Thursday, June 26, 2014

From food to intelligence: 5 beagle myths debunked

Beagles are dumb. They can't be trained. They talk too much.

You've probably heard it all. Lord knows I have.

Every breed gets a bum rap in one way or another. While every breed has telltale attributes, at the end of the day it comes down to the individual dog.

I asked some beagle lovers what they think, and we came up with:

MYTH: Beagles are not smart.
Wanna see a beagle lover bristle? Tell me my dog is dumb. In the words of that great beagle Snoopy, she ain't no stupid beagle!

I smile because I am constantly underestimated.

Here is what was written on back in August 2012:
"Beagle: This breed has won at Westminster, so it’s clear it can prance around a ring on a lead very well. But the Beagle’s learning capabilities are limited, with the exception of using his sense of smell. This is put to use to find contraband in the Beagle Brigade, the troop of dogs who work airports. This is a very, very sweet breed who is devoted to his family."
 The qualifications for a breed being dumb: difficulty in training, the ability to zone out, confusion about who is in charge. That's basically why a beagle is dumb.

Excuse me, but from those qualifications Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison would be considered idiots.

"Beagles figure out what you want them to do in 5 seconds, then spend the rest of their lives trying to find ways not to do it," said Lori Norman, an AKC reputable breeder who runs Lokavi Beagles in South Florida. 

"Don't confuse that with being stupid, just be smart enough to stay one step ahead of them! If your mind can't stay with them they win."

A beagle's learning capabilities are not limited if the trainer is focused and consistent. Which brings me to the next myth.

MYTH: Beagles can't be trained.

For my arguments, I present Exhibit A.

This is Lulu with her American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizens Certificate. She passed her test. How can a dog who can't be trained pass a test like that?

Here's Exhibit B.

This is Shannon. She and her six-year-old beagle Gabe compete in Rally and Obedience. And she's 11.

Beagles also do agility and, of course, nosework. 

So it has to be possible.

MYTH: Pocket Beagles for sale.

 If you are looking for a pocket beagle, I hate to tell you -- they don't exist. Not in a healthy, reputable fashion.

There are beagles who are bred to be small, and people call them pocket beagles. You will see them in ads, and people will actively search for them.

Pocket beagles existed in, like, the 1300 hundreds. But reputable breeders do not purposely breed pocket beagles. In fact, beagles who are that small have defects. AKC standard is 13 inches, and most breeders will stick with that. 

If someone is selling pocket beagles, make sure you ask lots of questions about genetics and the health of the beagles. Make sure your prospective pet doesn't have any issues.

MYTH: Beagles are bad with kids.

My niece surrounded by beagles in 2012.
Not sure where this came from. But I have heard it, especially with little kids.

My niece and Lulu pretty much grew up together. Lulu was six months old when my parents brought her home, and my niece was three. They loved each other, and Lulu is always excited to see my niece now when she comes to my house.

That does not mean that my niece and Lulu had a completely peaceful relationship. Something would happen from time to time, and Lulu, who was a puppy, would get snappy, or growl. In every time, my niece did something my dog didn't like. And she doesn't always understand that she can't do certain things with dogs. But I don't blame Lulu for that.

Most dogs will react when a child goes too far. Especially when a dog sees the child as a sibling, another puppy.

It's up to parents and adults to set the right example.

MYTH: Beagles eat everything.

I know what you're thinking -- please stay with me for just a moment, and I promise you can argue with me later.

Yes, beagles have no mechanism to tell them they are full. Yes, beagles will do most anything for food (maneuvering chairs and jumping on counters? Done!). Yes, beagles may eat strange things you would not consider edible (like money -- $275 to be exact).

But will beagles eat everything they see? I say no. A dog who does that likely has a bigger issue at work -- like a nutritional deficiency. Or something else going on. In my completely unscientific survey on my Facebook page, many people said not only did their dogs not eat everything -- they were picky! That's right, picky beagles! Say it ain't so!

Again, I think it comes down to individual dogs. While there are things that are indicative of every breed, I don't think this is one of them.

So, those are my five beagle myths. There are more, but those are the ones I'm doing today.

What do you think of my myths? Are there any others you want me to go after? COMMENT BELOW and let me know!


  1. Maggie will move the Moon and the Earth for a treat, however she will put her nose up to certain foods and chews. She is smart enough by her keen sense of smell that there could be a better option for something better to eat. Great article!

