Beagles are adorable, intelligent, and friendly dogs that make excellent family pets. Though they were bred for hunting, these hounds get along with other pets and develop strong attachments to their owners.
Despite being one of the most popular dog breeds in the US, there are a lot of people who don’t know too many details about these faithful companions. Here are 24 incredible and interesting facts about beagles.
The 24 Interesting Facts About Beagles
1. Beagles Were Bred for Hunting
Beagles were originally bred as hunting dogs in England to hunt hares and other small game. They were around long before the Roman legions arrived in 55 B.C. and were called the “foothound of our country, indigenous to the soil.” By the 1500s, English gentlemen had packs of small hounds for small game, which could be done on foot without a horse. Though some people still keep beagles for hunting, they’re mostly kept as family pets and companions.
2. Beagle’s Ears Help Scenting
The beagle breed standard requires long ears that can reach the end of the dog’s nose when drawn out. This isn’t an aesthetic requirement but a practical one. The long ears catch scent particles and keep them close to the dog’s nose, allowing it to take in information and track and hunt more effectively.
3. Beagles Come in Two Sizes
Beagles have two size classifications. The smaller version is under 13 inches, while the larger version is over 13 inches, but still at or under 15 inches. The height limit in the US is 15 inches, but in the UK, it’s 16 inches.
4. Beagles Are Vocal
Beagles are known for being vocal dogs. In fact, the name comes from the French word “begueule,” which means “gaped throat.” Beagles have three distinct vocalizations: the standard bark, a yodel-like bay sound for hunting, and a howl.
5. Beagles’ White Tails Are Important
Many beagle colors have a white-tipped tail. This was selectively bred into beagles to ensure they’re visible when they’re in a pack and their noses are near the ground while tracking or hunting. Beagles carry their tails upright, so the white tip is easier to see against a brown or green forest or meadow background.
6. Beagles Can Do More Than Hunt
Beagles are strong hunters because of their sense of smell, but they can be used in many more roles. The Department of Homeland Security uses beagles in airports to root out food in luggage and prevent the spread of parasites and disease. They’re called the Beagle Brigade. They may also be used to detect bedbugs.
7. Beagles Have a Distinctive Bay
Beagles have a distinctive baying sound that makes it easy for hunters to follow the sound of the pack. These dogs are fast, so hunters often lose sight of them while navigating through the woods. Between the sound of the bay with a full pack and the white-tipped tails, they’re easier to follow.
8. Pocket Beagles Existed But Are Now Extinct
Pocket beagles were a smaller variant of the beagle that existed during Medieval times. It was bred in England and stood at 8 or 9 inches tall, which was small enough to fit in the pocket, or saddlebag, of hunters. The selective breeding to create this size led to genetic health problems and premature death for these beagles. They became extinct by the late 1800s.
9. Snoopy Is the World’s Most Famous Beagle (Probably)
Though beagles are an old breed, Snoopy from Peanuts is arguably the most famous beagle. The character was created by Charles Schultz in 1950 and featured in the Peanuts comic strips, otherwise known as Charlie Brown, and has been used for merchandise and advertising campaigns since.
10. Beagles Are Often Used for Animal Testing
Beagles are commonly used for animal testing in laboratories all over the world because of their friendly, trusting nature. These dogs tend to be submissive when threatened or stressed, which makes them safer and more agreeable in lab settings. They may be used for medical testing or cosmetics testing for the beauty industry.
11. Beagles Have a Long Lifespan
Smaller breeds tend to live longer than large breeds, but beagles have a longer lifespan than comparable breeds. Beagles often live between 12 and 15 years with good care. They are prone to some health problems, however, such as heart disease, arthritis, and cancer.
12. Beagles Are Highly Food Motivated
All dogs are food motivated, but beagles have a higher food drive than many other breeds. They’ll often steal food and eat just about anything they’re given, which could be a problem if the foods are hazardous. This food drive is part of why they’re highly trainable, however.
