Dog Breeds Dog Training

Are Beagles Aggressive Dogs? – The Owner’s Guide to Beagle Aggression

Beagles are not typically aggressive dogs.
Written by Richard Jeng

Beagles are tracking dogs known for having an abundance of energy and for being friendly and curious. However, if you own a Beagle or plan on getting one, you should consider all aspects of a Beagle’s temperament. 

For instance, are Beagles aggressive? As compared to many other dog breeds, Beagles are not aggressive dogs. After all, they’re called “goldilocks dogs” primarily because of their mild temperaments. Nevertheless, there are certain circumstances that may make your dog aggressive. But with obedience, you can train the aggression out.

This guide explores everything you need to know about the Beagle’s aggression, from its causes to its signs. We also discusses how you can deal with aggressive tendencies by training your Beagle.

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What Makes Beagles Aggressive?

There are a variety of reasons that a Beagle may display aggression. There are two types of Beagle aggression: aggression towards humans and aggression towards animals. Both of which, can cause major concern for owners.

Beagles are aggressive when they want to assert their dominance or want to be recognized as the leader of the pack. They also may be aggressive out of fear. Let’s further explore the reasons why your dog may be showing aggressive tendencies.

Beagle Aggression Towards Humans 

Have you ever heard the saying, “a dog will never bite the hand that feeds it?” It’s a saying that many dog owners believe, but isn’t necessarily true.

That being said, the major concern that all owners with aggressive dogs fear is aggression towards humans, whether themselves or a friendly neighbor. Here are some scenarios and reasons in which a Beagle may be aggressive to a human: 

If your Beagle thinks he’s the alpha.

Beagles may be aggressive to humans (often within the family) when they believe they are the alpha dog of the pack or your household.

You’ll need to know that these dogs were bred to hunt in packs. In other words, they very much have pack-dog mentality. As such, alpha members of the pack use aggression to show other beta members their place.

Palo has a good sense of ‘pack hierarchy’ in our family. The only time he’s truly docile is when dad is home. Otherwise, he could lash out over food, behaviors, etc.

– Angela C. (Beagle Owner)

Despite popular belief, dogs don’t automatically assume their owners are the alpha, but they do consider them as part of the pack. Depending on how you act and treat your puppy during the early days, they’ll decide who should be the alpha.

So, if your Beagle is consistently aggressive toward members of your household, it may be because he is establishing his dominance in the hierarchy. In this scenario, you’ll need to be firm and consistent with them.

If your Beagle is eating.

Many dogs are fiercely protective of their food. In fact, we call this food aggression. If you try to take away your Beagle’s food dish while he’s eating, or you try to grab a treat, he may respond with aggression. 

The psychology behind this type of behavior is called resource guarding. It’s when dogs exhibit aggression (growling, snapping, biting, barking, etc.) to ward off others from their “resource.” Not only does it apply to food, but also toys or territory.

I gave our Beagles raw bones. Whenever I walked towards them, they made this low gurgling sound. But when I tried to get them off the couch, they growled at me! I was really surprised at this.

– Bimbim (Our Beagle World)

Though frowned upon, this behavior is normal in dogs. It can happen with Chihuahuas but also German Shepherds. In the past, wild dogs had to become opportunistic feeders for survival. So, it’s not really a surprise these instincts still exist, despite domestication.

It doesn’t matter if the dog has never starved a single day in its life. If you continue with no further obedience training, food aggression towards humans will persist.

If your Beagle is playing with rowdy kids.

For the most part, Beagles get along great with children. However, it’s possible for them to turn aggressive if a child hurts them. Young children may sometimes pull a Beagle’s tail or ears, and the Beagle may snap back out of “defense.”

As parents, we know just how rowdy children can be. But when injury happens, this is the Beagle’s way of protecting himself and establishing firm boundaries about acceptable behavior. Otherwise, they may seriously get injured.

