Beagles love food, I mean all dogs love food, but Beagles REALLY love food, and they do not know when to stop eating! So, why do Beagles eat so much, is it a problem and how can you deal with it?
Beagles struggle to regulate their appetite like other breeds. Used in large packs to hunt, Beagles are the ultimate scavengers. Hunting all day is hungry work, always on the lookout for food and taking every opportunity to eat. A strict meal schedule is essential to avoid your Beagle becoming overweight.
I’ll never forget the first time we fed Bracken, our first Beagle. We were a newly married couple. Dog ownership was very new to us and daunting; we wanted to make sure we didn’t mess up and were a little nervous. We carefully measured the recommended quantity, popped it in her new bowl and placed it on the floor. No sooner had the bowl touched the kitchen floor she raced over and ate the lot in about ten seconds, I kid you not. My wife and I stood back in awe, wow that was quick! Did we give her enough food? She ate it so quick we doubted she’d ever had food before!
So, we decided to do some research, see if this was normal behaviour and make sure it wasn’t a problem.
Why do Beagles eat anything and everything?
If you let him, your Beagle would eat itself sick. He would not stop until all the food in front of him was gone. If you allow a Beagle to eat what it wants, it won’t be long before you have an overweight and unhealthy dog. An overweight Beagle could develop all kinds of health conditions, short term and long term.
For us, managing our Beagles appetite and greedy behaviours has been something of a steep learning curve. We weren’t aware that Beagles were such greedy opportunists. We learnt this the hard way with our first Beagle.
Bracken once managed to get her snout into a 30kg bag of Eden Pet Food kibble. The bag was out of reach on a kitchen work surface, or so we thought! She somehow climbed on the work countertop and was merrily eating her way through the entire bag. Luckily, I was working from home, so I caught her in the act. For the next 24 hours, she looked like a balloon and sat sulking in her bed, occasionally going outside to puke and poop. If I had not caught her, I’m sure she would have carried on until it was all gone.
You can read our post about when beagles stop biting with hints and tips here.
Beagles are widely known as great opportunists. For hundreds of years, Beagles were bred as hunting dogs, used in large packs to track game. The only food they likely got was the food they scavenged themselves. If it looked like food, they’d eat it. Even to this day, Beagles will eat anything and everything, it’s just part of their instinct to eat whatever they can, whenever they can. It’s challenging to train a dog to do something that it finds so natural.
From the moment Bracken gorged on that massive bag of kibble, I was looking at our home differently. Our house had become Brackens hunting ground. We had to ‘Beagle’ proof everything. Ensure food was out of reach at all times, cupboard doors closed and locked, and no food left unattended, ever. Guests, adults and kids alike would be asked not to leave food anywhere a Beagle could be.
We had to take this over-cautious approach even when outside. We were always scanning and assessing the surroundings to make sure Bracken wasn’t able to get into trouble.
We had trained Bracken to be off the leash; she had a good recall (for a Beagle). However, she often sniffed out food. She wouldn’t hesitate to help herself to a family picnic, her recall training conveniently forgotten. She once stole a child’s ice cream right out of his hand! Her greedy behaviour, while funny at times, didn’t look good on us either, what people must think of us as our dog ran havoc!
Other people we knew with Beagels reported the same kind of greedy nature; at least we were not alone!
A few places online mention that research carried out has shown that a Beagles digestive system is constructed differently to other dogs. Unfortunately, I can’t find the source of that research, so don’t know the specifics. If true, that could be a reason why Beagles are so greedy. If anyone knows about this research, I’d love to know, so please comment below.
You are what you eat
Feeding your Beagle with a varied and healthy diet is crucial. Too often we hear of people feeding their Beagle poor quality canned food or cheap biscuit from the supermarket. Cheap ‘wet’ dog food doesn’t contain the nutrients your dog’s needs, and the dry biscuit is full of bulking agents. As the saying goes “You are what you eat”, and the same applies for your Beagle.
I understand that feeding a dog with quality food can be costly, but that’s a commitment you make when you decide to home a Beagle. You owe it your dog to provide him with a varied diet that gives him all the nutrients he or she needs. We recommend a fully raw food diet. If raw food seems inconvenient (it’s not), a high-quality kibble (biscuit) can be used and fed at two intervals per day.
We gave our first Beagle a quality dry kibble from the start. We followed the exact guidelines from the manufacturer for the correct amounts for her ideal weight. She kept a stable weight, her coat looked shiny, and all seemed well.
Over time we started to hear a lot more about a raw diet for dogs. We did some research, listened to others and eventually took the plunge and put Bracken and our other Beagle, Baylee on a 100% raw food diet. When changing a dogs diet, it is always better to gradually make the change over a few weeks, so as not cause any issues. I won’t go into why raw is best here as that’s a broad topic by itself, but needless to say, we wish we had done it earlier, our dogs thrived on it!
How much food to feed your Beagle
By feeding your Beagle twice a day with good quality food, and the correct quantity, you can be sure to keep your Beagle at a healthy weight. Feeding twice a day may help him feel less like stealing ice cream, but I doubt it. Feeding him twice a day may make him less hungry between meals, though.
Ready prepared raw foods such as Nutriment Raw, or a quality kibble, will provide you with guidelines of how much quantity of food to give your Beagle based on your dog’s ideal weight.
If you are buying fresh raw food items from a butcher or online, it is a little trial and error to find the best quantities.
As a starting point, feed your Beagle about 2-3% of his ideal adult weight, if your dog is active feed him a little more if he’s a couch slouch then a little less.
The best way to check if you are feeding the right amount is to run your hands over your Beagles ribs. If you can feel them but not see them, then they are at a good weight.
Beagles come in all shapes and size. Depending on the breeder some Beagles are naturally smaller than others, and ideal weights vary accordingly.
Below is a table below with a guide for weight ranges for adult Beagles depending on size.
|Beagle height range||The ideal weight range for an adult Beagle|
|13″ and under||22 – 30 Pounds (9.97 to 13.60 kg)|
|13″ to 15″||25 to 35 pounds (11.33 to 15.87 kg)|
As well as a balanced healthy diet, your Beagle should have plenty of exercise. We wrote an article discussing how much exercise your Beagle needs, you can read it here.
Way to slow down how quickly a Beagle eats
There are different ways to slow down how quickly your Beagle eats. Rather than a regular round bowl, you could use a dish like the one below. This kind of design means that your dog can’t just take the food in one mouthful. He has to dig food from around raised sections of the bowl, which slows down how quickly they can slurp up their food.
Another way is to feed them by hand. By feeding by hand, you control the rate of the food and how quickly they get to eat their meal. You could also use mealtime as a chance for obedience training or any other training. Work on things such as ‘leave’ and ‘recall’ and use their food as a reward. Break the food down into smaller parcels, this turns 20-second fast feast into a few minutes worth of valuable training for your Beagle.
If feeding by hand suits you then great, but for most, it’s inconvenient and messy, but it can be fun and rewarding!
Beagles are opportunists. If there is food around, and they can get to it, they will eat it. As master scavengers, it’s an entirely natural behaviour for a Beagle. Some will be worse than others. Beagle proof your home and be vigilant when in public spaces if your dog is off the leash. No doubt they will occasionally get through your defences, but you will look back and have a little laugh about it, just like we did with Bracken and the bag of kibble.