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Beagle Facts

Origin: United Kingdom
Lifespan: 10-15 years
Breed Group: Hound
Coat Type: Short and dense
Coat Colours: TriColour, lemon and white, red and white
Temperament: Friendly, Curious, Merry
Height: 33-40 cm (13-16 inches)
Weight: 9-11 kg (20-24 lbs)

Introduction


Beagles, originally bred as hunting pack members, are known for their hound heritage. Physically smaller than Foxhounds yet brighter and more energetic than Bassets, their distinctive howl is a testament to their hound lineage.

The name “Beagle” stems from the French “begueule,” meaning “open throat,” and the Gaelic “beag” for small. While they can bay with the big dogs, this trait may pose challenges in apartment living without proper early training. In this book, we explore Beagles as family pets. In the United States, they rank as the fifth favorite companion breed. Social, sweet, and gentle, Beagles are enthusiastic and intelligent pets with minimal grooming requirements and an average life expectancy of 12–15 years.

Their journey, from the ancient Roman fields to the modern streets of Dublin, is a testament to their adaptability and charisma.

A Brief History

Beagles trace their lineage back to Roman times. The earliest “Beagle-type” dogs were utilized for their adept scenting and tracking abilities, making them the preferred choice for hunting small game, predominantly rabbits. Their stature and stamina made them excellent hunting partners, capable of both tracking and retrieving.

During the time of the Norman Conquest in England, the term “Beagle” was believed to have been derived from the French word “begueule,” meaning “open throat,” referencing their melodious bark.

As centuries rolled on, the breed’s popularity surged in England, especially during the reigns of monarchs like Edward II and Elizabeth I, both fond of these hounds.

Beagles are scent hounds ultimately refined for the specific purpose of hunting hares in England and Continental Europe. The dogs are the product of selective breeding programs covering centuries of development. Beagles are designed to hunt 8–10 pound / 3.6–4.5 kg hares and rabbits with the ability to reach speeds up to 40 mph / 64.37 kph over short distances.

Much of the Beagle’s development occurred in England where hunting was rigidly controlled by class structure. Only the king could hunt deer. Nobles with the resources to keep horses and dogs had the option to go after foxes. Lesser nobles, however, could only target quarry like hare.

The Beagle’s tale in Ireland began with trade, exploration, and hunting traditions, marking a significant chapter in the canine history of the island.

Beagle Puppies

Witnessing a Beagle puppy explore its world is an exercise in pure joy. Their wide-eyed wonder, combined with an innate cheekiness, is a sight to behold. Training them from a young age is paramount, not just for obedience but also to harness their boundless energy constructively.

Beagle puppies can be stubborn. They are bred to be pack animals, so you must show them early on that you are the “leader.” Like all young dogs, they need early socialization, and they must not be encouraged to bark or howl. While it’s impossible to get a Beagle to be completely quiet, you can teach him to stop making noise on command.

As scent hounds, Beagles must be kept leashed, so good etiquette while on the lead is an important early lesson. The breed is not good about coming when called, and they really can’t be left alone outside. They’ll dig, climb, and howl when they get bored.

Initially, you will need to devote several hours a day to your new puppy. You have to housetrain and feed him every day, giving him your attention and starting to slowly introduce the house rules, as well as take care of his general health and welfare.

Certainly, for the first few days (ideally two weeks), one of your family should be around at all times of the day to help him settle and to start bonding with him. The last thing you should do is buy a puppy and leave him alone in the house after just a day or two. They will feel isolated, bored, and sad, and this leads to behavioural problems.

Size & Weight

At first glance, the Beagle’s compact build may seem simple. But a more in-depth look reveals a harmoniously proportioned body, making them adept hunters.

Beagles closely resemble their larger relative the Foxhound, but if the two dogs were standing side by side, it would be clear that the Beagle has a broader head and shorter muzzle (nose and mouth).

  1. Weight & Height: The breed has a range, with some Beagles weighing around 18-20 pounds and standing about 13 inches tall. In contrast, larger variants can weigh up to 30 pounds and reach heights of 15-16 inches.
  2. Sense of Smell: The three breeds with the most highly regarded sense of smell are the Bloodhound, Basset Hound, and the Beagle. In a study conducted in the 1950s, a Beagle was able to locate a mouse in a one-acre field in less than a minute. As a basis for comparison, a Fox Terrier needed 15 minutes and a Scottish Terrier failed the test completely.
  3. Defining Characteristics: Large ears that gracefully drape to the side, a tail often tipped with white, and an array of coat colours make the Beagle both distinct and endearing.

