Beagles are gentle, kind, playful, and great human companions, which are just a few reasons why many keep them as family pets. But this breed enjoys being outdoors because it’s where everything interesting happens; plus, they get to enjoy more freedom. A bit of time outside is good for your Beagle as it allows them to get the physical and mental stimulation they need for optimal health. As scent hounds with powerful noses, it also provides an outlet for their instincts to sniff. With these and more benefits, you might be wondering if your Beagle is better of spending a lot more time outdoors.
But are Beagles outside dogs? While they are a very adaptable breed, they are not great outside dogs like the Siberian husky or German shepherd. They are short-haired, which does very little to regulate their body temperature, and wouldn’t be able to withstand the extreme temperature fluctuations outside.
These medium-sized dogs are such a strong breed considering it was bred for hunting. And while we want to believe they can do anything and live through everything, they are actually quite sensitive to long periods of time in cold and hot weather. Every Beagle owner should essentially know why this is not a great breed to live outdoors. But while you love and have to keep your dog indoors, there might be times when you have no choice but to leave them outside. We will also discuss the necessary precautions that will ensure proper maintenance of their optimal health while outside, so keep reading.
Can Beagles Live Outside?
Beagles have a rich history as hunting dogs and some people argue that they can live outside because they used to. Beagles indeed spent their days running through fields and chasing down prey. And when their job was done, it was not uncommon for them to sleep outside. However, there are two key things to keep in mind here. For starters, hunting Beagles were in packs of five to 20+. So even when they slept outside, there was a lot of body heat to go around, so they don’t get cold. Secondly, those who owned these packs of dogs had shelters built outside for them, which offered protection from the outdoor elements.
Perhaps if you replicated all those conditions today, you could easily have some Beagles as outdoor pets. Even so, Beagles have a personality trait that makes it difficult to be happy living outside. As pack animals, this breed relies on companionship for their happiness, and their human family is their pack, which is why they can be very loyal companions. If left outside alone for long periods of time, they will get bored and lonely, which makes them prone to separation anxiety and even risks their mental health. Your Beagle may resort to destructive behavior like chewing on everything they can find, digging everywhere, barking and howling, etc. This is not to say you cannot leave your dog outdoors when you go to work; just make sure you spend lots of time with them when you’re around.
Another reason why you shouldn’t leave your Beagle outside is their powerful noses rule them. When they pick up a strong scent from the prey, they will do anything possible to chase after them, even if it means jumping over or digging their way out under the fence.
Potential Dangers of Leaving Your Beagle Outside
As mentioned earlier, Beagles have short hair and a thin fur coat, which does very little to keep them warm. Even spending a few moments in cold temperatures can lead to hypothermia, a condition where the extremely low temperatures cause your dog’s internal temperature to fall below 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This condition can be fatal, with symptoms including weakness, stiffness, and difficulty in breathing.
Frostbite is another concern during winter and is brought on by prolonged exposure to frigid temperatures. The body will respond by constricting blood vessels to extremities and rerouting more blood to vital organs to keep them functioning, leaving parts of the body to freeze. Frostbite occurs even to dogs with a double and thick fur coat; imagine how much more your Beagle will be affected.
Dogs can’t get human colds but are still susceptible to cold-like infections. The chances are high that your Beagle might be affected by a viral cold if left outside during winter.
But it’s not just the cold weather that’s a threat to your dog. Beagles are also prone to heat strokes if left outside for too long in summers. Symptoms will include dizziness, dehydration, and fatigue. Chronic illnesses can develop from both cold and heat exposures.
Outside of weather concerns, Beagles are strong scent hounds, great chasers, and great escapists. They are prone to try and run away to chase after a scent, not to mention un-neutered males will try to reach a female in heat. If you thought sleeping outside was dangerous to your dog, escaping from the yard exposes them to much more danger, including being run over, getting into fights with other animals, poisoning, or even being stolen. Chasing down small animals and attacks from wild animals presents another risk: the transmission of diseases.
Bored dogs outdoors will resort to destructive behavior such as chewing and possibly ingesting anything and everything, including all sorts of yard debris. Many common trees, vines, shrubs, and flowers are poisonous to canines.
Lastly, Beagles living outside are more prone to develop stress and behavior problems such as digging, chewing, escaping, barking, and being overly aggressive due to separation anxiety. This, in turn, can make house training harder.
What Weather Conditions Can a Beagle Safely Endure?
If you have to let your Beagle be outside for a full day or even sleep there as well, a huge factor in their safety would be the weather, both cold and hot extremes. Most canines can easily tolerate temperatures between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Factors that could affect your Beagle’s tolerance level include their health status, level of hydration, and age since adult Beagles have a higher tolerance level than puppies and seniors.
The exact time it takes for hypothermia to occur depends on the wind chill factor, air temperature, dog’s age, body fat, health issues, and if they are wet from rain/snow. For instance, if the temperature is right at the freezing mark of 32° Fahrenheit or 0° Celsius, a Beagle can be outside for 45-60 minutes under supervision. The time it can safely stay outside decreases as the temperature drops.
When looking at what conditions can lead to frostbite, you also have to consider the wind chill factor. On a cold day of 5° Fahrenheit with a wind of 30 MPH, this condition can set in after 30 minutes. It could develop much faster, in as little as 10 minutes, on an extremely cold day of -20° Fahrenheit with a wind of 15 MPH.
Heat strokes occur when your Beagle’s internal temperature is over 104° Fahrenheit. How hot it has to be for this to occur will depend on how active your dog is and its hydration level. That being said, be on guard any time the temperatures are over 90 F.
Tips for Keeping Your Beagle Safe Outside
It’s totally normal for people to leave their dogs outside during the day while they are away because they could get destructive indoors. Plus, we cannot deny the benefits of letting them spend a good portion of their day doing outdoor activities. Luckily, there’re things you can do to ensure your dog has a good time outdoors while remaining safe and healthy:
Provide a shelter – Your dog should have a place to retreat in extreme weather conditions and get protection from rain, wind, snow, direct sunlight, etc. There’s a wide variety of dog houses available in the market, including insulated ones to keep your Beagle comfortable in cold weather and air-conditioned ones for protecting them from heat strokes. Alternatively, you could build a dog house on your own while referring to DIY videos on YouTube.
That being said, the shelter doesn’t have to be extravagant since your Beagle won’t be staying outside 24/7. If you have a covered porch, they can stay there to keep away from direct sunlight. You may only need a little doggie bed for them to lie in during cold weather.
Keep the dog hydrated – Your Beagle should have access to clean, fresh water at all times to keep them hydrated. You may need heated water bowls in cold temperatures to keep the water from freezing. Warm water helps to ensure your dog’s internal temperatures stay in check.
Provide food – Your dog should also have access to food. This doesn’t mean free-feeding them because that will only put your dog at risk of becoming overweight. Plus, when food is left lying outside, it can attract pests and even get spoiled.
Dress them for the elements – Unlike many larger breeds, these short-haired dogs need help to stay warm, and a dog sweater is a good start.
Secure your yard – Beagles have proven to be great escape artists, ruled by their powerful noses and hunting instincts. If they must spend time outside unattended, ensure a fence properly secures your yard. Also, make them wear identification so you can easily track and find them in case they manage to escape.
Vaccinations – One of the best things you can do to ensure your Beagle’s optimal health is to make sure they are current on their vaccinations. It would also help to talk to the vet about any other vaccinations that may benefit your outside dog.