Hunting with beagles for hare, rabbit and foxes is affectionately known as ‘beagling’ and is a popular sport from the UK to the States to South Africa.
The beagle was originally bred as a hunting and gun dog. Beagles are particularly good at picking up and staying with a scent, are intelligent, willing and have great stamina. All of these traits make them good hunting dogs.
History of Hunting with Beagles
The beagle has been used for hunting in England since the fourteenth century. Of course the breed has developed and changed somewhat since then and has become more popular in America and Canada than in its country of origin.
- Pocket beagles. Beagle hunting used to involve horses and some of the ancestors of the modern beagle were small enough to fit into a pocket or saddle bag.
- Exported. Beagles were exported to America from the UK sometime around 1840 and were strictly hunting dogs. They were bred to the present day standard from 1870 onwards and have spread worldwide.
- Pedestrian pursuit. Nowadays the hunt is carried out on foot with one beagle, a pair of dogs (known as a brace) or a pack of beagles.
Why Do People Hunt With Beagles?
Hunting with beagles is an active, outdoor sport that suits all ages and requires no special abilities or particular clothing.
- More about the chase. Hunting is generally an all-day affair and is more about the chase than the kill.
- Outdoor fun. Beagling is an excuse to get out in the fresh air, run the dogs and participate in the excitement of the hunt.
- Family fun. Hunting with beagles is suitable for all ages and is a great family outing.
- The thrill. There’s nothing quite like the thrill of watching a pack of dogs working in unison and following the scent of a hare. The howling and baying that accompanies this pursuit adds to the exhilaration. Beagles ‘speak’ when they pick up a scent and fall silent when it is lost.
- Shared enthusiasm. There is a great amount of camaraderie among hunters who can share their passion for the beagle and his talents.
Why use a Beagle to hunt?
Beagles are used in hunting for a variety of reasons.
- Nose. Beagles hunt by scent and have extremely sensitive noses.
- Hardiness. These plucky dogs will hunt in any kind of weather.
- Stamina. The beagle can run for hours without collapsing from exhaustion.
- Temperament. This dog has the perfect temperament for hunting. It is eager, cheerful, single-minded and loves to hunt.
- Determination. Beagles are dogged when it comes to following the scent and will stay with it for long distances without giving up.
- Pack mentality. Beagles are trained to run and work together in packs. A well trained dog will ‘honor’ the work of other dogs and run in unison with them.
- Jumping ability. A dog that can successfully jump a rabbit is highly prized because this ability has been largely bred out of beagles in modern times.
It would be hard to find a healthier or more exhilarating sport than beagling. It is no wonder that hunting with beagles has become so popular.