Beagles are among the most affectionate, friendly, and social breeds of dogs, which is why they make great family pets. As pack animals, they also get along well with other dogs. However, when it comes to small animals such as birds, rabbits, and hamsters, a Beagle can be quite the trouble maker. This highly skilled scent hound was bred for finding and running down game birds. And although today’s Beagles don’t hunt anymore, they still have hunting instincts and will often jump on the opportunity to attack birds within striking distance. Having a bird around your Beagle can be a potential risk, but they can learn to get along with proper training and few adjustments here and there.
Do beagles kill birds? Even after centuries of domestication, Beagles still have an instinctive desire to chase, bite, and kill prey. Small animals like birds can often trigger this hunting instinct, leading your Beagle to kill it. The good news is not all dogs will follow the chase through to a kill; many just get excited by birds hunting and enjoy the thrill of the chase.
Do you have a Beagle and are considering getting a pet bird, or maybe you have a bird and want to get a pet dog. Either way, it will take a bit of work to integrate them into the same household. While it can be a challenge, it’s not impossible if you train them and provide safety for each animal. Almost all dogs have this tendency to chase and sometimes kill birds. Let’s explore this behavior more closely by highlighting the reasons behind a Beagle killing a bird, how you can manage this dynamic in your home, and more.
Do Beagles Kill Birds?
You might become distressed finding your Beagle chasing and killing birds, but as mentioned earlier, this is a normal phenomenon of dogs. If you want to know why Beagles act this way, here are the reasons:
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They have predatory instincts – Beagles are small hound breeds whose origin dates back to ancient Britain. Later, they were bred by the English settlers in North America as scent hounds, where they primarily tracked down wild animals for their hunters to capture or kill. They also hunted small animals for their own survival. While hunting dogs aren’t used as much today, and the modern breed doesn’t need to prey on birds to survive, this predatory behavior is still part of a Beagle’s DNA. They instinctively derive great pleasure from chasing birds and other small animals.
They kill to impress their owner – As hunting companions, Beagles lived in packs with a clear hierarchy. Due to this pack mentality, these dogs today view their human family as their pack. Your Beagle will likely see you as the pack leader and can and will do anything to please you. They will chase after birds, kill them, and bring them back to you to try and impress the pack leader and prove their usefulness to the pack.
When Beagles were trained for bird hunting, they were also taught to soft-mouth their game to their masters. This is why you may encounter a situation where your dog brings back a breathless bird to you.
Killing for attention – Beagles love attention and will often exhibit destructive behaviors to get that attention from their owners. For example, if your dog shows up with a dead bird and you start screaming, they might do it again. That over-excited reaction is like part of the play.
They are hungry or have a dietary issue – If your dog is not getting enough food, they might resort to killing and eating birds to satisfy their empty stomach. Another possibility is your dog isn’t getting enough nutrients from its current diet. They may crave meat, and the birds roaming around will start to look appetizing.
Are Beagles Good With Birds?
The Beagle and Basset Hound are some of the best scent hounds essentially used in tracking and hunting. With lots of public lands in North America open to hunting, owners of these breeds have been known to take their dogs out for a fun day of hunting wild game. Picture hitting the trails through a peaceful forest an hour before sunrise when the birds are chirping.
Beagles are not traditional bird dogs, but people have used them for hunting wild birds for centuries. Beagles would trail birds for a sizable distance and were experts at flushing and pointing at birds. They would retrieve the wounded birds and bring them back to the hunters. But sometimes, they kept them for themselves, meaning they killed and ate them.
Today’s Beagle may be domesticated, but it still has that prey drive that pushes them to chase, attack, kill and even eat dead birds. There are dangers to this predatory behavior, which makes it necessary to stop your dog from bird hunting. The first approach is to train your dog not to attack birds. Some of the best training methods you can use are the vocal command method, leash, and noise aversion method. An essential tip while training your dog is to reward them with a treat whenever they act as instructed. This makes them aware that what they’ve been rewarded for is the right thing to do.
