|Considering a Beagle?|
Thinking of adding a beagle to your family? Make sure it's the right breed for you!
The beagle's small size, adorable looks, and friendly and loving personality make it a very popular family pet. But the decision to purchase or adopt a beagle (or any pet for that matter) should be made only with careful consideration and planning. Ask yourself the following questions:
Are you ready to care for a beagle for the rest of his or her life? Beagles live on average 12-15 years. Be sure you're ready to make a lifelong commitment to your pet.
Are you financially prepared to support a beagle? The cost of purchasing or adopting a dog is only the start. Don't forget dog food, toys, treats, bedding, routine and emergency veterinary care, and kennel expenses if no one will be able to care for your dog when you go away. Be prepared to spend at least $500 per year on your beagle.
Will you be able to exercise your beagle once or twice a day? Beagles are high energy dogs and need daily exercise to burn off that excess energy. And, being scent hounds, they need to "get out and sniff".
Are you prepared to train your beagle so she or he will be a well-behaved family member? Beagles are very clever, but they are inherently stubborn and can be mischevious or even destructive when it comes to acquiring food (beagles are notorious "chowhounds"). But they respond well to diligent and consistent training, particularly if a positive approach with food rewards is used. This is true for puppies as well as adult dogs.
If you're a parent, do you want a beagle just as much as your children do, and are you prepared to provide the majority of its care? Don't make the mistake of getting a dog "for the kids" and assuming they will take care of it. You will have the ultimate responsibility.
And if your children are toddlers, are you prepared to supervise all interaction between them? This is an absolute necessity in order to prevent accidental nipping or worse. And if your children are older, chances are that they will be at home for only part of your beagle's lifetime. Many people give up their dogs when the kids leave home. Don't be one of them!
Now let's talk about puppies versus adult beagles. While beagle puppies are adorably cute, they don't remain that tiny ball of fur for very long, and they require much effort and training during the first year. Puppies need to be housebroken, and until they are a few months old they need to go out several times during the day and once or twice at night. Make sure your work and family schedule can accommodate his or her needs. Puppies are little whirlwinds of energy when they're awake and they need to be watched constantly so they don't get in trouble. It's like following a 2 year old around. If puppy care isn't for you, then consider adopting an older beagle. (My 3 beagles were 2, 1-1/2 and 11 months when I adopted them -- still young, but no longer puppies.)
Now let me discuss a few of the negatives. First, when beagles are outside, they must always be either on a leash or in a securely fenced area. If they are loose, they will run away. While they are busy tracking whatever scent gets their interest, they will not pay any attention to cars. Next, most beagles will bark and howl on occasion, and this can be a great source of annoyance for neighbors. And lastly, beagles shed a lot. This is how all short-haired dogs maintain their coat length. If you have allergies or consider yourself a "neat freak", beware!
If you've read this far, you might be saying to yourself, "Gee, is there anything good about beagles?" Of course there is! I have 3 beagles of my own whom I love dearly. They are cute, funny, loving, and a constant source of delight to my husband and me. And don't just take my word for it! Visit some of the beagles on the web in the Pack or the Kennel to see how they enrich the lives of their owners. But make the right decision! Make sure that a beagle is the right dog for you. The FAQ page contains lots more information to help you decide.