Groom & Leash

Grooming Your Beagle: Beagles have a double coat.  This means they have a downy, soft hair underneath, and long, guard hairs on top.  So they do shed and grooming should be done on a regular schedule. Monthly bathing and daily brushing will help keep your house clean and your dog happy.

We use Chris Christensen products, specifically Spectrum 5 shampoo and conditioner.  You can do an internet search and find the best price.  Shampoo and condition your Beagle thoroughly, and then rinse even more thoroughly, especially under armpits and tummy and neck.

Invest in a Furminator (specifically for medium size, double coated dogs) which is a great way to get any dead undercoat out and will help keep your house clean.  Then use nice boar bristle brush to finish brushing the coat.  Daily brushing is ideal, but at least once a week should do the trick.

Because of their hanging ears, Beagles can develop yeast infections in them, so ears need to be checked once a week. What to look for?  Any redness or bad smell – you will get to know what infection smells like if you do this weekly as you should.  Use a lint-free towel (do not use paper towel!) to clean out the reachable areas.  You can use a mix of 1-part apple cider vinegar to 1-part water to wipe the ears clean, and this will discourage yeast growth.  You can use a syringe to pour the mixture into the ear canal (don’t use force), and then let them shake it out.  After wiping, use the dry, lint-free towel to dry the ear as much as you can.  If you notice any redness or smell, the vet can give you some medicine to clear up the infection.

Just like humans, Beagle’s teeth need to be cleaned. There are many dog teeth cleaning remedies out there to buy but read the labels and avoid any PROCESSED products like rawhide or other man-made chewies.  Dogs (especially Beagles as they are scent hounds) are super sensitive to preservatives/pesticides/synthetic products and they should be avoided at all costs – including man-made treats (use cooked, plain chicken breast with a little garlic salt for treats instead – cheap and easily stored in the freezer in bite size pieces). 

You can buy a doggy toothbrush and paste – just make sure you use it!  All puppies should be introduced to tooth brushing early on. If you haven’t done this before, start by running your index finger in their mouth across their teeth. (Helps to smile, laugh and perhaps, sing a tune while you’re doing this…..Sounds strange, I know, but while the dog might not like this, he understands when you’re happy….there you are, singing and laughing – obviously happy! So he thinks “Hmmm, we must be having fun” and is more likely to tolerate the tooth brush.) Once he gets use to you putting your bare finger in his mouth, try wrapping a bit of wet gauze around it and “brushing” his teeth. When he tolerates that, dab that web gauze in some baking soda and “brush” his teeth. (Remember to smile and sing!)  Then you can get a doggy toothbrush and paste specifically for dogs give him a daily brushing, but baking soda is a perfectly good cleaner, cheap and easy to come by.

Some beagles will tolerate you clipping the nails while others tolerate grinding the nails. I personally clip the nails first with dog toenail clippers, and then follow up with a Dremel grinder. If you are unsure how to “clip nails” enlist the help of a doggie friend or ask your vet or breeder.  If you have a tough Beagle, just have one person hold them with belly and paws facing out, wait for the dog to relax and settle, and then the other person can do the nails quite quickly. 

Learn what the “quick” is in the toenails and watch for it – get as close to it as the dog will allow and keep the nails short.  Don’t go into the quick as it is super painful for the dog – they will let you know!  Dog nails grow fast, and the quick grows out with the nail.  So, make it a routine to do your dog’s nails at least 2 times per month, and once per week is even better.  Too long of nails causes the knuckles to be pushed up and the dog will end up with arthritis when he is older.  Keep em’ short!

How to lead your Beagle:  There are many choices in leads, collars, and harnesses.  Before you buy, do some research.  Collars will break the hair on your dogs’ neck, so a slip lead (that slips around the dog’s neck only when you need it) works great and is easy and convenient.  Harnesses seem like a good choice but think about how that harness interferes with the movement of the shoulder blades and how it can actually cause damage to the dog.  What really is BEST for the dog is training. 

