Written by Dr. Marcelle Landestoy, DVM
When it comes to finding the perfect pet for your family, it’s essential to understand their behavior.
For example, Beagles are incredibly popular family pets, but are they aggressive, or is that just a misconception?
Aggressive behavior in Beagles is more fiction than fact. Beagles are known for being kind-tempered and good with children. However, they can become aggressive when afraid, in pain, or when protecting their territory. Generally, Beagles will behave non-aggressively, though they can be rambunctious.
In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss the different levels of aggression you will see Beagles exhibit regarding other people, places, and circumstances.
I will also discuss how to combat aggressive behavior with your pup.
So, if you want to learn more about your Beagle’s behavior, make sure to read on.
Are They Aggressive to Humans?
First, knowing if your Beagle will be aggressive towards other humans is essential.
They are generally sweet pups, but what happens if someone intrudes into their territory?
Beagles are not aggressive to most humans. Beagles may sometimes become aggressive to strangers who have entered their yard or home; however, they are generally more likely to be excited by a visitor. This is the primary reason they make such poor guard dogs.
So as you can see, humans are more likely to be viewed as friends by your Beagle than intruders.
This can be a good and bad thing. If you were hoping a Beagle would make a good guard dog, you might want to reconsider.
However, a Beagle might be the right pet for you if you’re looking for a friendlier dog.
Next, I want to discuss how Beagles behave with different family members.
How your dog behaves around a toddler will be drastically different than how they treat a teenager. So, let’s get started.
First, I want to discuss how your Beagle will behave with a baby. Of course, babies are delicate, and it’s crucial that you watch your dogs for any signs of aggression.
That being said, Beagles tend to do quite well with babies.
They seem to sense they are young and can even become protective over the infant.
Just be careful not to leave the child alone with the Beagle as sometimes these dogs get quite hyper and can easily step on the baby when excited.
Toddlers tend to interact more with your pets. Beagles also do a fantastic job with toddlers most of the time.
Each dog will have a different personality, so it’s important to watch them for signs of aggression when a toddler is bothering them.
Generally, a Beagle will remain calm and treat the child as if they are one of their own.
Due to the Beagles’ even temperature, they also do pretty well with older children.
They greatly enjoy running, chasing, and playing with children. They also are pretty patient compared to other breeds of dogs.
If trained well, they will do a great job of keeping their eye on kids and keeping them entertained.
Generally, Beagles will do well with most adults and remain non-aggressive. However, there may be an occasional person your Beagle doesn’t like for whatever reason.
They probably won’t bite this person, but they may bark and growl at them.
Most of the time, your Beagle should have no problem interacting with most adults unless they have a traumatic history.
In this case, they may require special training to ensure they don’t behave unnecessarily aggressively toward adults.
If the person they are upset with is a family member, this can be stressful, and it’s a good idea to work on forming trust with the Beagle.
So now you know how these sweet pups behave when surrounded by family members, but how do Beagles handle strangers?
Beagles tend to be won over easily, so your dog should become fast friends even with strangers.
These pups are trusting and simply love people. With enough time, positive reinforcement, and treats, a Beagle will become anyone’s best friend.
In Your Home
When Beagles encounter strangers in your home, they may start to bark.
However, with some positive interaction, this behavior should cease.
Beagles are kind and trusting by nature and, even in their own space, will often welcome strangers provided they use a kind tone, play with them, or give them a treat.
If you have guests over, it’s imperative to know how your dog will react to them.
Aggressive pets make having company over stressful. But what about Beagles? How do they handle company?
Just like humans, Beagles will often be happy to have company over.
These dogs are very sociable, and guests are simply another way for them to receive more love and attention.
However, some pups can be more territorial in their own home.
Beagles are a friendly dog breed, but how do they handle intruders entering their space?
Unfortunately, intruders will likely pass through your home unhindered due to the breed’s trusting nature and general happy disposition.
Your Beagle may bark at the intruder, but they are far more likely to follow the person around in hopes of being pet or receiving a treat.
Outside Your Home
You now know how a Beagle will behave in their territory, but what about outside the home?
Will they be more aggressive when they aren’t at home?
Beagles tend to love outings and, for the most part, enjoy the presence of people – even people they don’t know as they go for a walk.
The only time you may encounter an issue is if your Beagle is pet aggressively or has a prior history of abuse before you adopted them.
Are They Aggressive to Other Animals?
Now that you understand what to expect from your Beagle regarding human interaction, it’s time to dive into how they tend to deal with other animals.
Beagles can be aggressive toward other animals. Factors such as location, animal type, and the training level your dog has received can affect aggression levels. Beagles are hunting dogs and may be more aggressive with squirrels. Some Beagles may also struggle with dogs coming to visit.
Ultimately, each Beagle will have a unique temperament that you must gauge.