  2. To #'s 1 and 2, I say simply this - Beagles can be stubborn. Stubborn as hell at times, but most of the time wanting nothing more than to please their humans (especially if it means getting lots and lots of affection). #3 makes me want to cry, since I'm involved in dog rescue and I'm especially involved in hound rescue - that anyone would try to turn a Beagle into a "designer dog" when so many amazingly sweet and loving Beagles are dying in shelters makes me want to scream. Beagles are perfect just the way they are, and anyone who wants a dog small enough to carry in a purse or whatever can get themselves a toy dog. No reputable breeder would dream of trying to produce a Pocket Beagle, so you can just imagine what health and other issues they can have. Regarding #4 - I've never heard this, and in fact had heard exactly the opposite (and know it from experience). I've told people since I was old enough to know what a Beagle is that they are GREAT with kids and make wonderful family pets. Then again, I grew up with a Beagle and have heard other people tell me they were surprised that I got a Beagle for my family. #5 makes me laugh since, yes, they DO love to eat. Then again, quite a few breeds - and mixed breeds - love to eat. I currently have five Treeing Walker Coonhounds. My Kyoko had almost been starved to death and was just 30 pounds when I adopted her from a kill shelter. She was perfect weight around 60, but managed to eat her way up to 79 pounds. I've been working with her and her last weigh-in had her at 74.5 and she's been on a diet since then, so hopefully her next weigh-in will show more weight loss.

    One thing about Beagles - and other hounds - that is NOT a myth is that they follow their noses. I've seen hounds not even notice an invisible fence and go right through it when they're following a scent.

    But, I'm preaching to the choir here. I know you love Beagles, and to me, a house isn't a home without at least a couple of hounds. I have my Coonhounds right now and they're the world to me, but as I get older and less able to handle the larger dogs, I expect I'll end up with a pack of Beagles. Our house will forever have hounds.

  3. This really does sum us up perfectly """Beagles figure out what you want them to do in 5 seconds, then spend the rest of their lives trying to find ways not to do it,"""

    We absolutely love children :) On the subject of food, while 2 of us are basically dustbins on legs, Saffie is incredibly fussy and will refuse to eat for a day or two rather than have something she doesn't want.

    The only things we love more than food and cuddles is running free chasing anything that moves :)

  4. I have not had any experience with beagles except seeing them at barks; there's a local meetup - it's cool to see a group of dogs from the same breed having fun. I watched them play for 2 hours (yes, I had nothing else going on that day) and they looked anything but smart.

    I'm not a PC person, but when I see "difficult to train" I bristle a little, because I think that it should be rephrased as challenging - some people are up for a challenge and some are not. Calling the difficult puts it on the dog, when it should be on the owner - are you patient, are you willing to invest in training, are you willing to do it over and over?

    Even our dogs were a challenge until we started working with a trainer and now I'll always work with trainers.

  5. I've adopted senior stray puppy mill hunting beagles. Training has been difficult to say the least. I agree beagles just want to please their momma but they are stubborn as hell. Their nose is their leader no matter what. My female beagles love people, kids and other dogs but my male beagle was abused most likely by a male and was reluctant of most males and children. My beagles have been the most pickiest dogs I've known, literally turning their noses up for treats. Beagles have kind eyes and hearts and souls of gold!! Nothing like snuggling with my babies��

  6. Our beagle has been trained with verbal & hand commands. He is very stubborn & has to be trained using treats. He loves almost all people food except black olives. I had a salad with black olives which he *really* wanted. I gave him a black olive, knowing he hates them, just to see what he would do with it. He took it in his teeth, with his lips rolled up, put it on the floor & rolled on it! While he will eat most people foods, things food was wrapped in (at least rip it apart to lick it) & things that were food. Our Simon, loves all people, including kids. He jumps on everyone in an attempt to licking your face & get your hands to pet him. Not one of our friends kids has ever been afraid of him (except when he's knocked them over) or been growled at, even the one who lapped out of his water bowl next to him! He just wants everyone to play with him. He will bring you toys repeatedly.
    Pocket beagles sound like something the rich have had invented on a whim & should not be. Beagles, like all dogs & other animals are part of the family not an accessory to be paraded around.

  7. I have a picky beagle. She refuses treats she doesn't like and the one's she likes she guards and savors and doesn't eat until the other dogs have finished theirs.

