Beagles are medium sized hounds, which stand between 13 and 16 inches high at the shoulder. They were originally bred for hunting hares in packs and today Beagles are normally sociable, mischievous, healthy and delightful members of an active family. Beagles enjoy company whether it is human, canine or feline and dislike being left on their own.
A household where the whole family is out from morning to evening is quite unsuitable for a Beagle. They may be on the small side but they can do a prodigious amount of damage in a short space of time to furniture, floors and curtains.
A Beagle needs a home with a garden, which needs to be fenced with 'Colditz' in mind! Beagles can dig as well as jump, so five to six foot high fencing is recommended. They can squeeze through small spaces such as trellis work or wrought iron gates, so you'll need to make sure you have the right sort of fencing as well as making sure it is high and deep enough.
Remember that your hound will need to be exercised for at least an hour each day and part of that time should, if possible, be free running in a safe area away from traffic or livestock. Never forget that the Beagle was bred to hunt, it is instinctive and will show up in its behaviour on walks.
The Kennel Club says, "the man with the lead in his hand and no dog in sight owns a Beagle", so be warned. Beagles are tough and love being with a family, but children must be taught to respect all dogs and not treat them like toys. Your hound should be provided with a special place of its own such as the folding metal crates, where children are not allowed to go or disturb the dog.
The Beagle is full of fun, enthusiastic and always ready for any sort of activity. They are easy to feed, too easy sometimes, as he will put on weight easily if allowed. They have an appetite for all sorts of disgusting things and will welcome the opportunity to raid next door's bins! Beagles are easy to keep clean which is just as well, given their delight in rolling in bad smells. Health surveys have shown the Beagle to be a very healthy breed, having no hereditary conditions that affect them adversely.
Selecting and owning a beagle
Scroll down to find information on:- choosing a beagle, beagles in the home, bedding, beagles in the garden, recognising the breed, beagle puppies, vaccinations, where to buy puppies, what to look for, your responsibilities, poop scooping
Choosing a Beagle
Bringing a Beagle into your home is a great commitment in time and patience and some people have found that they are unable to cope with a very young family at the same time.
So if you are sure that a Beagle will suit your lifestyle and you have the right environment to ensure a happy and contented life for a hound, then you have a choice of:
- Buying a puppy from a breeder
- Giving a home to an older hound through Beagle Welfare
Owning a Beagle
In the Home
Make sure there are no electric cables or trailing leads in the area in which your Beagle will be sometimes left unattended.
Your Beagle will need its own water and feeding bowls. Metal ones are safest for a puppy as they enjoy chewing the plastic variety. Your Beagle will also need a lead and collar. A small soft collar (as worn by cats) and a lightweight nylon lead are suitable for a puppy.
Allocate an area and bed which are the Beagle's own. Most owners find an area in the kitchen or utility room which can be adapted, and with a puppy, making a 'pen' using mesh panels (available at DIY stores for making compost bins) or a baby's play pen, is ideal.
Beagle owners often find a 'baby-gate' to be useful to bar Beagles from a specific room, or from going upstairs. Your hound will still be able to see you and not feel left out.
A hard moulded dog bed is easy to clean and more resistant to chewing than the wicker type. If you have a puppy, it is best to start off with a cardboard box with one side cut down as an entrance - this can be replaced as the puppy grows and chews, but avoid boxes with metal staples which can be dangerous.
You might consider buying a collapsible metal pen which have a wide variety of uses. They make ideal dog beds at home and on holiday, a place to go away from visitors and their children, a safe place if doors are left open or if potentially dangerous activities are taking place. The pens are ideal to use in the car, protecting the interior from damage and preventing your Beagle from jumping out. The pen should be at least 24"x18'x21' to allow your Beagle to sit, stand and stretch in comfort.
Whichever type of bed you decide on, your Beagle will require clean bedding at least once a week. Something old and warm can be used for a puppy to snuggle up in but do check there are no buttons or fasteners that can be chewed and swallowed. A special type of warm, non allergenic bedding called 'Vet-bed' is available from good pet stores. It is tough, hardwearing and machine washable.
In the Garden
Beagles are master escapologists and you should ensure that your garden is completely escape proof. Be aware that a Beagle can get caught in wrought iron gates and some types of paling fence. Extra care should be taken if you have a puppy and a garden pond.
