stubborn and single-minded scent-hound!
Do your research – talk to vets, talk to Beagle owners, read books, talk to us! There are no stupid questions and we have seen it all…ASK!
Have nose, will travel….no, seriously!
Lesson #1: BEAGLES ARE SCENT HOUNDS! Their universe is defined by scent….any scent. Scent, scent, scent. Did we mention scent? Their noses are 1,000 more sensitive than humans, and this breed’s scent capabilities are many times greater than other breeds. What does that mean to you, as a potential beagle owner? It means they are food driven “shoppers” with your home being the greatest superstore they have probably ever experienced. Trash, food, candy dishes..nothing is sacred to a beagle. They are NOT the type of dog you can be watching TV with while eating a pizza and expect to get up to answer the phone and returning to anything other than an empty pizza box..if that! They will also catch a scent in the vast outdoors and be gone with the wind. We have a saying, “Good fences make good beagles.” Some are bolters and dashers, others are wanderers. It’s not that they are running away from you or your home..it’s just that they are running “to” something that caught their noses…remember that whole scent thing?
Good fences make good beagles
Lesson #2: BEAGLES ARE SCENT HOUNDS! No, this is not an error. I guess you’re getting the point by now! Fences are essential for the safety of a beagle. Beagles are sneaky, stubborn, cunning, and mischevious! They can be sleeping soundly on the lawn while you go to exit through a gate and like a bolt of lightening, dash out that gate or front door of your house. If you have children, you need to drive this point home or you will find yourself out looking for a lost beagle.
To leash or not to leash?
Lesson #3: BEAGLES ARE SCENT HOUNDS! Beagles have been bred for hundreds and hundreds of years to follow their noses, so now… they do! And it can get them into lots of trouble.
Beagles simply cannot be trusted to be off-leash, or to consistently obey their owners when they are outside. A house with a securely fenced yard is very important, unless provisions are made for consistent daily walks with the opportunity to exercise in a securely fenced area. When a Beagle catches a scent, his nose will hit the ground and he will go off to follow it. All other senses will be turned off, and no matter how loud you yell “COME”, a Beagle will not listen and will not come back. It’s not that they don’t love you and want to run away, or that they are being purposefully disobedient… they are just following their nose. That’s the job of a Beagle. We humans, as their guardians, need to make sure that they are safely contained so that their noses don’t get them into a dangerous situation.
Beagles can’t go on walks or hikes off-leash. For the same reasons as above, they always need to be attached to their human when they are outside. They are not the type of dog that can go hiking or camping with you and just ‘hang out’ by the campsite. You need to have them on a leash at all times.
Training your beagle
Lesson #4: BEAGLES ARE SCENT HOUNDS!
Whoever said Beagles are difficult to train, just didn’t realize they are scent hounds and that they are food motivated! Beagles respond very well with “training for treats” and consistency. Stubborn? Absolutely. But you just need to discover what motivates your beagle. A good obedience class is a fun way to work with your dog. If your beagle loses motivation, find a new form of motivation or their stubborn streak will kick in. It may seem at times that they forgot everything you taught them. Not true. They just make decisions on their own sometimes…welcome to the beagle breed! Beagles are not programmed to please their people…they are more like party animals who manipulate you into thinking they want to please you…ha!
Some beagle traits
Beagles will scavenge for food. If you leave food on a table, or a garbage can within reach… expect to have it inspected (and torn up/eaten) by your Beagle. It’s that nose again!
Beagles can be howlers. They have a very distinctive singing voice and use it when they are excited. If there is a knock at the door or a bird in the yard… you will hear ARROOOOOOO! In beagles, you either love the baying sound or not..so make sure before you adopt! To us, it’s music to our ears! Watching a beagle throw its head back, ears flying, and releasing a big AROOOO is a thing of beauty. They do get a bad rap sometimes about barking. This is true only if they are left alone. They do NOT like to be apart from their pack (you!).
Beagles are house dogs; not “outside” dogs. They are very social and people-oriented. They are very pack oriented and consider YOU their pack so naturally, they are not happy in the yard by themselves. Beagles need to be part of the family and allowed to live with you in the house. They like to be on your lap when you watch TV and in your room (preferably in your bed!) when you sleep. They aren’t happy in the background.
Reasons beagles are in rescue
Top reasons for surrendering a Beagle:
1. “My Beagle keeps running away.”
Is it in a securely fenced yard? If not, you need one, or don’t let them outside unattended….ever!
2. “The neighbors in the next apartment have complained that he howls during the day”.
Beagles often do not do well in apartments or condos for just this reason, but more importantly, WHY is he howling? Separation anxiety? Boredom? There are tricks and hints that behaviorists can give to help.
3. “My Beagle isn’t happy in the yard and the garage.”
Don’t get a Beagle unless you want an indoor dog. They want to be with you.
4. “Wow, I didn’t think it would be this much work”.
Treat this decision as seriously as deciding to have a child. You will need to change your family’s schedule, ‘dog-proof’ the house, and provide lots of love and attention. It’s a big decision that should not be made on a whim.
5. “The kids aren’t taking care of it, and I don’t have time.”
Don’t adopt a dog unless YOU want one and are willing to take on the responsibility. Beagles live to be about 15 years old, and that’s a long time to commit to! You’ll be taking care of the dog even after your kids are off to college.
6. “This dog is not trainable – it never comes when I call.”
That’s a Beagle! You need to enroll in obedience classes and follow through with training with the entire family.
7 – 10! ”This dog eats EVERYTHING in sight!”
That is DEFINITELY a Beagle! You need to keep things out of reach! Beagles need proper exercise to tire them out, and to help keep them from getting into trouble. Proper exercise and proper diet are a must to prevent obesity.
So you still want a beagle?
Hooray for you! We haven’t scared you off, huh? Now that you know most of the challenges you will face, let us be the first to tell you the good news. Beagles are wonderful family dogs. They are loving and affectionate, they are great with kids, and they are real cuddlers. There is nothing better than having a Beagle jump up on your lap, give you a kiss, and curl up for a nap under your arm. They are silly, playful, cute, loving, soft-hearted dogs that will steal your heart. They are a sensitive breed that feels your pain, laughs when you laugh, and snuggles when you cry. Sometimes they will just do the funniest things and will find joy in the simplest of toys. An empty cardboard box can provide hours of fun for a beagle.
Beagles do not need a lot of grooming, do not shed a ton, and although they will bark if there is something to bark at, they are not a ‘yappy’ breed.
Beagles are very people-oriented. They are the type of dog that wants to be with you and will follow you around from room to room. They want to be part of your family and will give you lots of love.
Who can resist “those eyes”? Beagles must be one of the cutest, handsomest breeds. They are a wonderful size: either the 13” variety or the 15” variety, measured at the shoulder height. They weigh from 20-30 lbs.
Beagles are great with kids. Generally, Beagles love the companionship of kids of all ages. They love a walk in the park, and to romp around with the members of their family.
Beagles are great watchdogs! If a stranger dare approach your home, your Beagle will gladly announce their arrival! Once inside, the stranger will probably get kisses and tail wags… especially if it’s the grocery delivery guy!
In our experiences, people either love Beagles or dislike them. You have to understand their distinct characteristics and accept them… not try to change them. Anyone who gets a Beagle expecting to be able to train it not to wander away from an unfenced yard or not to follow its nose is going to be very disappointed and frustrated. And chances are, that Beagle will be looking for another home within 6 months.
If you can live with the points listed above, you have a house with a fenced yard and lots of love and time to dedicate to a dog, then a Beagle can be the perfect family member for you.