The Beagle is one of the world’s most coveted dogs, and for good reason. In fact, this is pup who sits at number 6 out of 197 on the American Kennel Club’s list of most popular purebreds.
So, when we heard there was a version of the Beagle that only grows to be about half the size of his canine counterparts, we were totally intrigued.
On paper, the Pocket Beagle sounds adorable. However, upon further research we discovered some concerning truths about this precious little dog. Unfortunately, while the Pocket Beagle is irresistibly cute, it is also a dog that comes with a number of health issues, special needs, and controversy.
In today’s article, we are going to cover all things Pocket Beagle and help you decide if this pint-sized pup really is the right dog for you.
What Is A Pocket Beagle?
A Pocket Beagle may or may not be a purebred Beagle.
Also known as a Mini Beagle or Teacup Beagle, the Pocket Beagle is considered to be a bred down version of his standard sized Beagle counterpart. However, this doesn’t mean that a Pocket Beagle is always going to be a purebred
The modern-day Pocket Beagle has been created by using a few different methods, ensuring these tiny dogs grow to be around half the size of their full-sized Beagle cousins, and while they are generally the same in appearance and temperament, there are some structural differences between the two.
These structural differences, of course, will vary depending on breeding practices and whether or not your Pocket Beagle is a crossbreed, which we’ll get into further down.
So, what are some of the structural differences you might find in different Pocket Beagles?
Some Pocket Beagles tend to have shorter legs than standard Beagles. They may also have bowed legs, enlarged joints on their legs and paws, and wider heads. It has also been documented that many Pocket Beagles have the appearance of bulging eyes and sometimes even underbites.
None of these traits are considered standard in average sized Beagles and many are caused by dwarfism in the Pocket Beagle, which we will also talk about in more detail below.
For this reason amongst many others, modern-day Pocket Beagles are not recognized by any major breed clubs in the United States. However, this wasn’t always the case.
Once upon a time, Pocket Beagles were considered their own breed and were even recognized by many major breed clubs up until around 1901.
However, that version of the Pocket Beagle has long been extinct, and today’s Pocket Beagle is simply a result of breeders attempting to replicate what was once a popular and healthy breed.
As such, and due to different breeding practices used to create the Pocket Beagle, there is no real breed standard for the dog.
That said, there is an average size, temperament and health chart we can look at when it comes to the Pocket Beagle in general.
Let’s take a look.
Origin: United Kingdom, Great Britain, England
Height: 7 – 12 Inches
Weight: 7 – 15 Pounds
Temperament: Gentle, Affectionate, Sweet, Comedic
Lifespan: 12 to 15 Years
Health Issues: Issues during whelping, patellar luxation, pancreatitis, intervertebral disk disease, mitral valve disease, homeostasis imbalance
Ideal For: Experienced dog owners who understand the potential health implications
Breeds That Recognize The Pocket Beagle: None
While the Pocket Beagle has been on a steady rise to fame over the past few years, it’s important for any potential owner to consider the debate surrounding this cute little canine.
Keep reading to learn more.
Understanding The Pocket Beagle Controversy
Due to a number of health complications, there is a bit of controversy surrounding breeding Pocket Beagles.
As we mentioned briefly above, the Pocket Beagle of old was once considered a very real and very coveted breed. That said, in the early years, all small hounds were once called Beagles.
Smaller Beagles, like the original Pocket Beagle, were designated hunting and companion dogs. They were bred small enough to hitch rides with their masters in saddlebags on excursions. This is how they became affectionately known as Pocket Beagles.
During the middle ages and up until the early 1900’s, Pocket Beagles also made a name for themselves as charming companions to royalty like Queen Elizabeth I.
However, these true Pocket Beagles have been long extinct, and any Pocket Beagle that came along after 1901 (the last time Pocket Beagles were recognized by a major breed club), is not the original Pocket Beagle.
New age Pocket Beagles are bred down versions of standard sized Beagles, and breeding these dogs requires some controversial breeding methods that not everyone agrees with.
Three of the most common methods include crossbreeding, breeding dwarfism into litters, or breeding runts to obtain smaller puppies.
Crossbreeding To Create Pocket Beagles
The healthiest way for breeders to create a Pocket Beagle is going to be through crossbreeding. Crossbreeding a Pocket Beagle is achieved by breeders mixing a purebred Beagle with a smaller toy breed.
An example of this would be a Beagle and Miniature Pinscher cross. This litter would result in smaller, more delicate puppies that resemble Beagles but are actually hybrid dogs.
Though this is the healthiest way to produce Pocket Beagles and therefore the most recommended route you should take to obtain one, there is still some controversy surrounding the practice.
