The American Kennel Club describes the Beagle as merry, curious, and friendly. This has been my impression of the breed ever since reading Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. For those of you who missed this book during childhood, it is still worth picking it up as an adult and putting yourself in the shoes of an 11-year old boy that is struggling to keep Shiloh, a beagle, from an abusive owner.
Beagles are a fairly adaptable breed. I have met some that have a low energy level and are content to snooze the day away and have a couple small walks to keep them in good shape. Some of our teaching dogs at Cornell University are Beagles, and they serve us with their calm natures, willingness to please, and patience.
One thing to note about Beagles is their amazing sense of smell. After all, they are a hound that was developed for hunting rabbits. Many people in the United States still use Beagles for hunting today. There is even a Beagle Hunting Club in my hometown in Maine! I have known some that continuously slip their collars in the hopes that the rabbit scent that they just caught might lead them to a tasty prize. This usually results in a lost dog, or a dog that makes many unwanted trips to the neighbor’s land, only to be returned to the owner later on by the neighbor who is less than pleased!
The Beagle is what I like to call a “wash and wear” dog. Its coat is easy to maintain and requires minimal grooming. After a walk or run in the rain, a quick drying with a towel is sufficient to get the majority of the dirt and water out of the coat. Most Beagles will take care of the rest of the cleaning themselves.
If there is one thing to note about Beagles other than their nose, it is their bark. Some Beagles are persistent barkers and have the classic hound bark that is described as “baying.” Some Beagles really push people’s buttons with their barking, especially if they are outside in a fenced area for a long time. Their bark may become their go-to territorial claim. The best way to curb the barking is with training that starts early in life. Most Beagles are intelligent dogs, and they respond well to consistent training.
The reason that I bring up the Beagle is that I recently adopted a mixed breed dog that has some Beagle in him! He also has some German shepherd, Labrador retriever, and who-knows-what else mixed into his genes. He is true to the Beagle’s happy, trail-loving attitude and is a joyful addition to my neighborhood.