How Smart are Beagles? Test your Beagle’s Intelligence


How smart are beagles

My neighbor, who just adopted a beagle, messaged me that she thinks her dog is too dumb for anything. To which I replied, ‘Is he too dumb or too smart to train?’ If you own a beagle, then you already know how affectionate and innocent they are. But what about their intelligence? How smart are beagles when compared to other dog breeds?

According to the research, beagles are as smart as a two years old child. Beagles are smart enough to learn more than 150 words, understand gestures, process simple mathematical calculations, and can figure out to use simple devices. 

Beagles are an intelligent breed of dogs with a very specialized skillset. In this article, I have described the intelligence of beagles while also explaining why beagles are listed in the bottom ten in the Dogs Intelligent List and how you can test your beagle’s intelligence.

How smart are beagles?

Well, beagles are really intelligent dogs with a specific skillset. They are known to be one of the best scent hounds in the world. I took this to our Instagram Community of beagle owners and asked them to list all the smart things their beagles do. Here are a few things that beagles around the world can do:

Aleksy from Polland says: “Last month my beagle somehow figured out how to open our refrigerator. We had to order child-lock for our refrigerator. My dog is super smart when it comes to food.”

Walter from the USA says: “My 2-year-old pal knowns and understands my entire routine. When I come home from the office, I go to the toilet and wash my hands and feet and then greet my dog. So now, when I come home, my beagle stopped greeting me at the door. Instead, she would stand at the door of my toilet. How cunningly smart is she?”

Elias from Germany says: “I don’t know how, but my beagle lures my family members and me away from their food by doing something that she is not supposed to, and then she would run and grab the food before we can.”

Olivia from the USA says: “I think my beagle is quite smart, he follows all the commands, behaves properly and even understands few signs. Over the top, he is a snuggle monster.”

Lucus from the UK says: “My beagle is smart enough to fool me when it comes to food. lol”

Annika from India says: “I don’t know if Minnie, my 4-year-old beagle, is smart or not, but she can tell when I am feeling low and cuddle me.”

As per my little survey conducted with 74 beagle owners, 81% of beagle owners think that Beagles are Smart and intelligent, whereas 13% of them feel that they are not that smart. And 6% were not quite sure and said that their beagles were average.

Beagle’s Intelligence Rank

Dr. Stanley Coren, a psychology professor, and neuropsychological researcher, in his book The Intelligence of Dogs, ranked over 100 different breeds of dogs based on their intelligence. Beagles were ranked in the bottom 10 of that list.

According to the research, beagles take around 80 to 100 repetitions to learn a command. On average, they obey only 25% of total commands.

So does that mean they are dumb and not smart? No, not at all. Beagles are quite intelligent. It’s just that their intelligence doesn’t fit with standardized research criteria used by Dr. Coren to make the list.

Why do Beagles Rank so Low in Dog Intelligence?

Beagle sitting innocently

There are three types of Canine Intelligence:

Instinctive Intelligence: skills that the dog is inherited by its breed and has it instinctively.

Adaptive Intelligence: how well the dog can adapt and learn from the environment to solve a problem.

Working and Obedience: how well the dog can follow commands taught by humans.

Two primary criteria that Coren used for his research:

  1. Number of repetitions: The first criterion is the number of repetitions a dog of a specific breed took to learn and follow a new command.
  2. Success Rate: The second criteria is the success rate at which a dog obeys a known command.

According to Coren’s criteria: Fewer the Repetition and Higher the Success Rate = Smarter and more Intelligent the Dog Breed.

Coren’s standardized criteria to measure a breed’s intelligence has focused more on the Working and Obedience part. Different dog breeds have different motivators. And it’s unjust to measure a dog breed’s intelligence based on working and obedience; there’s so much more.

Even though beagles are very affectionate and loyal, they are Scenthounds, and they like to follow their noses. They are a curious and independent breed. Moreover, they are independent thinkers, and their lives don’t revolve around following your commands. They are smart enough not to follow your commands all the time.

This doesn’t mean that beagles hate humans; mine is a cuddle monster and wants to be around me all the time. Beagles are pack animals and prefer the company.

Why are Beagles Smart?

Even Coren agrees that the other two types of intelligence are as important. Let’s have a look at:

Instinctive Intelligence of Beagles

Beagle with strong nose

Instinctive Intelligence is the ability or skill which is specialized by the breed. It’s the skill or ability that they inherited from their race. It’s intuitive and doesn’t need to be taught. For example, Belgian shepherd is great at managing livestock (sheep mostly). Their breed is capable of managing and keeping together an entire herd of sheep without any human training. They were born with this skillset.

Whereas beagles are born to hunt. They are a hunting breed. In the past, beagles and humans use to hunt side by side. Beagle’s special skill is their nose. Beagles have one of the most robust sense of smell among other dog breeds.

