Beagles have been used as a hunting dog for many years and for good reason. Beagles have been bred for hunting rabbits and other small game.
What makes a beagle good at hunting?
Beagles have an amazing sense of smell which makes them perfect for hunting. A beagle’s sense of smell is at least 10,000x stronger than a humans. This strong sense of smell is due to beagles having 225 million olfactory receptors. Olfactory receptors are protein that are capable of binding odor molecules that play a central role in the sense of smell. For comparison humans have 5 million receptors.
The beagle’s howl also contributes to their hunting skill. By having such a distinctive howl it can alert hunters that they have picked up a scent or found a wounded prey.
The beagle’s tail is white tipped to help them stand out when hunting. Through selective breeding beagles have developed a white tipped tail. This was done for a good reason; beagles when hunting almost always have their nose to the ground, which can make them hard to spot. But with a white tipped tail they stand out in a forest and fields.
Beagles are intelligent. They have an adaptive intelligence, this means that they can learn for themselves. Therefore they are very good at problem solving. And problem solving is a perfect trait for hunting.
Once a beagle has picked up a scent it will follow it to its source. When following a scent they will tune everything else out and focus upon tracking down the smell.
They are a very energetic breed of dog. When hunting it can last for many hours and a hunting dog needs to have the energy to keep up.
What else do beagles hunt?
Beagles are used for hunting small game. Some examples of small game includes rabbits, hares, squirrels, marmot, weasels, ferrets, mink, martens, fishers, badgers, wolverines, groundhogs, woodchucks, foxes, grouse, doves, quail, partridge, geese, ducks, turkey and pheasants.
The history of beagles and hunting
Pinpointing the exact origin of the beagle is impossible. Some experts believe that their name comes from the french word beeguele which means open mouthed. It was quite easy to keep up with beagles while hunting. Because of this they became popular with those who did not own a horse or were too old to be ridinghorse back. By the fifteen hundreds most english gentlemen had packs of large hounds to track deer and other large animals on horseback. Smaller hounds were used for tracking smaller game on foot. Beagles were typically used in packs to hunt rabbits and hare.
What other Breeds are Good for Rabbit Hunting?
Basset hounds are another dog breed that is commonly used for hunting rabbits. This hound dog was originally bred for hunting hare. The basset hound has a great sense of smell much like the beagle.
Dachshunds were originally bred to enter holes and hideaways to chase out small game. While they may not look like an energetic dog they still manage to act as an effective hunting breed.
Jack Russell Terriers have a strong sense of smell and will track down rabbits. Originally they were bred to scare out the game hidden underground.