Especially when walking your dog in public, it is wise to stay a distance from dogs that you do not know.  Not just because the dogs could fight, but because there are a ton of diseases out there are that are spread through contact.  Use the methods below and teach your dog to leave other dogs alone unless you give them a command to allow them to play.

Teach the Beagle to walk at your side.  It takes perseverance.  On a loose lead, start walking.  If the dog pulls ahead of you, you can try a few things – first, change directions so the dog has to pay attention to where you are going.  Do this a LOT and often and just expect the dog to follow – don’t even look at him, just walk ahead like you know where you are going.  Pretty soon he won’t know which way is “forward” and he will look to you for direction. 

Also, when he rushes up past you, take your foot that is closest to the dog and tap his chest as if to say, “Get Back”.  Do it hard and quickly.  Then, repeat, repeat, repeat.  If the leash is tight, you need to tap the chest and change directions.  Pretty soon, the dog will learn to not rush out in front.  But you have to be willing to spend 15 minutes daily practicing this for the first six months you own the dog, and you have to be willing to keep the leash LOOSE.  If the dog is not pulling, let the leash slack.  The leash should never be tight.  If the dog does pull and tapping him does not work, you can give a quick, hard jerk on the lead but you must loosen the lead immediately after the jerk. 

This is a hard leash lesson, but once you and your dog have mastered it, what a beautiful, fun partnership you will have!

Beagles & Nutrition

Everyone has their own theory on how to feed dogs. Here, we will tell you ours.

C2R researches nutrition for many reasons – to help dogs run more efficient in the field, to grow healthier puppies, to have longevity in our breeding stock, and to have the best looking dogs out there. As nutrition is one of the few things we can control about our dogs, we focus on it.

Studies have shown a link between gut health and Epilepsy. Epilepsy does show up from time to time in Beagles, both field and show. There are no genetic tests we can do to prevent epilepsy. In the last decade that we have been breeding Beagles, we have not had any epileptic episodes in any of our dogs that we are aware of. To help prevent epilepsy, we ensure our dogs have plenty of probiotic and enzymes to help break down their food. This has come in many forms over the years we have been doing it. Currently, we use a product called “Complete”, from Complete contains probiotics, enzymes, vitamins and minerals, and a bone supplement.

Dry dog food, “kibble”, is all made the same way, and it started years ago by the industry telling pet owners that its’ more convenient and balanced for your dog, and to not feed your dog people food. A meat source (sometimes disclosed, sometimes not – think about that for a minute) is cooked down to and grains and vitamins are then mixed in, ultimately forming kibble. There are no regulations on dog food currently, so no one checks to see if the content in the bag matches the label on the bag. Any form of “probiotic” that is supposedly in the kibble is most likely cooked out. The best you can do is try to buy a well known brand and keep an eye on how your dog is doing on that food.

C2R adds a supplement called “Complete” to any dry kibble we feed (, and in addition, we rotate feeding Salmon Oil, sometimes an egg, and sometimes spirulina. We have specific supplements for different requirements. We also buy a commercial raw formula from They grind the muscle/organ/bone into a balanced meat that looks like hamburger. We use this meat mixture in a 10% ratio in the morning feeding for both puppies and our show adults, in addition to the supplements.

Newborn puppies go through stages when being weaned – from the suckling stage, to a licking stage, and then on to chewing. It is important that they go through all 3 phases to properly grow and condition their digestive system. Missed steps can cause allergies and other digestive problems later in life. C2R starts their pups at about 3.5 – 4 weeks old on raw goats milk, then begins to add things like Tahini, Spirulina, probiotics, ginger, Omega 3’s (helps the brains develop) and a few other items that help the digestive system prepare.