Designer dogs, hybrids and mixed breeds are all terms used to describe a dog that is the offspring of two different purebred parents. Crossbreed dogs have become incredibly popular over the last two decades, with many enthusiasts claiming these types of dogs are healthier than their purebred counterparts.
This theory is known as hybrid vigor, and suggests that crossbreed dogs have a wider gene pool than purebred dogs and thus are less likely to inherit specific health issues.
However, being a crossbreed also lengthens the list of potential health issues a crossbreed could inherit, so there is a bit of give and take here.
There is also an issue surrounding the price of crossbreeds when sold through breeders. Though crossbreed dogs like Pocket Beagles are less predictable when it comes to health, temperament and appearance, they are often sold for just as much as their more predictable purebred counterparts.
Still, keep in mind that Pocket Beagles obtained through crossbreeding are the healthiest versions of Pocket Beagles, especially when compared to those obtained using the below methods.
The term “runt” is a controversial one on its own, and many veterinarians and experts debate over what the true meaning of runt really is. However, in the context of creating Pocket Beagles, breeding a runt simply means breeders are purposefully breeding the smallest Beagles they can find.
Smaller than average puppies born to litters are generally considered runts by most people, and these small puppies are born with a number of disadvantages.
Along with struggling to meet many of their early milestones during puppyhood, runts are at higher risk of health issues throughout their lives. These health issues can be passed on to their puppies, especially if these runts are bred with other runts.
This means that a Pocket Beagle puppy who comes from two runt parents is much more likely to suffer from serious health issues down the road than his crossbreed Pocket Beagle counterparts.
Breeding The Dwarfism Gene To Create Pocket Beagles
Chondrodystrophy is a form of skeletal dwarfism sometimes found in Beagles. Chondrodystrophy is also found in breeds like Corgis and Dachshunds, though these dogs are considered achondroplastic, which means they are true dwarf breeds and thus designed genetically to look the way they look.
When Chondrodystrophy appears in breeds like Beagles, it is generally seen as a serious genetic deformity and is likely to occur along with a number of health complications.
This means that, while a Beagle with dwarfism is bound to be smaller than the average sized Beagle, he is also bound to be less healthy. Just as breeding two smaller than average sized or “runt” Beagles to create a Pocket Beagle is risky, so is purposefully breeding Beagles with dwarfism.
Dwarfism in dogs not only leads to a number of serious physical deformities, but it can also lead to devastating health complications like chronic pain, eye issues, respiratory problems and more.
For this reason, if you are considering investing in a Pocket Beagle, we implore you to take your time, do your research, and choose your Pocket Beagle based on more than just his tiny size.
We will get into more details about the health implications of improperly bred Pocket Beagles further down, but for now let’s lighten things up a bit and take a look at the average temperament of a Pocket Beagle dog.
Pocket Beagle Temperament
Like standard Beagles, Pocket Beagles are affectionate, playful and sweet.
There is a reason purebred Beagles are the sixth most popular dog in the nation for families. These dogs are compact, friendly, adorable and family-oriented. They bond well with the entire household, which is one of the reasons they do so well in large families.
Outside of being smaller than average, Pocket Beagles are just as loveable and affectionate, and they tend to maintain their big, loveable personalities.
As a breed, Beagles are pack dogs. This means that your Pocket Beagle will likely enjoy being around other dogs and may even do well with cats. Pocket Beagles are also great companions for families with children, though youngsters should be taught to be gentle with this smaller than average canine.
Pocket Beagles are highly food motivated, and while this bodes well for training, it can also lead to problems when it comes to resource guarding.
A Pocket Beagle who is not properly trained and socialized can be prone to resource guarding behaviour around food, so it’s important to nip these behaviors in the bud early on and to teach children basic canine body language to reduce the risk of a nip or bite.
We should also note here that Beagles are born diggers, and the Pocket Beagle is no different.
This can be problematic for those with lush gardens, but you can reduce destruction in your yard by offering your Pocket Beagle his own place to dig and play. Many owners have found that their Pocket Beagles love having their own sandbox to dig in, and this is a great outlet if you find your Pocket Beagle enjoys getting his paws dirty.
And while Beagles are trainable and playful, they can also be highly energetic. This is especially true for Pocket Beagles, who have been found to be more high energy than larger Beagles. In fact, some breeders claim that the smaller the Pocket Beagle is, the more hyperactive he behaves.
This could have something to do with the cross your potential Pocket Beagle is mixed with, though this has yet to be studied. If you do plan on getting a crossbreed Pocket Beagle, it’s just as important to research the other breed in your dog’s DNA to ensure you are meeting all of his unique exercise needs.
How To Train And Socialize A Pocket Beagle
Training should begin at an early age and continue throughout your Pocket Beagle’s life.