 

As you can see, humans have 5 million scent receptors in the nose, whereas Beagles have 220 million scent receptors. According to Pet Central, beagles are ranked in the top three for dog breeds with the best sense of smell.

With such a strong sense of smell, it gets hard for beagles not to get distracted, and that’s the reason they are known to be hard to train. Their strong sense of smell makes them wonderfull trackers, skilled hunters, and health inspection dogs.

Adaptive Intelligence of Beagles

Intelligence of beagles

Adaptive intelligence is the ability of the dog to adapt and learn from the environment to solve the problem. Beagles can adopt the situation, process it, and solve a problem. They are also highly capable of learning from their previous mistakes. Beagles are fantastic at communicating with not just humans but with cats too.

I hand made a metal crate for my beagle, and the lock system of the crate was not that complicated. When my beagle was ten months old, he figured out how to open the latch of his crate and get out. I had to buy a complicated latch because of this.

Well, my neighbor has a cat and now a beagle too. And she thinks that beagle and cat are communicating in some sign language. I am not sure of that, lol.

There are tons of such stories where beagles learn from their mistakes and adapt to solve the problem.

Test your Beagle’s Intelligence

Just like humans, every beagle has different intelligence. And this test can help you find out how intelligent your beagle is, depending on how much he scores. This test is not a very accurate way to test a dog’s intelligence. It is possible that your beagle could fail in this test and yet be the smartest dog.

You can either watch this video or continue reading the article:

Rules:

  • Rule number one is do not talk about Fight Club, haha.
  • Note down the points that your dog scores in all the tests.

The Towel Test

Things you need: Stop Watch, towel, and a Beagle.

Step 1: Give your pet a towel and let him get familiar with it.

Towel Test step 1

Step 2:  Toss that towel over your pet’s head in a way that it covers him completely

Towel Test step 2

Step 3: Start the Timer

Towel Test step 3

Step 4: Note down how long does it take for your dog to get out of it.

Towel Test step 4

Find out the score:

  • Less than 30 Seconds: 30 Points
  • 30 to 120 seconds: 20 Points
  • Tries but cannot get out of it within 120 seconds: 10 points (and help your pal and take off the towel)
  • Lays down without even trying: 0 Points

Uncover the Treat Test

Things you need: Towel, treat, and a stopwatch.

Step 1: Show your dog his favorite treat.

Uncover the Treat Test Step 1

Step 2: When you get his attention, put the treat on the floor and put a towel over it.

Uncover the Treat Test Step 2

Step 3: Start the timer and see how long does he takes to get the treat.

Uncover the Treat Test Step 3

Find out the Score:

  • Less than 30 Seconds: 30 Points
  • 30 to 120 seconds: 20 Points
  • Tries and gives up or fails within 60 seconds: 10 points
  • Gives up under 10 seconds or doesn’t try at all : 0 Points

The Reach The treat Test

Things you need: A couch, treat and a stopwatch

Step 1: Get the attention of your pet and show him the treat.

Step 2: Put the treat under the couch at a distance at which he cannot reach the treat with his muzzle but can get it with his paws (put the treat under the sofa when your pet is watching).

Step 3: Start the timer and observe how he gets the treat.

Find the score:

  • Gets the treat with his paws within 2 minutes: 40 Points
  • Gets the treat with his paws within 3 minutes: 30 Points
  • Tries to get the treat with his paws but fails within 3 minutes: 20 Points
  • Only uses his muzzle: 10 Points
  • Give up or doesn’t try: 0 Points

Find the Cup with Treat Test

Things you will need: 3 cups, and treat.

Step 1: Put the treat under the upside-down cup when your dog is looking.

Step 2: Let him reach the cup and give him the treat.

Step 3: Get two more cups, and when your pet is looking hide treat under one of the three cups.

Step 4: Slowly jumble the cups and see if your dog remembers the cup with the treat.

Find the scores:

  • Reaches out the right cup on the first try: 20 Points
  • Finds it in 2nd try: 10 Points
  • Fails to do so: 0 Points

Perform all the tests and add up the score:

  • 120 Points: Your Dog is the Stephen Hawkings of the dog world.
  • 110 to 120 Points: Genius
  • 80 to 100 Points: Quite Intelligent
  • 40 to 70 Points: Average, which is great for a dog.
  • 10 to 30 points:  The ‘I will do better in the next test’ kind.
  • 0 Points: Too lazy to do anything.

My thoughts:

People think that if the dog is easy to train, it makes them smart. This is not at all a case. There is so much more to look after. One thing you should look for in a dog is companionship, and I don’t know what better breed than beagles for friendship and loyalty. Beagles are complicated but intelligent dogs who are free-minded and has a carefree nature. Moreover, they are affectionate, smart, playful, cuddle monsters that you won’t be able to live without if you get one.

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Raaj Mehta

I am a parent of two adorable beagles and I share everything I learn about them, along with lots of tips, tricks, and advice.

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