If your family is looking for a happy-go-lucky, intelligent dog that is good with kids and loves to cuddle, a beagle might be your best choice. Besides being recognized as the seventh-most-popular breed in America by the American Kennel Club in 2020, the beagle has inspired many fictional characters, such as Snoopy and Mr. Peabody. Many celebrities, including former President Lyndon B. Johnson, crooner Barry Manilow, and race car driver Helio Castroneves, are aficionados of the breed.
Yet, despite their sweet face and winsome personality, you can’t take your beagle with you everywhere you go. No dog should be left alone for too long, but this is especially true for beagles. Here’s why.
Beagles were originally bred in England in the 16th century as rabbit-hunting hounds. Their short-haired coats are usually tan, black, and white but can also be red and white or lemon and white. As a midsized dog, beagles can grow as tall as 15 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 20 and 25 pounds. Their life expectancy is anywhere between 10 and 15 years.
Beagles were so popular as hunting dogs that Englishmen often owned many, using packs of them to flush out small game like rabbits and foxes. This breed used their keen sense of smell and a distinctive howl to signal when they were on the scent of their prey.
To understand why you shouldn’t leave your beagle alone too often, it’s important to understand their personalities.
- Beagles have a lot of energy. You can only imagine how much stamina it takes to run for long periods chasing rabbits and foxes. Even if your beagle isn’t a working dog, you’ll want to take him on walks several times a day to give him the exercise he craves. As some breed experts like to say, “A tired beagle is a good beagle.”
- Beagles are known for their vocalizations. Much of this is instinctual. Beagles were bred to howl to sound the alert when they were on the scent of their prey. Today, your beagle’s barking might just be to alert you that someone is passing by on your front sidewalk. It could also be out of boredom. These intelligent dogs need mental stimulation, so make sure you keep them engaged in constructive activities.
- Beagles are scent hounds. They follow their nose, sometimes at the expense of not listening to your pleas for their return. For this reason, keep them on a leash at all times. Whenever possible, take them on scent walks so they can exercise this natural instinct. It’s as good for their brain health as it is for their physical health.
- Beagles are pack animals. They were bred to live and work in a big group of hunting hounds. But don’t worry. If you’re not the hunting type, your beagle considers your family his pack.
This last point is probably the most important reason your beagle doesn’t do well when he’s left alone for extended periods. As a pack animal, he’s accustomed to company, and a lack of socialization can change his affable temperament. Like most dogs, beagles should not be left alone more than four to five hours a day. Those that are left to their own devices for longer can develop separation anxiety.
- Destructive behavior such as digging or chewing
- Excessive barking, howling, or baying
- Escaping fenced-in yards or attempting to chew through doors and windows
- Urinating and defecating in the house
- Pacing, especially outside along the same path in a straight line or in a circle
If you can’t take your beagle to work with you, consider enrolling him in doggie daycare or hiring a dog walker to take him for a couple of walks each day. When you are home, play interactive games like fetch or tug-of-war together. Invest in a few puzzle games so he can use his amazing sense of smell to find treats and work to free them.
Not all dogs are as companionable as the beagle. If you own one, embrace his affable qualities. Your pet will thrive when he feels like he is an active part of the family. With his watchdog tendencies, you will always know when someone unfamiliar is in your space. His high energy will keep you active and, most likely, entertained as well. Considering the benefits, providing for your beagle’s innate need for companionship is a small price to pay.
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