Recognising the Breed
Spot the Beagle Puppy!
The puppy in the middle is a Jack Russell Terrier, easy to spot the difference when you can compare, but faced with eight of these little darlings swarming about, could you be fooled? What about the other two? The puppy on the left is a Bassett crossed with a Jack Russell Terrier. The puppy on the right is a pedigree, Kennel Club registered Beagle.
Always buy a puppy from a reputable breeder where you will see the puppies with their mother and sometimes the father. Never obtain a puppy from a pet shop, puppy dealer, a market or from a puppy super-store.
Beagle Welfare cannot stress strongly enough, how important it is that you research the breed thoroughly and only buy from a reputable breeder.
A Beagle puppy is ready to go into its new home once it is at least 8 weeks old. A bitch who is more than 8 years old or who has already reared six litters of puppies cannot be registered at the Kennel Club.
On purchasing your puppy, the breeder should hand over a signed Pedigree, the Kennel Club Registration Certificate and a diet sheet. Always buy a puppy from a specialist breeder where you will see the puppies with their mother and sometimes even their father. Never obtain a puppy from a pet shop, puppy dealer or market.
The Secretaries of Beagle Breed Clubs and also the Kennel Club or your local veterinary surgeon may be able to give you the names and addresses of reputable breeders in your area. Responsible breeders will have begun the process of socialising puppies so that they have met a variety of visitors and are familiar with some of the household sounds and activities.
Very Young Puppies
Beagles are born in a variety of colours and markings in the same litter and their final colour develops with time. In the first week or two they may look black and white but gradually the tan comes through usually first on the face and ears and then on the flanks and neck/shoulders by the time they are ready to go to their new homes. Lemon and white puppies are born looking nearly white with just cream markings and ears whereas their tan and white littermates will have definite tan markings at birth.
Not all bitches are happy to have visitors when they have young puppies but by the time the litter are being introduced to more solid food beagle puppiesfrom 3 weeks of age they are usually very happy to show off their family. By 6 weeks of age the puppies will normally be completely weaned from their dam and receiving four meals a day of a proprietary puppy food.
A Beagle puppy is ready to go to its new home by 8 weeks of age and you are advised to continue the feeding regime used by the breeder. During this time the responsible breeder will also have wormed the puppies at least twice and kept the puppies' nails trimmed and you should also continue to regularly carry out these routines. Feel free to bath your Beagle whenever needed, but don't let your hound get cold and remember clean bedding helps to keep your hound healthy. Never treat a young puppy for fleas without first obtaining veterinary advice.
As soon as you obtain your Beagle puppy contact your local Veterinary Surgeon to find out their programme of vaccinations. This does vary with the type of vaccinations used, but until your puppy has received its first full course, it must not be taken out where other dogs have been. You can still take your puppy out to get used to new noises and sights by wrapping it in a blanket and carrying it safely in your arms, or taking it for short journeys in the car. Most vaccines need a yearly booster, and licenced boarding kennels will need proof that this has been kept up to date.
Finally, once your Beagle has settled in and is of suitable age, do attend a good training class. Vets normally know of local classes or you may have a neighbour or friend who can recommend a club.
Where to Buy Puppies
Without doubt, the best information regarding reputable breeders can be obtained from the Breed Club Secretaries. Reputable breeders will inform the Secretaries when they have puppies available or a litter planned. These breeders will be members of the Breed Clubs, they will have to abide by the Clubs' Code of Ethics and the vast majority of them will be personally known by the Secretaries.
The two National Clubs are The Beagle Association and The Beagle Club. Refer to the Clubs' websites for up to date information regarding telephone numbers etc:
The Kennel Club, www.thekennelclub.org.uk has a register of puppies for sale throughout the country but it's worth noting that anyone with registered, pedigree dogs may appear on this register.
What to Look For
Getting to know the breeder, perhaps even before the litter is born is ideal. However, in reality you may have to make important decisions and choices in a short period of time. Here are some points that you may find useful.
If you are visiting an unknown breeder for the first time, you should seriously consider not taking any children you may have. If you have to leave without a puppy it will be all the more difficult if children are present. If you are happy with the breeder and pups then take the children on a 2nd visit, a good breeder will want to know the children are 'right' for their puppy!
Always see the puppies with their mother - accept no excuses such as - "she's been taken for a walk," or "she lives with my daughter." If you can't see them with the mother, leave straight away. A good breeder will also introduce you to their other Beagles and allow you to meet and play with them.
