Based on years of experience with hundreds of beagles and hundreds of
families, we have learned that beagles and preschoolers can be a potentially
dangerous combination. Therefore, we recommend waiting until your youngest child
is at least 5 years old before adding a beagle to the mix.
A high portion of our surrendered beagles come from families with
preschoolers. The most common reason for owners surrendering their beagles is
that juggling the demands of a busy young family and an active, curious beagle
is more than most people can (or would want to) manage. And, of course, because
you can't return your children, when something has to go to simplify life, it
ends up being the dog. A variety of problems come from having beagles and young
- Time: Moms are busy, and beagles are extremely social, demanding,
and curious dogs. They need a lot of time and supervision.
- Aggression: Although beagles, and all dogs for that matter, can
be taught that the adults in the family are the alphas, dogs see children as
fellow puppies and try to assert dominance over the children. Preschool
children do not have the physical size, presence, verbal skills, and
training skills to win a power struggle with a dog.
- Food Aggression: Beagles love their food. As scent dogs, they are
extremely drawn to the smell of food. If a child playfully tries to steal
the treat or food bowl from the dog, the dog will defend its food. Even if
the child is just handing your beagle a treat, the beagle might jump and
grab the food, resulting in a nasty bite. This doesn't make your child or
your beagle bad necessarily. They are just doing what comes naturally to
them. In the dog's case, that's defending his food from the rest of the
pack. In the child's case, it is innocently playful. But the result can
still be quite nasty.
- Size: A beagle's head will be about the same height as your
toddler's head. A nip in the face, even a small one, can be quite nasty.
- Activity: Beagles cannot contain themselves when they are
excited. They will run, and they will jump. One of the hardest things to
teach a beagle, second probably only to "come," is "off." When the beagle
comes charging at your child in play, it looks really scary to the child,
and the beagle is strong enough to knock a toddler over and do serious
- Self-Protection: Smaller dogs, such as beagles, are more
protective of their bodies than larger dogs. They are more likely to snap at
a child who is coming toward them on wobbly feet, like a toddler. A
fast-moving, loud, excited child at play coming toward them can also scare
them and lead them to snap.
We are extra careful about placing beagles with young children not only to
protect the beagle from being returned or euthanized (usually required when
biting occurs), but also because we want to protect your child--from both the
physical harm of a bite and even the emotional harm that can occur if the
adoption is unsuccessful. The last thing we want is for your child to be
injured, and we simply do not feel comfortable taking any chances with your
child's health. There is no such thing as a child-proof dog. However, as
children get older, the risks reduce.
For all of these reasons, we ask you to wait on adopting not only a beagle,
but any dog. We want you to have a successful adoption and a positive experience
with your new dog. We hope that you will consider waiting until your youngest
child is school-aged, and at that time, we would be happy to work with you to
find a wonderful beagle to welcome into your family.