Meeting your Pocket Beagles needs means taking time to ensure your pup is properly trained and socialized. Pocket Beagles are hound dogs, which means they can be vocal. It may be difficult to train this out of them, but you can work with Pocket Beagles and attempt to teach them when to start and stop barking on command.
Pocket Beagles are eager to please and highly trainable. Though they can have a stubborn streak, these little dogs enjoy learning new tricks and cues, especially when sessions are backed up with tasty treats.
When it comes to training, remember that the Pocket Beagle learns best with positive reinforcement techniques that utilize treats and praise. Negative reinforcement like punishments and scolding can cause the Pocket Beagle to shut down and may even erode the bond between you and your dog, so this is not a method recommended by most experts.
It’s never too early to begin working with your Pocket Beagle on training. These dogs are very intelligent and will begin learning from the moment you bring them home.
It’s also never too early to begin working with your Pocket Beagle on socialization. Socialization is the act of introducing your Pocket Beagle to as many new experiences as you can as early as you can. Try and ensure these first impressions are positive for your Pocket Beagle to help reduce fear and build confidence.
It’s also best to avoid forcing your Pocket Beagle into a situation that is clearly stressful or scary for him, as doing so can exasperate fears and lead to future behavioral issues.
Pocket Beagles who are not properly trained or socialized at an early age can be more prone to developing behavioral and emotional problems down the road like aggressive tendencies, barking, digging, chewing and marking.
For this reason, it’s imperative not to neglect this important part of being a pet parent.
Basic Exercise and Mental Stimulation Needs Of A Pocket Beagle
Pocket Beagles come from hunting dogs, so they may have a high prey drive.
Because he is small, the Pocket Beagle does not require as much exercise as his larger Beagle friends. Around 20 to 30 minutes of exercise a day should suffice, as should some free playtime in the backyard.
Pocket Beagles may not be great swimmers, however, especially if they have dwarfism. They may also suffer from exercise exertion, so don’t overdo it with your little dog.
Take cues from him and allow him to rest when he needs to. Because Pocket Beagles do come from hunting dogs, you should be aware that this dog could have a high prey drive. This means that Pocket Beagles will be keen to run after smaller animals like squirrels, rabbits, and even birds.
For this reason, it’s best to ensure you walk your Pocket Beagle on a leash and harness whenever you are outside.
Padded Dog Harness
Since Pocket Beagles can struggle with respiratory issues, it’s important not to walk them on a leash and collar alone. We recommend using a padded dog harness like the above harness by BINGPET. This harness is made with padded mesh and won’t put pressure on your Pocket Beagle’s chest or throat.
The harness also helps reduce pulling and makes walking much more comfortable for everyone involved.
Along with exercise, a Pocket Beagle also needs mental stimulation to stay happy. These dogs are clever little canines, so we recommend investing in some interactive toys to help your Pocket Beagle get daily enrichment.
Toys like KONGS or puzzle toys can help, but you can also set up obstacle courses in your home or yard and play interactive games with your Pocket Beagle like fetch or hide and seek to challenge him.
Pocket Beagle Health Issues And Life Expectancy
Pocket Beagles can be prone to more serious health complications than their standard sized counterparts.
Although Pocket Beagles do have the potential to live a long and healthy life, they can also be prone to a number of devastating and sometimes costly health issues. If you are considering investing in a Pocket Beagle, this is perhaps one of the most important things to consider.
Pocket Beagle Lifespan: 12 to 15 Years
Pocket Beagle Health Issues:
- Whelping Issues
- Mitral Valve Disease
- Homeostasis Imbalance
- Patellar Luxation
- Intervertebral Disk Disease
- Respiratory Problems
- Spinal Deviations
- Homeostasis Imbalance
- And Chronic Pain
What You Should Know About Chronic Pain With The Pocket Beagle
Breeding smaller dogs like Pocket Beagles often calls for breeders to purposefully breed dogs that carry genes like dwarfism, as we mentioned earlier. Dwarfism causes a number of developmental deformities in canines that can result in spinal issues, bowed legs, enlarged joints, enlarged skulls, bulging eyes, underbites, and many of the other issues we mentioned early on in this article.
While some people may find these abnormalities cute in their Pocket Beagle, the sad reality is that these deformities often cause chronic issues and a lifetime of pain for your dog.
This is one of the many reasons that breeding and selling Pocket Beagles is so controversial, as these deforminates not only hinder the Pocket Beagle’s quality of life, but may also spell out financial disaster for you as an owner.
Deciding to commit to a Pocket Beagle could very well mean you are committing to a dog with special medical needs, and this means that Pocket Beagles will be very costly.
