Pocket Beagle

Pocket Beagle
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The pocket Beagle is not actually a breed as they are not recognized as a separate breed from the Beagles (yet). They strongly resemble the small English Foxhound and are believed to be descendant from the Talbot hound.

Breed characteristics

Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessHighest
Exercise NeedsHigh

Dog Breed Group:Hound dog 
Height:7-12 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight:7-15 lb.
Life Span:10 to 15 years

The breed was bred for hunting and was popular among the rich and noble of the period thanks to their tiny frame and a keen sense of smell, before being replaced by the full-size Beagles we know today.

They are sweet and friendly individuals who enjoy the company of their family and friends and they make a great companion to the younger members of the family, other dogs and cats. They make a great addition to seniors as well.

They are an energetic breed and need to be taken out for daily walks, light jogs, and romps in a fenced yard. Later in life they may become little couch potatoes and need to be encouraged to exercise to maintain a healthy weight. They are a lively, jolly, kind and curious but also intelligent, and have a mind of their own. They may be small, but they can definitely stand their ground.

Main Highlights
  • The Pocket Beagles resemble the small English Foxhound.
  • They got their name because of their tiny size – hunters used to carry them around in their saddlebags.
  • They are scent hounds and believed to be descendant from the extinct Talbot hounds.
  • The breed is prone to obesity and needs to be provided with a proper diet tailored to their needs and be encouraged to exercise when older.
  • The Pocket Beagles may be suitable for apartment dwelling if sufficiently exercised. However, they have the distinct hound howl and bay that might be unpleasant for neighbours.
  • The Pocket Beagles are not recognized as a separate breed from the regular size Beagles.
  • They need a fenced and secure yard as they have the tendency to wander off following an interesting scent.
  • The breed is very friendly and gets along with everybody including children, other dogs and cats.
  • They are somewhat more difficult to house train, crate training is highly recommended.
  • The Pocket Beagles thrive on human interaction and companionship. They don’t like to be left alone for extended periods of time and may develop separation anxiety as a result.
Breed History

Not many facts are known about the Beagles ancestry. It is believed that they were used by hunters as early as the 13th century and they were popular due to their keen nose and tiny size. They got their name because hunters used to carry them around in their saddlebags. Still, they were soon replaced by the bigger Beagles we know today because the pocket ones weren’t fast enough.

It is thought that they are descendant from the now extinct Talbot hounds William the Conqueror brought to England in 1066. The Pocket Beagles used to be popular among the noble and rich of the period and were kept by Edward II, Henry VII and Elizabeth I.

At one point, they almost went extinct, if it wasn’t for farmers who still kept packs for hunting hares and rabbits. In the middle of the 1800’s, they were bred again for hunting. However, during the same period, there was a rising trend in America to import Pocket Beagles from the United Kingdom in order to improve the looks of their hunting dogs.

Today, the Pocket Beagles are not recognized as a separate breed from the full-size Beagle, but rather as a different size variation.


On average, the Pocket Beagles weigh 7-15 lb and measure 7-12 inches tall at the shoulder.

Personality and Character

The Pocket Beagles are a friendly breed and they love everybody and everything — a fact that doesn’t make them great candidates as a watchdog. They are not suitable for outdoor living and prefer to spend as much time with their humans as possible. Being pack dogs they get along with children, other dogs, cats and animals.

They are a happy-go-lucky breed, curious and inquisitive about the world around them, especially if they picked up an interesting scent. They have been known to wander off and need supervision when they are outside by themselves.

The Pocket Beagles enjoy physical activity and need a daily vent for their excess energy. Without it they can become destructive and very vocal. As adults, they might become lazy and need to be encouraged to exercise to maintain a healthy weight and disposition.

They are gentle and sweet and make a great addition to any family, empty-nesters or a loyal companion for seniors. Occasionally they like to keep themselves entertained by getting into mischief. They like to get into garbage or cupboards in search of tasty treats you may have been hiding.

