This happy, friendly dog resembles his ancestor, the foxhound. The mature foxhound ranges between 21 and 25 inches tall at the shoulder, so the beagle is a miniature version. Beagles are born to hunt and ruled by their noses -- and that also means a nose for food.
The height for a normal beagle depends on which variety you have. The American Kennel Club standard lists two varieties, a dog maturing at less than 13 inches high and one ranging between 13 and 15 inches high in adulthood. The British Kennel Club likes them a little taller, adding an inch for a maximum height of 16. Grown beagles should weigh between 18 and 30 pounds, with males larger than females.
Chondrodystrophy, also known as beagle dwarfism, causes abnormal leg and vertebrae growth in the dog. Also called "the funnies" by beagle breeders, the condition will not make you laugh; it can be serious and might be apparent when a pup is just three weeks old. A vet makes a definite diagnosis through X-rays. What happens next depends on the degree of dwarfism. Mildly affected beagles can live to a ripe old age with only minor difficulties. Severely affected dogs might be euthanized. Dogs with any degree of chondrodystrophy should not be parents; it's a condition passed through the genes.
Beagles aren't known as "garbage guts" for nothing. If your beagle is typical, he's never met an edible item not to his taste. His palate does not discriminate; he's likely to eat quite a few inedible items, too. That sums up two of the most common health problems in the breed: eating too much and eating stuff they shouldn't. Resist those pleading brown eyes, watching every forkful of food going from your plate to your mouth. Serve a high-quality dog food to your four-legged friend, take it easy on table scraps and treats, and make sure he has plenty of exercise.
A well-cared for beagle can bring his special joy to your home for the next 12 to 15 years. Well-cared means a healthy, normal weight. Take him for walks every day and let him run in a fenced yard. The National Beagle Club recommends a fence that your pup can't get over or under. That means at least 5 feet high with cement or chicken wire buried under the fence line. Don't let him loose off leash -- there's bound to be some scent that gets that nose on the trail.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.