Are Beagles Smart?

A question that many have about their beagles is whether or not they’re smart. So, are beagles smart?

The answer is yes, beagles are smart, exceedingly so in fact. However, due to their boisterous nature, adventurous and curious attitude, and proclivity for independence, some people may assume that they aren’t smart dogs.

Yet, being independent doesn’t equal a lack of intelligence, but rather shows that your beagle may have priorities other than listening to your commands. Let’s figure out just how smart beagles really are.

Are beagles smart?
(“Studious” by Jenn Vargas [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0] via Flickr)

Are Beagles Smart?

It’s important to note that dog intelligence is a bit subjective, because you can’t exactly put them through IQ tests. That said, based on various observations and anecdotal evidence, most people would agree that beagles are moderately intelligent. They may not be the smartest dogs around, but also far from being dumb.

As far as the scale is concerned, beagles appear to be somewhere in the middle of it. They can learn a plethora of commands, they can learn independently when given the chance, and they even make for decent problem-solvers as well.

There are some dogs that are considered much smarter than others, such as poodles, border collies, and German shepherds, and yes, it’s likely that your beagle might not be quite as intelligent as these breeds. In the grand scheme of things, where intelligence is concerned, beagles are on the higher end of the spectrum.

Are Beagles Easy to Train?

An issue that many people experience with beagles is a lack of trainability. Now, beagles aren’t inherently difficult to train due to low intelligence. As mentioned above, they are actually quite smart, but being smart and easy to train are two different things.

People often assume that their beagle has a low intelligence level because it won’t listen to commands. The reason why it can take a bit of time and a lot of patience to train a beagle is due to their inherent nature, which is that of a hunter.

Members of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations pose for portraits in Philadelphia, Pa., October 26, 2016.
(“Members of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations pose for portraits in Philadelphia, Pa., October 26, 2016.” by [CC 1.0] via RawPixel)

Beagles were bred as hunting dogs, are often still used as such. This means that they were originally bred to be independent and to think for themselves, so they can assist on the hunt without need for constant direction. Just like with humans, being independent often means also being stubborn.

Beagles have a certain reputation for having something known as selective hearing. This is when your beagle only listens to you when it wants to, likely when there is a reward involved.

If your beagle is distracted with whatever else, whether a squirrel or an interesting smell, they will likely ignore you. However, we can’t stress enough that being stubborn, and at times difficult to train, doesn’t translate to a lack of intelligence. In fact, many would argue that this independent nature is a sign of intelligence in itself.

Tips for Making Your Beagle Smarter

If you are worried about your beagle not being smart enough, there are some things you can do to increase its intelligence level.

Now, these tips apply specifically to puppies and young beagles, although it’s never too late to learn. Opposed to what some may say, old dogs can learn new tricks.

  • Socialization is important for beagles, as it helps introduce them to new environments and stimuli, which encourage learning.
  • Simple training and repetition can make your beagle smarter too. Just like humans, beagles can learn through repetition. They may not become more intelligent per se, but they can learn more commands and tricks than most people give them credit for.
  • Using puzzle toys can help stimulate your beagle’s mind, forcing it to solve problems. This helps train your beagle’s reasoning and problem-solving skills over the long run.
Smart beagle AI artwork
(“Medium-Sized Dog Breed Description” by Easy-Peasy AI Image Generator [CC BY-ND 4.0] via Easy Peasy AI)

Final Thoughts – Are Beagles Smart?

Although it’s a highly subjective topic, beagles are quite smart, albeit stubborn and at times hard to train. With the right mental stimulation, training, and exposure to new and exciting things, you can encourage your beagle to learn more than you ever thought possible.

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