Over the course of several days to a week, the pups are then introduced to green tripe (ground up cow stomach). Tripe contains digestive enzymes already, so prepares the puppy digestive tract even further. At about 4.5 to 5 weeks old, we begin to add ground up dry kibble in small amounts over a few days, until we are sure the pups are not having any troubles with it. We feel this gives our pups the best nutritional advantage.

Puppies require a specific diet including calcium and phosphorus ration for growing bones. We are careful to watch the front knuckles of our pups around month 3-4 – you can begin to see the bones start to grow and well, and during this time, protein should be carefully monitored as well as calcium and phosphorus to prevent any bone growth issues.

Our hunting dogs get kibble throughout the summer and then during their hunting season, they get supplemented with venison, rabbit, eggs, salmon oil and other supplements. It’s important for working dogs to have the right portion of protein to fat. Protein can cause a working dog to overheat and pant, while a higher fat content helps the body work properly while feeding the brain.

Always check with your vet regarding your dog’s specific needs and how to best keep the ratios correct.

National Beagle Club Of America, Inc.

The National Beagle Club of America, Inc. is the AKC parent club for the beagle breed, as well as the American registry and recognizing body for formal beagle, basset and harrier packs.

Through its supporting membership, the NBC administers AKC-sanctioned regional and national conformation and performance specialties, the beagle breed standard, and various breed education programs. 

Through its regular membership, the NBC administers basset and beagle formal pack registrations, field trials and stud entries, a directly affiliated small pack option (SPO) club, crossover events such as the NBC Triple Challenge and the Southern Pack Classic, and the NBC headquarters and running grounds at historic Institute Farm in Aldie, Virginia.

National Beagle Club Website – click here

American Kennel Club “AKC”

Chance 2 Ranch registers all of our Beagles with the American Kennel Club. The AKC is constantly striving to make life for dogs better, by having organized breed events, having a legislative branch that monitors dog laws and ensures the best outcome, and by recognizing responsible breeders. We are actively working towards the AKC Breeder of Merit program and hope to attain it by the end of 2021.

Chance 2 Ranch improves its breeding program on an ongoing basis, by doing genetic health testing of its breeding stock in accordance with the recommendations of the National Beagle Club and beyond, by pursuing educational seminars and information so we can stay current on best breeding practices, by accepting responsibility for the health and well-being of the puppies we produce and complying with laws in regards to ownership and maintenance of our Beagles.


The American Kennel Club is dedicated to upholding the integrity of its Registry, promoting the sport of purebred dogs and breeding for type and function. Founded in 1884, the AKC® and its affiliated organizations advocate for the purebred dog as a family companion, advance canine health and well-being, work to protect the rights of all dog owners and promote responsible dog ownership.

As the parent organization, The National Beagle Club Of America provides the Beagle Standard to the AKC.  This is AKC description for Beagles:

“There are two Beagle varieties: those standing under 13 inches at the shoulder, and those between 13 and 15 inches. Both varieties are sturdy, solid, and “big for their inches,” as dog folks say. They come in such pleasing colors as lemon, red and white, and tricolor. The Beagle’s fortune is in his adorable face, with its big brown or hazel eyes set off by long, houndy ears set low on a broad head.

A breed described as “merry” by its fanciers, Beagles are loving and lovable, happy, and companionable—all qualities that make them excellent family dogs. No wonder that for years the Beagle has been the most popular hound dog among American pet owners. These are curious, clever, and energetic hounds who require plenty of playtime.”

Cleaning Dog’s Ears

Lateral Ear Canal Resection-Zepp Procedure

From Whole Dog Journal: Holistic veterinarian Stacey Hershman, of Nyack, New York, took an interest in ear infections when she became a veterinary technician in her teens. “This is a subject that isn’t covered much in vet school,” she says. “I learned about treating ear infections from the veterinarians I worked with over the years. Because they all had different techniques, I saw dozens of different treatments, and I kept track of what worked and what didn’t.”

