Choosing a beagle
Recognising the breed
Spot the puppy!
The puppy on the left is a Jack Russell terrier, easy to spot the difference when you can compare, but faced with eight of these little darlings swarming about, could you be fooled? The puppy in the middle is a basset crossed with a Jack Russell terrier. The puppy on the right is a pedigree, Kennel Club registered beagle.
Always buy a puppy from a reputable breeder where you will see the puppies with their mother and sometimes the father. Never obtain a puppy from a pet shop, puppy dealer, a market or from a puppy super-store. This is now illegal.
Beagle Welfare cannot stress strongly enough, how important it is that you research the breed thoroughly and only buy from a reputable breeder.
A beagle puppy is ready to go into its new home once it is at least eight weeks old. A bitch who is more than eight years old or who has already reared six litters of puppies cannot be registered at the Kennel Club.
On purchasing your puppy, the breeder should hand over a signed pedigree, the Kennel Club registration certificate and a diet sheet. Always buy a puppy from a specialist breeder where you will see the puppies with their mother and sometimes even their father. The secretaries of beagle breed clubs, the Kennel Club or your local veterinary surgeon may be able to give you the names and addresses of reputable breeders in your area. Responsible breeders will have begun the process of socialising puppies so that they have met a variety of visitors and are familiar with some of the household sounds and activities.
Very young puppies
Beagles are born in a variety of colours and markings in the same litter and their final colour develops with time. In the first week or two they may look black and white but gradually the tan comes through usually first on the face and ears and then on the flanks and neck/shoulders by the time they are ready to go to their new homes. Lemon and white puppies are born looking nearly white with just cream markings and ears whereas their tan and white littermates will have definite tan markings at birth.
Not all bitches are happy to have visitors when they have young puppies but by the time the litter are being introduced to more solid food beagle puppies from three weeks of age, they are usually very happy to show off their family. By six weeks of age the puppies will normally be completely weaned from their dam and receiving four meals a day of a proprietary puppy food.
A beagle puppy is ready to go to its new home by eight weeks of age and you are advised to continue the feeding regime used by the breeder. During this time the responsible breeder will also have wormed the puppies at least twice and kept the puppies’ nails trimmed and you should also continue to regularly carry out these routines. Feel free to bath your beagle whenever needed, but don’t let your hound get cold and remember clean bedding helps to keep your hound healthy. Never treat a young puppy for fleas without first obtaining veterinary advice.
What to look for when choosing a puppy
Getting to know the breeder, perhaps even before the litter is born is ideal. However, in reality you may have to make important decisions and choices in a short period of time. Here are some points that you may find useful.
If you are visiting an unknown breeder for the first time, you should seriously consider not taking any children you may have. If you have to leave without a puppy it will be all the more difficult if children are present. If you are happy with the breeder and pups then take the children on a second visit, a good breeder will want to know the children are ‘right’ for their puppy!
Always see the puppies with their mother – accept no excuses such as – ‘she’s been taken for a walk,’ or ‘she lives with my daughter.’ If you can’t see them with the mother, leave straight away. A good breeder will also introduce you to their other beagles and allow you to meet and play with them.
Try to be sure that the bitch you see with the pups is actually the mother. A sociable brood bitch can be used ‘front of house’ if the puppies are ‘imported’ from a puppy farm. A much bred from bitch will always look as if she’s just had pups, with a perpetually low-slung undercarriage. How does she react to the pups and how do they react to her? Bear in mind that no mother will be keen to feed even her own pups once they are weaned, however, as in humans, there should be some family resemblance. Alarm bells should ring if there is only one mother but there seems to be a big difference in the size and development of the puppies.
How do the puppies react to the breeder and vice-versa? Is there confidence and affection coming from both sides? A good breeder will ask you many questions about yourself and your family. This isn’t idle curiosity, it is for the benefit of all, the puppy, the breeder and you, making sure that you are well suited to beagle ownership and understand all the responsibilities.
A healthy happy puppy
Where not to buy puppies
Welcoming a new puppy into your home should be a joyous occasion, but if you buy from the wrong source, the buying process can sometimes be upsetting and in some cases end in the puppy’s death. This may sound overly dramatic, but at Beagle Welfare we are very aware of the high numbers of puppy farmers, pet shops and commercial breeders who are only interested in making money out of dogs. If you buy a puppy from a pet shop you have no idea whether the puppy has been raised in one of the dreadful cages seen on the left, in a filthy shed or in the warmth of a cosy kitchen.
Puppy farmers have no concern for the physical or mental well-being of either their breeding stock or the puppies they produce. They will make no effort to breed for good temperament or with regard to possible, hereditary defects.
This will not matter to you if your main concern when purchasing a puppy is the price. Cheap puppies can easily be found on the internet but unfortunately many of these pups will have been bred in appalling conditions on puppy farms. The puppies themselves may have health problems and only had the very minimum human contact, resulting in them having long term behavioural problems. The adult breeding stock at these establishments live lives of total misery. Their lives are spent producing puppies for the ‘cheap’ end of the market. They will be destroyed once their useful production days are over.
If you buy from a puppy farm, a pet shop, or other retail outlet, you may think that you’re getting a bargain but somewhere down the line, a terrible price has been paid. Beagle Welfare cannot stress strongly enough, how important it is that you research the breed thoroughly and only buy from a reputable breeder.
As soon as you obtain your beagle puppy contact your local veterinary surgeon to find out their programme of vaccinations. This does vary with the type of vaccinations used, but until your puppy has received its first full course, it must not be taken out where other dogs have been. You can still take your puppy out to get used to new noises and sights by wrapping it in a blanket and carrying it safely in your arms or taking it for short journeys in the car. Most vaccines need a yearly booster, and licensed boarding kennels will need proof that this has been kept up to date.
Without doubt, the best information regarding reputable breeders can be obtained from the breed club secretaries. Reputable breeders will inform the secretaries when they have puppies available or a litter planned. These breeders will be members of the breed clubs, they will have to abide by the clubs’ code of ethics and the vast majority of them will be personally known by the secretaries.
The two national clubs are The Beagle Association and The Beagle Club. Refer to the clubs’ websites for up to date information regarding telephone numbers etc.