The beagle, first bred as small game hunting companions, is an intelligent, loyal dog with a bold attitude and a penchant for mischief. They are an adaptable dog breed still used for sport and hunting yet capable of being a loving companion for children and amiable around other pets. The unmistakable bellow of a barking beagle along with their compact size and superior sense of smell makes them an excellent watchdog for pet lovers who lack the room for a larger dog breed.
When provided with a proper diet, daily exercise, and plenty of mental stimulation the beagle can be a loving companion with a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. The key to a long and successful relationship lies in becoming knowledgeable about their specific needs and required care.
Beagles require a proper diet
The small, muscular beagle, unfortunately, is prone to obesity. They love to eat and can probably sniff out all of the food in the neighborhood. They will eat just about anything but should eat only a high quality dog food. Table scraps should never be offered as beagles will come to expect them. Setting and sticking to a feeding schedule that offers small meals multiple times per day will generally keep this mischievous pooch out of the trash cans and keep his caloric intake under control.
Eyes, ears, and nose
The beagle’s long, floppy ears require regular cleaning to avoid potential infections. The ears of the beagle, or any scent hound, are designed to stir up scent molecules in the air. This adaptation, however, can reduce airflow in the inner ear and trap moisture leaving them prone to infection.
Distichiasis is common in beagles. This is a condition in which one or more of the eyelashes grows into the eye. This condition can be extremely painful and can lead to infections in the eye. A veterinarian can remove the lashes and prescribe antibiotics if required. Other eye problems related to the breed include cherry eye, glaucoma, and progressive or central retinal atrophy which can lead to partial or complete blindness.
A condition called reverse sneezing is common in beagles. This occurs when irritation to the soft pallet or sinuses results in spasms. The dog will make loud honking or sneezing sounds that can be quite frightening. These episodes alone are nothing to worry about but if they are persistent and frequent, they may be signs of an allergy or tracheal collapse.
Beagles are prone to seizures and epilepsy which can be very frightening for both the dog and its owner but canine seizure disorders can be treated with medication that will reduce or eliminate the seizing episodes. The key is for owner to be informed about the warnings signs of a seizure onset and keep the pet safe during and after the episode.