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Hunting Beagles


While a wonderful family pet, this breed is also known for being hunting Beagles.

What is the prey? Mostly rabbits! In many parts of the country, is a common dinner food. Most hunting Beagles happily go along with their master for the chase!

One does not need to classify their Beagle as either a hunter or a pet exclusively. An owner can have a loving pet who they take out as a hunter to provide activity and allow the dog to use its natural instincts.

Some find it a great way for both owner and Beagle to enjoy the outdoors...and release pent up energy with bursts of cardio exercise.

Let's look at what qualities a good hunting dog needs to have. 
Hunting for rabbits has changed quite a bit in the last 25 years or so. One of the main reasons is the rabbit’s habitat. As fields have been destroyed during construction to build subdivisions and shopping centers, the havens for small game decrease each year.

In addition to decreasing fields where rabbits reside, other elements factor in as well:

Natural predators of the rabbit are increasing in both strength and size. Why? Because 25 or 35 years ago, it was quite common for a land owner to shoot a coyotes, hawks or owls. Now, with closer knit communities, laws prevent most land owners from doing so. This causes an increase in these animals which instinctively hunt the rabbit as a meal source…leaving a dwindling population for the hunter and his trusted hunting Beagle pack.

Because laws protect the coyotes as an endangered species, they have grown and migrated from the West, now covering many field and forested areas of the East and South...this too keeps rabbits in hiding. In fact, they have learned to hide so effectively that even the best of trackers have difficulties finding their safe havens.
How Hunting Beagles Have Changed

Over time, the Beagle breed has undergone changes which has affected its ability to chase after rabbits. A dog should have the following abilities to perform well in the field:
  • Jumping
  • Scent
  • Tongue
  • Speed
Out of the above needed elements, jumping seems to be the one most severely bred out of the Beagle. The ability to jump on a rabbit and hold it down has been lost quite a bit as the Beagle has become popular as a family pet as opposed to only performing as the hound dog that it was for such a long time in its history.

As dog breeds are always developing, most will agree that the speed that has been built into the Beagle has reduced some of its jumping skills. While all elements are important for rabbit hunting, all are needed for a solid & reliable hunting Beagle.
old Beagle hunting picture
Photo of Fridtjof Nansen, his family and his trusted Beagle that just hunted down a rabbit
[Trysil, Norway, pre-1914]
Attribution: Author unknown[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Luckily scent, undeniably one of the most important features, has remained intact. Most hunting Beagles still perform very well in regard to working out a track and keeping the rabbit moving along.

The importance of having a solid and trustworthy pack can’t be overlooked. All dogs in a pack must be able to work together harmoniously. 

All must focus on staying on the trail, have a strong impulse to hunt and not impede the pack by going off track or giving chase to other prey. Important to building a great pack, no matter what the size, will be the fit of the individual dogs. Pack = Team.
Dogs should match well in regard to speed and have the skill to claim with the tongue. No matter which Beagle picks up the trail of the rabbit, the others must be able to fall into place and run in unison. In the end, it is the individual hunter who must be satisfied with the pack he has assembled. While everyone will have their own personal view, it is the one who wakes up early and heads out into the field with his Beagles, who must feel comfortable in his choices of which dogs are joining him.

With each dog knowing their own duty and then working as a team…with the owner always as the leader…this makes for an effective hunting beagle pack for rabbits.
Beagle catching rabbit
Image attribution: Fantagu at the German language Wikipedia [GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
Because most states' open for rabbit hunting in the late autumn, usually around the end of November, keeping your dogs eager for the chase and physically able to give that chase is vital.

While the summer heat can be challenging for deep running to stay in shape, this can be done early morning and late evening to help prevent any chances of heat stroke. These regular summer exercises will prime the dogs to be ready for rabbit hunting season.

Establishing a routine is best. Making sure your pack is able to perform at their highest level is what will bring success. All dogs should be in the best shape possible. This can be done by running them enough without overdoing it.

While your pack of Beagles will serve the purpose of rabbit hunting, one must always keep in mind that they must be given proper care as a loving canine family member and loyal pet.

This will include excellent health care, including dentals, high quality dog food for both meals and snacks and especially tick, flea and worm prevention.

Rattlesnakes can be a problem, as they tend to come out when temperatures warm up in the late afternoon. For most, the best hunting is from daylight to about lunchtime. But if you wish to head out early, do be aware of this potential threat.
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