Beagle 101: A Breed Resource Guide

Volunteer Kate sitting on ground with Rescue Beagles OHS Salem

Beagle Behavior & Facts

Get to know the breed before you adopt! We are breaking down beagle behavior and tips for success. Learn about these vocal and curious hounds:

Beagles are scent hounds, a type of hunting dog historically bred to track small prey for miles. Intrepid, friendly, and strong-willed, beagles’ talents can get them into trouble. They require patient owners who provide safe outlets for their skills. If not, owning a beagle can be chaotic and frustrating.

Beagles typically live between 12 to 15 years. They are prone to thyroid troubles, and some eye conditions. Their delightful floppy ears need regular cleaning to prevent infection. Beagles are prone to unhealthy weight gain, especially if they are allowed to free-feed or access human food. A healthy weight for a beagle usually hovers around 20 to 30 pounds.

Potential beagle owners should already enjoy getting out of the house for regular adventures. Two to three daily walks and playing in yards are great ways to burn off this hound’s energy. But sustained activity (hiking, trail running, jogging, etc) will really satisfy your beagle’s need to explore. A well-exercised beagle makes a great couch buddy!

Owners frequently struggle to hold their beagle’s attention when they catch a scent. Their nose takes charge! A beagle’s response to even basic commands will be inconsistent. They are known to have poor recall and should be kept on leash on walks.

Beagles are determined to follow scents for as long as they can, regardless of established boundaries. They escape poorly secured yards and should not be left unsupervised outdoors. They can be tenacious diggers and even agile climbers!

You should be just as watchful indoors. Their expert nose means they are overly food driven. Expect frequent attempts to break into trashcans and pull food off counters. They can easily become destructive when under-stimulated and left to their own devices. This is exacerbated if they spend too much time alone.

Beagles and other hounds make a distinct, specialized vocalization called a “bay.” Baying was bred into beagles to alert hunters and other dogs to the presence of prey. Baying is nearly impossible to train out of beagles. They are also prone to frequent regular barks and howls. This is challenging for apartment dwellers. If you want a quiet dog, a beagle is not the best breed for you.

Beagles have a VERY strong instinct to pursue small animals. Therefore, integrating beagles with cats, rabbits, or chickens can be hard. They also may pursue wildlife, with no regard for their own safety or your attempts to stop them.

Beagle Tips for Success

Child-proof cabinets, trash bins, and any other areas beagles may investigate. Keep your beagle in a crate while you’re away. Make regular repairs to any areas your beagle could use to escape. It cannot be said enough: always keep your beagle on a leash.

Give them ample opportunities to utilize their olfactory talents through training and enrichment.

This can frighten them. Or they might just think you’re joining the chorus.

Control portions and do not feed your beagle from the table. Utilize puzzle feeders to keep mealtime engaging.

Your beagle isn’t stubborn or a bad listener when he displays frustrating behaviors. They are just very good at what they were bred to do!