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Here are answers to some of the common questions I receive about beagles. Also take a look at the Links page for good sources to common questions about housebreaking, puppy care, etc. If your question is health related, I recommend that you consult your veterinarian. And if your beagle has specific behavioral problems, then I urge you to consult a professional dog trainer.

Click on a question below to go to its answer.
  • Is a beagle the right breed for me?
  • Where can I buy a "pocket" or "miniature" beagle?
  • How much do beagles cost?
  • Do beagles shed?
  • I've heard that beagles smell, is that true?
  • What are "bluetick" / "lemon" / "red and white" beagles?
  • What should my beagle weigh and how can s/he lose weight?
  • Why does my beagle sometimes sound like she's choking?
  • Why does my beagle "scootch" his butt?
  • My beagle puppy has started to growl and nip at me. What should I do?
  • How can I housetrain my beagle?
  • How can I keep my beagle from running away?
  • How do I keep my beagle from escaping from my fenced yard?
  • Do "Invisible Fences" work for beagles?
  • What can I do to stop my beagle from acting dominant?
  • What can I do to ease my beagle's separation anxiety?
  • Help! My beagle has a very bad habit...
  • Is a beagle the right breed for me?
    Where can I buy a "pocket" or "miniature" beagle?
    Pocket beagles were bred in the 1300's and 1400's and were said to be about 9" at the withers (shoulder). There is no such thing as a modern-day pocket beagle and in fact, the term "pocket beagle" has become synonomous with poor quality puppies bred for the pet market, and often sold to pet shops. Reputable (U.S.) breeders breed according to the Standard defined by the American Kennel Club, which includes two height varieties: not exceeding 13" at the withers, and not exceeding 15". The light bones, high ear sets and toyish heads that tend to go along with very small sized beagles are listed as faults.

    In addition to not breeding according to the standard, the majority of "pocket beagle" breeders allow many of the common genetic defects (e.g., hip dysplasia and epilepsy) to be passed along. The result is often an unhealthy dog.

    If you still want a small beagle, then consider the option of adopting a fully grown adult from a rescue or the pound. Most beagles are fully grown by about 1-1/2 years, and breeders can usually tell by about 8 months if a beagle will remain under 13".

    How much do beagles cost?
    A beagle puppy can vary considerably in price depending on where it is purchased, from whom, and whether it is of "pet-quality" or "show-quality", the latter meaning that it has a high degree of conformance to the breed standard. Prices can range from $300 to $800 or more for a show-quality beagle. Pounds and rescues usually charge no more than $150, enough to cover expenses. And many beagles can be obtained for free by adopting them from people who no longer want or can keep their dog.

    If cost is a factor in the decision to get a dog, then before buying one, consider the other expenses involved, such as food, vet care, bedding, toys, leashes, etc. This can easily run $1000/year, more if your dog has health problems.

    Do beagles shed?
    Yes, beagles shed quite a bit. People with allergies often react to the dander and fur from beagles, though with weekly grooming and proper bathing, many allergy suffers do quite well with a beagle in the home. But if you or a family member suffer from allergies, it is worth looking into other Dog Breeds Commonly Recommended for Allergy Sufferers.
    I've heard that beagles smell, is that true?
    Beagles smell only if they're dirty. If you brush them once a week, feed them a nutritious brand of dogfood, and bathe them only when they need it, they should not smell. There is nothing inherently "smelly" about a beagle unless it has indulged in one of its favorite hobbies and rolled in something yucky. That usually requires an immediate bath, after which you will be entertained by the well-known "post-bath beagle frenzy" during which they run around the house as fast as they possibly can, pausing only to roll around on the floor in an attempt to dry themselves off.
    What should my beagle weigh and how can s/he lose weight?
    A lot of people write to me asking how much their beagles should weigh and how to get them to lose weight. Obviously I can't quote an ideal weight for anyone's dog except perhaps my own. But what I can tell you is what most beagles look like at a healthy weight. Looking from above, he or she should have some definition to their waist. You should be able to feel their ribs and possibly see just a hint of them if you look from the side. Click here for some examples. Their tummy shouldn't hang down, but don't confuse this with a barrel-shaped chest. My beagle Clayton, even when he is on the thin side of normal, can look a bit stout due to his chest shape. Beagles who are closer to the breed standard, however, tend not to have this characteristic.