If you do want to invest in a Pocket Beagle, or if you have already done so without realizing the medical implications, experts recommend that you invest in pet insurance. This will at least give you a cushion financially when it comes to the medical expenses that may arise as you raise your dog.
Tips On Reducing Potential Health Issues With A Pocket Beagle
While there is no way to ensure your Pocket Beagle doesn’t struggle with health issues, there are some steps you can take to ensure you are investing in the healthiest Pocket Beagle possible.
Go Through Reputable Sources
Breeding Pocket Beagles is controversial, but that doesn’t mean every single breeder is going to do it the wrong way. Remember, some Pocket Beagles are crossbreed dogs, which means they are a combination of a Beagle and another similar looking breed.
Crossbreed Pocket Beagles are going to be your best option when it comes to obtaining a healthy puppy through a breeder, so be sure to do your research and go through sources you trust.
Pick a breeder who understands the health implications of breeding dogs like Pocket Beagles, and breeders who have done what they can to reduce potential health issues down the road, like avoiding breeding unhealthy genes into litters like dwarfism.
Keep Your Pocket Beagle On A Healthy Diet
Since Pocket Beagles are already at high risk for a multitude of health issues, it’s important to keep them on a quality diet. This will include high quality dog food specified for their age, weight and activity level, potential bone and joint supplements to help keep their skeletal system healthy, and quality treats.
Some Pocket Beagles have underbites or skull deformities, so you may need to keep them on a special diet of wet dog food to help them better chew and digest their food.
Whichever brand or type of dog food you choose for your Pocket Beagle, be sure it is free of byproducts, additives, dyes, corn, soy, wheat or gluten. Instead, pick dog foods that contain real meat protein, carbs, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.
Health Screening Your Pocket Beagle
Most reputable breeders will have had their Pocket Beagles health screened before placing them for sale. However, if you didn’t get certificates of health from a breeder or if you rescued your Pocket Beagle, there are tests available that you can have your Pocket Beagle take to find out what he may be predisposed to.
Early health screening can help you prepare for or even prevent certain health issues early, before they become too serious.
Grooming A Pocket Beagle
The Pocket Beagle is a shedding dog who sheds most twice a year during shedding season.
Pocket Beagles are mild to moderate shedders. They shed year-round and shed heaviest during shedding season which occurs in spring and fall.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to invest in basic grooming tools like deshedding brushes and combs. You should also be sure to invest in a quality dog shampoo for occasional bathing.
On average, a Pocket Beagle only needs to be bathed once every few weeks. He will also need his ears checked and cleaned regularly to keep ear infections at bay and his nails should be trimmed often to keep them from cracking or breaking.
Nail Grinder For Dogs
Pocket Beagles are not dogs who need extensive grooming and will not need to see a professional groomer for haircuts. For this reason, many Pocket Beagle owners choose to meet their dog’s basic grooming needs at home.
Investing in a nail grinder for your Pocket Beagle is a great idea for those who are worried about trimming their dogs nails. Grinders like the above dog nail grinder by the Cashay Store reduce the chances of cutting your dog’s claws too short, which can be painful.
So, Is A Pocket Beagle Right For You?
Because of the risks associated with breeding Pocket Beagles, it’s difficult for us to recommend investing in a Pocket Beagle dog.
Pocket Beagles may be cute, but they are also riddled with complications. Smaller Pocket Beagles tend to come with behavioral issues like hyperactivity, while others are inundated with expensive and painful health problems throughout their lives.
For this reason, it’s difficult for us to recommend you invest in a Pocket Beagle unless you wish to obtain one through a rescue and are prepared for the special needs this type of dog entails.
When going through a rescue to adopt a Pocket Beagle, you can prepare to pay between $250 to $500. This fee usually covers the cost incurred by the shelter to care for the Pocket Beagle and have the Pocket Beagle seen by a veterinarian, and it may even cover vaccines, microchipping and behavioral testing.
Some Pocket Beagles who come through rescues may also have already been spayed and neutered, which further saves you time and money.
That said, if you still wish to purchase a Pocket Beagle puppy through a breeder, be very careful and do your research. Avoid going through breeders who are selling Pocket Beagles for an astronomical price or who are selling Pocket Beagles for a price that seems too low.
The average price for a Pocket Beagle through a breeder is around $500 to $1,500. Remember, Pocket Beagles with inherited dwarfism or Pocket Beagles obtained by breeding runts are going to be more at risk for certain health issues than Pocket Beagles created through crossbreeding.
Whatever you choose to do, we hope that you take your time, ask plenty of questions, and do as much research as you can on this type of dog before you decide if it truly is right for you.
So, now that you know more about the controversy of breeding Pocket Beagles, what are your thoughts? We want to hear from you. Leave us your opinion in the comment section below.
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.