Dr. Hershman’s healthy ears program starts with maintenance cleaning with ordinary cotton balls and cotton swabs. “This makes a lot of people nervous,” she says, “but the canine ear canal isn’t straight like the canal in our ears. Assuming you’re reasonably gentle, you can’t puncture the ear drum or do any structural damage.”

Moisten the ear with green tea brewed as for drinking and cooled to room temperature, or use an acidic ear cleanser that does not contain alcohol. Dr. Hershman likes green tea for its mildness and its acidifying, antibacterial properties, but she also recommends peach-scented DermaPet MalAcetic Otic Ear Cleanser or Halo Natural Herbal Ear Wash.

“Don’t pour the cleanser into the dog’s ear,” she warns, “or it will just wash debris down and sit on the ear drum, irritating it.” Instead, she says, lift the dog’s ear flap while holding a moistened cotton ball between your thumb and index finger. Push the cotton down the opening behind the tragus (the horizontal ridge you see when you lift the ear flap) and scoop upward. Use a few dry cotton balls to clean out normal waxy buildup.

Next, push a Q-tip into the vertical ear canal until it stops, then scoop upward while rubbing it against the walls of the vertical canal. Repeat several times, rubbing on different sides of the vertical canal. Depending on how much debris is present in each ear, you can moisten one or several cotton balls and use two or more Q-tips.

“You don’t want to push so hard that you cause pain,” she says, “but for maintenance cleaning using gentle pressure, it’s impossible to harm the eardrum. I refer to the external ear canal as an L-shaped tunnel, and I tell owners to think of the vertical canal as a cone of cartilage. People are always amazed at how deep the dog’s ear canal can go. I often have them hold the end of the Q-tip while I demonstrate cleaning so they feel confident about doing it correctly without hurting their dogs.”

If excessive discharge requires the use of five or more Q-tips, or if the discharge is thick, black, or malodorous, Dr. Hershman recommends an ear flush.

As always, consult with your vet if you have any questions or concerns.

Puppy Developmental Stages

Part of being a good trainer is knowing when to apply “pressure” to a dog.  When do you praise them, when do you scold them, and when do you stretch their learning capacity.  Not all people are good “trainers”, and if you know you are not a trainer, please do not buy a puppy!  Ask the kennel for a ‘started’ dog.  C2R sells already started dogs that are at least 6-12 months old.  The price is higher, but the results are well worth it, and we turn out a very nice hunting dog.

Keep in mind, a dog is not an adult until 3 years of age.  Repeat, a dog is STILL an adolescent if under 3 YEARS OLD.

These are the phases that pups go through when born, missing important handling techniques during any of these phases can be detrimental to a dog.  We take great care in making sure our dogs are solid at each phase:

Neonatal Period (0-12 Days / 1-2 weeks): The puppy responds only to warmth, touch, and smell. He cannot regulate body functions such as temperature and elimination. Very important to keep the room/box temperature at 76-80 degrees.

Transition Period (13 – 20 Days / 3 weeks): Eyes and ears are open, but sight and hearing are limited. Tail wagging begins and the puppy begins to control body functions.

Awareness Period (21 – 28 Days / 4 weeks): Sight and hearing functions well. The puppy is learning that he is a dog and has a great deal of need for a stable environment.

Canine Socialization Period (21 – 49 Days / 3-5 weeks / 1 month): Interacting with his mother and littermates, the pup learns various canine behaviors. He is now aware of the differences between canine and human societies.

Human Socialization Period (7 to 12 Weeks / 1 mo – 3 mo): The pup has the brain wave of and adult dog. The best time for going to a new home. He now has the ability to learn respect, simple behavioral responses: sit, stay, come. Housebreaking begins. He now learns by association. The permanent man/dog bonding begins, and he is able to accept gentle discipline and establish confidence. C2R transfers ownership on day 49, 7 weeks.