Coats and Colours

The Beagle has a smooth double coat well-suited to wet weather. When kept as pets, they should be brushed once a week. They do shed, but not to excess, and the hairs are very short. The breed does not require frequent bathing. Due to the limited amount of air circulation under the ear flap, they can be prone to ear infections. Preventive ear cleaning is recommended.

Beagles don’t just bring diversity in personality but also in colours:

  1. Tri-color: A classic mix of black, tan, and white, with a distinct patterning that varies from one Beagle to another.
  2. Lemon & White: A more subdued and elegant combination, where a pale tan beautifully complements the pristine white.
  3. Chocolate Tri: A rare but mesmerizing blend of deep brown, tan, and white, sought after by enthusiasts.

Tricolor Beagles

The most common colouration seen in Beagles is the classic tricolour — solid patches of tan and white with a black saddle called the “blackback” or “black blanketed.” It is also possible for a tricolour dog to have faint brown markings inside the black to create the “Dark Tri” coat. A lighter version is called the “Faded Tri.”

Tricolor Beagles are not born this way; initially, they are black and white. The white areas are set by age eight weeks, but the black areas can sometimes fade to brown as they get older or even disappear altogether.

Beagle Temperament

Known for their even temperament, Beagles are a hit with families. Their origins as pack animals make them friendly with other animals and children. However, potential owners should be aware of their inherent energy and curiosity. While they’re gentle and loving, their strong scent drive can sometimes get them into trouble, often following their nose into mischief.

Apart from their famous “selective deafness” when it comes to being called or trained to do something they don’t want to do, Beagles are friendly by nature, peaceful with other pets in the house, and good with children.

Beagles are very intelligent and loyal. Although small in size, they are brave and devoted, alerting their owners to anything they perceive to be a danger. If there is one thing a Beagle can do well, it’s make noise. They may not be guard dogs, but they are excellent watchdogs. You will always know when someone is in the vicinity of your property.

With Children

Beagles have high energy levels that make them good dogs for children. They are active, sometimes to the point of being “hyper,” but since the breed needs a lot of exercise, it’s actually good for the dog to play with the kids until both sides of the equation drop from exhaustion. Beagles love the activity, and they can have a fun and entertaining sense of humour chasing balls and engaging in games.

With Other Pets

Beagles tend to be quite peaceful with other dogs, especially if they have been raised with their housemates. You need to be very careful having a hunting dog around rabbits, hamsters, ferrets, and other small creatures that will look like something to be chased,

Beagle Popularity in Urban Ireland

Cities like Dublin, Cork, and Galway see an increasing number of apartment dwellers. The Beagle, with its adaptable nature, fits urban living remarkably well. Their size doesn’t demand large living spaces, though they do crave regular outdoor activities. Daily walks, play sessions, and occasional visits to dog parks keep them content and healthy in the city’s hustle and bustle.

Pros of Beagle Ownership

  • Sturdy, athletic dog in a good, compact size.
  • Short coat that needs little maintenance.
  • Highly intelligent and loyal.
  • Good family dog.
  • Active dog that loves the outdoors and exercise.
  • Good-natured with people but still a good watchdog.
  • Easy to housetrain.
  • Peaceful with other dogs and sometimes with cats.

Cons of Beagle Ownership

  • High exercise needs.
  • Obedience training is a must.
  • Destructive if bored and can develop separation anxiety.
  • Must be kept on a leash and securely fenced, preferably with observation.
  • They love to dig and dig!
  • Barks, bays, and howls.

Health, Wellness, and Grooming

Though Beagles are robust, they come with their set of health and grooming needs:

  1. Ear Maintenance: Their droopy ears can harbour moisture, necessitating regular checks and cleaning to prevent infections.
  2. Dietary Care: Beagles have a hearty appetite. Monitoring their food intake and ensuring a balanced diet is crucial to stave off obesity.
  3. Coat Management: They have a short, thick coat that undergoes seasonal shedding. Regular brushing helps in maintaining coat health and managing shed hair.

Beagles for Sale in Ireland

Whether in Dublin’s heart or the tranquil Irish countryside, if you’re looking to bring a Beagle into your family, research is key. Ethical breeders who emphasize health and temperament should be your go-to. Additionally, various Beagle-specific rescues in Ireland offer these wonderful dogs a second chance, making adoption a worthy consideration.