Their life history and training will play a massive part in their behavior towards other animals.
How aggressive the other animal is can have a significant effect as well.
Other Animals in Your Household
As for other animals in your household, Beagles tend to be quite friendly. If you have another dog, they should be great friends.
If the Beagle is new to the home, the adjustment process may take a little time, but for the most part, they will enjoy the company of another dog.
As for other animals, such as cats, hamsters, ferrets, birds, etc., they should also get along fine with these pets, provided they haven’t been trained to hunt them.
Cats and other small pets can sometimes trigger a Beagle’s hunting instinct, causing the dog to chase them around.
Animals They Encounter Outside
It’s important to note that Beagles were initially bred to be hunting dogs; this means that they will sometimes go after small prey animals and even cats.
As a result, you may frequently encounter your Beagle chasing off squirrels or stray cats from the yard.
If this is a problem for you, training your Beagle to refrain from bothering outdoor animals is a good idea.
Are Female or Male Beagles More Aggressive?
Next, it’s essential to know if gender plays a part in your Beagle’s temperament. For example, are male or female Beagles more likely to become aggressive?
Neither female nor male Beagles are aggressive. Both genders tend to be friendly and rarely hostile. However, female Beagles can become aggressive when nursing pups if they feel threatened, while males tend to be more laid back. In addition, both may become aggressive if injured or threatened.
Generally, female Beagles are known to be more excitable, while males tend to be more laid back and lazy.
However, both genders can become aggressive under the right circumstances, just like any dog breed.
What Can Cause Aggressive Behavior?
Another essential piece of knowledge to have about owning Beagles is precisely WHAT causes aggressive behavior in your pup.
Causes of aggressive behavior in Beagles include injuries, illnesses, anxiety, fear, possessiveness, frustration, hunger, and hunting instincts. However, in normal conditions, Beagles tend to be quite mild-tempered.
Here’s what you need to know about each of these triggers:
- An injury: If a dog is showing signs of aggression due to a possible injury, they are likely lashing out due to pain and should be seen by a veterinarian immediately. Once the pain has subsided, you should notice your Beagle returning to their regular happy demeanor.
- Illness: A sick Beagle can sometimes behave aggressively if they wish to be alone. The best thing to do if you believe your pup is ill is to get them to see a vet immediately. Once they are feeling better, the aggressive behavior should subside.
- Anxiety: An anxious Beagle can become aggressive, so it’s crucial to provide a calm environment and remove any factors that may be stressing your pup out. For instance, if your Beagle gets nervous around a cat, providing them with a cat-free space to relax in will help.
- Fear: One of the most common reasons Beagles become aggressive is out of fear. The best way to combat fear is to identify the source of the fear and eliminate it if you can. For example, If your dog is afraid of rain, turn on some music and cuddle up with them until the scary storm has passed.
- Possessiveness: Aggression can often occur when your Beagle has an item they don’t wish to share. You may notice a particular ball, space, or object triggers aggressive tendencies in your pup. Removing the item can help alleviate aggression. Otherwise, simply leave the dog alone when they have the item, this way, they don’t worry you’ll take it.
- Frustration: Just like people, dogs can get frustrated too. If you notice your dog becoming frustrated and this emotion results in aggression, it’s best to keep calm and give your dog time to process. Positive redirection is also a great tactic to distract your Beagle from negative emotions like frustration.
- Hunger: A common cause of aggression is hunger. Moreover, for whatever reason, some dogs develop food aggression and become aggravated when others come near or touch their food. Trying tactics like sitting with your dog when they eat and hand feeding them can significantly help combat Beagles that are aggressive around food.
- Hunting instincts: Beagles were bred to be hunting dogs, and sometimes they can get aggressive when in hunting mode. If you notice this behavior outside with your pup, try not to startle them or make them think you are trying to take their prize. The more comfortable they are with you, the less likely they are to act aggressively.
All these triggers make for possible causes why your Beagle may be expressing themselves aggressively.
As their pet parent, it’s up to you to remedy the situation. Luckily, there are many methods to combat aggression.
The most important thing is to remember to be patient.
Is Your Beagle Being Aggressive or Protective?
Another essential factor to remember when dealing with aggression is whether the aggression is unwarranted or protective. But how exactly do you tell the difference?
To determine whether your Beagle is being aggressive or protective, examine their body language. Protective aggression usually comes in the form of your Beagle growling at a stranger who has raised their voice in your home. Regular aggression tends to be triggered by far more trivial causes.
With protective aggression, it’s crucial to stay calm and let your dog know everything will be alright.
In contrast, regular aggression can be triggered by trivial things such as feeding times, loud noises, or someone touching your pup’s toy.
In either case, understanding the root of your Beagle’s aggression is extremely important to remedy the behavior.
