In short, no! Beagles are not aggressive. In fact, they are renowned for being lovable pets, who are playful and perfect for families.
Understanding Beagles’ Temperament
Something to note is that Beagles are energetic dogs. As well as this, they were bred for tracking and hunting. Therefore, signs of aggression are often just Beagles, especially Beagle pups, being eager to play and explore.
However, like all dogs, Beagles may act out under certain circumstances. But there are several simple ways to recognise when the Beagle is being aggressive rather than just playing, as well as ways to identify the cause of this aggression and how to prevent it.
Overall, Beagles are an adorable breed, well suited to families, and a fear of aggressive tendencies is not a worry!
Factors That Can Influence a Beagle’s Behaviour
Marking Their Territory – Although Beagles are not aggressive by nature, they are animals, and therefore may become aggressive when they feel their territory threatened. Territory does not just refer to the dog’s bed, but also objects, food and anything or anyone they feel is theirs. This may be why your Beagle is acting aggressively towards a new pet or family member.
If They are in Pain – If you had a broken leg, would you want someone touching it? Well, your Beagle does not want that either. Beagles can be stand offish if they are wounded, even if your intentions are harmless, not wanting to be hurt or show weakness.
They Think That They are the Alpha – Dogs are pack animals. Although Beagles do not actively seek the Alpha role, many attempt to assume this role if they do not think it has been fulfilled and therefore become them less susceptible to orders and more aggressive. It is important to assert dominance over the animal, in a firm but not violent manner. More information on how to do this in the How to Manage a Beagle’s Aggression section.
Eating – Nobody likes a head rub when their trying to eat their dinner, but especially not your Beagle. Animal instincts mean dogs never think their next meal is guaranteed so are eager to eat everything on their plate as quickly as possible. If something or someone obstructs their meal, they are likely to act out due to these animal instincts. This is called resource guarding and is an instinct of all animals and is not something that is a specific concern in Beagles.
Rowdy Children – Children are constantly learning how to interact with the world around them. Therefore, children may be more aggressive than necessary when petting or playing, which may result in a violent reaction from your Beagle.
Hunting Prey – Beagles are genetically coded to track and hunt, therefore they may instinctually attack small animals such as rabbits.
Signs of Aggression in a Beagle
Growling and Barking – Beagles will very rarely attack without warning. A Beagle may growl, bear their canines, start barking, or lunge to the ground before pouncing. These are all signs that a Beagle may attack, especially if their tail is not wagging.
Staying Guard/ Possessive – Even if a Beagle is not actively being aggressive, if you notice the Beagle being possessive, they are likely to act out if this possession is compromised. More about how to combat this under the heading How to Manage a Beagle’s Aggression.
Nipping and Biting – Although this may be playful, Beagles can bite hard enough to draw blood.
Jumping – Although Beagles are known to jump, excessive jumping may be the Beagle trying to assert their dominance.
Chasing – As mentioned, Beagles are trained to track and hunt. Therefore, chasing may be a sign it is about to attack, especially if chasing a small animal, which is their natural prey.
How to Manage a Beagle’s Aggression
Socialising – Socialising your Beagle from an early age can be a great preventative measure for aggression. They will learn other dog’s behaviours and will therefore be less likely to become irritable when interacting with them.
Children – This goes two ways. Like socialising with dogs, Beagles would benefit from exposure to children and their behaviours. Beagle owners should also take care to educate their children on proper and gentle ways to pet a dog as, like humans, dogs do not respond well to being harmed.
Assert Dominance – As previously mentioned, if a Beagle feels there is no Alpha in the pack, then they will assume the position and will therefore be less likely to listen to commands. Asserting dominance is not aggressive or hostile, despite how it sounds. For example, the Alpha of the pack always eats first, therefore eating before your Beagle will help establish you as the Alpha and prevent the Beagle from acting aggressively towards you. Other ways to assert dominance include not letting the Beagle lead you on your walks, as well as establishing areas of the house that are off limits in order to reduce territorial behaviour.
Obedience Training – The ideal window to train your Beagle is between 3 and 12 weeks, but do not worry if your Beagle has passed this point, training is still possible! Older dogs just may take a little longer to respond to the commands. Simple commands such as “sit” and “come” go a long way in taming or preventing aggression in dogs. Firstly, commands again establish your position as the Alpha, making your dog less likely to be aggressive towards you. But mostly, obedience training can be a valuable tool to stop your Beagle being
aggressive in the moment. For example, you can tell your Beagle to “sit” or “stay” when jumping up at someone or barking at a bird.
Ignore Aggressive Behaviours – The key here is to remain to calm. If your Beagle is being aggressive for attention, they will learn that this is not the way to get it.
Avoid Violence Towards Your Beagle – Physical violence will likely lead to your Beagle acting more aggressively as a fearful defence against these attacks. Again, the key is to use firm verbal commands, but definitely not violence.
Rewards – Rewards can be a great method for taming a Beagle’s aggression, especially when it comes to territory. For example, if your dog is territorial of your slippers, throwing a treat a few meters away gives you a chance to move the slippers to safety. This technique will also help your Beagle associate leaving this possession with a positive benefit, which will likely make them less territorial over the object.
Exercise – As a very energetic breed, Beagles need regular exercise to tire them out otherwise they may start acting out. Although their intentions may not be to cause pain or assert dominance, Beagles may still act aggressively by tearing apart furniture or being too rough when playing. Therefore, you should ensure that you play with your Beagle regularly and take them walking for at least an hour every day.
Beagles are not aggressive animals by nature. Although they may be energetic puppies, they are mild in temper and rarely lash out, especially not towards people. Nonetheless, like all dogs, there may be certain things you are doing to promote aggression, which you may not even notice you are doing. However, minor changes should prevent or stop this behaviour from continuing.