When it comes time to acquire a rabbit dog, the selection process can be quite daunting. This is especially true for persons selecting their first dog who might not be familiar with breeders or successful rabbit hunting lines. To eliminate confusion and allow yourself to make the best dog selection possible, there are a few things to consider beforehand. The more prepared you are in advance of a bunch of wiggly pups crawling in your lap, the better off you will be when the time comes to select the one you will be bringing home.
First and foremost, you should decide if you even want a puppy at all. Despite the joys of having a puppy around, they can also be a lot of work. If your puppy will be living indoors, he or she will need to be housebroken. Then there is puppy chewing and possible destruction to consider. Puppy shots will be necessary along with the expense of a spay or neuter if you are not interested in someday having pups of your own. Also important to factor in is the training time a puppy will require before becoming ready to hunt. Because of things like this, adult dogs are sometimes preferred, and this is a decision you should make in advance of beginning your dog search.
After you've determined which dog is age appropriate for your lifestyle and needs, researching bloodlines is a logical next step. You will likely encounter a variance in opinions about different lines. The thing to remember here is that people like what they like, you included. Because it is sometimes tough to find an opinion compatible with your own, try to meet as many dogs as possible and watch them work if you can. This will give you an idea of which lines you might wish to pursue--or avoid. Overall, however, the key is to stick with dogs that are well bred and well maintained. Healthy dogs free of physical defects (under/over bites, crooked legs, etc.) or temperament problems should be avoided; information on qualities a Beagle should possess can be found here. Once you've found a line of dogs you enjoy working with, sticking to that line in the future can provide you dogs you will enjoy for years to come.
When choosing a breeder, remember that everything should be an open book. Touring their facility and meeting their dogs should be a welcome act. Health records should be openly provided. Remember that just because you are there to look at puppies from one litter does not mean you should ignore other dogs on the property. Take the time to look at the big picture, including all dogs and not just those the breeder may wish to show you. If you need advice in finding a breeder, don't be afraid to ask around as people who are happy with and proud of their stock will have no problem sharing from where those animals came. The same holds true with those who have had bad experiences with breeders.
Photo: Indian Meadow Beagles
Depending on who you ask, you may be advised of other dog selecting guidelines as well. Some people swear by runt puppies. Other individuals prefer the dog with the most black. While these tips may get you the best dog of your life, they alone are not always enough to select a dog. It is essential to remember that dog is going to be your teammate; you two are going to have to click and be able to work together. Overall the Beagle breed is known for having excellent temperaments, but sometimes you will click better with one dog than the next regardless of health, breeding, or the price you will pay to bring that dog home. When assessing the personality of potential pups, take note of how they interact not just with you but also the world around you. You want a playful, active pup that is not too shy but does pay attention to his or her surroundings and checks things out. Watch their nose to see if, even as a pup, they are interested in the different smells around them, as that is part of the drive they will need to be a successful rabbit dog.
Photo: Force Change
Advice aside, however, the main thing is to pick a dog you like and are happy to have in your life. Although it is nice to have a system for selecting premier pups or adult dogs, sometimes the ideal way to do it simply involves trusting your gut. The best bred dog out there may not get your pulse racing but the one that everyone else overlooked could be just right. Never be afraid to trust that intuition; lots of people can tell you what you should like in a dog, but only you can know for sure what you need to make a partnership successful.
Do you have any helpful tips for selecting a dog? Are there any must-haves on your list or qualities you always avoid when looking for a rabbit dog? Let us know in the comments.