Are Beagles Smart? (And How To Test Them)

When you are looking into getting a dog, you are likely going to check out what their intelligence level is and how easy they are going to be to train. Beagles are a breed of dog that aren’t especially known for being incredibly smart, but are they smart at all? Beagles are not considered to be very smart, and they are actually at the bottom of the breed list for their smarts. However, this doesn’t mean that they are dumb. Beagles are known to have different things that motivate them that don’t meet the standard criteria that is tested. When you know and understand how beagles operate and what motivates them to do well, they can be extremely smart. They have specific skills that they are good at. For example, they are amazing scent hounds. Beagles are actually smarter than you might think. We are going to discuss how the beagle is smart, why they rank so low on the intelligence scale, and how easy they are to train.

Are Beagles Smart?

Beagles aren’t considered to be smart based on the regular standardized test of dog intelligence. However, intelligence comes from more than just how obedient they are and how hard they work. While this is the easiest way to determine intelligence, it isn’t the only way.


Beagles are smart when it comes to hunting. Beagles are incredible hunters, which makes them higher in instinctive intelligence. From the beginning, beagles were bred so that they could hunt with just their noses. They are even thought to have the best nose out of any other dog breed around. The beagle has an incredible number of scent receptors in their nose. We as humans have around 5 million scent receptors, while beagles have 220 million. That means their smell is about 44 times better than ours is. With such a great nose, it only makes sense that the nose is what makes the beagles so curious about everything. When they smell a new smell, they instantly want to try and figure out what that smell is and where it is coming from. With all of the distraction that comes with having such a great nose, it can be hard for them to focus on learning obedience. The beagle will be much more likely to try to hunt down a smell than learning how to sit and rollover. This is what makes them some of the best hunting dogs in the world.


Beagles are also considered to have adaptive intelligence. This means that they have the ability to learn things for themselves instead of being taught. Beagles are fantastic problem solvers. They can realize mistakes they have made and can learn from them. They will change their actions to correct the mistake. Beagles are also known to be great at communicating with people. They can read their owners and learn how to let their owners know what they want without words. They can very effectively communicate with their owners.

What Are the Three Types of Canine Intelligence?

There are three different types of canine intelligence: adaptive, instinctive, and working. The standard dog intelligence test focuses on working intelligence, but there is so much more to intelligence level than how easy dogs are trained to be obedient.

Adaptive Intelligence

Adaptive intelligence is how fast the dog can learn and pick up different social cues during training. When you ask a dog to perform multiple commands in one performance, that is where adaptiveness comes in handy. When dogs are adaptive, it is going to be easier to train them how to do a job. This is why beagles are such great hunters. They have adaptive intelligence, allowing them to communicate with their owners and solve problems during the process.

Instinctive Intelligence

Instinctive intelligence is basically what a breed of dog was bred to do. For example, beagles were bred to hunt with their nose. Each dog will have a different type of instinctive intelligence. Dogs that are bred to be protectors will naturally watch over things. Retrievers will naturally fetch. Every dog has some kind of instinctive intelligence, even if it might not seem like it. Chihuahuas, for example, are bred to be companions. Their instinctive intelligence will be to remain close to their owners and make sure they aren’t lonely.

Working Intelligence

Dogs are most often tested on their working intelligence. This tells us how obedient a dog is and how easy they are to train. It refers to what a dog can learn to do and how well they listen to instructions from humans. Dogs that have a high working intelligence are great with agility and even service dogs. For example, Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds are the most common service animals due to their ability to be trained and behave well.

Where Does a Beagles Intelligence Compare to Other Dogs?