Try to be sure that the bitch you see with the pups is actually the mother. A sociable brood bitch can be used "front of house" if the puppies are "imported" from a puppy farm. A much bred from bitch will always look as if she's just had pups, with a perpetually low-slung undercarriage. How does she react to the pups and how do they react to her? Bear in mind that no mother will be keen to feed even her own pups once they are weaned, however, as in humans, there should be some family resemblance.
Alarm bells should ring if there is only one mother but there seems to be a big difference in the size and development of the puppies.
How do the puppies react to the breeder and vice-versa. Is there confidence and affection coming from both sides?
A good breeder will ask you many questions about yourself and your family. This isn't idle curiosity, it is for the benefit of all, the puppy, the breeder and you, making sure that you are well suited to Beagle ownership and understand all the responsibilities.
A Healthy Happy Puppy
Has clean, bright eyes. There should be no discharge from the eyes, ears or nose. The coat should be clean, sweet smelling and "loose fitting", positively rippling with good health. There should be no sign of parasites on the coat or in the ears.
Beagles have naturally happy, curious, outgoing personalities. Avoid any puppy that appears fearful or nervous. Never buy a puppy because you feel sorry for it or because it appears ill. It's very hard to walk away from a sad case and that's exactly what bad breeders rely upon. A good breeder does not produce bad puppies.
Where NOT to Buy Puppies
Welcoming a new puppy into your home should be a joyous occasion, but if you buy from the wrong source, the buying process can sometimes be upsetting and in some cases end in the puppy’s death. This may sound overly dramatic, but at Beagle Welfare we are very aware of the high numbers of puppy farmers, pet shops and commercial breeders who are only interested in making money out of dogs. If you buy a puppy from a pet shop you have no idea whether the puppy has been raised in one of the dreadful cages seen on the left, in a filthy shed or in the warmth of a cosy kitchen.
Puppy farmers have no concern for the physical or mental well-being of either their breeding stock or the puppies they produce. They will make no effort to breed for good temperament or with regard to possible, hereditary defects.
This will not matter to you if your main concern when purchasing a puppy is the price. Cheap puppies can easily be found on the internet but unfortunately many of these pups will have been bred in appalling conditions on puppy farms. The puppies themselves may have health problems and only had the very minimum human contact, resulting in them having long term behavioural problems.
The adult breeding stock at these establishments live lives of total misery.
Above left is a Beagle "stud" dog.
Above right is a "brood" bitch who has spent her entire life in a cage.
Their lives are spent producing puppies for the “cheap” end of the market. They will be destroyed once their useful production days are over.
If you buy from a puppy farm, a pet shop, or other retail outlet, you may think that you’re getting a bargain but somewhere down the line, a terrible price has been paid.
Beagle Welfare cannot stress strongly enough, how important it is that you research the breed thoroughly and only buy from a reputable breeder.
By law, your Beagle must wear a collar when in a public place, bearing your name and address. A harness is a good idea for the livelier hounds.
Remember to check regularly that the tag is still in place and clearly readable, and change the address if you are away on holiday.
The Animals Act places responsibility for any accident or damage caused by your hound firmly on YOU. Check your household insurance policy or think about taking out a special dog insurance with one of the specialised companies.
Please think carefully before you invite a Beagle to join your household, but remember, that in return for your time and care, a Beagle will reward you with love and friendship for an average of 12 to 14 years.
Please be a responsible Beagle owner and never allow your hound to be noisy or annoy others.
Poop Scooping and the Law
Local councils (and some other organisations like water companies and the British Waterways Board) can make local laws called byelaws. These can require you to clear up after your dog in certain areas, such as streets, parks and beaches.
However, powers to create poop scoop areas have been given to local authorities. Under the Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1996 councils can now designate most public land which is open to the air as a poop scoop area. If land is designated under the 1996 Act and you don’t clear up after your dog you may be asked to pay a fixed penalty of £50 instead of being taken to Court.
Do not wait until the law makes you clear up. It is in everyone’s interest that dog mess is not left lying where people might tread or sit in it.
Don’t play into the hands of the anti-dog lobby, so train your Beagle not to foul in public places and always carry a plastic bag or ‘poop-scoop’ to clean up any mistakes.
SCOOP THE POOP!