Are Beagles Good Hunting Dogs?

Beagles are excellent hunting dogs, they have instinctive skills, sensitive smell, and have been bred to chase game out of the brush.

 

While that little dog curled up at your feet may be the most affectionate, loving, and docile creature you’ve ever known, Beagles are actually quite efficient hunters. Originally bred for tracking game and assisting their human hunters, Beagles excel in the field and at tracking.

 

Originally, rabbit and fox hunting were entered into as a sporting event instead of an acquisition of prey. Beagles were excellent at tracking down the prey for their hunters to kill or capture.

 

Beagles’ primary use in modern hunting is as a flusher, a dog that will scare game out of the brush or out of burrows so that the hunter has access to it. Though Beagles are often used in packs or duos for sport hunts, they are most typically used one at a time in actual game hunts with just one hunter. Hunting restrictions have made the sport of game hunting dwindle somewhat, but Beagle clubs and the American Kennel Club all still offer hunting field trials. These trials are competitions that exercise the efficiency with which Beagles can perform the tasks necessary on the hunt, albeit with false or toy game.

 

Natural Hunters

The fact that beagles were primarily bred to hunt hares is what makes them ideal hunting companions. Their keen sense of smell and great stamina are what makes them perfect.

 

Beagles have long been used as hunting companions. Going hunting without the aid of these dogs may require a lot of hard, legwork and may not ensure you a good number of catch at the end of the day.

 

One way you can truly enjoy and ensure productive hunting is to make use of the amazing hunting skills of beagles. All you have to do is take them to the right hunting areas and leave the rest to these sharp hunters. The beagles will track the scent trail, and all you have to do is look for the rabbit that is ahead of the beagle. Beagles can track a rabbit scent trail even if it’s several hours old. However, hunters should know that a beagle may know where the rabbit is moments ago but may not know where it is now. So do not expect that your beagle can take you where exactly the rabbit is right now.

 

One can hunt with one beagle or in packs for up to as many as seventy hounds. One to five dogs can be handled by one hunter, in other words, more dogs mean more hunters to handle them. The good thing about hunting in packs is a great chance of larger pack to split into smaller packs thus running a good number of rabbits at the same time.

 

Keep an eye on how they move and also their white-tipped tails. The reason why they were bred with a white-tipped tail is for the hunters to see them, especially in dark terrain easily. When shooting the rabbit, the hunter should be very careful to prevent accidental shooting the dog or a fellow hunter.

 

Beagles can track not only rabbits. Included in the list are cottontails, particularly desert cottontail and also hares which consist of snowshoe hares, black-tailed jackrabbits, and white-tailed jackrabbits. Rabbits run in circles once jumped and pursued, and cottontails will make a circle the size of an acre or less while hares may cover a mile or more.

 

There is no big problem as to the hunting location. Beagles can hunt in the hills, mountains, prairies, deserts, forests, and swamps. They can track scents over snow, ice, and water or even in a hot, dry and dusty road.

 

Hunting dogs are indeed the best possible ally of the hunter, as they sniff and scavenge for prey in the deepest and darkest brush of the forest. There are many different possibilities for a hunting dog type that you can take on your next trip. The type of dog you should take on your hunting trip should be directly related to the type of hunting you are planning on. If you are planning on hunting fur-bearing animals, for example, you would be more satisfied with a hound than you would be with a terrier. Regardless of what dog you choose to take with you on your next hunting trip, you can be sure that you will have made a new friend by the end of the journey.

 

Beagles are hunting hound dogs

The most common main category of hunting dogs is the hound. Hounds are divided into two categories from there: the sighthound and the scent hound. As their names imply, each sub-category of dog type refers to a certain skill that the dog tends to be more proficient in. Sighthounds, like the Whippet, are adapted to hunting because of their visual acumen. They practice a method that is known as coursing, referring to the notion of spotting the prey from a long distance and following it in quick pursuit. Scent hounds, like the beagle, work by scent rather than sight. They tend to pick up on a trace of the prey from the ground and follow that scent, hopefully to the prey. Scent hounds often work in packs and are regarded as having some of the most sensitive noses of all other dog types.

