Two height categories exist for the beagle in most modern breeding standards, up to 13 inches and 13 to 15 inches. As with many animals and some types of dog in particular, utilising their natural characteristics is rewarding and eases the training challenge. Exercise is vital to both the health and training of a beagle.
The beagle is naturally friendly and co-operative. As well as being lively, it also has considerable stamina. Its hunting origins give some individuals, especially in male beagles, a strongly independent streak, which may need attention during training. The hunting characteristic means some beagles can be aggressive with small pets, seeing them as quarry to be hunted, but in most cases this subsides and if socialized within a family from an early stage, is not a problem.
Beagles like to play and specific training, other than normal day-to-day interaction, is often best carried out in short sessions, preceded by some exercise. Most beagles welcome routine, so using a regular time-slot for such a session can also prove helpful. By starting young with a pet beagle and using treats sparingly plus a favourite toy or ball to hold their attention rather then expecting this breed to fetch it back, basic training requirements will be successful more quickly.
Achieving an orderly form of walking can be a challenge with a young beagle. This is best addressed by giving leash training some serious attention from as early a stage as possible. If basic training is achieved early, beagles' natural exuberance lends itself to more advanced forms and some beagles make excellent agility competitors.
Though generally hardy, beagles can occasionally be more prone than some dogs to particular maladies. The dog's eyes need keeping clean and under observation for signs of any infection in the lower eyelids. The combination of the beagle's short coat plus its liking for following scents near bushes, etc., can lead to skin abrasions, which if not attended to, can develop into infections.
As with similar dog breeds with dropped ears, ear problems can develop due to air and light being kept out of the ear, and the warmth is ideal for ear mites. Regular checks after any outdoor activity are advisable and any sign of the dog persistently scratching the area around the ears should be acted upon. Poking around in the beagle's ear is not advisable. Unless the cause is easily visible so that it can be easily treated, if the problem persists then a trip to the vet is required.
Grooming a pet beagle is much easier than some breeds, given its short coat which does shed but not excessively. It should be brushed regularly with a medium strength of brush. Combs should also be fine but care is required regarding the skin under the short fur. Exercise is the most important aspect of caring for a beagle, with a daily brisk walk being virtually the minimum requirement. If allowed off the leash, their natural liking for following scents means that beagles can be prone to wander so care and training is required. Healthy beagles naturally burn fat quickly when exercising but if under-exercised beagles can tend to obesity, so that a combination of commercial dog food and the appropriate level of exercise provides adequate safeguards.