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Beagle as a family pet?(65 Posts)
I'm being mithered by DCs who are missing our late departed miniature dachshund and would like me to get a new dog. They seem set on a Beagle being the ideal breed. From my point of view it would be the right sort of size and I like that it is short-haired. We would be able to give it plenty of daily exercise, but I am a bit concerned about what I've read about them being great escape artists and high-jumpers.
Does anyone have personal experience of having a beagle as a pet, please?
Not quite, but my parents were going to buy one years ago and were warned that they don't make great family pets. Sure someone more knowledgeable will be along soon to correct me, but thinking about it, I there aren't a lot of beagles around, and I know a lot of families with dogs . . . .
Have you thought about a whippet/short haired lurcher?
Yes, a whippet would be my preferred choice!
If you don't live rurally with somewhere safe to let it run itself stupid then I wouldn't. Recall is often a problem. And they are mad active.
I frequently meet someone who has beagle, and while they are fussing my lurchers, they bemoan the fact that beagles are stubborn, willful, selectively deaf dustbins who have terrible trouble with controlling their weight and ear problems. Don't get me wrong, they love them dearly, but have told me that all beagles are known by rude names as they are so hard to control. Bigger and heavier than you'd think too
Get a lovely whippety lurcher instead - there are usually pups in rescue (I've had three fostered with me in the last 4 months)
Beagles are bred to be hunting dogs in a pack. They have a very highly developed sense of smell and could be difficult to train.
They aren’t really suitable for family life.
A Staffie will make the best family dog you will never want another breed EVER in your life once you have owned one.
We love our beagle like absolute mad but she’s bloody hard work. Permanently hungry, can’t be trusted off the lead, too clever for her own good. Loyalty isn’t really a concept to her, because she’d love anyone who offered her a scrap of food or attention. Then again, she’s brilliant with children and has such a wonderful character. Everyone falls in love with her.
Same as CMOTDibbler - the beagle we know has constant ear problems and difficulty controlling weight.
All the people I know with Beagles can never let them off the lead. They just don't come back. The scent drive in them is very high and they just want to track...and keep going!
I don't think urban family life is fair on this breed of dog.
What about a Jack Russell? Or a Staffie, but make sure it's from a good breeder and well socialised as so many seem to be dog-aggressive nowadays.
We have a loaner beagle that stays sometimes. The greediest dog I've ever met, terrible recall unless you have food, and smelly. Cute looking and I suspect that's why my friend got one!
Terrible recall and difficult to train is what I came up with when we were deciding (we were torn between a beagle and a spaniel).
An acquaintance used to have a few, she said you need different training techniques from most breeds, but recall is really really hard to get consistent even then.
We have a five month old beagle.
Training is a doddle - he sits, stays, lies down and knows the leave command. He will also recall to his name about 80% of the time.
But he is so active and he needs constant supervision. He's extremely smart and all our cupboards and fridge are now child-proof. He can jump onto tables and surfaces and he chews everything. A lot of that is the same with any puppy but once he has a scent he's off and no amount of shouting or food will get him back so we never let him off lead.
However we live in the Lake District which is practically beagle heaven. He meets with other beagles at least twice a week. He's doing really well in his training classes and is actually overall a great dog. But unless you have the time and the outside space to let him roam and sniff (even if it's on-lead) I would advise against it. He's strong and boisterous and requires 24/7 supervision. We can't leave him alone as he has anxiety and would just destroy the house with his chewing and digging.
He's a lot of work but in my eyes he's worth it. They're not easy though and please don't get one just because they have cute puppy eyes!
I absolutely love beagles. Other people's beagles. Would never consider having one myself, for all the reasons listed above. Sighthound or staffie, if a family pet is required.
We are semi-rural and I'm concerned that rabbits are going to be too tempting. The garden is securely fenced to about 4ft high but I'm not sure that's going to be beagle-proof.
I know a few beagles and none are reliable off lead which is probably one of the reasons that they have weight issues as they are the type that need to be running around off lead not plodding about . I also know a very overweight beagle x pug who also has no recall .
My sister has had one since my nieces were small, she has been a loving and loyal family pet and great with the girls. Also great with my little Spaniel, forever rounding him up and trying to show him how to do things (my boy is particularly stupid). Training was a breeze, as she’s so food motivated so will do literally anything for a treat. Recall never particularly a problem, but she is a very good escape artist and is obsessed with food. She’s soft and gentle unless there’s food involved, in which case she would have your hand off for a crust of bread, you can’t leave anything out as she’ll have it, can reach the worktops, worked out how to get in the bin so it has to be kept in a child locked cupboard, and has got into Christmas presents, sniffed out a packet of sweets in the bottom of a guest’s suitcase, and countless other incidents. She’s a lovely dog but the food thing really does put me off.
Exactly what everyone else has said. I LOVE beagles, but they're one of the breeds I would never choose to own personally. They are not for the faint hearted or inexperienced.
As the others have said:
needs a very high amount of exercise and don't confuse exercise for proper stimulation - they need that too
poor recall/high prey drives
climbers as well as diggers
can be incredibly vocal
Also, you mention you like the short hair - they might have short hair but they can be incredible shedders. You will spend your life covered in dog hair
I work with dogs and so I can only make generalisations about Beagles. I have met around 10-15 and they are all the following:
And did I mention noisy?
Beagles will run and run and run - away from you! Seriously, you will spend hours and hours trying to find them.
Show cocker is much easier! Lovable, loving, and are happy being lazy sometimes too. Also, they're very engaging - they will play with your DCs much more than a beagle or a whippet.
There is truth in everything everyone has already written:
Always food watching
Short haired but shed like you wouldn't believe
Drooling (not sure that has been mentioned)
But on the other hand they are beautiful, loyal, loving dogs who love to be in the heart of family life.
A dog, any dog, will have its negatives but if you want a dog and are prepared to put in the time walking, grooming, training then I don't see why a beagle isn't suitable.
We lost our beagle one year ago and I'd struggle to move away from the breed despite the downsides.
Tbh there are few dogs I would consider with a 4ft fence!
Thanks everyone for your comments - they are all very helpful and have given me a few more things to think about.
Why do your kids like beagles in particular?
I lived with one for a month, not mine. He was lovely, but: very needy, bouncy, jumpy, scratchy. Just all over the place and in your face. Impossible for him to meet my then 2 year old daughter. To be fair, he wasn't getting enough attention...so I tried and he was sweet. He did, however, make a noise like this: WOOO WOOO WOOOO
And yes, very noisy. They don't bark - they howl and aroo and it's a lot louder than your average dog. Remember, beagles are hunting dogs and are bred to find scents and then signal that they're on the right track.
We love ours but he is a lot of work. We knew what we were getting into and wouldn't change him, though. He's actually pretty well behaved and was top of his class for his food manners today! But you absolutely cannot leave food out or he will eat it. He's a dustbin on legs and is never, ever full. As a result he's incredibly food motivated and easy to train but you cannot leave him unattended around food or other animals or he goes bonkers.
He will eat anything and has no off switch to tell him he's full. You really need to watch their weight and we weigh his food and he only gets fed during training sessions so he has to work for his food.
I suspect your kids like them because they're cute and currently in a lot of TV adverts! But that's not a reason to get a dog. He'll require at least an hours walk twice a day for the rest of his life, preferably more. Are you willing to do that in the middle of winter with kids in tow when it's dark and cold outside?
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