Generally, the first question people ask after they have decided to get a dog is what breed they should get. Is a Beagle a good choice for a new dog-owner? There are pros and cons to every breed, and it is essential to know what to expect before you make your final decision.
Here is what you need to know about Beagles.
Beagles can be an excellent first-time dog, as long as you know ahead of time what to expect. They are small, cute, pack-hunting dogs that are incredibly vocal, stubborn, and love to cuddle. They require a decent amount of training and exercise, so they typically would not be a great match for inactive people.
Bringing a dog into your life is a fantastic choice; I couldn’t imagine not having one in mine.
A Beagle may be the perfect match for your home if your personalities complement each other.
So now that you have an overview of what you are getting into with a Beagle, let me explain in better detail what you need to know before making your decision.
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Should I Get a Beagle For a First Dog?
While a lot of people can’t resist how cute Beagles are, from their small bodies to the cute expressions they are famous for giving, there is much more to this breed than just that.
While some may consider a trait to be a problem, others may not see it as an issue at all.
So instead of listing the pros and cons of having a Beagle, I will simply list their traits and let you decide which is which.
Beagles are smart.
According to most of the charts I was able to find, they are one of the more intelligent breeds. Watching them solve their way out of situations, or around obstacles, can be downright surprising.
However, it would not be surprising to see them use their smarts to pursue an agenda of their own, rather than what you wish for them to do. They are known to be quite stubborn and determined.
The single-mindedness they display is due to being bred as hunting dogs that are bound and determined to stay on target, no matter how long the chase. Without proper (and steady) training, they can end up being extremely ornery dogs.
While most people know that dogs have a better sense of smell than humans, a Beagle’s sense of smell might be even stronger than you thought. According to a study carried out by the National Center for Biotechnology Infomation (NCBI), Beagles have the same amount of scent detecting cells in their nose as German Shepherds do.
Due to the shape of their muzzle compared to their size, they are able to fit more receptors per square inch. As a comparison, while a human will have around 5 million scent receptors (turbinates) in their nose, and a Beagle has approximately 225 million of them. Between the receptors and the area of the brain that processes scent, a Beagle has an estimated 1,000 to 10,000 times better sense of smell than humans do!
While impressive, this can also lead to a bit of frustration for someone that is a first time Beagle owner. When Beagles “lock on” a particular scent, their stubbornness and single-mindedness will come out quickly.
Whether they picked up a scent from small game or a trash can down the street, they will be locked on target.
I have heard many Beagle owners complain of how it took them several hours to finally chase down their Beagle when they adamantly took off after something.
Besides their sense of smell, there is the odor they produce. While some people find nothing out of the ordinary with how a Beagle smells, some find their aroma somewhat overwhelming. Most dogs will secrete an ‘oil’ from their hair follicles (much like when humans sweat), and that scent is slightly different with each kind of dog.
For the most part, regular baths will put a stop to their odor being an issue.
While it may seem an odd suggestion, if you think the scent may be an issue, you may want to spend some time around one before you decide to get one.
Who can argue that Beagles do not have cute little floppy ears? But did you know that they are also functional?
While tracking a scent, a Beagle will typically lower their head toward the ground and move their head slightly from side to side. Their ears help “waft” the scent toward their nose to assist in finding the direction of the scent, rather than just the spot where they are currently sniffing.
As I stated above, Beagles are known to be a stubborn breed, but they are also incredibly loving. While they typically are not people-pleasers, anxious to do whatever you say to make you happy (like a Labrador, for instance), they are prone to wanting to cuddle.
As long as they have not picked up on a scent they find fixating, they are perfectly content to follow you around and ask for your attention and affection.
They are also known for being energetic, and they get bored easily if you are not paying attention to them.
For this reason, I would place a lot of importance on making sure they are crate trained if you are going to have to leave them by themselves all day while you are at work.
Your house will thank you for this!
Left to their own devices, it is not uncommon to come home and find furniture or shoes torn up while they got bored.
I would also highly suggest making sure you find a good dog trainer to assist you with training your Beagle. While “locking on” to a scent and pursuing it is precisely what they were bred to do, you want to make sure they do so when you want, not as they please.
They can be a great breed for you if you are willing to put in the effort consistently. However, if you are not, you may find a Beagle to be overwhelming for you.
Housebreaking is another area where you will want to make sure to be consistent with training your Beagle. They have earned a reputation for being harder to house train than many other breeds, but this will vary among dogs.
As a general rule of thumb, this is something you will need to remain vigilant on. They are more than smart enough to potty train quickly, but their hardheadedness can sometimes get in the way. Persistence is key.
Beagles have a short coat, which does not require too much in the way of grooming.
Giving them baths regularly should take care of the majority of the grooming needs, as well as cut down on how much they shed. Unless your Beagle is stressed or pregnant, how much they shed is fairly consistent year-round. Some people claim they tend to shed a little bit more during springtime, so an extra bath or two then may help alleviate some of the hair getting around your house.
If you suffer from allergies, their coat is something you should probably be aware of.
Since their coat consists of relatively short and straight hairs, you may find the hair tends to “float” around your house.
Couple that with the fact that they enjoy running through foliage outside and will tend to pick up more allergens on their coat in doing so, it’s possible that it may cause your allergies to flare up more during allergy season.
Beagles can bark a lot! They were specifically bred to follow small game and let the hunters know precisely which way they went.
Not all of them will be this vocal, but the majority of them are. It is instinctual, and for the most part, you won’t change it. If you don’t mind a dog that can be extremely vocal for an indeterminate amount of time, then it may be a breed for you.
However, if you are after a dog that is quiet the majority of the time, I would say Beagles are more than likely not for you.
Are Beagles Good With Children?
A Beagle can be a very good family dog.
While they may be more energetic and maybe even less gentle than other breeds, they are small enough that you won’t have to worry too much about them injuring your child.
Also, they are sturdy enough that you shouldn’t have to worry too much about your child hurting the dog if your children are too rough or clumsy!
Overall, if you have an energetic kid or one that is entertained by a dog that is noisy and rambunctious, a Beagle could be a perfect match for your family.
I think Beagles are extremely cute and a lot of fun.
But for me, personally… I think they are a bit too “vocal” for my taste. If you decide to get one, I hope you provide him or her with a fantastic home. With any dog, I would recommend getting a professional trainer to help you out so that having a dog is a great experience for you, as well as the dog. But that is doubly so with new dog owners.
Establishing ground rules and communication between you and your dog is paramount to both of you being happy and them becoming part of the family!