There are different kinds of dogs out there in the world. Some dogs are incredible at being good companions while others are strong and loyal protectors of their owners. And then there’s another category, a breed of dogs that is smart enough to understand their owners very well, making them easy to train. These are the kind of dogs that sheep herd, or learn command words really quickly or even problem-solving. It’s like you and the dog were meant for each other.
One might ask now, in which category does a beagle fall into? The problem today is that many people understand a very narrow definition of intelligence. If their dog takes too many repetitions to understand a specific command, they think it’s a dumb dog. At the same time, however, that every dog could be outstanding at imitating human behavior, that is, obedience or solving problems by adaptation.
The Different Types of Intelligence
Before we get into whether beagles are smart or not, we need to understand the three types of intelligence that a dog can belong to.
- Instinctive Intelligence: skills that a dog displays naturally, for instance, sheep guiding, protecting its family, or owner, to name a few.
- Adaptive Intelligence: abilities that dogs possess so as to effectively address and solve everyday problems.
- Work Intelligence and Compliance/Obedience: the capability to understand and learn by either listening to or observing a human.
Excelling at one of these and not the other two does not constitute to a dumb dog. This is why we started this article by emphasizing how important it is to understand the different breeds of dogs. Every breed has been developed for a specific purpose. German Shepherds, for example, are popular for being military dogs due to their courageous and loyal nature. In other words, they excel at instinctive intelligence, because they can sense danger and protect its owner from it.
Are Beagles Easy to Train?
So how intelligent is a beagle? Does it matter how easy they can be trained? This breed of dogs often falls low in many intelligence charts because they take a lot of time to train and obey humans. However, this does NOT, at all, mean that they lack intelligence. Yes, they may be difficult to train but that has nothing to do with how smart they are.
You see, beagles are clever enough to be able to ignore you. They were bred to be their own boss. It is sort of like a young kid who has actually gotten too comfy with their capability to think and act for themselves. Yet, still, people frequently presume that the intelligence of a beagle is based on how quickly and willingly it listens to you.
The thing is, beagles are really wise and instinctive animals. They understand how to swim and they understand how to wait up until the signal is given to capture a reward that was just shot by you. In other words, they can bring things back to you when you want them to. They are extraordinary trackers.
So, beagles are more like what you’d consider free thinkers. They do not comply with what a human needs as easily as you’d want them to. Does this mean they are dumb? Nope. It simply suggests you’re going to need to try harder to earn a beagle’s respect. Complying with orders is a lot less about intelligence and much more about whether or not your dog wishes to please you.
Moreover, beagles are hunting dogs. They are astounding at tracking and they are intuitively proficient at solving problems. They are pack animals and they are driven by their desire to locate food, even if it means jumping out of the fence you built for them and shoving their head inside a garbage container. Similarly, they are very social so they absolutely despise being alone.
Historically, beagles were developed to hunt rabbits and hares. Given that they are encouraged by food, they are encouraged to hunt. Together with the capability to track, they get a sharp edge over others in their ability to hunt.
As if we hadn’t bragged about them enough, they also have an unbelievably strong nose. We, humans, have about 6 million sensory receptors in our noses. Contrast that to a beagle’s 225+ million sensory receptors and our noses seem like an insult. Likewise, a beagle’s brain has a noteworthy capability to evaluate smells 40 times better than us. Now it looks like we humans are lagging behind!
The point is, every dog is different. Beagles are amazing and marvelous breeds that are super smart. Yes, they are very smart, but just not at the things you expect them to be. They may be a bit slow in the obedience sector, but not because they’re dumb, but because they’re just used to being very independent.