Appearance and Size
See the official Breed Standard on the New Zealand Kennel Club website.
The Beagle is a sturdy and compactly built hound with a merry disposition and lively nature. Beagles come in several colour types, the most common being the black/tan/white combination of the tricolour, but Beagles also come in tan and white and lemon and white. All are approved within the standard. The stern (tail) should always have a white tip and the eyes must be dark . Of medium size, the Beagle stands at either 41cm (15 inches) or 33cm (13 inches) measured from the top of the shoulder to the ground.
Characteristics and Behaviour
Descriptions of the Beagle include: even temperament, bold and merry hound, alert and intelligent, fun-loving. These characteristics make them ideal family pets as well as robust companions for more active lifestyles. They are very sociable with children, other dogs, and adults.
However, Beagles are scent hounds who have retained their hunting instincts and origins so they can be independent and stubborn when tracking and following scents. This may mean your Beagle will ignore your call to return and cannot be relied upon to be 100% obedient. Walking your beagle on a lead at all times may be the consequence of this highly developed scent drive.
Because Beagles were bred to be part of a hunting pack, your Beagle will crave company, either another dog or a human. If you are away all day and your dog will be confined for long periods on its own, then a Beagle is not a best choice breed for you. Many owners prefer to have two beagles (or a second dog). That way the Beagles natural fun-loving, sociable nature is able to be fulfilled and you will not have the problems of returning home to a barking, digging, chewing power-house which has all but demolished your backyard!
Beagles respond well to regular, consistent and patient training of short duration. Their intelligence and willingness to please you means you can teach your Beagle to have good manners and to fit in well with you and your family. Your Veterinary Clinic may hold Puppy Schools and your local Dog Obedience Club may be another option where you can learn good training techniques.
Beagles have very healthy appetites and are not known as fussy eaters. Rather, their keen appetite and inquisitive nature coupled with an exquisite sense of smell, will lead a Beagle to any available food source, so maintaining your Beagle at a healthy weight will mean vigilance on your part and discouraging additional tit-bits from family/friends who cannot resist their appealing big eyes!
Your veterinary practitioner will caution you about inappropriate weight gains and regular visits to the weighing scales will monitor their waist-lines. An obese Beagle is not a healthy, nor a happy animal.
You will receive a feeding regime and type of food(s) suitable for a puppy when purchasing your Beagle from a breeder. Once grown, the Beagle’s diet should be well balanced and your Veterinary Clinic, pet shop or supermarket will carry a wide range of dried, tinned, processed food suitable for your pet.
Beagles were bred to hunt regularly over long periods of time and have developed a high level of stamina. A short rest after exercise and they are ready to go again! Their energy will mean a need for daily walks lasting up to an hour or more. Depending on where you live and the local body dog control regulations, this might mean walking your Beagle on a lead at all times. When in a safe environment Beagles love to run free and interact with other dogs.
As well as having daily exercise outside your property, your Beagle will also enjoy active games, exploring their environment, and sniffing out anything that is new and exciting within your property. Having a well-fenced property ensures your Beagle is safe from traffic hazards and from straying. You will need a JUMP-proof, DIG-proof, CHEW-proof and CLIMB-proof fence that completely encloses you backyard and is at least 1.5m high.
Ensure you have a sheltered area for your dog to rest up in hot or cold weather, a kennel and/or access to shelter indoors is important. Keep fresh water available at all times.
A Beagle’s average lifespan is 10-15 years. They are robust, sturdy hounds and suffer few genetic, health-related problems when bred well by responsible Breeders.
If buying from a Breeder, ask about the health history of the parents (sire and dam) and of the puppies from previous litters. If buying an adult Beagle enquire about its health history, reasons for, and frequency of, visits to a Veterinary Clinic. You can also seek advice from other Beagle Breeders and the Club if you need further information.
You will need to maintain a regular vaccination and anti-worm regime, and if placing your Beagle into Boarding Kennels you must be able to provide a record of these vaccinations.
If you have no intention of breeding from your Beagle it is advisable to have it de-sexed and your Veterinary will advise the best age to do this. Unwanted litters of puppies do little to help the integrity of the breed and are to be discouraged.
Beagles are easy-care dogs with a short, dense and waterproof coat, that is easily maintained by regular brushing and an occasional bath. They do not have a strong doggy smell but do shed hair.
After a walk in wet weather or a dip in the river/pond, your Beagle will only need a rub down with a towel. Check feet and paws for any abrasions/cuts and keep their nails trimmed.
Their long, floppy, ears can inhibit air flow so checking the outer ear and keeping it clean will avoid any problems. Never probe or poke cotton buds into the ear canal.
Beagles are also prone to developing a condition called ‘lip fold pyoderma’. This is a condition where the folds around the mouth become infected. To avoid this, ensure you clean and thoroughly dry all folds around your beagle’s mouth on a regular basis.
Home and Owner
Beagles are very adaptable and are happy living outside in a kennel with a secure run/exercise area, or equally content living inside as a house pet. However, like any dog, Beagles need quality time, including time in training, playing, and good daily exercise. Giving a child a Beagle as a birthday present just will not work, it is an adult responsibility to raise, train, feed, exercise and manage any dog.