The Beagle

Please Think Before You Leap


Beagles are very unique little characters. Do not even consider adding a beagle to your family based on looks alone. Behind that sweet face is a very stubborn and single-minded scent-hound! Do your research - talk to vets, talk to beagle owners, read books, talk to us.

Why a Beagle Isn't for Everyone:

Beagles have been bred for hundreds and hundreds of years to follow their noses, so now... they do! And it gets them into lots of trouble.

Beagles absolutely need to live in a house with a securely fenced yard. When a beagle catches a scent, their nose will hit the ground and they will go off to follow it. All other senses will be turned off, and no matter how loud you yell "COME", a beagle will not listen and will not come back. It's not that they don't love you or that they want to run away, or that they are being purposefully disobedient...they are just following their nose. That's the job of a beagle. We humans, as their guardians, need to make sure that they are safely contained so that their noses don't get them into a dangerous situation.

Beagles can't go on walks or hikes off-leash. For the same reasons as above, they always need to be attached to their human when they are outside of their fenced yard. They are not the type of dog that can go hiking or camping with you and just 'hang out' by the campsite. You need to have them on a leash at all times.

Beagles are difficult to train. This is often said, but not entirely true. They can learn to understand what you're telling them; they just don't always decide to listen - especially when there is food involved! "Leave it" is not a well-loved command with Beagles. They can be quite stubborn.

Beagles will scavenge for food. If you leave food on a table, or a garbage can within reach, expect to have it inspected (and torn up/eaten) by your beagle. It's that nose again!

Beagles can be howlers. They have a very distinctive singing voice and use it when they are excited. If there is a knock at the door or a bird in the yard... you will hear ARROOOOOOO!

Beagles are not good outside dogs. They are very social and people-oriented. They are not happy in the yard by themselves. Beagles need to be part of the family and allowed to live with you in the house. They like to be on your lap when you watch TV and in your room (preferably in your bed!) when you sleep. They aren't happy in the background.

Top reasons we see for families surrendering a beagle:

  1.  "The beagle keeps running away". You need to have a securely fenced yard.
  2.  "The neighbors in the next apartment have complained that he howls during the day." Beagles don't do well in apartments or condos for just this reason.
  3. "The beagle isn't happy in the yard and the garage." Don't get a beagle unless you want an indoor dog. They want to be with you.
  4. "Wow, I didn't think it would be this much work." Treat this decision as seriously as deciding to have a child. You will need to change your family's schedule, 'dog-proof' the house, and provide lots of love and attention. It's a big decision that should not be made on a whim.
  5. "The kids aren't taking care of it, and I don't have time." Don't adopt a dog unless YOU want one and are willing to take on the responsibility. Beagles live to be about 15 years old, and that's a long time to commit to! You'll be taking care of the dog even after your kids are off to college.
  6.  "This dog is not trainable - it never comes when I call." That's a beagle!

After reading all of that...why would anyone want a beagle?

Beagles are wonderful family dogs. They are loving and affectionate, they can be great with kids, and they are real cuddlers. There is nothing better than having a beagle jump up on your lap, give you a kiss, and curl up for a nap under your arm.

Beagles do not need a lot of grooming, do not shed a ton, and although they will bark if there is something to bark at, they are not a 'yappy' breed.

Beagles are very people oriented. They are the type of dog that wants to be with you and will follow you around from room to room. They want to be part of your family and will give you lots of love.

Generally, people either love beagles or hate them. You must understand their distinct characteristics and accept them...not try to change them. Anyone who gets a beagle expecting to be able to train it not to wander away from an un-fenced yard or not to follow its nose is going to be very disappointed and frustrated. And chances are, that beagle will be looking for another home within 6 months.

If you can live with the points listed above, you have a house with a fenced yard and lots of love and time to dedicate to a dog, then a beagle can be the perfect family member for you.

Things To Know

The fact that you're thinking about adopting means you're a responsible and caring person. But before you make that decision to bring a furry friend into your life, take a moment to think over these questions:


Beagles love to eat! It's their favorite day job. Seriously, they love it so much that it definitely needs your attention and management. We suggest you consult with your veterinarian to find a food that works with activity level, health and age of your dog and your home budget.

Keeping your beagle healthy means managing their meals AND snacks together. Beagles love treats and snacks, so try to keep these to a minimum if you want to keep your beagle lean and healthy and fit for a magazine cover.

