11 Things You Need to Know About the Beagle

Beagles are one of the most popular dog breeds. These dog breeds are frequently featured in advertising, television, and movies. Not only are they beautiful animals, but they make great pets. Are you thinking about adding a beagle to your household? Here are some facts about your new best friend.

Enjoying a beautiful afternoon.


Beagle Basic Facts

  • Height: 13 inches – 15 inches. Some smaller beagles may come in under 13 inches but most will not exceed 15 inches at the shoulder
  • Weight: 22 pounds – 25 pounds
  • Dog Lifespan: 10 years – 15 years
  • Dog Coat Color: Black, Tan, Brown, Red and white, lemon, tricolor
  • Dog breed recognized by the National Beagle Club and American Kennel Club

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1. Beagles are Historic

Beagles have been helping their human counterparts longer than records show. In fact, the first appearance of the dog is unknown. The best guess we have is that their roots go back to the 5th century BCE. Yes, you read that right. Dogs of a similar size were used for hunting in Greece and are considered early ancestors to beagles, despite not being named at the time. Their name comes from the old English word “begele”.

The hound went through a few different dog breeds from the St. Hubert Hound to the Talbot Hound before the first dogs we would recognize today as beagles came about. There’s only one difference; they were tiny. “Pocket Beagles” arrived in the mid-18th century. However, their larger counterparts were preferred, leading to the extinction of the pocket-sized dogs in the early 20th century. Now, they are recognized by the American Kennel Club and are very popular in the United States.

2.  The Beagle has an Incredible Sense of Smell

Take a beagle for a dog walk, and you’ll notice their nose barely leaves the ground. This is because a beagle’s dog sense of smell is far better than that of you or I. In fact, a beagle’s olfactory lobe (the part that processes scents) is 40 times larger than ours. Combine that with them having 45 times more scent receptors than us, and you have a machine built for smelling. Similar to the Basset Hound and English Foxhound in terms of sense of smell, it’s estimated they can smell about 1,000 times better than us (with some estimates putting that multiplier as high as 10,000). These dog breeds are scent hounds excellent for rabbit hunting.

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Beagles have a great sense of smell.

Their brains may be suited to interpret scents as if designed specifically for that purpose, but that’s not the only thing they have going for them. The physical characteristics of a beagle help them not only locate a scent, but direct it to their powerful noses. Their necks are strong which gives them the ability to quickly drop that nose to the ground to find a scent. Their short legs help with this, too.

My favorite example of their physical construction helping them smell better has to be their soft, floppy ears. The way they will often border their face is undeniably cute, but even that serves a purpose. They can angle their ears to trap a scent near their face and direct it to the nose. The ears act as a bit of a sail that traps passing scents.

3.  The Beagle is Stubborn

If you’re looking for a dog you can take for a jog without a leash, a beagle may not be your best fit. Beagles are not only built to find a scent, they are also inherently curious to the point they will follow that scent despite any pleading from their owner. Instances such as this are why the beagle has been labeled “stubborn.”

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A beagle and her friend.

Beagles can be difficult to train when they are young. Although they respond well to food rewards, persistence and patience are a necessity on the part of the owner. Beagles can be house-trained as well as any other trick you might want to teach them, but the beagle puppy will take a while to train.

That’s not to say there won’t be any slip ups every here and there. A beagle left alone may get bored and get into some trouble.

4.  The Beagle is Prone to Obesity

Beagles don’t have a lot of illnesses inherent to the breed, but one of the biggest threats to their 12-15 year life-expectancy can be linked to one thing: Obesity.

Beagles have a proclivity for gaining weight, and this can bring a host of health issues, from heart disease to diabetes. Hip dysplasia is a frequent health problem for beagles which can be worsened by extra weight.

Those big brown eyes staring up at you while you’re eating dinner might make it seem like they haven’t had a piece of dog food for a decade, but it’s those table scraps that often lead to a beagle gaining weight. Proper care, diet and exercise are the best way to avoid this common pitfall for the breed. On average, an adult beagle weighs between 20-25 lbs and they stand a little over a foot tall.

5.  The Beagle has its Own Scent

Beagles might be good at smelling, but sometimes, they also smell bad. Proper bathing and hygiene can lessen this, but the breed carries its own inherent odor.

All dogs have a unique scent to them, so don’t expect a beagle to have a nose-cringing, putrid scent. In fact, after living with a beagle, this news will come as a shock to you. But there may be a moment of confusion for the uninitiated as to where that smell is coming from.

The smell comes from their hair follicles. It’s true that dogs don’t sweat like we do, but they do excrete oils carrying a chemical odor which varies between dogs.

6.  They Have a Disputed Name

As the breed themselves predates records, their name is also a bit of a mystery. The name “beagle” could have a few different origins and they are all from the time before electricity.

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Forever watching you in the kitchen.

One theory is that the name comes from the French words meaning “open throat” and mouth,” which certainly fits one of their more apparent traits. It could also be a reference to the Gaelic word for “small,” or the German word for “to scold.”

7.  They Just Want to Love You

Beagles are great hounds for family households because of their pleasant disposition. These hounds are kind, playful, and verifiable cuddlebugs. Gentle with children, the beagle is a great addition to any home that can keep up with their physical needs. A well-exercised beagle will habitually curl up next to you on the couch and jump into your lap the moment you come home.

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A beagle’s favorite place.

Their loyalty extends to all members of the family. These hounds get along well with other dogs and relating back to their hunting roots, have a desire to please. They might get into trouble from time to time, but their kind hearts show through in everything they do. They care a lot about you.

8.  They’re Experienced Hunters

Beagles were more widely used for hunting in the 1800’s, but they are still used today for rabbit and hare hunting.

Their strong noses and quick speeds make the beagle great for small game like rabbits. Not only can they find the quick animals, their incessant barking and baying rounds the game up for the hunter to do their work.

9.  They’re Loud

Even if trained properly, a beagle is going to be loud. A knock at the door, a request for attention, a desire to go outside; a beagle is not shy about getting its needs addressed.

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Taking a break from howling.

The barks are often not the stereotypical dog bark. Beagles have a tendency to emit a prolonged “woo” sound, also known as a howl. Another frequent noise is known as a “bay,” and is a shorter half-howl. Other sounds not specific to the breed are frequent, including whining and reverse-sneezing. Familiarity with these sounds and what they mean helps in understanding the beagle’s needs.

10.  They’re Famous

Beagles are frequently used in popular media. The most famous beagle is probably Snoopy from the Charlie Brown cartoons. Snoopy’s likeness has not only been included in cartoons since 1950, he’s also appeared in Metlife commercials and even been featured on their blimp.

Other notable beagles include Odie from the Garfield franchise, Underdog, and Gromit.

11.  They’re Award Winners

It might have come as a shock to those in attendance, but a beagle won the Westminster Dog Show twice in the last ten years. The most recent winner, Miss P, took the blue ribbon in 2015. The only other time a beagle has taken the high honor was in 2008 by Uno.

A delightful piece of trivia about the two winners: Miss P is the grandniece of Uno.