 

The next classification of dogs used for hunting is the gun dog. These dogs are used mostly by short-range hunters using shotguns. There are three sub-categories of gun dogs: flushing spaniels, pointing breeds and retrievers. Again, their names are reflective of the particular skill that the dog has to offer the hunter. The Retrievers, once known as water spaniels, are great for finding and getting shot or killed game for the hunter. If the hunter kills a duck, the retriever heads over to pick it up and brings it back to the hunter. The pointing breed, such as an English setter, tend to “point out” the prey by pointing at upland birds or other upland animals being hunted. The pointing breed of dogs sometimes also help flush the prey out from their hiding spot. The flushing spaniels, such as the English Cocker spaniel, are used to locate and spring the prey for the hunter. They are trained to remain close to the hunter, ensuring an easy kill.

 

Still another popular type of hunting dog is the terrier. Terriers are used to hunt mammals, for the most part. These animals, such as the Lakeland terrier, are used to locate the actual den of the animal and spring or capture the animal. Some terriers are bred to kill the animal at the animal’s den. A large number of terriers are used to hunt what are known as “pest species.” The pest species refer to groundhogs, hunted by the Jack Russel terriers, or the badger or fox, hunted by the Fell terrier. The legality of some of these hunts is in question, so you may want to check your local regulations before you set upon and hunt a fox.

 

Many particulars make using hunting dogs a popular option for hunting. Whether you choose a sighthound or a scent hound, you can be assured that your companion hound will be working for you at finding your prey. Using a gun dog can not only provide great companionship, but it can bring prey right to your doorstep and take the hunt out of hunting. Terriers not only make a vigorous hunting companion, but they also make for a nice domesticated animal. Make sure that you consider the hunting dog type before you go out on the hunt so that you can bring the best possible breed with you and land the best possible kill for this hunting season.

 

When it comes to the sport of hunting – the gundog is a hunter’s best friend. Gundogs have been used to assist man since the days when survival crucially depended on hunting skills, not only for food to eat but for clothing and shelter provided by the hides of the hunted animals and to this day bird dogs still, play an important role in hunting for sport.

 

Originally bred with the intention of assisting game bird hunting, the characteristics of gundogs have, over the years, been strengthened by further breeding with animals already displaying the necessary traits for hunting. Gundogs (also known as hunting dogs or bird dogs) are intelligent, active and alert breeds, easily trained for a variety of sporting uses such as hunting game birds and waterfowl, showing the hunter where the game birds are located, startling the birds into the open for the hunter and retrieving the shot or injured birds and taking them back to the hunter. These hunting dogs love being around humans, and they require a great deal of attention and strenuous exercise. Some hunting dogs are used specifically to work in water, some only on land, whilst others are capable of working in both of these environments.

 

Gundogs can be divided into three categories, the retriever, the pointer and setter, and the flusher dog and listed below are the roles played by each of these types of dog.

 

The Retriever Dog

Ideally equipped with their water-repellant coat and webbed feet, the Retriever, as its name would suggest, will find the bird and take it back to the hunter. The Retriever is particularly suited to work in water. Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Irish Water Spaniels are popular breeds for the Retriever category.

 

The Pointer and Setter Dogs

These two types of dogs are used where game is distributed over a wide area, for example on moors. They operate quite a distance away from their handlers and upon locating the game birds will wait for the hunter to get close enough to shoot. To let the hunter know they have located the game, and without actually causing any disturbance which may alert the game, the dog will remain still and rigid, in effect pointing in the direction of the game. When the hunter arrives on the scene, he will command the dog to flush the game, thus presenting his sporting target. Once shot, the dog will be expected to retrieve the game and deliver it to the hunter. English and Irish setters and English Pointers are the main breeds in this category.

 

Beagle is a Flushing Dog

The flusher will not capture his prey but will creep around the undergrowth to hunt and then when he has found his quarry he will crouch in front, in a guarding manner, so there is little or no chance of escape, allowing the hunter to take his quarry. Examples of dog breeds in this category are Springer Spaniels, Cocker Spaniels, and Beagles.

