I have a beautiful Beagle/Terrier mixed breed dog who lives to yap and when she’s really excited, she bays. Her baying is usually reserved for wandering cats and squirrels she sees in her yard. Even though she’s a mixed breed, she acts and looks more like a Beagle than Terrier. Alex just wouldn’t know what to do if she couldn’t bark at something. The other thing she’s good at is smelling and that powerful nose is why the Beagle is outstanding at finding things.
A Beagle is a great family pet who loves to play and is good with older children, as long as the dog has been properly socialized. These happy little dogs are second only to Bloodhounds when it comes to following a trail and it’s possible their nose is even better than a Bloodhound’s. These dogs have a very discerning nose that can pick out smells most dogs can’t and that’s why they are used in search and rescue, termite control and finding contraband food people try to sneak into the country. Most Beagles aren’t prone to excessive barking unless they have a reason to bark or are bored. If you try to teach one to be quiet, it can take some time and patience, because they are smart as well as persistent. They can be stubborn, but since they love food, training them using their favorite treat is a good way to get their attention.
Belonging to the scent hounds, Beagles were first used in the 1500’s by English hunters who took packs of them out on the hunt in search of rabbit, quail and pheasant. When the dogs caught scent of a rabbit or quail, they would bay which helped the hunters follow the trail and when their prey was cornered, the dogs baying told the hunters where to find them. A Beagle’s nose is so sophisticated at picking up smells along the ground, they can find prey faster than any other dog breed. As they follow a scent trail on the ground, the smells are trapped close to their nose by their long ears and large lips. These tenacious dogs are so smart, they can distinguish between different scents left by their prey and remember them the next time they come across them. And for today’s Beagle, that includes termites and illegal fruits and vegetables.
Beagles have become popular as search and rescue dogs because of their smaller size. They can squeeze into areas larger dogs have trouble getting into following natural disasters where people have been buried under or in destroyed buildings. Beagles are also used in the sad recovery of bodies when the search and rescue turns to recovery of bodies. Law enforcement agencies have been using Beagle dogs to help locate people who have wandered off and gotten lost in wilderness areas.
Officials are constantly on the look out for illegal food (fruits, vegetables, meat and animal by products) being brought into the country that may carry diseases that could be transmitted to our native crops and livestock. They have also been helpful in locating illegal drugs. A Beagle is excellent at sniffing out both at airports. Because of their smaller size, they aren’t as intimidating to people in an airport as larger dogs, like the German Shepherd and they aren’t as easily noticed by those carrying illegal food products or drugs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been using over 60 teams of dogs in 20 different international airports to catch people trying to sneak illegal produce through customs. Dubbed the Beagle Brigade, these dogs on average seize around 75,000 quarantined food products a year. The more experienced dogs are right 90% of the time and can recognize 50 distinct smells. When a Beagle picks up one of the forbidden food smells, he’s trained to sit down beside the luggage or package and custom agents then know which ones they need to search.
Termites don’t stand a chance with an experienced Beagle on the job. The dog can find the wood eating pests in a home by smelling for carbon dioxide and methane gas the termites put out. The dog can detect the termite’s trail as it goes back and forth from it’s food source to the nest.
Beagles are very loving, good natured, happy, intelligent, eager to please and highly motivated by food. As long as you have plenty of their favorite treats, they are willing to learn what ever you want to teach them. Just like any dog breed, a beagle may not be the right dog for your lifestyle. Do your homework and know what to expect as a beagle owner.
Beagle Breed Information, Doggies.com
Sherry Bennett, High-priced beagle ‘nose’ termites, cariboo.bc.ca
Beagle Breed Information, Qualitydogs.com