While you can train your dog not to attack birds, you can never be too sure that they won’t. Their prey drive might be triggered, and they might not be able to control themselves. In that case, let’s explore preventive measures:
- Add a bell to your dog’s collar: The next time your dog tries to sneak up on a bird, the bell will ring, automatically alerting all the small animals around. This will allow the birds to fly away before the dog manages to grab it.
- Exercise your dog: Beagles are highly energetic, and by providing plenty of exercises, they will be left with no energy to chase after birds. Be sure to include the game of fetch, Frisbee, or tug of war as they replicate a lot of dogs’ actions when chasing birds. This will reduce their appetite to chase.
- Keep birds away from your home: If your Beagle is constantly killing birds on your property, something is making the chasing and attacking easier for them. Perhaps things like food sources or even some branches that you need to cut are attracting migratory birds to your backyard. Another solution can be bird deterrents.
Is It Normal for My Dog to Kill Birds?
All dog breeds have a high prey drive, some more than others, but it’s normal for them to follow the chase through to a kill. Terriers and hounds are some of the best bird hunters due to their high sense of smell for hunting and tracking, and the birds in the yard are the easiest targets. While it isn’t completely a bad thing for Beagles to kill birds, this predatory behavior is certainly one that needs to be addressed. You see, even small animals like birds try their best to defend themselves. If your dog attacks them, they might scratch the back, causing cuts and scratches that easily get infected. Some dogs eat the bird after killing it. The danger this poses to your dog is it might choke on the bones while trying to swallow them. The sharp, jagged edges of the bones can also cause damage to their insides.
Eating wild game and dead animals was initially part of dogs’ feeding habits, but the modern breeds’ digestive system is not used to that. Your dog may experience an upset stomach, but the most significant danger is the possibility of contracting a disease from an infected bird. Some birds carry the salmonella bacterium in their intestinal tract. And if your dog eats such a wild bird, it will become infected. This bacterium will wreak havoc on the canine’s digestive system and may lead to gastroenteritis. If immediate action is not taken against Salmonella infection, the toxins might travel to the other organs and damage them as well.
Another possible condition that your dog might develop is garbage toxicosis from eating game birds infested with toxic microbes. This has the same effects as food poisoning in humans.
Last but not least, your dog could get infected with West Nile Virus. This virus can trigger brain inflammation and other life-threatening symptoms such as paralysis, sudden body spasms, seizures, etc.
Is a Beagle a Good Farm Dog? Will It Kill Chickens?
It’s not only people in the countryside who can do farming. People living in the suburbs and cities are also turning part of their property into mini or micro-farms, hence the movement of Backyard/Urban Farming. You probably have or are considering adding chickens to your farm; after all, they provide an ongoing source of proteins in the form of eggs and meat. They are also fun backyard companions. But before you add new animals to the farm, you may want to consider how it will affect other existing animals.
Beagles are generally not ideal for farms. One of the biggest hurdles for your Beagle is to get them to hold back their natural hunting instincts around chickens and other small animals. The good news is it’s not impossible to get your Beagle to get along with small animals. The key is to take it slow and be patient with them; after all, both animals are in a new territory.
When introducing your Beagle to your chickens, allow them to see the chickens without having direct access. For instance, you could put the chickens in a fenced area and take the dog out on a leash to see them. Give your Beagle time to get used to the smell and sight of chickens and their environment. Once you’ve done this severally, you can try to introduce them without a barrier but make sure the situation is totally controllable by putting your dog on a leash. Remember your Beagle has to fight their natural hunting instincts that see chickens as prey.
Risk of raising Beagles and chickens together
No matter what you do, having small animals and Beagles living together can never be 100% safe. Dogs have been known to hurt or even kill chickens because they couldn’t overcome their instinct to hunt. Sometimes, even innocent play can result in unfortunate injuries. Be patient with the introduction process, and if either animal seems particularly unpleased to hang out with the other, a little distance may be in order.