Why are Beagles used as service dogs?

July 03, 2020 7 min read

When you think of the term ‘service dog’ what image of a dog breed first pop into your mind? Do you first think of a few popular, vicious breeds like the Rottweiler, Labrador retrievers, French bulldogs, German shepherd or soften down your options to the likes of poodles, papillons, Australian shepherds, and beagles?

Whatever your option or preference as a service dog may be, it might interest you to know that all options enlisted are great for serving humanity since they possess special skills, they can act as a seeing-eye dog, a police dog or a search and rescue dog according to their individual training, it all depends on the exact service you’re looking for.

The beagle’s reputation as a home pet does not limit its abilities to be more than just a cute, warm cuddly, home dog. The beagle dog, though small in size is pretty versatile, perhaps if you do remember it like a hound and a pack dog with some intelligence and a really heightened sense of smell it would probably help in endorsing it as one of the best service dogs you can ever have, and what else has it got to make it into the list?

A very high stamina and hunting skills which makes it good for search and rescue missions, ability to sniff out bombs and drugs which makes it a great police dog and if you needed more, perhaps an emotional support dog then the beagle with its touch of warmness and friendliness not only makes it a suitable helpmate for people in need of seeing, hearing or mobility aid but qualifies it as a therapeutic companion.

The United States is filled with service dogs, and there are a lot of people still in need of them, these dogs are usually graduates of organized programs or organizations while some were only trained by their owners. These dogs are expected to successfully complete their training to a great level before being tagged as qualified.

Service dogs are dogs that have proven to have special skills and temperament and can come from any dog breed, so this is not only a matter of breed, and for that fact, a lot of dogs drop out of the training programs or organization without completion and do not make it as service dogs. Any dog, whether purchased or from rescues and shelters can become useful as service dogs depending on its abilities.

Facts about service dogs

Now let’s debunk some ambiguity about “service dogs” and “emotional support dogs” as People often use the two terms interchangeably, it’s imperative to note that they are two separate things. It is one of the most frequently asked questions since the issue of service dogs became trendy.

When a dog performs the function of providing emotional support alone, it is not qualified to be called a service dog as its function is strictly to provide comfort and emotional ease to a worried or apprehensive person. A service dog on the other hand, is one trained to perform special tasks for a person with a disability, who finds it hard to perform those specific tasks, for instance we talk about seeing-eye dog for the blind, hearing dog for the deaf, psychiatric service dog, seizure assistance dog, diabetic alert dog and lots more; all these are functions of the service dog.

Although some beagle mix breeds can also perform the duties of a service dog, purebreds do perform more.

Things that can disqualify your beagle dog from being a service dog

Old age can disqualify a dog from being a service dog and for quite obvious reasons, and when I say old age, I mean a dog that is near retirement, it really is of no use. Training at that age would seem like trying to pix a square peg in a round hole and besides your companion doesn’t seem to have a lot of time in its life span anyway, you don’t want to be your service dog’s own hearing aid, do you?

Inherent temperament issues can be a big problem as training may not be able to solve them, some dogs snapping, snarling, mouthing everything in sight, jump over fences, incorrigibly stubborn and unresponsive to commands even after a certain period of training, these sort of temperament can be frustrating to deal with, simply put, your dog may not make pass the service dog training with a temperament like that.

If your dog is too noisy, it’s just a no-no, you don’t want a service dog who would be rather a nuisance where quietness and stealth are required in executing its tasks. Excessive barking can be rather overwhelming; the ability to stay calm under a state of Bedlam is a big plus.

It’s a turn off if during training your dog seems to be in competition with pigs that you can’t see. Cleanliness is also an advantage during training; it tells that a dog is well organized.

Bald spots, lumps or growth in coats can be an eyesore and are all a pointer to ill health, and it immediately disqualifies a dog.

Skeletal and muscular injuries; with the presence of these you do not expect your dog to move or run straight or with agility, these things require urgent attention and disqualify a dog undergoing training.

An overweight beagle is likely to be in its least active stage, just like humans, being overweight rubs off on our physical activities; it could make your beagle dog seem clumsy and less agile.

Is your beagle dog really fit to be a service dog?

Picking a service dog also depends on individual taste as regards what you would want your partner to look like; some would like a huge sturdy dog for mobility support, perhaps because they are huge in bodily structure themselves. If you are an average sized person perhaps a beagle is just okay for the job, if you want a small to mid-sized dog that can be transported to the hospitals or just compact to travel around with, the beagle dog is still your most suitable candidate – physical qualities of the beagle dog are the first consideration to go through.

The age of your beagle dog is something to consider, it’s good to go for a dog that’s a bit older, this way you would see its permanent structure, and you would see its transformation complete both physically and personality wise and not just a puppy still undergoing stages of growth and development and still in its attitude forming stage, however you should not pick a dog too old to adjust to training, this is because training also requires a period of months to years and it may be getting too late for your old dog or beagle to catch up.

Being a beagle does not automatically qualify your dog to be a service dog as there are other personality traits your dog needs to have in order to meet up with being a suitable service dog and these includes having a calm demeanor, alert, brave, friendliness but not to excess, focus, obedience, agility,curiosity and the consistency to carry out the same work daily.

Your beagle dog may possess some of these qualities already, and those that it does not will have to be infused through extensive training. This the fact is that many dogs do not make it easily into the list of top-notch service dogs, your dog may not necessarily make it easy for you either, but since its possible, it’s always worth a try.

Other more serious things to consider is your beagle’s temperament, it is very important that your dog stays in the middle of dominance and submissiveness, not unnecessarily panicky or overconfident not too aggressive or too calm, he completely needs to be in the middle of most moods, this is why your beagle dog needs a lot of training to make a good service dog, although, the general belief is that the beagle dog is difficult to train due to its single-mindedness, this is just one of the expected hurdles you have to pass through. Response to training eventually prepares your beagle dog to perform as a great service dog.

And It doesn’t there, before considering physical qualities and personality traits, training and response to training, it is expected that you would have carried out background research of your beagle and the facts to be found includes the breeder of your beagle dog and its parents. Here is the point where you ask a question like how reputable is your dog’s breeder?

Be sure you are choosing from a reliable source and picking your beagle from a trusted breeder, this can have a favorable impact of your dog or otherwise.

The parents of the dog are to be also considered, this is because of the rules of genetics which makes a beagle likely to inherit its characteristics from the parents, so if you do not like the way its parents are, there are chances you wouldn’t like the way your beagle puppy would turn out. This aspect can be really serious as it includes the inheritance of genetic diseases and not only the physical or personality traits of the dog. There is no use trying to work on inbuilt qualities which will give you extra worries without granting satisfactory end results.

Although we do know that the beagle dog is a very agile dog with a lot of energy, there is still a need to carry out extensive medical testing to ensure its physical fitness to a greater percentage since being a service dog isn’t just a walk in the park, no pun intended. First, your puppy must start our healthy – a sound structure, healthy eyes, and a shiny coat. You need to ensure that it goes through medical tests that tell that it’s free of hip and elbow dysplasia; a common beagle dog health problem, the hips, and elbows should be certified medically until your beagle dog is two years of age. Its joint health and basic structural soundness should be ensured especially through some preliminary x-rays.

Lastly, follow your gut feeling about your beagle dog, if you think, after all, training and evaluation, that your beagle dog wouldn’t make a good service dog, then it probably wouldn’t. It’s usually glaring if your dog would perform well as a service dog, there isn’t much use in giving that “almost” a try, remember there’s really no need trying to fix something you really know you can’t, the answer is simple; try the next kennel! The best is always out there.

Jan Helge Mathisen
Jan Helge Mathisen

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