Everything you need to know about your Beagle
If you’re looking for the Jon Snow of the dawgie world, a Beagle would be a perfect choice.
Not only do they make the world’s best scent hound dogs, but also have a cool temperament. Often described as fierce and yet friendly, Beagles make excellent dogs for investigation services; and are also great companions. In India, they are becoming increasingly popular in urban homes. They are also becoming a part of our investigation agencies, owing to their super scent powers.
Known for their amazing sense of smell and pleading hazel eyes, Beagles make one of the most loyal, kind and fun breeds. Owing to their quirky nature, they feature in various artworks and pictographic & fictional texts. The most popular one being the comic Peanuts, which made Snoopy the world’s most popular Beagle! They are excellent family dogs. History suggests that they always love to travel in packs; they love company.
How did Beagles become like they are today?
Records from the medieval times show that the white, slow, deep-throated scent hound, Talbot is the original ancestor of the modern day Beagle. Talbots were from Greece. William, the Conqueror brought them into Britain. To increase their speed, Talbots were crossed with the Greyhounds.
During that time, ‘Beagle’ was used as a generic term for small hound dogs. Famous in royal circles, Beagles were referred to as ‘Pocket Beagles’ as they were small enough to fit a pocket or a saddlebag. Princes and warriors would take them along on hunts. They would chase the game like hares or rabbits out for the men to hunt them down. Queen Elizabeth called her’s ‘singing Beagles’, as they would entertain the guests at royal parties.
From those times to the 18th century, only two main varieties of Beagles survived. They were the Southern Hound Beagles, and the North Country Beagles. They were bred with Stag Hounds to improve their speed and scent ability, which produced the modern Foxhound. These Foxhounds had excellent hunting skills and laid the genetic foundation for the Beagles today. The exact origin of Beagles still has a shroud of mystery. But gene researchers have agreed that the present varieties share a common ancestor, the English Foxhound.
The Personality of a Beagle
These tri-colored breeds have a square cut muzzle; it has over 270 million scent glands that are capable of detecting the faintest of smells. Adventurous and fun-loving by nature, a Beagle will never fear to stray away to enjoy a picnic of his own. If you’re planning on adopting a Beagle, here are some things that you should keep in mind:
Beagles get bored easily
Beagles were bred to hunt. Hunting is a tough task, it requires physical strength and mental skills & intinct. Nature’s process of Evolution developed them into beings that were capable of both. So biologically, they are made for a life of adventure that keeps their bubbling energy levels in check. If you want to have a Beagle in your apartment, make sure you resort to activities that stimulate his mind and body. They hate being left alone and take to destructive activities to amuse themselves as their way of expending energy. They may even get to a point where they start digging a tunnel hoping to get their way out of your home. You’ve got to make sure someone is around them all the time.
Beagles bark too much
Beagles have three distinct barking patterns. Each of them is an indicator of either separation anxiety, excitation or a need, like hunger. One of the patterns could be characterized as howling, which can be difficult to manage in apartments or societies where neighbors complain of noise. Their howl forms one of the most common reasons why they get abandoned by their owners, and get turned over to rescue shelters. To prevent this, make sure you work with his trainer to find a way around this habit and control it.
Beagles shed a lot
Don’t be fooled by their short and shiny coat. Beagles have dense and short hair, and they may seem like a dog breed that would not shed too much. But like all dogs, they do; Beagles shed a lot. Beagles grow a double coat of longer, thicker hair during colder seasons to protect them from the winter. They shed these hair during the spring to prepare for the hotter seasons. Beagles rank #3 on the list of most shedding dog breeds, but a balanced diet and regular grooming for your Beagle could easily let your hair down.
Beagles are difficult to house-train
Although they are kind and loving, there is also an element of rebellion in their nature. This makes them difficult to house-train. Crate training is highly recommended for Beagles. Bring in an Obedience Trainer who keeps on handing out treats for good behavior, and you’re set. Beagles won’t ever say no to treats!
Beagles are ‘chow hounds’
This means they will find the food in your house, no matter where you hide it. Since they are scent hounds, they are great at tracing packets of food you have kept for them. They will even raid your trash cans to hunt for food. Once they find their food, they have absolutely NO control over how much they eat. This is why they need regulated quantities of food, especially in situations where they do not get a lot of exercise; else it may lead to obesity and other health problems.
Beagles take their food very seriously
If you’ve got a baby or kids in the house, you have to teach them to respect your pet’s meal time. Beagles are very possessive about what they eat, and will never share. There have been instances where Beagles have displayed aggression when a third-party interfered with their food.
