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Breed Profile: Beagle

The Beagle is a small and compact, yet tough breed of dog, that makes a great, energetic companion for both children and adults alike. They are happy and fun-loving, but being part of the hound family of canines, they can be stubborn, and require plenty of patience during training. Their noses guide them through life, and they are at their most content, when they are following a fascinating scent.

History of the Beagle

The name and history of the breed is somewhat uncertain, because the Beagle of today was not developed until the 19th century. It is reported that William the Conqueror brought a few of the now-extinct Talbot Hounds to England in 1066, and it is these hounds that are believed to be the ancestors of Beagles and Foxhounds.

Beagles were originally bred as a scent hound to track small game such as rabbits and hares, and is still used for this purpose today in many countries around the world.

General Physical Characteristics of Beagles

Beagles are between 1’1” to 1’3” tall at the shoulder, and can weigh from 18 to 30 pounds. They are cute, small, and friendly, with a gentle personality. They have a smooth and dense double coat that is resistant to rain. A good brush once a week will control shedding.

White, black, and tan is the most common colour combination for a Beagle, with the second most common being red and white. The majority of Beagles have a white tip at the end of their tail, to enable hunters to see them when they’re running in tall grass.

Character and Temperament of the Beagle

Although they are funny, gentle, sweet natured dogs, Beagles can also be very naughty, so early training and socialization is essential. They can be difficult to house train, sometimes needing up to a year before they are fully house trained. They get bored when left alone for too long, and will amuse themselves by digging, barking and howling. Beagles are known for their baying and barking, and it takes constant work to keep these bad traits under control. Being scent hounds, they do wander off when they get a hint of something interesting, so microchipping is a good idea.

Beagles are extremely loving toward their family, but children in the family should be taught that these dogs are serious when it comes to their food, and should be left alone when eating, and not ever teased with food. Since they are friendly even with people they first meet, Beagles do not make good guard or protection dogs.

Beagles love company and enjoy being around children and other pets in the family.

Life Span of the Beagle

The life span of this breed is from around 10 to 15 years.

Common Health and Personality Issues in Beagles

As with most other breeds, Beagles are also prone to certain diseases, although this is not to say that all of them will suffer from any or all of the following:

  1. Intervertebral Disk Disease – spinal problems which could be minimal or so severe that surgery, which is not always successful, is required
  2. Cherry Eye – when the gland under the third eyelid protrudes and resembles a cherry. Sometimes it’s necessary for a vet to remove the gland completely
  3. Glaucoma – a painful medical condition of the eye
  4. Hip Dysplasia – an inherited condition, where the thighbone does not fit properly into the hip joint, causing arthritis as the dog gets older
  5. Distichiasis – the result of an extra row of eyelashes that grow on the oil gland in the eye, causing irritation to the eye
  6. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) – an eye disorder that eventually causes blindness
  7. Hypothyroidism – medical disorder of the thyroid gland
  8. Epilepsy – a neurological condition that is sometimes but not always inherited. It can cause mild or severe seizures
  9. Chinese Beagle Syndrome (CBS) – dogs with this condition have wide heads and slanted eyes. Although the dogs grow quite normally in every other way, toe abnormalities can occur, as well as heart problems
  10. Patellar Luxation – a common problem in small dogs, where the femur, kneecap, and tibia do not line up properly, causing an abnormal gait, or lameness in the leg
  11. Beagle Dwarfism – as the name implies, this is a condition where the dog is smaller than usual and may or may not have other physical abnormalities, like very short legs

Beagles tend to become lazy as they mature, and since they love their food, can easily become obese, so meals should be monitored and treats limited, to prevent this from happening.

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