Today we are going to have a look at some common beagle problems, starting with grooming and health problems. Then, we are going to talk about safety issues and behavior problems and we are going to discuss the best ways to deal with them.
Let’s start with the good news: beagles are, in general, easy to groom and healthy as a breed so there are only a few main things to consider when it comes to grooming issues and health problems.
Every dog needs appropriate grooming and your beagle does not need more grooming than other dogs. The only extra issue is that beagles shed so you need to make sure to brush them several times a week and to give them a bath when needed. (If you need more details about grooming, feel free to check out our series on Beagle Grooming under Beagle Care for step-by-step information).
This breed is well-known for the lack of inherited health issues. This is a short list of some illnesses and conditions beagles are prone to:
Chondroplasia (aka dwarfism), epilepsy, heart diseases, ear infection problems, eye problems, especially glaucoma, corneal dystrophy, “Cherry Eye” condition, distichiasis, retinal atrophy, failure of nasolacrimal drainage system leading to dry eye condition or tear leakage onto the face, irritable bowel syndrome, anal gland tumors, bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, obesity (beagles love food) and other weight issues, immune mediated polygenic arthritis, Funny Puppy Condition, hip dysplasia, chondrodystrophia, among others. If hunting in the fields or playing in the park, they can suffer minor injuries, cuts and sprains; get fleas, ticks, miters or worms.
I know, for a relatively healthy breed, this looks like a lot. I don’t want to think of how long the list gets if we talk about other more complicated breeds. Don’t worry, though. We are going to provide you with all the resources you need to deal with any health issue and, more importantly, to prevent them.
Beagles are “nose-oriented”. Driven by their sense of smell, as soon as they pick an interesting smell, they are gone. Beagles were designed to be determined and to follow the track until the end. Another point to remember is that beagles are difficult to recall.
Don’t leave your beagle alone outside. Take your beagle out only on a leash and make sure to have adequate fencing in place if your beagle spends time alone in the garden.
Proper training is essential to keep your beagle safe!
Your home should be “puppy proof” before bringing your beagle puppy home. You will need to consider “safety issues” such as plants or flowers that they may chew and can cause allergies, removing items that you don’t want them to chew on or can pose a risk to your beagle’s health.
Although beagles are the third most popular breeds in the US and the widely popular all around the world and when properly trained they can be very loyal, friendly and obedient, some people will argue that beagles are strong-willed, determined and some will go so far as to say that they are plain stubborn and hard to train.
We believe there is no such a thing as “dog destiny”. Born a beagle does not automatically mean a predestined life of disobedience and stubbornness and by no means it means that beagles are hard to train and strong-willed just because they belong to this breed. What it does mean is that a dog’s anxiety, fear or frustration is shown through a breed-related behavior.
Your task as a beagle owner is to put the beagle breed characteristics to good use and provide healthy channels for those characteristics to be expressed in a positive manner.
Let me give you an example: if your beagle howls, your job is to train your beagle about when and where to howl and when howling is not allowed. If your beagle sniffs (and beagles are scent hounds so they do sniff around a lot), teach them what to sniff for.
Some of the most common behavioral issues with beagles are:
- excessive barking, baying and howling,
- destructive behaviors when left alone for long periods of time,
- separation anxiety,
- house training challenges,
- digging and
- excessive chewing.
All these behavior problems can be solved through proper training. If you need more information, check Secrets to Dog Training.
When it comes to training your beagle, the first thing you need to remember is that beagles were bred to work independently (that’s why some people perceive them as strong-willed and disobedient) and to follow a very strong dog also known as the alpha leader of the pack. A big part of your homework is learning how to become the alpha dog in your household.
In the wild, dogs live in packs and they submit only to the alpha dog that protects them in exchange for their obedience. If there is a lack of alpha leadership in your home, your beagle doesn’t feel save and tries to take over that dominant role over and protect the family. This lack of alpha leadership is usually the underlying cause for many behavior issues.
Beagles are sociable dogs and they love company so if left alone for long periods of time they are prone to separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is a complicated issue that exceeds this article. Having said that, beagles also tend to get along well with other dogs so having another dog as a companion might be the solution in some cases.
If you already have other pets when you bring your beagle home or if you are thinking of bringing another small pet, such as a cat, you need to take into account the hunting instincts of your beagle and learn how to introduce your beagle to other pets.
Beagles have lots of energy and they are active dogs that need mental and physical stimulation. Training is perfect to provide them exactly with that. Toys are also perfect to provide some mental challenges that your beagle will perceive as a task to be completed. You need to remember that beagles were originally bred to work and to earn their food through work so having nothing to do can be extremely difficult to cope with for your beagle.
BONUS HOUSE TRAINING TIP – Because of their highly developed sense of smell, house training can sometimes be an issue. If you find that your beagle tends to eliminate always on one spot inside your home, clean the spot until there is no smell left.