The winner of this year’s Westminster Dog Show was an impossibly cute four-year-old beagle named Miss P. Now, because of that adorable bitch, you’ve been looking at pictures of beagles all day instead of working. We don’t blame you.
We also don't blame you for seriously considering just going out and snatching up a beagle puppy to call your own. Look how cute they are! Before you do that though, there four things that you should consider.
1) Beagles aren’t the most soft spoken breed of dog.
“Beagles are quite vocal” Prof. James Serpell of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine chuckled over the phone before giving his own impression of the hound’s trademark high-pitched howl. Serpell explained that as hounds, beagles have been not been bred to work “in conjunction with humans,” but rather to lead them on a trail and howl so they could be found.
Maybe you should reconsider getting a dog that’s well known for it’s bark, that is of course you really hate your neighbors. In that case we say go for it! But you should also know...
2) Beagles are very difficult to train.
The lack of a “working with humans” trait is in part what makes beagles so difficult to train. “Some dogs were selected to work closely with people and typically those types of breeds are very trainable’ Prof Serpell said. “A classic example would be the the border collie which works very closely and in cooperation with a shepherd. Whereas hounds typically don't really care very much about what the hunter wants. They just do what they do. They just follow the trail and make a lot of noise to people can follow them. We don't really expect them to do tricks, we don't expect them to obey very much. They can be trained. They tend to be more tricky and more difficult to train than other dogs.”
While Miss P was a very well-trained dog that one a dog show, that likely took years of generation after generation of selective breeding, as well as years of tireless training. Keeping your dog well-trained is never something one can half-ass and get away with.
3) Your tiny apartment could be an issue.
“I think one of the problems people have with dogs like beagles is they try and keep them in a small apartment and maybe take them once or twice a day for a walk around the block” Serpell said. “When dogs have more energy than they expend on a daily basis they find sort of other things to do to kind of occupy themselves and often those things are not what you want.”
What kind of stuff? Well imagine your tiny Miss P clone getting so bored and frustrated they just decided to take out their anger on your new West Elm couch, or go potty on that antique rug you purchased last year. Turns out beagles, and most dogs in fact, are a lot like kids (they will destroy everything). Speaking of kids...
4) They might nip at children (especially when they’re older).
“Some beagles can be a bit obstinate. They don't like being pushed around.” Serpell said frankly. “They will sometimes snap. Especially when they get older. They may become kind of grumpy. You do hear quite a lot of stories about sort of grumpy older beagles snapping at kids and things like that but I wouldnt say its a uniquely beagle characteristic.”
So, if you do have an immense amount of time, patience, real estate and no kids to get possibly nipped at, then maybe a beagle is the right pick for you. Remember thought to not buy your beagle pup from a pet store, but rather a licensed dog breeder.
Matt Lee is a Web producer for Metro New York. He writes about almost everything and anything. Talk to him (or yell at him) on twitter so he doesn’t feel lonely @mattlee2669.