The breed of the week, 10/28, is the Beagle.

Origins:

The English used these quick-witted pups for hunting small game as early as the 1500s.  Hunters would bring packs of dogs with them so they could have a trusty tracker for any game they might pursue. Larger hounds helped take down larger animals such as deer, while smaller hounds were kept around so they could chase down the smaller creatures that liked to run through small areas and hide in hard to reach spots. Beagles were the result of cross breeding many different hounds to get the right size, shape, and ability for small game hunting.

The breed name is thought to come from the French term “be-geule,” which was used in reference to the baying sounds Beagles make when they are hot on the trail.

Breed Information:

Beagles are sturdy pups that look like miniature Fox Hounds. Their long skulls, square muzzles and floppy, low-slung ears make their appearance absolutely adorable. Their loving nature and loyalty round them out into an amazing, family-friendly breed.

Beagles are relatively quiet dogs unless they are startled or on the hunt. Then you will hear the very distinctive baying sound Beagles and many other hound dogs make when signaling they have caught the scent of something or caught their prey. Beagles are natural born hunters so do not be surprised if you find them tracking things in the back yard or at your local dog park. They love to explore new scents, and are at their best when they have the opportunity to follow the trail of a new smell they have picked up.

These crafty pups have been known to wander off in hot pursuit of a trail so be cautious when you are in open areas and want to let your Beagle off his or her leash. Make sure the area is safe and secure. Beagles may not always come back when you call as they tend to get caught up in tracking and won’t want to give up the chase. If you want to be able to let your Beagle be off-leash you’ll need to put some training techniques into effect. Teaching these dogs to heel for you at certain commands will prove very helpful later on.

Temperament:

These incredibly happy and friendly pups make amazing family-friendly dogs. Their gentle nature and sweet personality make them one of the top fan favorites for dog owners. They are always happy for some attention and get excited to see new people. They are naturally at ease with other dogs and people, and are happy for the company.

Beagles are a determined breed and can often be stubborn. Firm and patient training will be required to help keep your pup from running too free. Beagles are very attached to the pack mentality, so it is important for you as their owner to assert your pack leader status early on. Beagles will follow good leadership (and training!) if they feel they can trust and respect the person in charge. Be sure to give kindness to your Beagle as freely as he or she gives it to you and be consistent with your training techniques. Beagles have minds of their own and like to dance to the tune of their own drummers, but following the rules of the pack are most important to them.

Beagles are hunting hounds and may not do well with non-canine house pets if they were not socialized with them as puppies. If a Beagle is socialized with cats or other house pets early on, then you need not worry. Beagles are little social butterflies and adapt quickly to new animals when they are exposed to them at young ages.

Coats & Grooming:

The smooth, shorthaired coats of a Beagle are easy to maintain. Bathe them when necessary and brush their coats every week or so with a firm bristle brush. Beagles can get infections in their ears so those need to be checked regularly for yeast or other buildup. Some Beagle owners prefer to use vet approved washes in rinses in their dog’s ears every few weeks or so as a preemptive strike against infection.

Coats come in tri-color, red and white, black and tan, lemon, and blue and red tick.

Size:

Males tend to weigh between 22 and 25 pounds while females come in between 20 and 23 pounds.

Health Information & Life Span:

Some lines in the breed can be prone to epilepsy, heart disease, back problems and eye issues. There have even been cases of Chondroplasia (dwarfism) in Beagles where their front legs end up warped like a Basset Hounds.

Beagles have an average life expectancy ranging between 12 and 15 years.

Resource Sites:

http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/beagle.htm

http://www.akc.org/breeds/beagle/index.cfm

If you are looking for a Beagle in Orlando, there are several Beagle specific rescues including First Coast Beagle Rescue, Southeast Beagle Rescue, Tampa Bay Beagle Rescue and Ziggy Beagle Rescue.