Beagles have medium-length, dense, waterproof coats that are easy to care for and don't require the complicated grooming of some longer-haired breeds. Little scent hounds originally bred to hunt rabbits and other small game, beagles not only enjoy following interesting scents, but sometimes roll around in something smelly, getting all kinds of outdoor grime on their fur. Regular bathing and brushing is needed to keep your beagle's coat fresh, shiny and clean.
When they are following their noses outdoors, rough-and-tumble beagles can get into lots of dirt and mud, or pick up brambles and stickers in their coats. Spruce up your beagle's fur and prevent shedding with a quick brushing every other day using a firm, natural-bristle brush or a hound grooming glove for a few minutes. Use a slicker brush to remove excess hair and debris during a longer weekly grooming session. Brushing spreads your dog's natural oils throughout the skin and coat, making it shiny and healthy.
The beagle's double coat consists of a hard outer coat and a softer, insulating undercoat. In the spring and fall, beagles shed the entire warm undercoat as the weather changes. Brush your dog two to three times weekly if you notice the coat shedding more heavily during the seasonal changes.
Frequent baths can dry a beagle's skin and coat. A bath every two to six months is sufficient, unless your dog has soiled the coat, which beagles are prone to do. In these cases, a washing is in order. Bathe your beagle in a bathtub, using a shower attachment to wet the coat with warm water. Smaller beagles can be bathed in a kitchen sink, using a sink sprayer. Use a gentle, soap-free dog shampoo to lather the coat thoroughly, using your fingers to work the shampoo into the coat. Rinse the shampoo out. Repeat the process if necessary, to remove all traces of dirt. Apply a conditioner formulated for dogs to the coat to keep it shiny, brushing it through the coat with a wide-tooth comb. Rinse all traces of shampoo and conditioner from the coat to prevent skin irritation. Dry your dog with a towel or a hair dryer on the lowest setting.
Avoid getting soap or running water in your dog's face during a bath. Before a bath, apply ophthalmic ointment to your dog's eyes to protect them from water or soap. After rinsing your dog's body, use a washcloth dampened with warm water to wipe the face. Wipe the corners of your beagle's eyes to clean any tear stains away. Gently clean the outside of the ear flaps, and avoid getting water in the ears.
Lack of air circulation makes beagles' hanging ears susceptible to infections. Clean your beagle's ears weekly using an ear-cleaning solution formulated for dogs. These solutions contain ingredients to break down and remove excess wax; some contain gentle antibacterial agents to soothe irritations and discourage infections. Dampen a cotton ball, and gently wipe out the inside of the ear. Use a clean cotton ball for each ear to avoid spreading any infection. Check the ears for injuries, and apply antibiotic ointment as needed. Have your vet check any signs of an infection or larger scrapes on the ear flaps.
If you can hear your beagle's nails clicking against the floor, it's time to clip your dog's nails. Inside each nail is the quick, an area of highly sensitive pink flesh containing the nerves and blood vessels that supply the nail. If you cut the nails too short, you may sever the quick, causing profuse bleeding and considerable pain to your dog. It will be difficult after that experience to persuade your little beagle that it will be safe to trust you to cut another nail. If you are not experienced at cutting a dog's nails, it is best to have your veterinarian or an experienced dog groomer do it or show you how to do it. Reward your beagle with a treat and praise after the nails are trimmed.
Freshening the Coat
A beagle's coat should be shiny and neat, and should smell fresh. Between baths, use a sprinkle of dry dog shampoo to keep the coat smelling good, and use a brush to distribute it throughout the fur. Rub the coat with a chamois cloth dipped lightly in witch hazel or alcohol to remove debris and give it a shine. A spritz of a spray-on conditioner can also be used on the coat to keep it moisturized and shiny.
A beagle's coat doesn't require trimming or clipping unless you plan to show your dog. Then the coat should just be lightly trimmed for neatness using electric clippers, especially on the white areas of the coat. The fur between the pads of the feet should be trimmed for tidiness, along with the fur around the feet. Prior to a show, white fur patches can be brightened with a pinch of grooming chalk rubbed into the coat.