    So if you or your vet decide that your beagle is overweight, what should you do? Well, like humans, the tried and true method to weight loss is to eat less and exercise more. (I know, I know, sad but true.) So cut down their meal amount by a little and supplement with some veggies, such as steamed or canned green beens (buy the no-salt variety if you choose canned) to add fiber and make your little chowhound feel more full. You could also add a couple of spoonfuls of canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix, which is next to the canned pumpkin in the grocery store). Whether or not to switch to a "lite" dogfood is debatable. Many "lite" dog food formulations merely add more filler in place of protein. Cutting down the amount may be all that is needed. The other thing to reduce is treats! Dog biscuits tend to be high calorie. Try giving your beagle raw baby carrots instead. My 3 boys all love them. Next is exercise. Increase it, the more the better! And as I always say, a tired beagle is a well-behaved beagle.

    Aim for no more than 1 pound per week weight loss. If your beagle is only a little bit chunky then take it slowly, don't cut down their food drastically so that they suffer. If they are considerably overweight, or if your attempts to get them to lose weight fail, then I urge you to consult your vet. Happy dieting!

    What are "bluetick" / "lemon" / "red and white" beagles?
    Beagles come in a variety of colors. Most common are the tri-colors, brown, black and white. Ticking refers to spots of color, and blue ticking is a grayish black which appears to have a blue tinge to it. Lucy is a blue-tick beagle. Some beagles have no black: for example, my beagle Scooter (on the front page) is a brown and white beagle. His parents were a tri-color and a lemon beagle. In lemon beagles, the brown is very pale with a slightly reddish tinge. Butterfinger is a lemon beagle, some are even lighter. Red and white beagles are similar to lemon beagles but the lemon has more red to it.

    A bluetick or lemon beagle is not a different variety of beagle. Think of it like hair or skin color in humans - it's just a genetic trait that determines appearance. For more information, visit the National Beagle Club page.

    Why does my beagle sometimes sound like she's choking?
    This is likely what is known as a "reverse sneeze", although it actually has nothing to do with sneezing. It sounds like a cross between coughing and gasping for breath, is often accompanied by drooling, and can last for a couple of minutes. The cause of reverse sneezing is unclear - the soft palate is often implicated - but the important thing to know is that it is a common occurence in beagles and is not dangerous. Getting your beagle to swallow seems to help stop it. To do this you can gently stroke his throat while you briefly cover his nostrils.
    Why does my beagle "scootch" his butt?
    If your beagle drags his butt along the floor, or leaves a smelly spot on your furniture, then chances are his anal glands are full. These are 2 small external glands which normally release a fluid when your beagle poops, but if the fluid builds up, itching and leaking can occur, and the fluid smells quite foul. This is a common problem in beagles. Your vet or a groomer can "express" the glands in mild cases. (You can even be taught, if you have the courage!) In more serious cases, the glands may become impacted, causing pain. Feeding high-quality dog food or adding fiber in the form of vegetables to firm up the stool can often prevent anal gland problems, but some beagles are just prone to it and they have to be expressed once a month or so.
    My beagle puppy has started to growl and nip at me. What should I do?
    Please read this excellent advice from an experienced beagle owner.
    How can I housetrain my beagle?
    This is one area where I do not have much experience because I adopted all 3 of my beagles as adults. I only had to work with Clayton on housebreaking, as he had a tendency to poop in the house if the weather was bad. I spent many a rainy morning standing out in the yard with him on a leash, waiting for him to go. When he did, I would praise him like he'd just won the Nobel Prize, immediately bring him inside, and give him a treat. He soon began to associate pooping outside with a treat, and after several weeks he wasn't fazed at all by bad weather.

    The web has tons of resources on housebreaking your dog, puppy or adult, including this very good article.

