Since I have Beagles in my massage practice, I thought it would be useful to profile this medium-sized breed.
Beagles regularly feature on the most popular breed list in the United States. Using American Kennel Club registrations from 2011, the Beagle is the third most popular dog.
The Beagle originated in the United Kingdom where they were used as hunting dogs for rabbits and other prey animals because of their keen sense of smell and ability to track. As a pet, owners have to watch their Beagle because he/she will easily follow its nose to track interesting smells – potentially wandering far from home.
Beagles are classified as being tri-colour (black, white and tan) or lemon (yellow) and sometimes even red or white. An average life span is 15 years.
This breed is prone to hip dysplasia, intervertebral disc disease, and allergies. Some develop seizure disorders and hypothyroidism. Regular ear cleaning is recommended because their long, floppy ears (which are very appealing) help to create an ideal environment to hold moisture and bacteria in the ear canal.
The Beagle is a hound and can be extremely vocal, so good training is needed. Beagles are also known for their appetites and so to keep the weight off, a balanced and healthy diet is needed with careful attention paid to how much the dog is eating during the day (treats, ‘finds’ on walks, etc.) Plenty of exercise is also needed.
Owners of Beagles tell me that since they were bred as pack dogs (for hunting), they don’t do well as a solo dog in a household. They need companionship and can become depressed if left alone for long periods of time. (This depression can lead to problem barking problems, too.)
Beagles are often spotted at airports, cruise ship terminals and postal depots because they are widely used as agriculture and drug detector dogs. That’s because they can be trained to put their keen noses to good use! I even came across this YouTube clip from the television show The Doctors where Beagles and Dachshunds are being used as detector dogs for bed bug infestations:
Sadly, because of their size and temperament, they are often used in laboratories for animal testing. In November 2011, I covered a story about 40 laboratory Beagles who had been rescued.
Perhaps the most famous Beagle is Snoopy (the cartoon by Charles Schulz). Snoopy was obviously a white Beagle.
If you are looking for a lively pet with minimal grooming requirements and generally a good temperament, then the Beagle may be right for you!