The best way to prevent such a mishap from happening is by educating the kids. They need to learn how to respect the Beagle. And if the children aren’t old enough, you may want to wait until they understand how to respect animals.

Beagle Aggression Towards Animals 

Beagles generally get along well with other dogs. And in most cases, they’ll treat cats like loved family members too. However, there are two main reasons why a Beagle may show aggression towards other animals: 

When marking territory. Beagles will be aggressive towards other animals when they think they are invading their territory. It’s why some Beagles will be friendly when outdoors, but extremely aggressive indoors (at their home).

By territory, we’re not solely referring to the dog’s home. Your dog may also be aggressive when another animal approaches his toys, bed, food, and even members of your family. This is because they think that they are all part of his territory. 

I don’t think most beagles would try to hurt a cat, but it’s possible if she had a bad experience with cats in her past.

– Tucker (Our Beagle World)

When hunting prey. Beagles have been bred as tracking and hunting dogs. They have the instincts to chase and catch prey. So if you find that your Beagle is constantly chasing cats, squirrels, and other small animals, it’s because of his natural hunting instincts.

Most of the time, a Beagle will chase the animals but won’t actually hurt them. Rather, they just enjoy the chase. After catching or cornering the cat (or other animal), the dog doesn’t usually engage in violence towards the animal.

Beagle Aggression From Fear or Pain

Beagles may also show aggression when they are in pain. If your Beagle is in pain, he or she may growl or even bite anyone who comes too close. This is because they think being touched will cause more pain. 

It’s also not uncommon for Beagles to become aggressive towards themselves after injuring themselves. It’s why some hunting dogs will bite their foot if it get’s caught in a bear trap. In fact, this is all part of the dog’s survival instincts.

You Beagle may also become aggressive when he or she is scared. This is known as fear aggression, where a dog uses aggression as a way to deal with perceived threats. It’s why the small Chihuahua will act aggressive towards much larger “threats.”

How Beagles Show Aggression 

Here's why Beagles get along with other dogs.

At times, it may be a little difficult to tell if your dog is playing around or communicating an emotion that’s not aggression. However, Beagles tend to display aggression in a variety of different ways: 

Nipping and biting – Your Beagle may start with playfully nipping, but then progress to a more aggressive biting. In more extreme circumstances, a Beagle will bite hard enough to hurt or even draw blood. 

Growling and barking – It’s possible that a Beagle may grow, bark, or bare his teeth at you or other animals. This is how he shows dominance, but can also be used “scare off” threats that they may be intruding on their territory.

Chasing – A Beagle may playfully chase other animals or even humans around. However, if the Beagle is baring his teeth or growling, then he’s aggressive chasing, which can become dangerous for the prey. 

Possessiveness – Beagles are very possessive dogs. As a result, they may display some behaviors of possessiveness by growling or barking. He may be possessive over food, toys, or special spots (favorite corner of bed, etc.). 

Jumping – While jumping is a form of play, Beagles that are constantly jumping on others may be showing aggression. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to train a Beagle not to jump on other people or animals.

Dealing With Beagle Aggression 

Training a beagle to play nice with kids is easy but requires a lot of socialization early on.

If your Beagle is constantly showing signs of aggression, don’t worry! Beagles are naturally friendly, so with some attention and training, you should be able to reduce your Beagle’s aggressive behaviors.

According to Rover, the “golden window” for socialization and training is between weeks 3 and 12. So it’s best to start training a Beagle when he is a puppy because that’s when the dog can best learn how to interact with other people and animals.

Establish the Pack-Alpha

To prevent aggressive behavior and ensure that your dog responds to your commands, you need to establish yourself as the alpha in your household. Here’s how you can do this

Always eat first. Alphas in the pack always eat first in the wild. So, make sure you eat your meals before you feed your Beagle. If your Beagle is begging for food while you are eating, make the dog wait until you finish.