  8. My husband and I have two beagles who are not alike in many ways.

    Intelligence & trainability: Frankly, they aren't the sharpest crayons, but the breed we had before these two was border collie = amazingly intelligent.
    Beagle 1: highly trainable - will do anything to please us - wants positive attention
    Beagle 2: trainable, but quite stubborn - doesn't care about praise, is only motivated by treats

    Beagles & kids:
    Beagle 1: absolutely LOVES kids. When we walk her she knows in which houses there are children she has met and she stops to look for them. There was one house in particular where the children would come out to see her almost daily. If they weren't home, our beagle would lay down in the yard and cry.
    Beagle 2: very tolerant and patient with kids, but not as interested in them as Beagle 1

    Eating habits:
    Beagle 1: very aloof about food - before we got Beagle 2 we "free fed" her.
    Beagle 2: would likely eat until she was sick - we had to get a food bowl designed to slow her down.

    Our 2 beagles? Yep, different. :)

  9. My first beagle was smart as a whip. He could sit, stay, speak, shake, fetch, play hide and seek (he would actually hide with you, and also find you after you hid), deliver the paper to my wife, carry my gym bag, which weighed almost as much as he did, from the door to the bedroom, and I taught him to roll over in about 10 minutes. Oh, yeah, he would also protect my wife (literally try to bite you) if you tried to hit her. He also would trick his beagle brother in order to get him to drop something he wanted. Beagles, at least the three I have had, are FAR from stupid.

    Miss that little dude so much!

  10. On point 5, I actually have trouble finding food my Beagle likes and he won't eat when I want him to either, only when he feels like it, which is once a day with the odd doggy sausage in between

  11. My beagle does not eat dry dog food. Neither i tried. Only cat food, any. Yes they are picky, and not stupid at all. Stubborn? Yes. Naughty? Yes. Stupid? That's just ridiculous.

  12. My beagle Lily does not eat dry dog food. I've tried several types, but the winner is: dry cat food. Dumb? i tell you what, the people who think beagles are dumb, they are dumb themselves, or at least lazy assholes. The truth is, beagles are very smart, with a strong will. Patience is the key.

  13. There are no dumb dogs, only dumb owners. And I know this because people that I know who aren't intelligent, are the first people to call their dogs "dumb".
    My Beagle/Mix is brilliant. He is constantly surprising me - I know he completely understands english, because I can say anything to him and he gets it. He is also one step ahead of me most of the time. He outsmarts me often. I adopted him from a shelter, so I think he was already brilliant before he came into my life, but I also think that when you talk to your dog constantly and really spend that time with him/her, their true personality shines. And no, he doesn't eat everything, there are some things he just doesn't like.

  14. My beagle is now 2.5 yrs old and he is smart as hell! He learned to sit, stay, come, high five, give me a ten, roll over, lie down, crawl, pray and kiss at only 2months! And he also knows all his toys by name and understands everything I say. He was also toilet trained within 2 weeks ( when I got him at 2 months old). Beagles are definitely smart but the owner just needs loads of patience to train them coz they are also super stubborn and easily distracted. I think having a mind of their own doesn't make them just means they have character! :-)

  15. beagles are the cutest and best dogs in the world.

  16. We had a beagle years ago who would steal and hide my little sisters mittens. One time he did in front of me. I turned my head and pretended disinterest. In about 2 seconds he got it. He dropped the mitten backed up and turned HIS head. I went for the mitten but he grabbed it first and took off. Dumb? No way!!!

  17. My beagle was so smart it made me look dumb. In less than 2 years it caught 3 people with drugs on them and it was not even trained for that. It got an award from the local police sheriff. My beagle was great with kids. It just wanted love. The kids would rough play with her and in the end my dog would be their pillow at night. The biggest thing i say about beagles is their nose. My beagle could smell me opening a can of Vienna sausages close to 200 ft away and i live on 7 acres. That and their smile and fun loving attitude makes them get away with murder.

  18. My beagles will do pretty much anything for food. And since a breed trait is laziness unless you give them a job they would tend toward obesity of not carefully watched.

    Stupid? Nothing of the sort. They're smart to the point of sneakiness and conspiracy. One will try to grab my sandwich and the other tries to trip me and knock me down. One can open zippers to get what's in a knapsack.

    Good with kids? 50/50. One is a big mush but the other has dog PTSD and can be snappy at strangers.

    Overall beagles are great with a few caveats. They're very stubborn and obsessive. They are indifferent to invisible fence. They are very creative at getting into trouble.

  19. Had a great "Lady" in all respect for 17 yes! Just because Beagles don't do what you want them to do does not make them stupid ~ it makes them smart ~ if you treat a Beagle like one of the family they become as smart as you ~ if you treat them as a pet circus animal you get a submissive creation dominated by your stupid whims ~ let them whine ~ let them live ~ then you won't have a pet ~ you'll have a Friend! Now I've got another Beagle (she could win Westminster) ~ but I prefer to have a friend!��


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