    How can I keep my beagle from running away?
    The short answer is, you can't. Beagles are scent hounds, bred to hunt with their noses, following a scent until they're nearly exhausted. Although with a great deal of perseverance, you can train a beagle to reliably come to you when called much of the time, they will never be 100% reliable, especially if they are following a scent. For this reason, beagles cannot be trusted in a non-fenced yard or off a leash.
    How do I keep my beagle from escaping from my fenced yard?
    As we all know, a securely fenced yard is an absolute necessity if you want to be able to let your beagle run off leash. But what we consider "securely fenced" might only mean "mildly challenging" to a highly motivated beagle who wants to roam. Some beagles climb out, while others dig, but no matter the method, you need to prevent him or her from escaping. If you're planning to install a fence, make sure that it is tall enough (4-6' minimum depending on the height and agility of your beagle), and consider embedding a portion of it underground to prevent digging. If you already have a fence, there are ways to make it more secure if necessary. If your beagle is a digger, you can surround the inside perimeter with bricks to prevent access close to the fence. Pile at least 2-3 bricks on top of and adjacent to each other; 1 brick won't be enough. If your beagle is a climber, first make sure that there is nothing allowing easy access to the upper portion of the fence, like a table or lawn chair. Add additional fencing to the top if necessary.

    Of course I can't guarantee that that these methods will prevent all escapes. Speaking from experience, it is very difficult to contain a beagle who has the time and motivation to engineer escapes. My beagle Spenser has worked extremely hard over the years to escape from our fence, and we have worked even harder to prevent it. But to our worry and consternation, he has been successful several times. We recently put an "Invisible Fence" wire around the outside perimeter of the "real" fence. When we are not able to watch Spenser in the yard, he wears a collar which alerts him with a beep if he gets too near the wire, and gives him a shock if he disregards the warning. By keeping him away from the actual fence, he no longer has the opportunity to escape. If you decide on this method, be aware that you will have to train your beagle with a leash to stay away from the fence, and be diligent about remembering to put on the collar. Good luck!

    Do "Invisible Fences" work for beagles?
    The short is answer is "it works for some beagles, but not all". And to that I would append that I would never leave a beagle unattended within an invisible fence. I have an invisible fence around 4 acres of woods on my property. The beagles go out there under supervision. Spenser, our escape artist, has run through the invisible fence many times when in pursuit of a deer. He will stand as close as possible to it while he looks "out". Spenser has to wear a radio-controlled collar which allows us to give him a correction if he gets out - this brings him back very quickly. (When an invisible fence is successful, the dog thinks that it's "all shock out there". Once a dog runs through he or she learns that the shock is only temporary.) Scooter won't get near the invisible fence. I have seen him come to a screeching halt when he realized he was running close to it. Clayton is also afraid of the fence, but on 2 occasions he has forgotten about it and run through chasing Spenser who was first out. So in summary, never depend on an invisible fence to keep your beagle from escaping.
    What can I do to stop my beagle from acting dominant?
    What can I do to ease my beagle's separation anxiety?
    Separation anxiety is one of the most common problems I hear about from people who write to me. Here are a few tips to ease your beagle's fear and anxiety when you leave him or her alone.
  • Consider crating your dog. They feel more safe and secure in their own little den.
  • Leave them with a tasty treat that will last awhile, yet be safe. Rawhide should be used only under supervision. Instead, get a "Kong" toy from your local pet store - it's a hollow, hard rubber bone. Fill it with some small treats and pack them in with peanut butter. Make it a challenge to get every last morsel.
  • Make your comings and goings low key. Don't apologize for leaving or pay special attention to your beagle before you leave. It will just increase anxiety when you go. And when you return, resist the jumping and barking. Say a quiet hello, then try to ignore him or her for a few minutes until calm is restored.
  • Does your beagle get nervous when you get your stuff together before you leave? Remove the negative associations by getting your stuff together, then putting it all away!
  • Leave a radio playing softly for your beagle. The background noise can be very soothing.
  • Wear an old t-shirt to bed and leave that in the crate or on your beagle's bed. He or she will be comforted by your scent.
  • Join the Yahoo! K9 Separation Anxiety email list (or read the public archives) for advice and to share experiences.
  • Help! My beagle has a very bad habit...
    If your beagle eats poop, don't worry, you're not alone. This nasty habit is a popular one among beagles (2 of my own 3 do it). The best way to stop it is to clean up after your beagle and any other dogs that you have. This isn't always possible, of course, so you might want to try one of the products on the market that you add to your beagle's food to make the poop unpalatable to him. If you have more than one dog, you have to give to all of them. I tried this with my beagles -- it worked for a while but then became ineffective. Of course, your results may vary. If all else fails, do as I do and keep doggie breath mints handy!

    More questions & answers at:

    National Beagle Club FAQ
    Will answer questions for snacks...
    copyright © 2002 by Laurie Kramer