How to Pick a Beagle Puppy

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Video best beagles for rabbit hunting

Beagles and rabbit hunting are one of America’s favorite pastimes—only slightly behind baseball and hot dogs. Rabbit hunting continues to be a popular family tradition and a gateway for youth and newcomers to enter the hunting and hound communities. It only takes one round of beagles baying on a hot track breaking the stillness of a crisp fall morning for the song of the hounds to beckon you to into this enjoyable and enamoring sport.

As the number of dedicated hound hunters takes a slight dip, several folks continue to enter the hound world through beagles and rabbit hunting. For anyone interested in starting a pack, there are a few things to consider and several places to turn to for information and support. If you are fortunate to have a beagle club in your area, you are in great shape. And if you know someone who hunts or runs in field trials, that is another great place to start. Getting out to watch beagles work and hunt is going to be the best way for you to decide what you want in your own pup.

Built for the Chase

Loved by hunters for their tough and tenacious attitude in the field, beagles are also known to be affectionate and loyal, making them equally qualified and approved as house pets. When considering a pup, common chatter in the beagle world revolves around their size, color, and speed.

Beagles are sturdy and compact, coming in the 13- or 15-inch size, referring to their shoulder height as recognized by American Kennel Club (AKC) standards. Generally speaking, the smaller dogs may navigate the thick briar patches a hair better and the taller dogs may handle the deeper snow with slightly more ease.

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Beagles are commonly tricolor—black, tan, and white—but also found in red, lemon, chocolate, and blue tick varieties. Color selection is purely a choice based on personal preference—choose a color you don’t mind looking at for the life of the dog.

Beagle speed is usually defined as slow, medium, upper medium, or fast. Speed is a relative term, but it is meant to describe how fast or slow a dog will run a rabbit on a track. Some people like to have a dog by their side for a casual stroll while others prefer a dog to take charge and race ahead at a blazing speed. Speed is important but having a dog that won’t overrun its nose and can find its way out of a backtrack is worth their weigh in gold. If you’re adding to your existing pack, be sure to pick a dog that matches the speed already in place, or the speed of other dogs they might be running with.

Bred for Success

Brandon Jaquish, of Reber Valley Beagles in Willsboro, New York, has been breeding top-performing, 13-inch AKC-registered beagles since 2009. One look at the rainbow of ribbons and trophies in his garage will confirm the quality of his dogs and his knowledge of the game. Brandon regularly runs his beagles in field trials across New York and New England, although his dogs have placed all along the East Coast and beyond. He also enjoys the hunt, and you can bet you’ll find him and his pack on a hot track during the hunting season.

Brandon in garage How to Pick a Beagle Puppy

“Number one is brains. They have to be able to think for themselves,” he said when asked what he is looking for in his dogs. “Second, they have to have a good nose and know how to use it. I run my dogs on both cottontail and hare in all conditions, so they’re pretty tough as well.”

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For anyone looking for a beagle pup, Jaquish recommends viewing parents and their offspring, checking their pedigrees, finding a recommended breeder, and going to visit them. “If the dogs are bred right there is little work needed, just introduce them to rabbits and they’ll turn on.”

Pack Mentality

“This is my third dog from Brandon,” said Robert Cunningham of Massena, New York. “His dogs have speed and a strong intelligence. They are great in our home, but when they get their nose to the ground, they just run! Lightning speed! These dogs are total machines.” His wife Melanie also appreciates their off-switch. “They have a great temperament. They’re well-loved and totally spoiled—they sleep in our bed.”

With beagles—just like potato chips—it’s hard to stop at one. Beagles are a great pack dog and will often hunt well together increasing the opportunity to find tracks and push a rabbit into a gunning range. And when you’re covered in a dozen ready-to-go-home pups, what is one more? Robert and Melanie ended up leaving with a second pup and their fifth beagle.

Brandon in garage How to Pick a Beagle Puppy

The Choice Is Yours

If you are able, get out to visit your local beagle club, attend a trial, or join a friend or family member on a hunt. Watch some dogs run, ask the proper questions, and get some recommendations about breeders in your area. Reading a pedigree is easy and will assure you are getting a pup from good stock, with health clearances and a strong desire to run and hunt.

Robert Melanie with pups How to Pick a Beagle Puppy

Decide what you are looking for in a beagle. Do you want to hunt, run trials, maybe both? Do you want a big, fast running dog, or one that will hunt close? Will the pup live indoors or reside in an outdoor kennel? Size and color are not nearly as important as good genetics and being field-proven. And if this is to become a pet, make sure you plan to train and raise a dog that your entire family can live with. Do your homework, get a pup from a good line and you’ll be sure to have a great hunter and a friend for their entire life.

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Text and Images by On Track Media Group

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>