Wednesday, October 29, 2008

In Defence of Beagles

I have received overwhelming support from the dog bloggers community over the newspaper article on "Slow Dogs - Meet the World's 10 least intelligent dogs", which listed beagles in the list. Thank you dear friends for your comments and support for beagles.

I decided that it wasn't enough to voice my indignation about the article on my blog. So, last weekend, I sent the following e-mail to the Editor of the Weekender to present our views. Hopefully, this gets published so that readers of the paper do not get the wrong impression about beagles.

Dear Weekender Editor,
I refer to your article “Slow Dogs -Meet the world’s 10 least intelligent dogs” published on 11 October 2008. The article lists the Beagle as one of the “slow dogs”. As a beagle, I have a duty to defend my breed from being wrongly identified as a “slow dog”. The following points are my views and that of my fellow dog bloggers.

The criterion of “hardest to train” which was used to rank a dog’s intelligence is faulty. A dog that is hard to train does not mean that the dog is not intelligent. Yes, beagles are challenging to train. By nature, beagles are hunting dogs. This means that we are strongly governed by our nose and are easily distracted by scents. Unlike some breeds which are bred to work one-on-one with humans and have a strong desire to please their handlers, beagles are bred to work in a pack with other dogs. Hence, the desire to please our human handlers is a lot less. This leads to the perception that beagles are stubborn.

The challenge in training a beagle is using the right motivation tool. Beagle owners know that the one thing that never fails to motivate us is food. Beagles are intelligent and learn quickly when motivated. In fact, airports around the world use beagles as sniffer dogs to prevent illegal items from being smuggled into the country. This shows that beagles can be trained to provide service, if humans know how to motivate us. Of course, our intelligence can be a bane to our humans. Beagles are notorious for being escape artists because we are able to figure out how to get out from our enclosures - this requires both intelligence and agility. (I have escaped from my garden many times by scaling the fence, much to my humans’ chagrin.)

The article certainly does not do justice to beagles. Whilst I can understand that the title “Slow Dogs - Meet the world’s 10 least intelligent dogs” is certainly more catchy than “Meet the world’s 10 most difficult to train dogs”, it is incorrect and irresponsible to equate "difficulty to train" with "intelligence".

By Kess, the Beagle

P.S. My humans didn't have to teach me to carry my leash when going for walks. I learnt it myself


Lois Lane/Laney said...

If Beagles were dumb, the US wouldn't be using them in airports. Because of their keen sense of smell, and being less intimidating than German Shepherds, Beagles are used to sniff out illegal substances in many airports.
They wouldn't be using dumb dogs for that.

Amber-Mae said...

GREAT response to that dood! Everything you said in there is just so true & pawfect! Good job & I hope you'll get a very good reply from him or maybe he might not even reply becoz he really doesn't know much about Beagles & it will be embarrassing for him. BOL!!!

Butt wiggles,
Solid Gold Dancer

Lindsay said...

Great letter, Kess! I'm so glad you wrote it and told those idiots the truth. And you know what The Girl says? She says that hunting dogs like Beagles have to be able to think independently. Does that sound slow?!

Brown dog kisses,

Dughallmor Beagles said...

Great pee-mail, well said Kess (and Mama!) I know of quite a few Beagles who are trained to the highest level in obedience, even obedience champs! Agility also, have you been to Agility Beagle Xsara's blog? That is one awesome hound, she's so clever!

Scottie the 'Cutie' said...

Good on you, Kess! I really hope that they print out that response you sent! That'll give them something to think about before simply publishing an article...*wink* Let us know of any updates, okay? Would LOVE to hear it! *wink*


Charleen said...

I have 2 dogs, an 11 year old border collie and a 4 month old beagle. Prior to my new beagle buddy, I had an 11 year old beagle that developed cancer and complications from chemo. The border collie and beagle grew up together and were the best of friends, however, the beagle was in charge. You could say that I have one of the world's smartest dogs (the border collie) and one of the world's most difficult to train dogs (the beagle). I love them both, but prefer the good-natured beagle over the intense border collie. Intelligence has absolutely nothing to do with a dog's ability to provide companionship, unconditional love, and just-plain-fun and entertainment. If beagles are less intelligent, then I say, "right on." I find them strong-willed, not dumb, and bred to experience the world through their noses.