Health and Potential Problems

Typically the Beagles are a healthy breed. Due to the Pocket Beagles popularity and size, irresponsible breeding has left them vulnerable to a number of physical and temperament issues.

Most reputable breeders and shelters make sure the puppy or the dog have received a clean bill of health from the vet prior to adoption or purchase. The majority of reputable breeders also test their dogs for any hereditary or genetic conditions prior to breeding and also test the litter after birth for any such conditions.

Be aware of backyard breeders who for the most part lack the appropriate knowledge and understanding of the breed. You should never adopt a puppy from a puppy mill as these operations are more concerned with financial profit rather than the mental and physical well-being of the dogs in their care. Most of the dogs in puppy mills are kept in horrible conditions.

Here are the conditions you should be on the lookout if you have a Pocket Beagle:

  • Cherry eye: An eye condition that occurs when the gland in the third eyelid bulges out. The condition can be surgically corrected.
  • Cataracts: An eye condition that causes opacity on the eye lens and can lead to limited vision or blindness. The condition usually occurs in advanced age and can be corrected with surgery.
  • Hyperthyroidism: A disorder that is caused by the body’s inability to maintain and regulate proper thyroid hormones levels and may cause baldness, lethargy and obesity. It is usually managed by dietary adjustments and medication.
  • Retinal Dysplasia: An eye disorder that is caused by displacement of the retina and may result in blindness.
  • Intervertebral disc Disease- A condition that causes the spinal discs to rupture and may cause discomfort or paralysis.
  • Cleft lip or palate: A lip or palate that has a slit in it and ranges in sizes. The condition can be surgically corrected.
  • Chinese Beagle syndrome: The dog is born with slanted eyes and a wide skull, often heart problems are developed in adulthood.
  • Hip Dysplasia: a common hereditary condition among dogs that occurs when the femur doesn’t fit properly into the hip socket. The condition may cause lameness, pain and arthritis in advance age and is typically treated with pain medication or surgery in severe cases.
  • Funny puppy syndrome: The runt of the litter, usually the smallest puppy in the litter that is much smaller than the other puppies and sometimes requires special attention and treatment to survive. Most times they grow up to be normal dogs, sometimes they develop health complications and don’t make it to adulthood.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy: An eye condition that is caused by the gradual deterioration of the retina.
  • Cryptorchidism: A common condition among small dogs, it occurs when the testicles fail to descend and can usually be corrected with surgery.
  • Epilepsy: A condition found in both dogs and humans that causes unpredictable seizures. Unfortunately, there is no known cure but the condition can be managed with medication. Most dogs that are diagnosed with epilepsy go on to live full and long lives.
  • Patellar Luxation: A common condition among small breeds, caused by different growth rates of the thigh bones, knee cap and calf bones and causes knee dislocation as a result. The condition may cause lameness, discomfort and arthritis in advance age. It is typically treated with pain medication and surgery in severe cases.
  • Beagle dwarfism: The puppy is usually abnormally small and may have other physicals indicators such as short legs.
Care Features

As with all other breeds, early socialization is key to a well-rounded and emotionally balanced adult dog. The introduction to new people, children, animals, different environments and various scenarios should start as soon as possible. Enrolling the pocket Beagle in puppy kindergarten is highly recommended where their introduction to the big world is done under professional guidance. Puppy kindergarten would also help establish and deepen the bond between the handler and the puppy.

The pocket Beagles are somewhat harder to house train, crate training was found to be an efficient tool in that regard. The puppy perceives the crate as a den and is less likely to soil it, provided they get consistent bathroom breaks in the same spot and at the same time, followed by plenty of praise and treats. Separation anxiety is common in the breed and crate training is also efficient in alleviating the dog’s stress levels when the owner is away. Kennelling the puppy for a few hours each day while the owner is around, shows them that their human will be back for them each time and decreases their anxiety. The crate is also used as a tool to prevent the pocket Beagle from chewing on the owner’s possessions while they are gone in case they are bored. Crate training should never be used as a punishment but as a training tool as it also provides them with a special spot they can retire to when tired or needing space.