Fear Impact Period (8 – 11 Weeks /1 mo – 3 mo): Try to avoid frightening the puppy during this time, since traumatic experiences can have an effect during this period. This is when you need to be careful when implementing any training techniques, so they do not scare your pup.  As you can see, this period overlaps that of the previous definition and children or animal should not be allowed to hurt or scare the puppy — either maliciously or inadvertently. It is very important now to introduce other humans, but he must be closely supervised to minimize adverse conditioning. Learning at this age is permanent. This is the stage where you wonder if your dog is going to be a woosy butt all his life. Also introducing your puppy to other dogs at this time will help him become more socialized.

Seniority Classification Period (13 – 16 Weeks / 3-4 mo): This critical period is also known as the “Age of Cutting” – cutting teeth and cutting apron strings. At this age, the puppy begins testing dominance and leadership. Biting behavior is absolutely discouraged from thirteen weeks on. Praise for the correct behavior response is the most effective tool. Meaningful praise is highly important to shape positive attitude.

Flight Instinct Period (4 to 8 Months): During this period puppies test their wings- they will turn a deaf ear when called. This period lasts from a few days to several weeks. This is the time to leash train – put a very long lead on the dog – maybe 12 feet, and let them drag it around everywhere while you are working with the pup – gently tug the lead when you call the pup, teaching it re-call.   It is critical to praise the positive and minimize the negative behavior during this time, so reward with treats and praise when the pup gets to you after being called and the lead tugged. However, you must learn how to achieve the correct response. This period corresponds to teething periods, and behavioral problems become compounded by physiological development chewing. Be careful not to yell at the pup.

Second Fear impact period (6 – 14 Months): Also called, “The fear of situations period”, usually corresponds to growths spurts. This critical age may depend on the size of the dog. Small dogs tend to experience these periods earlier than large dogs. Great care must be taken not to reinforce negative behavior. Force can frighten the dog, and soothing tones serve to encourage his fear. His fear should be handled with patience and kindness, and training during this period puts the dog in a position of success, while allowing him to work things out while building self-confidence.

Maturity (1 – 4 years): Many breeds’ especially giant breeds continue to grow and physically change well beyond four years of age. The average dog develops to full maturity between 1-1 1/2 years and three years of age. This period is often marked by an increase in aggression and by a renewed testing for leadership. During this time, while testing for leadership, the dog should be handled firmly. Regular training throughout this testing period, praise him for the proper response. Giving him no inroads to affirm his leadership will remind him that this issue has already been settled.

Training the Rabbit Dog

Greg and I are both trainers.  We have been around animals our entire lives, and both started out training horses and other farm animals from the time we were little.  In 2009, we opened Chance 2 Ranch Hounds and Horses.  We have been successfully training horses professionally since then, and in our spare time, training unregistered grade hunting beagles for ourselves.  As the dogs got too old and began dying off, it was clear we needed to buy more Beagles.  In 2013, we purchased our first registered field Beagles, intending to trial them and start our breeding operation.  Today, we have 3 different field bloodlines and 2 different show bloodlines that we are breeding and testing, with a total of 14 dogs as of December 2017 and 3 litters planned for 2018.

So we have discovered some training methods that we have proven over the years.  Many of you have heard of Bio Sensory training – stimulating the nervous system of newborn pups over a period of time.  The method improves the stability of the dog as an adult and makes it easier to train and less scared of its environment.  There are cautions with it, however, as too much stimulation can cause behavior problems, and not enough doesn’t do much good – you have to be aware of each pup’s individuality.

A pup’s development is measured in weeks, unlike a human’s that is measured in years.  This means if you miss something during one of those weeks, you have missed the best opportunity to give your pup what it needs during that developmental phase. Timing is everything.

So each week, we work with the pups for what they need at that time.  You can watch them grow, become bolder, smarter.   We take them at a young age into a small training pen that is overgrown with brush and rabbits.  It is hear that they learn in a small, comfortable environment how to hunt on their own.  They are in there most of the day and then come into a 10 x 10 kennel with a dog box at night.

