Breed Spotlight: Beagle
Not only is the Beagle an excellent hunting dog and loyal companion, but it is also happy-go-lucky, funny, and thanks to its pleading expression cute. They were bred to hunt in packs, so they enjoy company and are generally easygoing. There are two Beagle varieties: those standing under 13 inches at the shoulder, and those between 13 and 15 inches. Both varieties are sturdy, solid, and big for their inches, as dog folks say.
They come in such pleasing colors as lemon, red and white, and tricolor. The Beagle's fortune is in his adorable face, with its big brown or hazel eyes set off by long, houndy ears set low on a broad head. A breed described as 'merry' by its fanciers, Beagles are loving and lovable, happy, and companionable'¿all qualities that make them excellent family dogs. No wonder that for years the Beagle has been the most popular hound dog among American pet owners. These are curious, clever, and energetic hounds who require plenty of playtime.
The Beagle has a smooth, dense double coat that gets heavier in the winter, so spring is the shedding season. Beagles also shed moderately year-round. Weekly brushing with a medium-bristle brush, a rubber grooming mitt or tool, or a hound glove will remove the loose hair, and promotes new hair growth as well. Beagles don't need to be bathed too often unless they happen to get into something particularly messy. As with all breeds, the Beagle's nails should be trimmed regularly, because overly long nails can cause the dog pain as well as problems walking and running.
The Beagle should do well on high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian's supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog's age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog's calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog's weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
Beagles are active, energetic dogs who need at least an hour of exercise every day. This doesn't mean just letting them out in the backyard. Beagles were bred to work in packs and are happiest when they have company. A Beagle who is left alone inside or outside for long periods of time will tend to become destructive. This can be avoided if he has a companion (whether human or canine) to play with. Beagles are escape artists, so an exercise area must have a fence at least five feet tall that extends underground to prevent tunneling. Walks must always be taken on a leash because as a scenthound with a very strong hunting instinct, a Beagle will not be able to resist the urge to run off in pursuit of a compelling scent.