Beagles may hunt, but they are also lovable, curious companion pets. Find out if this active hound dog is a great pet for you.

1. Key Characteristics

  • AKC Group: Hound
  • Height: 13–15 inches
  • Weight: 20–25 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 15 years

Beagles are sturdy hunting dogs and look like miniature foxhounds. They are compact and have coats that require minimal grooming. They are also one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States, according to the American Kennel Club’s registration statistics.

There are 2 different sizes for this breed, the 13-inch tall and 15-inch tall beagle.

Coat colors include any true hound color, tri-color, red, lemon and white. The large eyes are brown or hazel. The ears are wide and long, the nose is black, and the tail is set high but does not curl over the back.

2. Where They Came From

Some records point to the 1500s as the beagle’s origin, but documentation is lacking. What is known is that hounds were noted in England before the Romans were there, and it is believed that sight and scent hounds descended from these dogs.

Fox hunting became popular in 18th-century England, and the foxhound was created by crossing a buck hound and a beagle.

Hunting hounds in the southern states of America were called beagles even before 1870, but these dogs were straight-legged with weaker heads. Beagles from a well-bred strain were sent to the United States from England and were crossed with the southern hounds. The breeding was successful in aligning the type with the beagle standard in England. Classes were developed in the United States for the 2 heights.

The National Beagle Club of America was formed in 1887, the English club was formed shortly after and the AKC added the breed in 1885.

Beagles are companion pets and participate in conformation, tracking, obedience and agility events and work as therapy dogs. These dogs are still used for hunting.

Beagles come in 2 standard sizes. Photos by: Peter Kirillov

3. How Friendly Are They?

Sweet, loving, affectionate and gentle are characteristics of the beagle. They are social dogs with a natural curiosity and high intelligence.

They are great with children and other dogs, but their strong hunting instincts may prevent them from becoming friends with non-canine pets unless thoroughly socialized from a young age.

Even though beagles are smart, they need firm, consistent training to curb unwanted or negative behaviors, such as guarding, obsessive barking, snapping, biting and destructive behavior. Beagles can experience separation anxiety, so try to minimize the type they are left alone or keep them occupied while you are away.

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4. Is This the Right Dog for You?

Exercise Needs

MEDIUM: Beagles are energetic and have great stamina, so they require daily exercise. A brisk daily walk or slow jog is recommended.

This breed is active indoors and does well in apartments with regular exercise, although a small yard would be a bonus. Beagles must be kept on a lead or leash when outdoors because they are likely to chase after smaller animals or ignore commands and take off to track a scent.

Grooming Needs

LOW: Shedding is average with this breed, so grooming isn’t time-consuming. Brush weekly with a bristle brush. Bathe when necessary and not too often. Check the ears regularly for drainage and infection.

Also check for ticks, cuts and debris on beagles who fulfill working or hunting jobs outdoors. Checked and clean the teeth daily, and maintain nails at an acceptable length.

Health Problems

MEDIUM: Although beagles are active and energetic, they are still prone to certain health problems. These include:

  • Epilepsy
  • Heart disease
  • Eye problems
  • Back problems
  • Chondrodysplasia (cartilage and bone problems most often affecting the legs/feet)
  • Mast cell tumors

Always keep annual veterinary appointments.

This video featuring Charlie the beagle provides the many reasons you should get a beagle:

5. Where to Adopt One?

Beagles end up in shelters and rescues, so start your search there or see beagles available for adoption through our adoption search.

If you do choose to use a breeder to obtain your beagle, get to know the breeder and keep an eye out for the warning signs of puppy mills. Ask for health certificates or test results from the dog or the parents of the dog you intend to take home.

Additional Resources

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