13. Beagles Are Prone to Obesity
With their high food drive, beagles are prone to obesity. They’ll eat anything that’s around if given the opportunity, which can cause overeating, obesity, and obesity-related health problems. It’s important for beagles to maintain a healthy weight and get plenty of exercise to avoid heart and joint conditions that can impact their quality of life.
14. Beagles Are Highly Intelligent
Beagles are active, intelligent dogs that need a combination of physical and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. This makes them playful companions that are easy to train, but also means they may get bored easily. Beagles should have a lot of toys, puzzles, and work to do to avoid destructive behaviors due to boredom.
15. Beagles Shed—A Lot!
Beagles have short coats, so most people don’t realize how much they shed. Beagles actually have a double coat that sheds year-round. Most beagles have three colors, which means that the shed hair stands out against a variety of colors and materials. They need regular grooming to help them shed and prevent mats.
16. Beagles May Have an Odor
Most people who own beagles will tell you that they can get smelly. They have a high oil content in their fur and may start to smell after a few days without a bath. If left alone, the odor can get strong and may affect bedding, blankets, and soft furniture. This may also be due, in part, to the fact that some people keep beagles outside, especially if they’re used for hunting.
17. Beagles Like to Eat Poop
Any dog may want to eat poop on occasion, but beagles are kind of known for it. Beagles like to eat their own poop, other dogs’ poop, or random poop they come across from cats or wildlife. This is pretty common among dogs, so as long as they’re wormed regularly, it’s not a hazard. You can also train this behavior out of your beagle.
18. Beagles Are Aggressive Chewers
Beagles are classified as aggressive chewers, which means they won’t give up chewing until whatever they have is destroyed. This is likely a result of the hunting background and breeding. With appropriate toys, this is a fun way for a beagle to relieve energy. It could progress to destructive behaviors if your dog is bored or not well trained, however. Beagles should always be supervised when chewing as well since they can swallow large pieces.
19. Beagles May Have Anal Gland Issues
Beagles will eat just about anything, which can lead to soft stool and weight gain. They’re prone to problems with their anal glands as a result. Regular expression of the anal glands from a vet can prevent ruptures or abscesses, which can be painful and serious.
20. President Lyndon Johnson Had Three Beagles
US President Lyndon Johnson had three beagles named “Him,” “Her,” and “Edgar.” The third was named for J. Edgar Hoover, the Director of the FBI. He had given Johnson the beagle after Him and Her passed away. Him sired a litter of puppies during Johnson’s time in the White House and the president’s daughter, Luci, took two of them.
21. Beagles Are Poor Guard Dogs
Beagles are known for being friendly and social, which is great for a family dog. If you want a guard dog, however, these dogs are too trusting of strangers and easy to get past. Worse yet, a burglar with food can easily bribe a beagle to get in the door.
22. A Famous Beagle Could Smell Pregnancy
Beagles are used for a lot of scent jobs, including smelling pregnancy. A beagle named Elvis was trained to determine whether a polar bear is pregnant by smelling her poop, allowing zookeepers to determine if the bears are pregnant or exhibiting pseudopregnancy. Elvis can identify samples from possibly pregnant females with 97% accuracy.
23. Beagles Are Prone to Separation Anxiety
Beagles get attached to their owners and may develop separation anxiety. When mild, this leads to a lot of barking and whining, but it could get severe enough for destructive behaviors. Beagles should be crate trained as puppies to teach them independence and discourage destructive behaviors and separation anxiety.
24. Beagles Like Other Beagles
All dogs are pack dogs, but beagles were specifically bred to live and hunt in packs. They enjoy spending time with humans and other pets, but they do best in the company of other beagles. If possible, consider getting another beagle for companionship.
Beagles are one of the most popular dog breeds for good reason! These cute, quirky little hound dogs are highly trainable and super friendly, which makes them popular for pet owners of all types. They also have some fun and interesting facts to go along with their unique personalities.
Featured Image Credit: AlbanyColley, Pixabay