Establish firm boundaries. Make sure that there are some spaces in the house where your Beagle is not allowed. This may be on top of furniture, in the kitchen, or on your bed. This is to reduce territorial behavior and aggression. 

The more aggressive he is, the more frightened and tentative you will be, which fosters more aggression. We worked with our beagle so that I am in control and she respects my commands.

– Molly’s Mom (Our Beagle World)

Don’t let the Beagle lead you. When you are out on walks make sure you are leading him and not the other way around. Fortunately, Beagles are small dogs and easier to guide on walks. Again, this establishes that you are in control of the direction you’re going. 

Be assertive, but calm. Dominant pack members can exert control without resorting to any shouting or violence. Don’t use harsh obedient methods to disciple your Beagle, but instead ignore him or firmly tell him off if he’s misbehaving. 

Identify the Cause of Aggression

When you are correcting your Beagle’s aggression, it’s important to identify what’s causing it. Pay close attention when your dog is displaying signs of aggression and try to identify the trigger to the aggression.

If your Beagle is being aggressive because he is trying to establish dominance or because he is territorial, then use obedience methods to address the aggression. Letting them have their way will only fuel their alpha status in the pack.

However, if he’s aggressive out of pain, this may not help. Feel the body of your dog and try to see if there are any tender spots. If this is the case, you’ll want to take your Beagle to the vet to ensure that the aggression is not stemming from pain. 

If your Beagle is displaying aggression out of fear, try to identify and avoid the triggers that are causing fear. In these cases, it’s also worth talking to an animal behavioral expert to help find ways to calm your Beagle. 

Obedience Training 

Training your Beagle to respond to commands like sit, come, stay and down, will help you reassert your dominance. You can also use these commands to stop your Beagle from being aggressive. 

For example, if your Beagle is growling at the mailman or neighbor, you’ll be able to give the “come” command. More than likely, he’ll snap out of it and come to you, that is, if the dog is well trained.

This is why obedience training is essential. It gives you “control” over your Beagle and can be used to prevent and cease aggressive behaviors. If you’re interested in teaching your Beagle the basic commands, check out this great AKC guide.

Socialization 

When your Beagle is a puppy, try to ensure that he meets plenty of other dogs and people. Obedience classes, dog parks, and other dog-friendly areas are great places to do this.

We always sent our puppies to doggie day care, not because we didn’t have time, but for the crucial socialization training. Beagles that are comfortable around others will feel more secure, less scared, and less likely to use aggression to cope in social situations.

Avoid Physical Punishment

Beagles don’t respond well to physical punishment. This includes hitting, spanking and even shouting. In the end, this will only cause more fear and may make your Beagle even more aggressive.

Instead, ignore the aggressive behavior by leaving your Beagle alone or turning away from him. Let them understand that aggressive behaviors are not okay by giving them less attention when they do it.

If you feel like the aggression is getting out of hand, or if your Beagle is hurting others, you may want to call in a professional trainer. Sure, it can be costly. However, they will help you better understand and navigate the aggression. 

Beagles Aren’t Aggressive!

Reasons why Beagles love to howl.

Typically, Beagles aren’t aggressive dog breeds. However, there are some situations that a Beagle may become aggressive, such as when he or she is trying to show dominance or protect his territory. A Beagle will also be aggressive out of fear or pain. 

If you do have an aggressive Beagle, make sure you are using obedience and socialization training as ways to reducing the aggression. You should also show your Beagle that you are the alpha in your household; he will then be more likely to listen to your commands. 

We hope you use this guide to help you address your Beagle’s aggression, and ultimately build a better relationship with him! Do you have any other tips for Beagle owners? Let us know in the comments section below!

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About the author

Richard Jeng

Richard has been raising dogs his whole life, including a Poodle, Pomeranian, Corgi and Australian Shepherd. He's always working with animal shelters and dog rescues because of his passion for all dogs. Fun fact: his all time favorite breed is the German Shepherd. Read More.

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