History has shown us that once a dog wins at Westminster, the demand for that breed increases significantly. Even my husband has nicknamed our cat “Pet-that-is-not-Uno,” much to my dismay. Uno the Beagle may be “America’s dog” (which is what the commentators at the Westminster Show dubbed him last week), but the lovable little hound is definitely not the right breed for everyone.
Beagles are an excellent family dog with an amiable temperament, appealingly small in size, and they’ve got an irresistible expression. But Beagles come with baggage. First of all, according to many dog behaviorists, once a Beagle hits a scent in the air or on the ground, they will try and trail it, regardless of what’s in the way. Trying to walk a Beagle off-leash in approved Santa Barbara parks and beaches may prove to be very challenging.
Secondly, experts recommend installing fences that are 4-feet high to prevent Beagles from climbing over them. And because they like to dig, part of the fence should be buried so that they can’t burrow underneath.
Third, the gregarious nature of Beagles can lead to howling or barking when they are lonely or bored. This personality trait may disrupt neighbors that share a wall with Beagle owners; therefore the breed is not normally recommended for apartment-dwellers.
I am not trying to dissuade those of you who are interested in adopting a Beagle. However, I would highly recommend researching any breed thoroughly before running out to adopt a particular animal. Studies have also shown that when interest in a breed is sparked in our society due to movies, commercials, celebrities, and awards, there are people who run out to get that breed immediately. Six to nine months later, once the novelty of the purchase has worn off, many of those animals end up in shelters.
If you decide you want to adopt a Beagle after researching the breed, check with your local animal shelter first. Petfinder.com can also help you find Beagle rescue groups which are 501(c)3 approved and who work solely to find placement for pets in need of a home.
And finally, one last thought about the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show: I think it’s worth noting that many animal rights groups aren’t fond of everything that the dog show stands for, mainly that all dogs entering the arena must be purebred and unaltered (not spayed or neutered). In five cities, stations airing the dog show ran a series of anti-breeding and pro-spay and neuter ads put out by the radical animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. In one commercial two parents can’t wait for their teenage daughter to get out there and start making babies, stating that the unwanted babies can always be turned into a shelter. PETA’s spot about the animal overpopulation crisis makes a startling comparison that shows exactly how absurd it is when animal guardians refuse to spay or neuter their cats and dogs.
Whatever one makes of PETA’s message, it’s hard to argue against spaying and neutering in a world filled with homeless pets. And most of us would love to see mixed breeds enter the Westminster competition. Maybe someday we’ll watch an All-American mutt walk away with Best in Show. Wouldn’t that be great if the public demand for a mutt increased?
Lisa Acho Remorenko is the Executive Director of Animal Adoption Solutions and can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org