At SBR, we see a lot of overweight and obese beagles. Overweight and obese dogs are prone to health problems, especially as they age, and just like people, it is harder to lose weight when they start slowing down. You can avoid expensive vet bills and keep your beagle's weight in control by:

  • Feed between 674 and 922 calories per day for adult dogs that are not pregnant.
  • Feeding healthy treats, sparingly, especially for reinforcing good behavior.
  • If you like treating frequently, consider using tiny training treats as reinforcement for good behavior or baby carrots or a blueberry.
  • Do not leave food out for "grazing" or use a food dispenser for beagles.
  • If you have multiple dogs, feed them in a separate area at the same time.
  • Dogs like routines, so feed at the same time(s) every day.
  • Provide play and regular exercise.

Great healthy snacks for beagles include deli turkey or chicken, fresh raw veggies and fruits, just like people! Do not feed your dog onions, chocolate, grapes, Xylitol or foods with alcohol. Leave those for yourself to enjoy and keep paws off! Talk to your veterinarian about other healthy snacks for your beagle as well as other foods to definitely avoid.

Remember! Food is not love for dogs, food is nourishment. You can use petting, praise and playtime to show your beagle you love them: they will love you back just as much as a treat!


Beagles are active, curious dogs that like to explore and need at least 2 hours of brisk exercise and play per day. Beagles like to follow their noses and can be easily distracted, so unless you are indoors or in a safe, securely fenced area, be sure to always keep your beagle on leash. 

  • WALKING is one of the best forms of exercise; this will be to stretch muscles, help maintain muscle mass, keep the metabolism working well, and release some energy.
  • SBR recommends walking your beagle at least 60-90 minutes a day with lots of playtime in between. Walking your beagle is also great exercise for you and your family!
  • Beagles are very social, playful animals and often are more active in pairs.
  • Many beagles thrive in daycare facilities where they can romp and play with other dogs if they are well-socialized as puppies.
  • Beagles would also like scent/nose classes and even agility classes as exercise activities!


Health Issues Common to Beagles

Beagles can suffer from a spinal problem known as intervertebral disc disease, which can affect any part of the beagle's spine including the neck. This condition makes even the smallest of movements painful and difficult and may require surgery. Head harnesses, such as Gentle Leader, are not always a good option but discuss it with your veterinarian.

The beagle’s long, floppy ears also make them prone to chronic ear infections. Left untreated, such infections can cause permanent damage to the ear canal and even destroy your dog's hearing. Checking ears often and seeing the veterinarian at the first whiff of a problem combined with good follow-through will keep a beagle’s ears from being an expensive and painful chronic problem.

Beagles are also prone to

  • hip dysplasia, a genetic malformation of the hip socket
  • luxating patellas, where the kneecaps pop out of place
  • anterior cruciate ligament tears – another painful condition that usually requires surgery.

Seizure disorders, Cushing's Disease, hypothyroidism and allergies are also found in the breed, and beagles may suffer from a number of less common breed-related conditions including deafness, heart disease and dwarfism.  


When it comes to grooming, beagles are low maintenance compared to other breeds. Here are a few tips:

  • Use a slicker brush about once a week to remove hair. In Spring, beagles with certain types of undercoats and in cooler climates may need brushing more often to control shedding the winter coat.
  • Bathe your beagle. Basically, this is most necessary when they are dirty and stinky. Depending on their activity level and what they've gotten into or rolled on, baths can be needed as often as once a week or as infrequent as every two months! Wash faces with a gentle washcloth without soap, or at least keep soap away from those big eyeballs. Do not let water get into their ears during a bath.
  • If you notice your beagle's coat getting dry or itchy, and they are pretty healthy, try fewer baths, changing their diet, or adding a fish oil supplement. Coats can get dry or itchy from other health issues like allergies, certain medications, or other health problems. Talk with your veterinarian.
  • Those EARS! Those signature beagle ears are collectors of goo and brambles, and can easily become infected. It's a good idea to check ears regularly and use an over-the-counter ear rinse with a cotton ball to clean those floppies when you bathe them or about once a month.
  • Toenails. If you can hear your Beagle's nails clicking against the floor or pavement, it's probably time to clip your dog's nails with a clipper or dremel. If your dog has dew claws, don't forget to trim these nails too!

For Training Tips, check out this article