Beagles are not good protection or guard dogs
Due to their ultra-friendly nature, they may even lead up the thieves to your house and feel great about it. Food is the best bribe for a Beagle. Their corrupt belly is exactly what excludes them from being good guard dogs.
Common Medical Problems with Beagles
Even though Beagles exhibit the least number of medical problems compared to other dog breeds, their problems are quite unique. If you’re a Beagle parent or are looking forward to welcoming a Beagle in your family, this section is a MUST READ for you!
- Intervertebral Disc Disease: In dawgies, like in hoomans, a vertebral column surrounds the spinal cord. Between the bones of the vertebral columns are intervertebral discs, that act as shock absorbers, and allow the normal movement of your Beagle. Each of these discs is made up of two layers; an outer fibrous one, and an inner jelly-like layer. The intervertebral disc disease occurs when the inner layer protrudes out into the spinal canal and pushes against the spinal cord. This exerts pressure on the spinal cord and causes neck and back pain. When the spinal compression is too much, your Beagle may lose sensation, bowel and bladder control. This can further give way to paralysis. The sad part is that the damage caused by such compression is irreversible. Surgery is usually recommended for spinal correction but has a bad success record.
- Hip Dysplasia: It is a genetically acquired disease in which the thigh bone doesn’t fit into the hip socket. Some dogs exhibit pain and limping on one side of their hip if they’re tested positive for hip dysplasia. In the later stages of life, hip dysplasia can develop into arthritis.
- Cherry Eye: This is a condition in which the gland under the third eyelid protrudes and looks rather like a cherry in the corner of the eye. They are usually harmless, unless they grow too big and start causing obstruction in vision or damage to the eye. Your Beagle may then need a minor surgery to remove the gland.
- Glaucoma: This is a painful disease in which pressure in the eye becomes abnormally high. Eyes are constantly producing and draining a fluid called Aqueous Humor. If the fluid doesn’t drain correctly, the pressure inside the eye increases. This damages to optic nerve and results in vision loss and blindness.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy: This is a degenerative eye disorder that eventually causes blindness. It leads to a loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eye. PRA is detectable years before the dog shows any signs of blindness. Fortunately, dogs can use other senses to compensate for loss of sight. A blind dog can live a full and happy life. Just don’t move the furniture around too much.
- Distichiasis: This condition occurs when an additional row of eyelashes (known as distichia) grows on the oil glands in the dog’s eye. They protrude along the edge of the eyelid. This irritates the eye, and you may notice your Beagle squinting or rubbing his eye(s). Distichiasis is surgically treated by freezing the excess eyelashes with liquid nitrogen and then removing them. Done under general anesthesia, this surgery is called Cryoepilation.
- Epilepsy: This is a neurological condition that’s often inherited genetically. Epilepsy can cause mild or severe seizures, that may manifest as unusual behaviors such as running frantically as if being chased, staggering, hiding or even falling down. Your Beagle may lose consciousness, limbs may get stiff and he or she may lose bladder control during the fit. The seizures should dissipate in a few seconds to about a minute, but it will seem like an eternity for you and your pet. It’s extremely important that you stay calm during this time. Stay near your dog, and support his head so he doesn’t choke on his saliva or vomit. Gently stroke his head and chest while you wait for the seizure to subside. If the seizure lasts for more than 90 seconds, take your dog to an emergency vet immediately.
- Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is a disorder of the thyroid gland. It’s thought to be responsible for conditions such as epilepsy, alopecia (hair loss), obesity, lethargy, hyperpigmentation, pyoderma, and other skin conditions. Medication and a carefully planned diet are used as treatment.
- Beagle Dwarfism: This is a condition where the dog is smaller than normal. This condition may or may not be accompanied by other physical abnormalities, such as extremely short legs.
- Chinese Beagle Syndrome (CBS): A wide skull and slanted eyes characterize this condition. The dog grows normally otherwise. Quite often, dogs with CBS have heart problems and toe abnormalities.
How to take care of your Beagle?
Beagles love to chow down on food, and it comes naturally to them. It is very hard for them to keep a control over what they’re eating and in what quantity. They are usually very particular and punctual about their food habits. If not fed at their regular time, they start jumping and barking a lot. Always ensure that the food they are ‘chowing down’ is rich in nutrients and in moderated portions. Thanks to their love for food, Beagles are very likely to suffer with obesity. Obesity increases chances of cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases and becomes a major reason for slipped intervertebral discs in senior dogs.
Beagles face a family of health issues relating to abnormal bone growth. Their bones get weaker as they age and are unable to support the sedentary lifestyle Urban Beagles are used to living. Like all dogs, Beagles need strong bones and teeth – hence, need Calcium. Your Beagle’s diet must be rich in calcium from bones and eggs. Calcium supplements must only be introduced to your pet after consulting with a vet or nutrionist. If your pet stays on an irritable bowel, calcium may further the risk of stone formation.