Just like most hounds and terriers, the beagle is ranked pretty low in intelligence compared to other dogs. The beagle is actually in the bottom 10 dog breeds for intelligence. It is said that they have to hear a command between 80 and 100 times before they learn what it means. Since beagles aren’t likely to obey, this ranks them very low compared to more obedient dog breeds. Obedience seems to be how dogs are tested to determine their intelligence, and the dogs that are least likely to obey are commonly found at the bottom of the list. Dogs are put through a standard test that determines how smart, or how not smart, they are. This test isn’t really fair to those, such as beagles, who are smart in other ways than their ability to listen and obey commands. Different breeds have different motivators. For example, Border Collies are considered to be the most intelligent dog breed. They are incredibly obedient and are known to work just for the sake of doing so. This breed lives to work, which is why they are ranked number one. In the standardized test for dogs, two criteria were measured. The first being how many repetitions it takes for the breed to learn a new command and how successful the breed is at obeying a command they already know on the first try. Dogs that aren’t great with obedience, such as the beagle, naturally didn’t do very well with this test. Since beagles are naturally independent and curious, it is much harder to get them to follow commands than other breeds of dogs. It is not impossible to train them, just not as easy as other breeds. While beagles are ranked very low on the intelligence list, that doesn’t mean that they are less smart than other dogs, but it means that they are less obedient than other dogs. They would much rather think for themselves than be told what to do.

How Smart is a Beagle Compared to a Human?

There have been tests conducted to compare the intelligence between a human and a beagle. During the tests, it has been found that a beagle has about the same intelligence level as a two-year-old child. Beagles can easily learn where an object is, the shortest way to get somewhere, how to work and handle simple devices, and the meanings of some words and symbols. A beagle can be taught to understand as many as 165 words and signals. It is common for a two-year-old to understand at least 150 words, putting beagles right on the mark with them. Beagles also have the ability to count to 4 or 5. They can show this with barks or moving their paws.

How Can You Test Your Beagles Intelligence?

There are so many ways to define what intelligence means for dogs. If you want to test your beagle’s intelligence at home, you can. Luckily, home tests are more likely to test the dog’s problem-solving skills than their ability to obey commands. There are some tests you can have your dog do to test their intelligence. There is also a scoring system, so you can keep track and determine what their total score is at the end. If possible, try not to do all the tests in one day. It can potentially overwhelm your beagle, and they might not perform well. When performing these tests, it is also extremely important to remember that you need to be patient and kind. You will want to make the tests fun, so your dog is more willing to take part in them. If you act like it’s a game, your beagle will definitely want to play.

Towel Test

The towel test is probably one of the most well-known tests for dog intelligence. This is where you will place a blanket or large towel over your beagle’s head. They will then try to free themselves and get the blanket or towel off of their head. This tests problem-solving skills, so your beagle will likely do well. If your pup gets the towel or blanket off their head in less than fifteen seconds, they will receive three points. If it takes them between fifteen and thirty seconds, they will receive two points. Anything longer than 30 seconds will receive one point.

Bucket Test

This is another test for problem-solving skills. You are going to want to have three different buckets or cups upside down. Place them in an even row and grab your dog’s favorite toy or a treat. While your beagle is watching, place the toy or treat under one of the cups or buckets. After placing the item, distract your beagle for a few seconds before you let them search. After the distraction, you can allow your dog to start searching for the treat or toy. This will determine how well your pet can retain the information they receive. If your dog goes straight for the right cup or bucket, they get three points. If they check an empty cup or bucket before finding the right one, they get two points. They will only receive one point if they check both of the empty cups or buckets before finding the right one.

Favorite Spot

When your beagle is out of the room and can’t see, rearrange the furniture. Make sure that you are moving their favorite spot to lounge on. When the dog comes back into the room, they will likely notice that things are different, but they might still know where their spot it. If your beagle goes straight to their favorite spot when they come back in the room, they will get three points. If it takes them around thirty seconds to investigate the change before finding their spot, they will get two points. If they decide to lay in a new place completely, they get one point.

Chair Puzzle

For this test, you are going to need a chair or table that sits low to the ground. You want enough room for only your dog’s paw to fit underneath, not their head. Place a treat under the chair or table that is within the reach of their paw. As a problem-solving test, your beagle will likely excel at this. If it takes your beagle less than a minute to get the treat with just their paw, they get three points. If they try to stick their head under or uses their nose and paw to get the treat, they get two points. If they give up and don’t try to get the treat, they get one point.


