So You Wanna Buy a Beagle
A Few Points to Consider
Beagles are wonderful hounds. Positive as that sounds, it is actually a tempered statement fraught with danger for those of strong will or standoffish nature. The beagle is friendly, loves to be around family and friends, gets along well enough with other dogs and the occasional cat if encouraged strongly to do so, and will love your kids with enthusiasm. The “show” beagle stands around twelve inches high at the shoulder, while the leggier hunting beagle towers over the show variety, standing fifteen inches high at the shoulder. They are even tempered and love to spend time with you. They will happily spend hours with you provided you don’t mind them lounging on the couch with you or partially in your lap, sometimes staring soulfully into your eyes. I believe the soulful staring is actually a gimmick designed to distract you from their actual intent, smelling your breath to see if you’ve eaten anything interesting lately … and determining how much they should resent you for not offering them any.
The beagle will not get along with small furry varmint varieties such as bunnies, squirrels, rodents, etc. These the beagle will kill if it gets half a chance. It’s in the blood you see, this hound dog was bred to hunt after all. So, if you get a beagle for the family, don’t try to introduce a fluffy, flop-eared rabbit the next Easter or it will end in tears.
Beagles are active dogs. Their antics are amusing. Ours, when so inclined, will stand on her hind legs, lower her front legs to her sides, and remain in that position long enough to make you wonder if she’s grown opposable thumbs. She’s usually looking out the front window for someone or something to bark at or checking the kitchen table to see if any morsels are left within range of her talented tongue. Being active dogs, however, beagles need regular walks for exercise. Once a day, at least 20 minutes out, will keep your beagle from driving you absolutely nuts … that is of course if you have an enclosed back yard for more frequent toileting … after all could you go a whole day with only one bathroom break. Not likely. If you can’t work the daily walk into your schedule, find a more sedentary animal, something like a “Chiapet.” Oh, yes, and related to walking. Other owners can let their dogs off their leashes in large rolling parks and let them romp. Don’t do that with your beagle. Beagles follow their noses wherever they lead. Let your beagle off the leash and you may never see that dog again. Surely the beagle with find some interesting scent, set off after it with glee at a pace you can’t match, and will only remember you and home miles later in unfamiliar territory.
Beagles are traditionalists. Once you do something once for your beagle, the beagle will consider that gesture to be a tradition written in stone and will expect … and sometimes demand … daily repetition of said gesture. Think carefully around your beagle.
Beagles are strong willed … even downright stubborn. If you are also strong willed, get some timid retiring pooch instead or you will be in a daily battle of wills. As an example, when growing up we had dachshunds. My mother, a wonderful optimist, took said dachshund to obedience school … and not just any obedience school but one that claimed to successfully train ANY dog. The teacher was impressive. She could wrestle mastiffs into sitting and have pugs doing pirouettes. However, then she turned to our dachshund, took a step back, and told my mother “If you want that little doxie to sit on the concrete floor you’d better bring a carpet swatch.” The lessons were over. Dachshunds are hounds too, just like beagles.
Going with the strong will is a verbal nature. Beagles bark and bay regularly, at any excuse, no matter how trivial. If “houndish pronouncements” are not your cup of tea, do not get a beagle.
Beagles are also food obsessed. Having friendly faces and loving dispositions, beagles will encourage you to feed them meals, between meal snacks, and any other tidbits they can wheedle out of you. If you do so, in no time at all you will have one fat, meatloaf-shaped beagle. Here you need to stand firm. Regular meals as prescribed by your vet and very infrequent treats. Oh, and by the way, don’t hold any food item too low around your beagle. Your beagle loves you but will steal the food out of your hand without a second thought. If you have children and a beagle, the smart children soon learn to carry their cookies and sandwiches over their heads when moving around the house, out of reach of the sneaky, food obsessed dog. Less keen children lose a lot of treats but catch on eventually.
Finally, if you think you fit the bill and want to be a beagle owner, and are ready and willing to enter into this wild-eyed never-a-dull-moment relationship, start searching your local SPCA and animal rescue organizations for your very own beagle. Unless you intend to enter your beagle in dog shows (good luck with that given what was said above), get yourself an average beagle, possibly of questionable lineage. You’ll both be glad you did. I know I am.
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