Are Beagles Good Hunting Dogs?

Beagles are boisterous and happy little canines. Based on their friendly disposition with tails always wagging, and a proclivity to get into trouble, most people nowadays might not be aware of what beagles were originally bred for. Hundreds of years ago, beagles were bred as hunters.

It might not seem like it based on the way they look, especially their small size, but it’s exactly that, their small and slender shape, that allows them to be such effective hunting dogs. If being small is an advantage, then what do beagles hunt, or in other words, what are they capable of hunting?

Are Beagles good hunting dogs?
(“Beagle Dog Mayesbrook Park 16th March 2018 (52162658341)” by Alan Shearman, [CC BY 2.0])

The History of the Hunting Beagle

What might shock many is that beagles have been around for over 500 years. They were first bred in England during the 16th century, and yes, they were bred as hunting dogs, not as pets. Specifically, beagles were bred as rabbit-hunting dogs.

Originally bred with a small and slender shape, beagles are ideal for fitting into tight rabbit burrows. Rabbits often hide in their burrows, consisting of a series of tunnels. Beagles are the perfect size and shape to chase rabbits through and out of these underground burrows.

Caynsham Foot Beagle Pack
(“Caynsham Foot Beagle Pack” Unknown Author, [Public Domain])

Beagles were also used as gun dogs, otherwise known as flushing dogs, where they would flush prey out of the bushes, such as birds, so that hunters could then dispatch an animal without having to personally flush it out or chase it down.

It doesn’t end there, because beagles have also been used as tracking dogs to help find bigger game in a large area.

Are Beagles Good Hunting Dogs?

Although there are plenty of hunting dogs out there, they aren’t all built the same. As far as being good at their job is concerned, beagles are indeed up there with the best of them. One thing that makes the beagle such a formidable hunting dog is its incredible sense of smell.

Beagles have an excellent sense of smell, which allows them to find and track prey animals over great distances. Beagles also happen to be extremely stubborn, and they’re not known for giving up easily. Even if they lose a scent momentarily, their stubborn nature keeps them on track until they regain the scent.

Something else that makes beagles good hunting dogs is their high energy level. If you’ve ever had a beagle, you know what we’re talking about. These are some of the most energetic dogs around, and they’re almost always ready to go for a run. If you need a dog that can run and keep pace with its prey for hours on end, then a beagle is a great hunting companion to consider.

Beagle dog used for hunting -
(“Beagle Dog” by Karen Arnold, [Public Domain])

What do Beagles Hunt?

If left to their own devices, a beagle will hunt for virtually anything with a pulse, particularly if it is something smaller like a squirrel, rat, mouse, rabbit, chicken, mole, and anything else of the sort.

These dogs have a very strong prey drive, and if you have a yard with wild animals like squirrels, don’t be surprised if your beagle catches something. They’re surprisingly quick!

Originally however, beagles were bred to hunt rabbits and hares, which is because the beagle is fast enough to keep up with a rabbit, and small enough to chase after it through its burrows. Beagles may also be used to flush out other types of animals that may burrow in the ground, as well as to flush birds out of bushes and trees.

The Bottom Line – Are Beagles Good Hunting Dogs?

The bottom line is that beagles have a strong prey drive, and they are naturally born hunters. With a bit of training and refinement, a beagle can be a hunter’s best friend!

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