At a time that you wouldn’t normally take your beagle for a walk, pick up their leash while they are watching you. The reaction of the pup will test their ability to retain certain associations with different objects. If your dog immediately gets excited for a walk, give them three points. If you need to walk to the door before they get excited, give them two points. If they don’t seem to understand what is going on or they just sit still, give them one point.

Barrier Test

This is the last test for intelligence and probably the hardest. You will need to have some cardboard handy for this test. You will want a piece that is about five feet wide and just tall enough that your dog can’t see over when standing on their hind legs. You will then need to attach two more boxes to both sides to work as support. In the cardboard, cut a small rectangle. It should be about three inches wide, allowing your dog to see through to the other side, but not fit through. Toss a treat or toy onto the other side of the barrier or have someone stand on the other side. If your dog figures out that they need to walk around the barrier to get to the treat or toy in less than thirty seconds, give them three points. If they get around the barrier between thirty and sixty seconds, give them two points. If they try to stick their head through the hole you cut, give them one point for their effort.


Add up all of the points your dog received over the course of the test. If they get 16 points or higher, they are considered incredibly intelligent. If they score between 13 and 16 points, they are considered above average. If they get 9 to 12 points, they are considered average. A score of 5 to 8 puts them below average. Scores below 5 are considered not very bright. These tests will be fun to perform with your pup and can give you a slight idea of how intelligent they might be. If your dog doesn’t score well, it could just mean that they are intelligent in a different way and not with problem solving.

How Easy is it to Train a Beagle?

Beagles are known to be harder to train than some other dog breeds. They are independent and like to do what they want to do, not what they are told to do. Since they were bred to be hunters, they can also easily get distracted by different smells and neglect their training. While it is difficult to train beagles, it is not impossible. If you provide the proper amount of effort, consistency, and commitment to their training, you can get your beagle trained. It is best to remain patient and give them lots of praise when they do well.

Want To Train Your Beagle With Peace Of Mind?

If you haven’t trained your Beagle properly, then this is the perfect time to start. Whatever bad behavior your shepherd has, whether it’s barking at night or other bad behaviors, using the right training program is the key to having an obedient and happy pup. The training program I love and highly recommend is Brain Training For Dogs. With Brain Training For Dogs you’ll save yourself a ton of time and effort. Instead of banging your head against the wall trying to figure out why your dog won’t listen, you’ll follow a path that has been tried, tested, and most importantly, that’s given proven results. Not to mention the fact, you’ll be able to fit the course around your schedule, not fit your schedule around a trainer or obedience class. So instead of worrying about whether they’re going to be well-behaved or not, you’ll only have to worry about how much fun you’ll have with them! And in most cases it’s still going to be:
  • Cheaper than hiring a professional.
  • Cheaper than replacing everything they might break.
  • And definitely cheaper than a lawsuit against you, if they decide to bite someone.
Just imagine how great it will feel to finally be able to trust your Beagle completely and never worry whether they’ll be naughty or not. Instead, you’ll have the peace of mind that you have a well-behaved pup, and the boundaries you set for them, will always be there, EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT. And the best part is it also has a 60-day money-back guarantee! So there’s no reason not to give Brain Training For Dogs a try! So if you’re tired of your dog’s bad behavior, or how they react around other people and pooches, then give it a try! You’ll be amazed by the results! (You can also check out a full review here, to learn exactly what the course has to offer!)


If you are considering getting a beagle, you are likely wondering what their intelligence level is like. Beagles aren’t considered to be intelligent dogs and they are even ranked in the bottom ten breeds when it comes to intelligence. This does not mean that beagles are dumb. Beagles have different motivators than other dogs and are intelligent in ways other than obedience. They have incredible noses, making them very great hunters. Beagles are also very intelligent when it comes to problem solving. While they are not considered intelligent by standard, they are still very smart in their own way.