Beagle Running & Grading Definitions

Bruce Gabrielson - Tikiline Beagles - January 2001

I've had a lot of problems over the years by those who profess to be houndmen that know their Beagles, but in reality have no clue what they are talking about. I've had hunters buy a started pup after watching it run in the pen, take it out in the field the first day and fire a gun rught over its head, and then call the next day to complain that the pup was scared out of its wits and couldn't be caught easily. I've also had hunters buy a hound, take it out for a week every night on new grounds or in dificult conditions, then call me and say the hound follows them around and won't hunt. The biggest problem I see time and again is someone buy a hound, take it out when they get home, keep it outside in a new kennel that night, then call me up the next day wanting their money back because the hound didn't run and barked all night. These people are very confused and I usually prefer not to deal with them. Therefore, I've decided to put the following information on grading hounds into writing and hope that it gets read before the next hunter visits to buy a dog. This is what I've come up with based primarily on the experiences I've had.

There is so much confusion among novice hunters and field trial Beaglers about what constitutes a field beagle's characteristics and capabilities that some definitions and guidance is needed. When dealing with someone trying to describe their beagle's ability, this is what you need to know. The prices are in general and related to hounds in this area. Other areas may vary in what a hound can cost.

Gun Dog ($250-$500) - This is a hound used primarily for hunting. It can jump its own rabbit, is medium speed to faster, and will keep the rabbit moving so the hunter can get a shot. Unless you run hare, the breeding for Gun dogs and Field Trial dogs is nearly the same.

Brace Field Trial Hound ($250 to several $1000) - Field Trial hounds are bred for good noses and patience. They are slow and will sometimes hang up on a check without reaching out to find the line. Despite what diehard hunters say, most field trial hounds make good hunting dogs after they get a little older, pick up some speed, and learn to work out farther from a check.

Gundog Competition Hound ($250 -$1000 or more) - This is normally a medium to fast hunting type hound that will jump on its own, work with other hounds, push a rabbit without loosing it, and takes control of the line and pack.

Each of these hound types are graded based on its ability and experience. Below are the grades often used to describe these hounds.

Field Bred Pup ($100 - $250) - This generally goes by bloodlines and parents characteristics. In general, Field Trial breeding draws higher prices.

Started Hound ($150-$200) - This is usually a young hound (to 1 years old) that has only recently started to bark (open) on hot rabbit scent. What this means is the hound will likely not even put its nose down at first if the ground is frozen, and that it will take some time for the hound to get used to you before it will hunt or even get out from under your feet. This does not mean a hound that will run a line, will go to other running dogs, will go into heavy brush on its own, or one that has been gun broke when you first take it out. Those who start hounds normally will work the pup until it barks on a hot scent. Unless you pay for additional training, the rest is up to you. By the way, most hunters want to buy started pups so they can be trained to run the way the hunter wants.

At this point, field trial and gun dogs start to separate. A started hound with good gun dog potential will want to work a line harder than a field trial hound, has a colder nose, and will often want to find a rabbit on its own. A field trial hound will start to work hard at checks, but won't necessarily try to find its own rabbit.

Well Started Hound ($200-$250) - This is a young hound that can track a rabbit for a short distance without loosing it. The hound will also likely go to other running hounds once it gets used to you (maybe under your feet for a couple of weeks). You still have the problem of the hound smelling in difficult scenting conditions, of getting the hound to quickly work into heavy brush, and of breaking the hound to a gun shot.

Young Running Hound ($200-$300) - This is a hound with at least 3 months under its belt that will track a rabbit in good conditions on its own without loosing quickly, will usually go into strange running hounds with little prompting, and will go into heavy brush on its own. If a hunting dog, this hound has also been conditioned to a gun.

Solid Running Hound ($300-$500) - This is an experienced hound with at least a full season under its belt. It will keep a rabbit moving without a loss, run with other dogs and will normally not require much in the way of getting used to a new owner.

Jump Dog ($200-$350) - This is what many hunters think is a good running hound. Sorry I disagree. To me this is a fair running hound that has a colder nose, can push into heavy brush to jump a rabbit on its own, but doesn't have the patience to keep from loosing a rabbit before long and go looking for another rabbit. You need to run this hound with other hounds that can carry the line.

Wind Splitter (???) - This is really a super fast but fair jump dog that will only carry a line for a short distance before over running and going to look for another line. Many hunting hounds fall into this category. While these hounds do have worth for hunting, I'm not the best person to guess what a hunter might be willing to pay.

Pup Starter ($100-$150) - This is usually an older hound that simply cant keep up with the young hounds but still has plenty of desire. The best pup starters are slower speed with a good mouth that will seldom loose a rabbit.

I hope this helps.