You Make The Diagnosis: Top 7 Health Problems in Beagles

Beagles are a wonderful breed of dog known for their unique personalities. They have a zest for life that never stops.  Their antics keep their human families in stitches. Maggie, pictured below, is the perfect example enjoying an afternoon on the boat. Beagles have a keen sense of smell and an immense joy for eating that make them wonderful working dogs.  The US Customs Beagle Brigade sniffs arriving passengers for illegal food stuffs. When a fresh piece of fruit is detected, the dog sits by the unsuspecting passenger. Beagles are also being used to detect bed bugs.

Unfortunately, beagles are prone to several health problems. Some are genetic while others are caused by their lovable personalities. Name the top seven health problems in beagles then scroll down to check your answer.

Image contributed by Jim Vail


  1. Obesity – The majority of beagles I treat are overweight leading to many health problems as they age. A great sense of smell coupled with an unending appetite can be a deadly combination. In the clinic, I use their appetite to my advantage by smooshing a treat onto the table. While the beagles licks it off, I can perform all kinds of treatments.
  2. Allergies (Atopic Dermatitis) – Beagles are prone to allergies that manifest as chronic ear infections, stained paws from constant licking, smelly skin from sebhorreha and infections, impacted anal glands that cause scooting and constant itching.
  3. Hypothyroidism (Low thyroid) – When I have an overweight beagle that isn’t losing weight on a diet, I recommend blood work to see how well their thyroid gland is functioning. Hypothyroidism is very common in this breed.
  4. Hyperadrenalcorticism (Cushings’ Disease) – Excess production of cortisol causes Cushings’ Disease. Affected dogs drink a lot of water, urinate a lot, have a pot-bellied appearance and skin that feels like tissue paper.
  5. Cruciate Ligament Rupture – The cruciate ligament is a tendon in the knee that provides stability. It is common for beagles to rupture this ligament while out doing their crazy activities.
  6. Eye Disease – Beagles are prone to several eye conditions including glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy, cornea ulcers and prolapse of the gland of the third eyelid. The prolapsed gland looks like a cherry sitting in the inside corner of the eye which is why it is commonly called ‘cherry eye’.
  7. Kidney Disease – Unfortunately, many beagles develop kidney problems. That’s why I recommend annual lab work to catch it early.

The next time you see a beagle at the airport you are sure to smile (unless they sit down by your bag).

Image contributed by Jim Vail