C2R is fortunate in that we have 10 acres that is bordered on two sides by 6,000 acres of stateland.  We can take our pups for daily walks in the woods, getting them familiar with being in the wild.

We see pups start chasing rabbits as early as 8 weeks old, and by 6-7 months old they are packing up and running in the wild.  There have been a few late starters, not packing until a year old.  Our pups get this experience on a daily basis, so every day work is a must if you are training a pup.

Another benefit of a C2R dog is that we have very good communication with our dogs – they are not considered machines that only get to hunt and then go back into a box.  This is an advantage, because dogs are avid pack animals – the pack keeps them safe, brings them food, water, shelter and continues the bloodlines.  The Pack instinct is so strong in a dog, it is what they live for.  Therefore, if you never interact with your dog, they actually resent it.  They may get out there and hunt, but they don’t ever live up to their full potential.

C2R dogs look you in the eyes and expect some sort of communication.  By the time they are adults, they actually understand much of what you are saying.  There is documentation of this in many studies, where they have owners participate in looking their animals in the eyes and giving them feed – the animal will look at the owner, then back to the feed until it gets the owner’s attention.  When owners don’t look at the dog or give feed when the dog asks, the dog quits trying and eventually becomes an introvert.  When a dog is introverted like this, the training stops.  Dogs will continue to hunt on their own, but they will never have that edge of knowing what is expected of them.

As our dogs reach adulthood, which is at 3 years of age, they become “trainer” dogs.  We run the pups with the very slowest and tightest trainer dog until the pup can outrun/hunt the trainer dog, then we pack it up with the next faster trainer dog and so on.

You would be amazed at the results we get.  Every dog we have raised and trialed is a rabbit or show champion or both.  C2R is devoted to further research, training, and showing quality show and field Beagles.

Better Breeding

C2R strives to improve the Beagle breed as a whole, and this requires investigation into the breeding of show quality Beagles as well as hunting Beagles.  Because C2R likes a faster dog that can get a rabbit around to the gun as fast as possible while still staying true to line, we had to start with the best bloodlines we could find when we started, and we tried many different trialing formats and dog shows.

Now we are into our 2nd generation puppies 4 years later and are finding that through proper nutrition and training we can create superior champion rabbit and show dogs.  The techniques to breed quality dogs are simple, really:

  1.  Start with a quality brood bitch, spend as much money as you can afford on her.  Look for body structure and conformation – this bitch will set the “type” (look) in your bloodlines.  Make sure she can run a rabbit the way you like as well – big nose, mouth, speed, and super wicked hunt.  Have her lab tested for health issues – we like  For information on DNA testing, read
  2. Studs:  Similar to a brood bitch- buy the best you can afford.  Look for desire – the stud must have a wicked desire to hunt. Most studs do not pass on “type” – it is a rare find to have a male that passes on type.  So look for one or two traits that may improve your bitch.  Your stud should be tested for health issues as well through DNA.
  3. Of course, both male and female need to be in optimal health, vaccinated, with a negative brucellosis test before breeding.  Properly wormed, free of disease, super nutrition – everything that goes into the stud and brood bitch gets passed on to the pups.
  4. As far as outcrossing/inbreeding:  Each parent has two sets of genes for every trait- each passing 1 gene in each pair to its offspring.  This is true of good qualities, bad qualities, and health issues.  So be careful with inbreeding.  It is documented that after a 10% coefficient of inbreeding (10% would be breeding 1st cousins to 1st cousins), hardiness deteriorates, bone gets thinner and weaker, and health issues begin to arise, more birth defects.  So you want to save inbreeding for two dogs that you are absolutely sure you want all of their traits passed on. Starting with a good outcross (or adding a good outcross along the way) can increase the vigor and health of your ongoing bloodline and keep it healthy.
  5. After you get the resulting litter, keep track of what is produced – what traits the pups have and how they perform.  These records will help you in the future make better breeding decisions.
  6. Keep as many of the offspring as you can and keep track of those you can’t.  Puppies change dramatically in the first year and their hunting abilities change as they grow.  We have seen pups that do great at 4 months, some that don’t start until 1 year, and we have seen those same pups really hone their skills around 3-4 years of age.  Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!
  7. If you are breeding, plan to be a breeder for the long haul – it takes 20 generations to create type, hunt, health and ability.  C2R is only on generation 1 after 4 years! Basically, it takes your lifetime!  Good luck!

