The beagle is a hunting dog traditionally used to track game as large as a deer or as small as a rabbit. These hardy dogs are friendly and loving, and they usually get along well with children and other pets. Beagles are scent hounds. With 220 million scent receptors — humans have only 5 million — they are able to pick up and follow even the slightest odor. This can lead them into adventure or trouble, as they generally don't pay attention to their surroundings when they are on a scent. Caring for your beagle involves many of the same general responsibilities as caring for any other dog, with a few precautions specific to the breed.
Keep your beagle healthy. Take him to the veterinarian for his proper immunizations and to have regular checkups. This breed is disposed to a variety of genetic diseases, including intervertebral disk disease, hip dysplasia and epilepsy. Beagles also can suffer from a number of heritable eye diseases, as well as hypothyroidism. Regular visits to your veterinarian may help discover these problems and possibly treat them before they progress.
Feed your beagle healthy meals, and limit his food intake. Give him a high-quality dry food to keep him healthy and at an appropriate weight. Offer one and one-half cups of food split into two three-quarter-cup meals daily. Do not free feed — that is, do not leave food in a bowl for your beagle to eat as he likes. Beagles will eat as long as food is available, and this will cause him to become obese. Keep your pantry and trash cans properly secured to prevent your beagle from foraging between meals.
Let your beagle stretch his legs. Beagles require at least an hour of exercise daily. Always keep your beagle in a fenced area when he's outdoors, or take him for an on-leash walk several times per day. Make sure any enclosed areas are secure, as a beagle will tend to wander, especially if he gets on an interesting scent. Bored, house-bound beagles may become vocal and destructive if left alone too long. Regular exercise is key to your beagle's happiness, and to yours.
Keep him clean. Beagles rarely need baths unless they've become dirty while playing outside or have found something “interesting” to roll in. Bathe your beagle by wetting him down thoroughly, then massaging shampoo into his double coat. Rinse him thoroughly, then towel him dry. Use a medium-bristle brush on his short coat to remove loose or dead hair. Check his ears regularly. A beagle's heavy ear leather doesn't allow proper air circulation inside the ear, so it's easy for inflammation and infections to develop because of trapped moisture and dirt. Clean your beagle's ears at least every two weeks with ear cleaner and cotton balls. Brush his teeth a few times a week to remove tartar, and trim his nails, or have them trimmed, at least once a month.
Beagles are friendly, and will walk up to anyone who happens by. They are not good guard dogs or watchdogs.
Beagles can be very vocal dogs, often howling or barking loudly when left outside or alone. This may irritate your neighbors, leading to complaints or even legal action. To prevent such problems, train your beagle not to vocalize inappropriately.
Some puppies just about housebreak themselves, but beagles are not reputed to be among them. Housebreaking your beagle may or may not take longer than you expect if your previous experience has been with a different breed, but the requirements are still the same. Pay proper attention to your puppy's needs and habits. To avoid accidents when he's indoors and you're not with him, crate-train your beagle until you are confident he is fully housebroken.
Because beagles at large will follow any interesting scent trail they find, they can easily get lost or injured. Keep your beagle on a leash or in an enclosed area when he is outdoors, and also make sure he is microchipped or at least always wears a collar bearing up-to-date ID information.
Items You Will Need
- Dog crate
- Medium-bristle brush
- Nail clippers
- Dog shampoo
- Food and water dishes
- Dog toothbrush and toothpaste
- Beagle image by Buffy1982 from Fotolia.com