 

Training to Hunt, Flush, and Retrieve

Men rely on hunting dogs to retrieve their kills. Without them, the hunter will have to do all the work with no the assurance that they will be bringing something home at the end of the day. To make the work easier, the hunter requires the help of a well–trained hunting dog.

However, not all dog breeds could be adapted to hunting works, and only specific training that promote hunting capabilities would bring out the best in a hunting dog.

But hunting dogs are not garden varieties that you could have whenever you want. They are trained and trained well for the demands of hunting. And oftentimes, training for the hunting dog breeds is a tedious and extensive process that requires knowledge and patience from the trainer and appropriate attributes from the dog.

As said earlier, not all dogs are fit for dog hunting. Dog breeds are specializing in this work and have a long history of the particular service for men. In short, they are well adapted to the kind of works usually needed in hunting.

A hunting dog which will respond best to training are breeds like retrievers, spaniels and pointers, and beagles each of which have capacities that are unique to their breeds. It is up to the trainer to hone their capacities and use them for their right purposes.

In general, hunting dogs have an excellent sense of smell for tracking purposes. Also, hunting dogs should be fit for outdoor activities and could easily be conditioned for training. The best candidate for dog training on hunting is a dog that has all of the said characteristics. The most common choices for hunting dogs are Labradors, Beagles, Bloodhounds, and Dachshunds.

One just can’t get a full grown dog and expect him to respond well to training. The best choice is a puppy since it has just started forming its behavior. Also, you need a dog that has an affinity to his handler. This would not develop on its own. So you have to personally train your dog or at least train alongside your dog with a professional trainer.

 

Tasks in the training

There are six basic tasks that a good hunting dog should master. These are as follows:

a) Retrieving

b) Marking

c) Quartering

d) Shaking

e) Following hand signals

f) Steadying

Gunfire and scent

Some dogs are sensitive or scared at hearing gun fires. So it has to get acclimatized through training. Typically, this is accomplished by conditioning the canine through a procedural way of introducing gunfire along with game birds.

This training will let the dog associate gunfire with the game. If the gunfire is heard, the dog will know that there is a game. After retrieving the game, the dog will expect the next gunfire.

On the other hand, tracking is based on following the scent. There is as much scent as there are games so be sure to train your dog on a particular scent. If you want him to hunt deer, you should get him used to deer scent.

Dog training for hunting is much harder than other forms of dog training. However, if your passion is hunting, you would undoubtedly require the services of a well-trained hunting dog.

 

Types of competition

Beagles and their handlers have the option of competing in three different types of field trials. The “Brace” type of field trial involves Beagles hunting in sets of two. These Beagles will have to track and, once it is found, indicate a hare to their handler or the “hunter.” A variation of the Brace trial is the Gun Brace trial, in which the Beagles not only have to track and indicate the hare, but they are evaluated on their ability to ignore the sound of a gunshot when fired.

 

There is also the Small Pack trial, which is relatively self-explanatory. A smaller pack of dogs (up to seven) will perform the same tasks as dogs in the Brace category, ideally working together like a well-oiled unit. The Small Pack Option trial is the equivalent of the Gun Brace trial for this amount of dogs.

 

The Large Pack trial is a similar competition, but the packs are far larger. These trials typically only take place in certain states. In these particular states, the game of choice is usually the snowshoe hare. How much larger are these packs, you ask? Well, some packs can contain up to sixty individual Beagles.

 

The most beneficial part of these regulated trials is that they do not overkill hunting game and can help keep endangered species afloat. However, if you are interested in helping your dog sharpen his or her skills on the field but aren’t interested in the actual act of prey hunting at all, an activity called “drag hunting” offers an all-species-friendly alternative. In drag hunting, one of the regulators will leave a trail of scent that the dogs must follow and indicate to their handlers when they have located the object producing it.

 

Whether hunting is one of your interests or not, your Beagle has the skills necessary for it bred into him or her. You don’t have to participate in a hunt to help exercise your dog’s natural tracking ability. Exploring tracking, whether hunting or not, can be an excellent way to spend time with your Beagle and bond.

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