If you are looking for a big dog in a small package, then Beagle is for you. He makes a wonderful companion dog, is easy to maintain and loves his family. Small is beautiful and the phrase perfectly defines a Beagle who has all the qualities you want in your best friend. Take a look at his soft brown eyes and feel your heart going to him. I once met a Beagle at a dog show and the moment, I looked into his eyes, I knew that I have fallen in love with him instantly.
The Beagle is a fun-loving hound who was originally bred to hunt rabbits by following a scent. Because of their acute sense of smell, Beagles are popularly used in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA, to sniff out banned substances at airports and to find traces of fire-raising substances in cases of suspected arson.
Bold in character, this little tail-wagger is known for his stamina and determination. He is alert and intelligent with an even temperament, showing no aggression or timidity. He also has a keen sense of smell and an eagerness to wander.
The Beagle is small-to-medium sized, compactly built and usually well muscled. The body is longer than tall. The head is fairly long and looks powerful without any frown or wrinkle. The skull is slightly domed. The tail is moderately long and the Beagle characteristically carries it like a flag above his back. The ears are long, but not as long as a Basset Hound. “When the ears are pulled forward, they should almost reach the end of the nose; when at rest they tip over and lie close to the head,” adds Dr. Suresh Bhimsingh, a renowned breeder of Beagles. The most striking and beautiful feature of Beagle is his eyes. His stare is totally mesmerizing! “The Beagle will look at you as if he doesn’t have a friend in the world except you. And sometimes your Beagle may have a jet black rim around his eyes (like someone has applied “Kaajal”) and then this look becomes all the more beautiful,” tells Bhimsingh with a twinkle in his eyes.
Beagles can be found in a variety of colours with combination of three basic hound colours, viz. black, white and brown. So, the Beagle could be tri-coloured or have just two colours: black and white, black and brown or brown and white. “You can also find Beagles in the different shades of brown such as red and white, lemon (very light brown) and white, or tan and white. But whatever the combination, the tip of the tail (stern) is usually white,” tells Bhimsingh.
They are small to medium sized dogs, typically height ranging from 13-15”. The males weigh around 10-11 kg while females weigh 9-10kgs and they have a life span of 10-15 years.
He is an affable, loving dog who loves to play and have fun. But he is also a “pack” hound and so he loves company more so than any other breed. “In fact, without companionship (at least another dog for company), a Beagle could become noisy and destructive,” tells Bhimsingh.
As puppies, they are the cutest things on earth. As adults, they still love to romp and play and bring a lot of happiness into the family. They seem to have a special relationship with children. They are extremely affectionate and make loyal companions. They love children but very young children should never be left unsupervised with any puppy, in the interests of both the puppy and the child.
The baying or howling of a Beagle is an in-built characteristic to use while hunting, to inform the hunter that the dog is on the trail. In apartment living, this could be disastrous. But practically speaking, as long as Beagles have company and know they will not be left alone for long, they do not bark or howl. But if left alone or hungry, the Beagle could vocalise.
Before you buy a Beagle puppy, ensure that the breeder is a responsible person who gives a lot of importance to the health and temperament of the puppy. Bhimsingh also tells that the colours of newly-whelped Beagle puppies can change. “For example, the head, ears and shoulders of tri-colour hounds are often black but gradually turn to tan a few weeks after they are born. Similarly, shades of cream or brown on the back usually disappear fairly soon. Also, little white spots all over the black and tan usually disappear by the time the puppy is 3 months old. Hounds not possessing a strong deep shade of black often lose it in old age and can appear almost all white. In tan and white puppies, the tan colour will be very light when the puppies are born. They will become darker in a couple of months,” he further explains. Bhimsingh further says that Beagle is no different as a puppy than any other breed. “But yielding to the temptation of responding each time he cries would mean that he will keep barking or howling all the time when left alone. So if you intent to keep him alone for at least a few hours a day, then he should be trained so from a very early age.” Bhimsingh tells a case of one Beagle who was fed from the kitchen every time he went and stood there. “So if he was not fed, he started to bark and howl. Every owner must remember that dogs acquire habits very easily and so the owner must never allow any concessions to the new puppy that he is not going to tolerate later,” tells Bhimsingh.
Beagles have a double coat: a fine undercoat and a coarse topcoat to protect it from the weather. But they shed hair, especially in warmer weather, and need a good brushing. The Beagle coat is easy to maintain. However, care should be taken to keep the Beagles ears clean. Long ears have a tendency to attract yeast infection. The first sign is usually an offensive smell. Take the advice of a vet.
“In most parts of India, ticks can be a big problem. With regular brushing, the owner can find ticks and remove them. In some parts of India, fleas are a bigger problem. Take the advice of your vet while using anti-tick and anti-flea medicines and shampoo,” Bhimsingh gives a word of caution.
The Beagle is not a toy breed and they need their quota of exercise. According to Bhimsingh, “They do not need intense or long exercise, just playful activity, preferably outdoors. If they are locked up day after day in an apartment and never allowed to play or never get the companionship they need, they could become noisy and boisterous.”
They love to play fetch and are crazy about balls or toys. “I know a Beagle who loves to play hide and seek. Only it is the people who have to hide and not the dog!” adds Bhimsingh lovingly.
Since Beagles are usually good eaters and enjoy their food, owners should be careful not to over-feed them. With too much food and lack of exercise, they could become obese quite soon. They are prone to certain eye conditions such as Glaucoma, cataract, etc. However, with proper exercise and activity, he is overall an easy breed to maintain.
(With inputs from Dr. Suresh Bhimsingh, MBBS who has done training in Geriatrics. He is presently the content editor of a health portal run by a pharmaceutical company Orchid Chemicals & Pharma-ceuticals, Chennai. He loves dogs and runs a doggie portal www.dogsindia.com. He is a well-known breeder of Beagle, Bulldog and Dogue de Bordeaux at his kennel Sandstorm. He can be contacted at Ph : 9840098989, or e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org)