Are Beagles Smart Dogs?

The beagle is a small-sized scent dog that looks like a foxhound bred primarily for hare hunting. Many agencies utilize them as detecting dogs due to their excellent sense of smell and powerful tracking instinct. Does this mean that beagles are smart dogs?

Beagles are intelligent dogs with a specialized skill set. Beagles rank 131st among the smartest dogs based on obedience and working intelligence. However, this does not imply that beagles aren’t smart, it means they don’t align with the standardized test for determining canine intelligence.

The ability to detect odors, their adorable, pleasant personality, and their hardworking qualities elevate them to the level of excellent family pets. Let’s do a deep dive into beagles’ intelligence.

What Makes Beagles Smart?

Dog intelligence goes far beyond obedience and work ethic. Unfortunately, this is the most straightforward aspect of intelligence to measure in dogs, and Coren, the scientist behind these dog intelligence tests, agrees.

Stanley Coren states that dogs have adaptive and instinctive intelligence, which are harder to measure. In that regard, here’s why the beagles are smarter than you think.

Beagles’ Hunter Intelligence 

As hunting dogs, beagles have excellent tracking skills. They are able to follow a trail for miles and pick up on subtle scents. Reason: they have more olfactory receptors than any other breed. 

Beagles have 220 million scent receptors, while humans only have six million. Pet Central ranks beagles in the top three dogs with the best sense of smell. 

The instinctive intelligence of beagles is further evident in their strong prey drive. Beagles have impressive noses, but they also have an unsurpassed ability to locate and differentiate between different types of odors.

Throughout the day, the beagle probably encounters a wide variety of scents. And this makes them struggle to pay attention to obedience training.

A beagle would rather focus on determining where an intriguing smell comes from than following commands. However, they make great detection dogs if you can channel their strong hunting instincts.

Beagles’ Adaptive Intelligence 

Generally, beagles are adept problem solvers and are highly capable of learning from their mistakes. The issue is that adaptable intelligence is maybe the most challenging aspect of dog intelligence to assess.

There are several ways to measure adaptive intelligence. One way is to see how well a dog can learn from its mistakes and apply that knowledge in the future.

Another way to measure adaptive intelligence is to see how well a dog can solve problems independently, such as figuring out how to get a treat out of a toy.

Beagles are also good at understanding human emotions and responding accordingly. For instance, if you’re sad, your beagle might come to comfort you. They’ll more likely want to play if you’re happy. 

Their ability to read human emotions earned them the “emotional support animal” title. The emotional intelligence is what makes beagles such great family pets. They can sense when you need comfort and are always eager to please.

Understanding The Level Of Beagles Intelligence

Stanely Coren, a psychology professor and neuropsychological researcher conducted a study that determined the intelligence of dogs. Out of 100 dog breeds, beagles ranked at the bottom 15 of that list. In his research, Dr. Coren looked at three factors:

  • Instinctive Intelligence—the dogs’ intelligence from instinctual behaviors like herding, hound work, guarding, and retrieving. Instinctive intelligence accounts for 40% of a dog’s intelligence.

  • Obedience & Working Intelligence- this is what we typically think of when discussing a dog’s intelligence. They can follow commands, learn tricks, and work with humans. Obedience & working intelligence account for 30% of a dog’s intelligence.

  • Adaptive Intelligence- the dog’s ability to solve problems independently, like opening doors or getting over a fence. Adaptive intelligence accounts for 30% of a dog’s intelligence.

Dr. Colen states beagles’ intelligence ranks lower than average, just like most hounds. He further indicates that beagles take between 80 and 100 repetitions to master a command. This is significantly higher than dogs like Border Collies, Poodles, and Labrador Retrievers, who only take 25 to 40 repetitions.

On average, beagles learn to obey 25% of the commands given to them by their owner. Does this make them dumb dogs? No, not at all. It means they are independent thinkers.

What Makes Beagles Rank Low In Dog Intelligence?

Beagles are smart dogs. It’s only that their IQ doesn’t match Dr. Coren’s comprehensive research standards. Coren uses two criteria for his study:

  • Firstly, the number of times a dog breed learns a new command. Coren claims that a dog with fewer repetitions is more intelligent.
  • Secondly, Coren measures how often a dog obeys an established command the first time. A breed with a higher success rate is smarter and more obedient.

Coren’s standardized criteria for measuring a breed’s intelligence focuses on obedience and working skills. Remember, each dog breed has its motivation.

There’s so much more to intelligence than working and obedience. So, it’s unfair to consider working and obedience when measuring a dog breed.

Beagles possess a deep sense of independence and don’t follow orders. They’re not the easiest dogs to train because they get easily distracted by scents. It does not, however, imply that they are not trainable.

The good news is that many owners say they’re pretty easy to train if you do it right. Just remember that beagles are more concerned with their priorities than yours. They’re not trying to be disobedient; they just have different priorities.

Additionally, 51% of a dog’s intelligence comes from genes, while 49% depends on its environment. The pair assesses the animal’s problem-solving ability, obedience, memory, social training, and observational skills.

How Can You Test Your Beagle’s Intelligence?

If you’re curious about your beagle’s intelligence, you can do a few things to test their abilities.

One way is to see how well they can learn tricks. Beagles are food motivated, so they’ll be more likely to perform tricks if there’s a treat involved. Here’s how you go about it;

  • Show your beagle the treat.
  • Cover the treat with a towel.
  • Start a timer and watch how long it takes for your beagle to recover the treat.
  • Dog experts say that if your beagle can recover the treat within 60 seconds, it has average intelligence. If it takes longer than that, it’s below-average intelligence.

You can also try the towel test. Let’s take you through the process.

  • Get a towel, stopwatch, and your Beagle.
  • Let your beagle sniff on the towel for a few seconds.
  • Cover your pet with a towel.
  • Start your timer and watch how long it takes for your beagle to remove the towel.
  • Ideally, your beagle should be able to remove the towel within 30 seconds. If they can do it in under a minute, that’s still good.

Of course, these are quick and easy ways to test your beagle’s intelligence. If you want a more accurate assessment, you should consult a professional trainer or behaviorist.


Beagles are smart dogs- there’s no doubt about it. They might not be the easiest to train, but you can magnify their intelligence skills with some training accompanied by little patience and perseverance. With their strong sense of smell and adaptive intelligence, beagles make great family pets and loyal companions. 


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