Lorenza said...

Hi, Kess!
Well said!
I can't wait for their response!
Kisses and hugs

i said...

Well said, Kess! I hope he's brave enough to reply to that hehe...

Molly the Airedale said...

What a sweet picture of you carrying your leash, Kess! You are one smart doggie - that's for darn sure!

Love ya lots,
Maggie and Mitch

Cocoa the Beagle said...

Great job Kess! We beagles are certainly NOT slow!

Cocoa and Barley

Mino said...

I totally support your article and your response!

You rock! BIG time! (^_^)v
It's justice made! Yeah~ *licks*


bokjae said...

My view is that bull terriers are more difficult to train by virtue of them having such a strong mind and personality!!! Sorry kess that you seem offended!!! haha!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your blog! The team has been reading through hundreds of pet-related blogs and we've selected your blog to be a DogTime Blog Star. We invite you to join the DogTime Blog Network based on the following criteria:  

Enthusiasm and love of for pets
Relevant and thorough pet content

Who is DogTime? DogTime Media is the largest online community of animal lovers with nearly 8.2 million unique visitors per month and over 180 member sites which include the best dog, cat, bird, fish, reptile and horse content from across the pet category. Please visit to learn more about our mission.

As a DogTime Blog Star more pet enthusiasts will see and read your blog and provide you with the opportunity to share your love of animals. Once you have joined the DogTime Blog Network there may be an opportunity for you to qualify to make advertising revenue.

Participation is simple, as we will use your existing RSS feed to feature your blog and posts. If you would like to participate, simply reply to this email with the URL of your RSS feed.

We will reply back with your own DogTime Blog Star badge to post on your blog site. For more details about the benefits of participating in the DogTime Blog Network please refer to our FAQs. If you have additional questions please contact me directly.

Thanks, and we hope you Find Your Wag!


Luisa Lapus Tiong | 877-348-Pets(7387)

DogTime Media | 27 Maiden Lane, Suite 700 | San Francisco, CA 94106

Agatha and Archie said...

BRAVO!!!!!! We wholeheartedly support you!!!!!!! Love A+A PS Let us know if you need any back up or anything...

Kathryn and Ari said...

We absolutely agree with. Beagles just march (and wander!) to their own drummers.

Unknown said...

Wow what a bunch of stupid people ... we are glad that you set them right! Beagles are so smart that the Miami airport is full of them, on contraband duty. We even saw one on Animal Planet that has been trained to find BED BUGS! Like we always say, it's not the dog that is the problem (or stupid!) it's the people attached to the other end of the leash!

Annaret said...

Way to go Kess! Very well said! Xsara the Beagle is a prime example of how intelligent and even trainable a Beagle can be if us humans understand them and motivate them in a way that works for them. Xsara weaves backwards through her owner's legs, ride skateboard, excel in agility and much much more! It's a shame that some people look at all breeds the same way, I also have 2 Beagles AND a Border Collie... so different, but just as trainable when understanding and using the right method for the specific breed.

Please also visit Agility Beagles Emma & Levi's blog: for some FAST agility runs. :)

♥Mona + Prissy + Angel Weenie♥ said...

Very good letter!! Wonder if they will respond or just go hid to hid their stupidity.

Love the picture of you carring your leash.

Love .. Mona


Very well written Kess. We second this! We are not SLOW!

Unknown said...

ahhh! how cute! love the blog! Please check out mine, maybe be a follower too????

Don't forget to take a sec to sign my guestbook so I know you came by!

Biggie-Z said...

VERY WELL SAID! Biggie was playing Bobbing for Rocks this summer and the guy he was playing with asked me, "Does he even have 2 brain cells to rub together?" as Biggie continued to poke his head in the water, bring it up, dripping, sight something else (either a shiny rock or maybe a small fish), and poke his head in again.

I thought about asking him, who's dumber, the dog who sticks his head in the water to see the rocks you throw in the water, or the human he's trained to throw the rocks for him?

There is definitely a big difference between trainability and intelligence.

Hugs from another dog sometimes called "dumb",

Thanks for signing my guest book.