Beagle Body Language: What Are They Saying?
When it comes to beagle body language, we do have to wonder what clues we may be missing in translation.
Let’s face it: our beagles are close-knit members of our families. And as such, they take on many of our characteristics.
One characteristic you may not be very attuned to in your beagle is their body language.
Sure, you may even understand when they vocalize. But what about their elaborate second language without sound, that shows exactly how they think and feel.
Garnering an understanding of this elusive language will result in a relationship that is that much stronger and loving, between you and your beagle.
Individual Components And The Entire Body As A Whole
Aristotle once said, “The Whole Is Greater Than The Sum Of Its Parts”.
That statement couldn’t apply more accurately.
Your beagle will actively express their thoughts and feelings. For us to better decipher it, we need to be observing their body as a whole.
But that being said, the individual components like eyes, ears, mouth, tail all speak their own language.
However, when presented in different ways can mean completely different things.
Decoding Your Beagle’s Individual Component Expressions
Just like us humans, our beagles are particularly expressive with their faces. But unlike us, they have also the ever so important tail. Let’s go in-depth about how these individual parts to display their emotion.
Now with that being said: Similar facial expressions can have a completely different meaning when read in conjunction with the overall posture of their body.
The Eyes Of Your Beagle
Beagles may have their eyes wide open, half-closed, staring directly at you or purposefully looking away.
Neutral: When pleasantly calm, their eyes are often oval-shaped.
Submissive: They will look away, or briefly look at you then look away. It could also mean that they are nervous.
Assertive: When particularly aware of their surroundings, their eyes will be more rounded displaying calm confidence.
Aggressive: If they are staring straight at you and holding it, this is a threat almost always. Their eyes will show more of the sclera (the white portion of the eyes) as they will be wide-open and rounded. An aggressive or possessive beagle will display this. Be particularly mindful of a scenario like this, as you’ll want to de-escalate the scenario before your beagle or anyone else gets hurt.
The Ears Of Your Beagle
Beagles as you well know, have quite the floppy ears.
Yes, they aren’t as expressive as ‘ pricked ears ‘ (those that are naturally erect) as some breeds have like the German shepherd, but they can still show emotion.
Confidence: The more forward and high their ears are (again — don’t expect pricked ears), as opposed them being held flat and toward the back of the head, the more confidence they are.
The Mouth Of Your Beagle
Closed Or Slightly Open During Hot Weather: They are typically in a relaxed and happy state.
Licks Their Lips, Or The Face Of A Person, Or Another Dog: generally a submissive play. It may also be indicative of them being unsure of themselves.
Yawning: Of course, they may just be tired. But it can also be a calming indicator. They may be frustrated and are in need of a mental break. If you’re in the middle of training, you may want to vary the intensity or alter the approach.
Submissive Grin: If your beagle pulls up (only) their top lip to show their teeth. They’ll have their ears back, their head lowered, trying to look small. Do not confuse this with a threatening aggressive grin, as their body language will say otherwise. They definitely will not be growling, if this is what they’re trying to convey.
Aggressive Grin: If your beagle pulls up their top lip up, the bottom lip down (think of that mouthpiece that holds your mouth open wide at the dentist’s office), they’re standing rigidly and they’re growling or snarling — they may be inclined to bite, as this is a threatening gesture. Exercise extreme caution.
The Tail Of Your Beagle
Here’s how your beagle uses their tail to express their emotions:
Neutral: If your beagle’s tail is held naturally, level or lower than their bodies; that equates that they are relaxed and calm.
Happy: If your beagle’s tail is held naturally, level or lower than their bodies, and wagging slowly or enthusiastically, they are excited and happy.
Submissive: If your beagle’s tail is tucked between their legs, or held very low; they are fearful or nervous.
Aggressive: If your beagle tail held high in the air, while not wagging at all, or wagging side to side slowly and purposefully; they are showing dominant, aggressive or threatening behavior.
Granted, it’s always a good idea to try to get the big picture. For example, your beagle is a hunting breed by default, so maybe he’s just on the scent of an animal. It’s wise to keep in mind their posture and the situation. That being said: Don’t always assume that a wagging tail is a happy dog.
Deciphering The Emotions Of Your Beagle From Their Body Language
Now that we’ve addressed the individual components, now it’s time to delve deeper into the body language of a beagle, by looking at their bodies as a whole.
As a general rule, your beagle can do 3 different things with their bodies, to display their general emotions:
- Hold themselves naturally, in a relaxed and calm state.
- Make themselves smaller and less threatening.
- Make themselves larger and more threatening.
If your beagle is happy, they will look relaxed and “natural”. They’ll stand balanced with their weight centered on all fours. Their eyes, ears, mouth, and tail are all held naturally, and if their tail is wagging, it will be at body level or lower. They will exude confidence.
If your beagle is excited, they will look a little less relaxed, more alert and tense; but they remain happy. I love beagles that get so excited that when they wag their tail, their entire back-end moves with their tail. How cute is that?
A beagle will occasionally stare intensely at whatever has captured their attention — unless of course, it’s actually within their reach. In that case, they’ll be all over it in excitement. You may even notice your beagle emitting short high-pitched barks.
We’ve all seen it in our beagles: the universal ‘play bow’.
The play bow is when your beagle drops in a position where their front legs are outstretched low in front of them, their chest low, and their back-end being held high in the air. They often have their mouths open, eyes wide open, and their ears are held forward and high. This is usually alongside sounding high-pitched and excited barks.
Ready And Alert
An alert beagle will stand tall, with all of their weight centered on all fours, staring at whatever has caught their attention with their ears perked up and forward. Their tail will usually be held still and at body level or higher, their eyes will be somewhere between normal and wide open. An alert beagle will look mildly intense and yet highly concentrated.
Scared And Frightened
A frightened beagle will try to make themselves look smaller, which is a submissive move to avoid looking threatening and inviting attack.
They will be alert, taking frequent side glances of what is frightening them. They will be low-slung, with their eyes narrow, ears pinned backs, and looking away.
The most recognizable sign of a beagle being scared or frightened is their tail is will be tucked between their legs, under their body.
Unsure, But Curious
Ready to spring away at a moment’s notice, a beagle that’s curious will have their most of their weight shifted onto their back legs.
The ‘stutter walk’ will commence. A few steps forward, a few back; pushing their neck and head forward or maybe a paw, making a slow progression toward what has caught their curiosity.
You’ve likely also seen the ‘curiosity tilt’; when they tilt their head side-to-side when they are trying to understand what they are seeing or hearing.
A submissive beagle will make themselves smaller, by keeping their bodies low, along with their tail (which may be wagging), and their muzzles may be pointing down toward the floor. They are displaying absolute passivity; thwarting any thoughts that anyone or anything needs to attack, as they pose no threat.
They may offer display other behaviors such as lip licking or licking the person or other animals they’re feeling submissive to.
The most recognizable signs sometimes shown is when your beagle rolls on their backs, which displays submissive trust.
Body Language Tools
One of our beagles used to suffer from a marked case of separation anxiety, when we first adopted him. We purchased a Thundershirt out of sheer compassion — and frankly, desperation. That, along with the other products we’ve used that may help you with dealing with your own beagle’s body language, is located in a list we created here.
Learning your beagle’s body language is important in understanding how your beagle is feeling at any given time.
After all, we typically take notice of other people’s emotions and adjust our own behavior or actions accordingly. Therefore, does it make sense to do the same for our dogs, that are members of our family?
If you use this information correctly, you can accordingly adjust your behavior or expectations for your beagle.
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