Dog’s Teeth Facts

Most of us don’t even think to look in a dog’s mouth.  However, there are good reasons to discover problems before they arise.  If a dog’s teeth are misaligned, or if there are retained baby teeth, it can cause undue rubbing on the enamel and eventually lead to abscesses or painful teeth that need to be removed, causing a dog to not want to eat and become thin.

If there are hereditary defects, such as an overbite or an underbite, or missing teeth or misaligned teeth, you should consider not breeding that dog into your bloodlines because it will create the problems mentioned above and can be passed on down the bloodlines.

Puppies have 28 Baby Teeth (12 incisors, 4 canine, 12 premolars).  They erupt at about 3 weeks old and sometime between 4 months and 7 months, the roots start to disintegrate and they eventually fall out by month 7 and are replaced by 42 permanent teeth (12 incisors, 4 canine, 16 premolars, 10 molars).

A puppy grows so much in the first year, you should wait to evaluate bite in a dog until they are a year old. In saying that, however, you should check for the above-mentioned problems during the change from puppy teeth to adult teeth.  If you notice something that is not right, check with your veterinarian and have it addressed before the bite is permanently formed at maturity and keep notes on which dogs have issues so you can make informed decisions about breeding.



Running Gear in Dogs

C2R trains horses as well as dogs, and the similarities are uncanny, both in their conformation, and in training methods.  In horses, if a horse is lame, you cannot use it.  Likewise, if a dog is lame, it cannot run rabbits or be competitive in the field  So it is to your advantage to understand the biomechanics of your Beagle’s feet.

How the foot lands and handles different terrain, absorbs load and then generates movement forward is of utmost important in your canine athlete.  Just think about the last time you stubbed your little toe, or gotten a blister on your foot anywhere – it’s all you can think about and you favor it until it is healed.

In horses, just one or two degrees in angle of the hoof changes the way a horse moves, and can make or break a great performance horse to the point of irreparable damage.  In dogs, differences in nail length, arthritis, and soft tissue injuries affect the gait with some toe injuries becoming career ending.  Prevention and early identification of problems become so important.

Bony injuries in the toes cause quite a bit of swelling and pain and the dog will for sure tell you when they have them.  But ligament damage can be harder to identify – especially in Beagles who have high-drive and high-pain tolerance.  Injuries to the flexor tendons can happen from anything sharp.  Even if it isn’t cut all the way, compromised tendons can cause a toe that will not bend properly, thus, sticking out further than other toes.  Tendons can also fail over time due to stress and overload.  Pay close attention to the shape of your dog’s feet.

Controversy exists about the length of nail on a dog – leave it longer to assist in traction?  Or cut it short?  When the dog is standing in neutral position on a flat surface, if the nail is too long, it pushes the toe up, which in turn stretches the tendons, causing weakness over time.  But a too short nail never touches the ground and could lead to muscle fatique and injuries as the dog tries to maintain traction.  Ideal nail length is somewhere in the middle, where the nail is short enough to be retracted off the ground in a neutral position so the toes don’t push up, but long enough that moderate contracture of the flexors during motion can get those nails into the ground when needed for traction.

Trim your dogs nails on a regular basis – ever other week, to the perfect length.  If they have dew claws, keep them short.  Keep an eye (and a hand – feel them) on your dogs foot and know what ‘normal’ looks like so you can assess any damage.