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Beagles: Hunting Dog or Family Pet?

Updated on November 1, 2016

Beagles come in a variety of sizes, but before the 1800's beagles were a 'pocket size' canine. The smaller beagles were popular due to their size and ease of being followed by anyone including women, seniors and even those with certain disabilities.

Hunting with beagles was very popular in England beginning in the fourteenth century and continuing in to today. Using beagles for hare hunting was popular due to the ease of following the beagles on foot and the convenience of slipping the beagles into a pocket if the need arose.

Although beagles almost became extinct in England, as fox hunting became more popular, the farmers of the time helped maintain the breed by keeping packs on their farms. It wasn't until the 1800's that the beagle became the breed that we know of today.

Trailing rabbits was the beagles first job and what they were bred to do. Now a days, beagles continue to be popular dogs for rabbit hunting as well as competitors in field and conformation exhibitions and for contraband detection.

Bred as a pack hunter, its very common to see owners having several beagles in their home. The beagle needs companionship and that can mean other beagles, other dogs, or humans.

These days this scent hound has become a popular breed in the United States as a family pet,but also remains very popular for hunters as well.

Pack Hunters


Pros of Owning a Beagle

There are several pros to having a beagle as part of your family as either a pet or hunting partner, such as:

  • The ease in following them as they track the rabbits
  • Their size (especially the smaller beagles) and ease in transporting them
  • Beagles love of being outdoors
  • Their eagerness to explore and follow a trail
  • Beagles smaller size helps it to make its way through rough terrain
  • The beagles coat is short and coarse, helping protect it from the underbrush
  • Their friendly character allows the beagle to get along well with other dogs in the pack
  • Beagles are basically calm and have a gentle nature
  • Beagles are always ready for adventure
  • Beagles are very tolerant canines

Interesting Dog Facts: Learn Things About Your Canine Pals That You Never Knew

Interesting Dog Facts: Learn Things About Your Canine Pals That You Never Knew
Interesting Dog Facts: Learn Things About Your Canine Pals That You Never Knew

For centuries dogs have been man’s companion, his “best friend” if you will, but there is so much more to dogs than just a pal hanging out with his human.

Beyond ball chasers, stick retrievers and lap warmers, dogs have been very carefully crafted by humans over several hundred years, creating a wide array of (up to 400) breeds, all with their own unique personalities and skills.

The popularity of dogs means that many people have experienced the silliness of their stunts, the cuddly ‘fur ball’ factor, and the intelligence in their ability to pick up commands. Many people may have also seen the ‘bad behavior’ side of their canine pals and the frustration that can come when they don’t understand the breed they own.

But even with all the things people may know (or think they know) about their wonderful puppy pals, there are lots of interesting facts left untold. So let’s share the secrets…


The Wanderer


Cons of Owning a Beagle

Just as with any breed, there are cons to the beagle that a potential owner should be aware of:

  • Beagles have an independent nature, that coupled with their love of the outdoors and trailing could result in him running off if he gets an interesting scent.
  • The beagle is a dog that barks and howls quite often (in fact some say its name comes from a French word that means 'open throat'). Though some consider this a pro as it allows the hunter to find/follow the dog from a distance.
  • This breed needs lots of exercise on a daily basis (this could be considered a pro if you are very active and want a companion for your hikes in the woods, etc.).
  • Prone to intervertebral disk disease and Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD).
  • Beagles shed quite a bit
  • Beagles can be stubborn and destructive

Beagles - are they...`

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Beagles of the Past


The Beagle: Pet or Hunter?

Beagles can be both a family pet and hunter's assistant. In fact it pays to keep your beagle as part of the family to bond with the dog(s). This bond can help in the training for hunting, as well as help in recall of the dog (which is a big issue for a scent hound that loves to trail).

While beagles can be 'outdoor' dogs as long as they live with their pack for companionship and have a warm, dry place to stay, it is better for both the hunter/family and the dog(s) if they share living space.

Beagles are part of the hound group and in particular part of the scent hounds, meaning they use their noses to hunt their prey. While most breeds origins are debated, the beagle is thought to have been derived from the Harrier and the Foxhound breeds.

The beagle is similar to several hunting dogs like the basset hound, the black and tan coonhound, the bloodhound, the American foxhound, the English foxhound, the harrier, the plott hound, the redbone coonhound and dachshund in that they all use their noses and scents to do their hunting.

It differs from many of those same breeds in its size and its prey. The basset, smaller dachshunds, and smaller harriers all track and hunt rabbits and hares as well as other small animals. The other scent hounds mentioned were used mostly to track raccoons, badgers, possums and even larger animals such a bear.The basset, dachshund and harrier were also bred for hunters to be able to follow on foot, just like the beagle breed.

So, what is your vote - are beagles best as a pet or hunting partner? Or perhaps, both?

Dog Breed Quiz Book I

Dog Breed Quiz Book I (Interactive Game Book for Kids 9-99)
Dog Breed Quiz Book I (Interactive Game Book for Kids 9-99)

Think you know your dog breeds? Think you can tell them from just a photo? How about with a little breed info as a hint? Well pick up this book and test your knowledge - see just how much you really do know about the many different dog breeds.

A fun, interactive game book for kids of ALL ages (that includes you parents - I bet the kids beat you every time). Pick up your copy today and start learning things you may never have known about some of the most popular (and not so popular) pups in town.



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    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 

      3 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      Hi, I loved your hub. I have 2 13inch beagles. one is 9 years old and the other is 2 years and we have had her only 4 weeks. Very enjoyable hub, Stella

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      My beagles are at my side. I have a tri color female and a red nd white male.

      As a kid I had a beagle and my dad took us rabbit hunting, they loved it. They also treed squirrels and kicked out pheasant.

      I have not hunted my two amazing companions though I live in a wooded area and they have gone AWOL hunting. I do not hunt them because of roads and private land.

      Nothing like the the bellow or howl of my beagles on a sent. Music to a hunters ear.

      They do however, bark at everything including the same people that go by my house daily, as if they never saw them before. Now as they are older they are much more lazy but can still be quite attentive.

      Medical treatments have been costly. My female tore a ligament and surgery was expensive.

      My male is heavy but not due to over eating.

      Overall, I'm obsessed with my beagles. They have been incredible companions and I truly feel a mutual bond. Long live beagles?


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