Thursday, May 10, 2012
I have a Beagle/Terrier mix named Alex. Since she is a mixed breed, she shows characteristics from both breeds, but it's her Beagle side that's more dominant. She has a stubborn streak a mile wide, would do a triple back flip for a TidNips treat, loves to bark just for the sheer joy of barking, and she’s very affectionate, especially when she wants something.
The Beagle is one of the most loving dogs you can bring into your family. They want to be with you wherever you are and enjoy sitting as close to you as they can get so they can cuddle. However, they are also an active dog that loves to play and run. This breed is sociable, easy to get along with and willing to do what is asked of them, if the price is right. Beagles can be stubborn, but are easily enticed with food. What gets a Beagle's attention is their CANIDAE food and treats, because eating is one of their favorite activities!
The breed dates back to the 1500's where the English elite took packs of Beagles on hunts to find rabbit, pheasant, quail and fox. Their distinctive baying directed hunters following behind a pack of dogs. They are still used today in hunting, but not as much as they once were. The Beagle's nose is second only to the Bloodhound, and some people argue their nose is more sophisticated than the Bloodhound's. The Beagle can pick up a scent on the ground and find their prey faster than any other dog breed. They are so smart they can tell the difference between scents, and remember them the next time they run across them. That ability is what makes the Beagle perfect at detecting termites and rooting out illegal fruits and vegetables people try to smuggle past customs. They are even being used to sniff out bed bugs.
Because of their smaller size, the Beagle makes an excellent search and rescue dog that can go into areas larger breeds can't get into. Law enforcement agencies have discovered this little dog has a knack for finding people who have wandered off a trail or gotten lost in remote areas. Because they are smaller, the Beagle is easier to transport to search areas and carry across rough terrain if it's necessary.
Beagles have a stubborn streak, and training them can be difficult if you don't get their attention. However, as long as you stay committed, use positive reinforcement and stay calm and patient, they will learn whatever you want to teach them. This is a good natured, happy, smart, gentle, brave and very sociable dog. Beagles make excellent family pets as long as you make sure they get plenty of exercise. This is not a dog you should let off leash. If he picks up a scent and follows his nose, you can yell at him until you're blue in the face and he won't pay attention to you. He's not being bad, that's just his nature and when he's focused on his prey, it's like yelling at a brick wall. Following a scent is what he was bred to do.
Alex would bark for hours if she had her way. She will sit and stare straight down into the grass and bark. On closer inspection, I can find the bug, spider or ant she's yapping at. She barks at grass blowing in the breeze, twigs, leaves on the trees, paper blowing down the street, birds and any animal she sees. If it moves or makes a sound, she barks. I can't help but laugh when I find what it is she's barking at and she gives me a look with her big brown eyes that says, “WHAT?” and there's always a smile on her face. How can you get mad at a smile?
Beagles are one of the most popular dogs in the United States. They are easy to get along with as long as you take the lead role and understand how to harness their stubbornness and turn it into the tenacity that makes them one of the best scent hounds around.
Photos by Alex Beattie
Read more articles by Linda Cole