The breed is very sociable and thrives on human interaction, they shouldn’t live outside and spend as much time as possible with their people. If the owner is gone from the house for extended periods of time, perhaps another breed would be a better choice. Another dog or a cat is a perfect company for the tiny breed when their humans are not around.

As with most small breeds, the Pocket Beagle is in danger of developing the small dog syndrome. It is a human induced condition that is developed because the dog is allowed to get away with pack leader behaviours that larger dogs are usually not allowed to get away with such as jumping up or leading on walks. As a result the little dog might develop bad habits and ill manners and sometimes even aggression.

Their intelligence and stubborn streak calls for a firm and consistent owner with a natural air of authority who can establish themselves as a pack leader early on. Any harsh treatment or training should be avoided and rules and boundaries should be established from puppyhood and reinforced using treats and praise.

Training should be kept short and interesting in order to keep their attention as they are easily distracted and get bored with repeated commands. A fenced yard is a must as the breed has the tendency to take off after interesting scents. When they are not in a secured and fenced area, the pocket Beagles should be on a leash and provided with identification such as tags with the owner’s contact information or a microchip.

The breed might be suitable for apartment dwelling as long as they are sufficiently exercised. Although they are a vocal breed and have the distinct bay and howl of a hound that neighbours might not appreciate.

Feeding Schedule

The Pocket Beagles usually consume 1-1.5 cups of high-quality dog food a day. Each dog’s nutritional needs are different and depend on their size, age and energy levels. Puppies for example eat more than an adult dog to accommodate their rapid growth and development. Active dogs consume more food than their fellow couch potato dogs.

High-quality dog food that is free of unnecessary additives and fillers such as corn and grain, rich in meat protein and vitamins would go a long way in providing your companion with healthy skin, coat, mental and physical vitality and longevity.

It is important to note that Pocket Beagles love food and may become obese given the chance. Dividing their daily consumption into a few meals is recommended rather than leaving the food available all the time as they will eat it if it’s there. It is also important to provide them with a diet that is specially tailored to their needs. Encouraging them to exercise is also very important to maintaining a healthy weight.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The pocket Beagle’s coat is dense, smooth and water resistant. Common colors are lemon, blue, liver, grey, brown, red, white, black, cream and tan.

The medium length coat is fairly easy to maintain, brushing once a week to encourage hair growth and loosen dead hair is sufficient. They are considered medium shedders and usually blow their thicker winter coat in the spring. Their floppy ears require regular maintenance as the shape makes it easier for moisture and debris to get trapped in the ear canal and cause reoccurring ear infections.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

The Pocket Beagles are a very friendly breed and they enjoy the company of children. However, because of their tiny size, they might be better suited for homes with older children who will be gentle with them. The foundation for mutual love and respect between the dog and the children should be laid even prior to introducing the four-legged friend to the household. Too many dogs are being put down, surrendered to shelters or abandoned due to the adults’ failure in educating the younger members of the family on proper dog handling etiquette. Any tail or ear pulling as well as general teasing should be discouraged immediately, play time between animals and children should be supervised at all times.

The Pocket Beagles were bred to hunt in packs, being a pack animal they enjoy the company of other dogs and cats. Due to their breeding they should be supervised when around small animals such as rabbits and hamsters until and if they accept them as part of their pack. Although every breed has similar traits, every dog should be treated as an individual. Their behavior and character depend heavily on their breeding, socialization, environment, handler and training.

Who can resist the kind gaze of the sweet Beagle? They make a great addition to any family or individual who can provide them with the proper exercise, companionship and love they require and deserve. They thrive on human interaction and love their families dearly. They get along with everyone, which doesn’t make them a great watch dog, but makes them a popular choice for families.

They are an intelligent breed and have a mind of their own so they need a handler with a natural air of authority who can set boundaries and help them reach their full potential.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.