Learn To Recognize the Signs That Your Dog Is About To Get Aggressive
Next, you must be able to recognize when your Beagle is about to become aggressive.
Luckily, dogs often display warning signs before acting out aggressively.
So long as you pay attention to the signs, you can combat the behavior.
Signs your dog is about to get aggressive:
- Rigid body posture
- Deep barking sounds
- Showing teeth
- Their jaw is silently moving
- Their jaw is silently moving
These are all signs that your dog is about to become aggressive and should quickly be calmed down.
If calming doesn’t work, it’s essential to separate the dog from people so that no one gets hurt if the aggression escalates.
The best thing you can do is give the dog some time to calm down with minimal outside stimulus and then redirect them to something positive.
What To Do During an Aggressive Episode
If your dog has sudden or frequent bouts of aggression, it’s crucial to know precisely how to calm an aggressive episode.
Tips for calming an aggressive dog:
- Stay calm and maintain a positive demeanor. Dogs can read body language, and if you become frustrated or upset with your dog, it can lead to further distress for your pup.
- Speak in a happy, calming voice, even if you’re upset. Dogs are great at reading a person’s tone of voice. The more calm and normal you can keep your voice when your dog is acting aggressively, the easier it will be to calm them.
- Note what situations stress your dog out and try to avoid them. For instance, walking away from other dogs would be best if your dog gets stressed when taken to the dog park.
- Motivate with positive reinforcement. An anxious or scared dog is likelier to lash out, and positive reinforcement is a great way to make your pup feel safe and happier.
- Try calming medication. This will need to be prescribed by a veterinarian. However, in some cases, dogs may need a little boost to feel calmer to minimize aggression.
- Enroll your dog in a behavioral course. Training is one of the best ways to ensure your dog behaves appropriately, especially in a public setting. Good training can also help alleviate anxiety for an uncertain dog.
If you’re out and about when your dog suddenly becomes aggressive, the best thing you can do is to get them somewhere with less stimulus -somewhere quiet and not busy is best.
This will allow the dog to calm down and relax. However, unfortunately, even well-trained dogs can sometimes have episodes of aggression.
Having said that, if these instances of aggression become more frequent, utilizing protective measures like muzzles when going out might be a good idea.
This will prevent your dog from biting you or anyone else if they suddenly become aggressive.
When To Get Professional Help
Finally, it’s essential to know when to seek professional help for your pup.
Occasional outbursts of aggression are relatively standard for dogs, especially if they feel threatened or upset.
However, you should seek the help of a veterinarian or licensed dog trainer if the behavior becomes frequent.
Overly aggressive behavior could be due to an underlying condition and, if left untreated, can result in you or someone you know becoming injured.
Additionally, if your dog has suddenly become aggressive or is frequently upset by everyday situations, it’s best to seek professional help, as the situation is unlikely to resolve on its own.
Plus, dogs don’t enjoy being aggressive. Aggression is a response to something unpleasant in the dog’s environment.
The sooner you get to the root of the problem, the happier you both will be.
This is especially true of dogs that were not previously aggressive but have become increasingly frustrated over time.
However, even when it comes to dogs that seem to be naturally aggressive, consulting with a vet is always a good idea.
Therapy for aggressive dogs is a great option and usually consists of:
- Desensitizing your dog to stimuli that upset them
- Getting them used to regular human touch
- Socializing them with other animals and people
- Deference training
- Regular exercise
Ultimately, Beagles are not naturally aggressive. However, any dog can become aggressive in the right circumstances, especially if feeling threatened or afraid.
The best thing you can do if your pup is acting aggressively is to stay calm and seek professional help if the behavior persists.
- The Smart Canine: Are Beagles Aggressive Dogs? – The Owner’s Guide to Beagle Aggression
- Wag Walking: Why Are Beagles Aggressive
- The Upper Pawside: Are Beagles Aggressive Towards Other Dogs?
- Jubilant Pups: Are Beagles Aggressive? (And What To Do If They Are)
- How To Train Your Dog: Beagle Aggression: A Comprehensive Guide
- Beagle Welfare UK: Guarding And Possessive Behavior
- Got Beagles: So…You Want A Beagle?
- Bubbly Pet: Male vs. Female Beagle: Which One Is Better?
- The Spruce Pets: Reasons Why Dogs Get Aggressive and How to Stop It
- ASPCA: Aggression
- Sit Means Sit Dog Training: How To Tell If A Dog Is Being Aggressive
- American Kennel Club: Beagle
Click here to read my post on 17 foods you need to stop feeding your Beagle, rated from bad to worse
Veterinary Hospital Director at UCE
Dr. Marcelle is a general veterinarian with a Small Animal Medicine Specialty | Director of the UCE School of Veterinary Medicine | Certified by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society