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What You Should Understand About Prey Drive in Beagles

The Beagle is a medium-sized scenthound that was developed for tracking game such as hare, deer, and rabbits. In addition to being a talented tracker, the Beagle has the second strongest nose in the canine kingdom. The Beagle’s history of hunting has a huge influence on his temperament and behavior so make sure you thoroughly understand what you are getting into with a Beagle before you bring one home.

What to Expect from a Beagle’s Temperament

Though the Beagle is a fairly small dog, they have very high energy levels and high needs for exercise. This breed needs at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise daily and they need a fenced yard to play in as well. Not only do Beagles need a lot of physical exercise, but they need plenty of mental stimulation as well to keep their mind’s sharp – a bored Beagle is a destructive Beagle. In terms of personality and temperament, Beagles are bright and active little dogs. They are very friendly and they can form strong bonds with family. This breed does tend to howl a bit (it is part of their hunting methods) so they may not be a good choice for people who live very close to their neighbors.

What is Prey Drive in Beagles?

In addition to understanding the basics about your Beagle’s temperament, you also need to be prepared to handle his prey drive. In dogs, the term “prey drive” refers to the dog’s natural instincts to hunt or chase prey animals. The Beagle breed was developed to pursue prey so this tendency often carries over into the Beagle’s home life. Many Beagles will chase cats, rabbits, and other small household pets in the home and they will also take off after a rabbit or another animal during a walk. It is very important to keep your Beagle on a leash during walks because you never know when he will take off after a scent – once he catches the scent, he will pursue it relentlessly.

While you should not expect to extinguish your Beagle’s prey drive (nor should you try to), there are certain things you can do to manage his prey drive in the home setting. Raising your Beagle puppy together with cats and other small household pets can help him to learn that they are not prey and he is not allowed to chase them. You should always supervise interactions between your Beagle and other pets and you can try rewarding him for positive interactions so he is less likely to succumb to his prey drive. You should also train your Beagle to respond to an “Off” or “Leave it” command that you can use when he starts to become a little too interested in the family cat.

Now that you have a deeper understanding of the Beagle breed and about what it is like as a pet you should be able to determine whether or not it is the right breed for you and your family. If you cannot provide for the Beagle’s exercise requirements and his need to track things, you should consider a different breed of dog.

Photo credit: Brooke/Flickr

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Should you have a concern regarding the health of your Beagle(s), you should contact your veterinarian. All information on this site is presented solely for educational and informational purposes and should not, at any time, be considered a substitute for seeking or receiving veterinary care for your Beagle(s).