These Howlers Make Good Friends
Well before designer dogs like the puggle (half beagle, half pug) struck dog lovers as the hottest breed to bring home, there was just the good old beagle. In its pure bred form, this hound continues to hold on to its status as one of man’s best friend as it’s listed as the American Kennel Club’s fifth most registered canine for 2007.
Sniffing Out History
These brown-spotted pups were probably the result of breeding harriers with other small hounds. Their name might have been derived from the French term “be’geule” that refers to the howls of the hounds as they go after their master’s targets.
Organizations including the Dog Breed Info Center actually trace the origins of beagles back to ancient Greece. The AKC says that as early as the 1500s, beagles were quick hunting companions as English huntsman sent the big hound set after grand deer and the beagles after small trophies such as the rabbits, pheasant and quail.
Howling Family Members
These droopy eared hounds are spunky, loyal and make great friendly pets for families with children. Ranging from about 13-15 inches and weighing a slender 22-25 pounds, beagles are also compact.
Beagles also tend to have lots of energy to burn. They can be mischievous and are often lead to trouble (garbage cans, shoes, dirty laundry) by their extraordinary hunting noses. Their natural curiosity often means they are a little tricky to train and require owners who are willing to be firm yet patient. Beagles are also known for their tremendous whining, sharp bark and thoroughly loud from-the-belly howls.
These droopy eared hounds are spunky, loyal and make great friendly pets for families with children.
Fun Beagle Facts
- Snoopy, from Charles M. Schulz’s "Peanuts" comic strip that debuted in newspapers in 1950, is a beagle.
- Lyndon B. Johnson owned a pair of beagles named Him and Her.
- The AKC first recognized beagles in 1885.
- Beagles don’t drool.
Beagles come with easy-to-care-for, low-shed coats that can be groomed with a firm bristle dog brush. Their smooth, shinny coats only require an occasional bath.
These high-energy dogs can do well in apartments as long as they have plenty of opportunities to get outside and run amuck. Since beagles are typically very sociable dogs, owners might want to pair them with a companion dog if they spend long hours away from home on a daily basis.
Common Beagle Medical Conditions
Here are some common beagle medical issues:
- Distichiasis: This occurs when eyelashes grow in the wrong spot and cause an eye irritation even to the point of scarred corneas. Treatment options your veterinarian can offer include manual removal, electrolysis, electrocautery, cryotherapy and surgery.
- Anal gland issues: Also called 'anal sacs,' a beagle's anal glands can become impacted, infected, and abscessed. Affected pets may lick the anal area, 'scoot' along the floor, or have problems with defecation. Your veterinarian or groomer can help relieve your pet by "expressing" the anal glands on a regular basis.
- Ear problems: As with any dog who has long, droopy ears, it's important to routinely check and clean the ears to prevent an ear infection or skin condition. Your veterinarian can show you some easy methods for routine ear cleaning at home.
- Obesity: The beagle's nose can lead him quickly to the food bowl. Discuss feeding recommendations with your veterinarian. In addition, the beagle can suffer from hypothyroidism (the destruction of the thyroid gland due by the dog’s immune system) which can lead to weight gain.
- Polyarthritis: Otherwise known as inflammation of the lining of the joints. This causes joint swelling and pain, most commonly seen in younger to middle-aged animals. Symptoms to watch for: a stiff stilted gait, reluctance to walk or stand, swelling of one or more joints, Shifting or multiple leg lameness, fever, anorexia, and lethargy.
- Heart disease problems associated with the beagle include dilated cardiomyopophay noticeable by a coughing fit and anorexia. Discuss Pulmonic Stenosis (murmurs and enlargement of the right side of the heart) and Ventricular Septal Defect (a hole in the heart) with your veterinarian during routine checkups.
- Epilepsy: Seizures caused by a disturbance in the electrical activity of brain cells. You may not recognize that you dog has had a seizure—especially if it’s mild, and he will likely be back to normal by the time you see your veterinarian. It’s therefore very important that you be able to accurately describe the abnormal activity to your veterinarian, who will conduct various diagnostic tests to rule out possible causes, and ask questions such as whether your dog may have been exposed to any toxins or possibly received a head injury.
While these may be common medical conditions, your beagle will not necessarily develop any of those listed above. As with any pet, be sure to regularly consult a veterinarian for routine care and medical advice for your particular four-legged friend.
If you liked this article, you may enjoy reading about other smaller-breed dogs, including basset hounds or Boston terriers.
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