Beagles also tend to have sensitive eyes. Vitamins A (beta-carotene), C, E, Zinc and Omega-3 fatty acids should be an integral part of your Beagle’s diet. Your pet’s diet needs to include carrots, green leafy vegetables, eggs, fish liver oil and yellow fruits. They may not eliminate the problems or their risk entirely, but will develop a better resilience in your pet. Make sure you start including these as a part of your Beagle’s diet while he’s still a pupper. It will help him immensely during his years of growth. Refrain from feeding your pet multivitamin supplements meant for humans. An excess of certain vitamins can lead to toxicity in dogs and cats.
To summarize, Beagles are prone to a very specific set of diseases and diet can play a major role in your pet’s life. Be it diseases of the heart, bones or digestion, good food habits can go a long way in making significant lifestyle changes for your pet.
Traditionally, Beagles are not known to be fussy eaters; they love food. However, if your dog is not getting enough exercise, has a poor metabolism or weakened immunity, possibly due to an infection during puppyhood – he could show signs of selective eating. Sometimes, over-pampering your Beagle boy or girl could also make your pet fussy about food. Not only this habit causes a lot of hardships for families trying to provide food for their brat Beagle, but it could also lead to several deficiencies and thus, diseases in the long term. It’s not easy, but fussy food habits can be fixed.
Even though your Beagle won’t be picky about his food choices, as a pet parent, you absolutely should be! Make sure that he’s eating what his body deserves and needs. Steer clear of processed packaged foods for your Beagle. Commercial pet foods usually follow a one-size-fits-all approach. Though they match the thriving pace of the 2-minute generation, the credibility of their ingredients has always been questionable. They’re often loaded with by-products from the meat and leather industry, food fillers, artificial colors, flavors and preservatives – all of which hurt your baby.
Your Beagle needs real food. Nothing matches the wholesome goodness that real meat, eggs, veggies, and fruits provide to the apple of your eye. When it comes to your baby Beagle’s health, never compromise!
Born to be hunters, Beagles are storehouses of energy. They are always buzzing with an energy that’s trying to find an outlet. Beagles cannot rest until that energy is spent. Beagles who lack enough physical simulation develop behavioral issues. That’s why their exercise needs to be rigorous. Take him for different exercise regimes. You can always mix your regime with his, and go out for a run, a refreshing swim or an early morning cycling trip with him; you ride the bicycle though.
The point is, Beagles need exercise on a daily basis; rigorous physical exercise. They’re built for the outdoors, for adventure and exploration. If you don’t get the time to go out with your Beagle every day, you need to consider lowering his calorie intake. Knowing their knack for nature, make sure that whenever you head out, they have a leash on. Their sense of adventure knows no bounds, and they follow smells to amuse themselves.
MUST READ: Simple Exercises to Keep Your Pet Healthy
Beagles shed a lot, but since the hair isn’t too long, it doesn’t seem too prominent. Their coat is resistant to rain and gets thicker in the winter to protect them from the cold. This is exactly why they shed a lot throughout the year. Even more so in spring to make way for a lesser hair season during the summers. That’s why their double coat needs frequent brushing with a medium sized brush.
If your Beagle eats a species appropriate diet, dental health isn’t something you should worry about. The texture of the food will clean their teeth and gums as they chew and tear it down to bits. A soft, non-syntheic chew toy is another great way to maintain their dental hygeine. Otherwise make sure you brush their teeth twice a week to keep the tartar build up at bay. Human toothpaste could be fatal for your dog because of the artificial sweeteners and flavors it contains, so refrain from using it.
Their nails must be trimmed when they grow, as they may serve as a breeding ground for bacteria. Long toenails put pressure on the paws while walking on hard flooring in our homes, causing extreme pain and discomfort. With time, it can lead to joint issues in the dog’s limbs. You must be careful while trimming your dog’s toenails, as they have blood vessels in them; if you trim too much, you may cause bleeding.
ALSO READ: Grooming Tips for Your Pet Dog
Beagles are the real Snoop Dawgies. Even though they are made for the hound life, we cannot resist the charm of their eyes. Raising a Beagle well in an urban setup can be hard, but it’s definitely doable. With the right nutrition, exercise, and grooming, Beagles can have a longer life-expectancy than the usual 8-year mark. Just make sure that you and your Beagle visit the vet periodically to monitor their health. Love your Beagle boy or girl immensely, and get endless love in return. Just go easy on those treats!
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