You have your two-legged children and now you're ready for a furry new family member. If you happen to be trying to choose between a beagle and a miniature pinscher, consider your family's lifestyle. In the right situation, each breed has the potential to be a great family pet.
The first consideration when bringing a dog into the family is the pack he's going to live with. Though you may not think of your family as a pack, your pup will, and the other pack members will make a difference as to how he'll fit in. No matter what kind of dog you choose, he'll need to be properly trained so he understands his role in the family. The miniature pinscher is a smart, loyal little dog who tends to do better with older children. He can be territorial, so it's especially important to be consistent about reminding him of his place. The beagle is a safer choice with young children, as he's loving and sweet, and has a gentle disposition. However, it's not all good with this fellow; he's known to be stubborn and a food thief.
Take your family's lifestyle into consideration when you're picking your pup. If you as a group enjoy lots of physical exercise, outside hiking, running or playing sports, a beagle is a suitable choice. He needs a lot of exercise and will get great benefit from outside time with his pack to channel energy and exercise his natural sniffing behavior -- a bonus if you like to hunt. If your family is low-key, the min pin may be a better option. Though he's small, he's not keen on being your pocketbook dog: He'll get himself around, thank you very much. Despite being energetic, he doesn't need a lot of exercise in his daily life. Don't let it discourage you from taking him with you on a long walk -- he's fine for a mile or two -- but he's not going to make an ideal jogging partner.
If your kids are old enough that you don't have to monitor how they interact with the new family addition, consider the different personality traits of the breeds. If you want a playful little clown, the miniature pinscher is a fine choice because of his curious ways and mischievous sense of humor. He'll also make a fun agility partner, if you're so inclined. The beagle's happy-go-lucky personality means he's up for a good time whenever you'll provide it. He makes a great companion for kids who like to run around and play games such as catch in the yard.
Both of these pups will work in an apartment just fine, as long as they get adequate exercise and attention. Neither should live full-time outside in a fenced yard, and leaving either alone outside is risky. The min pin's curiosity entices him into being an escape artist, digging and finagling his way out of a fenced yard. The beagle's penchant for following his nose and his need for stimulation can lead to destructive behavior such as digging and howling. No matter which you choose, be prepared to have your new family member in the house with the rest of the pack.
Training is a must with both of these dogs. Without proper training, the miniature pinscher can be a tyrant; the beagle will ignore you and do as he pleases. Grooming for both of these dogs is fairly straightforward, thanks to their short, smooth coats, and won't take much of your time. Both have about the same life expectancy -- beagles range between 13 and 16 years, and miniature pinschers average about 15 years.
- Noel Hendrickson/Photodisc/Getty Images