Menu toggle icon.
Menu toggle icon.

Let’s Talk Beagles!

Side photo of Beagle walking on a grass.


Let’s Talk Beagles! – This and That

When asked to do an article on Beagles, there were many topics that were of interest to the Beagle fancy:

  • A Gentle & Pleading Expression—What makes a beautiful headpiece?
  • Two Varieties—The difference in sizes; should there even be unrecognizable difference in the sizes?
  • Any Hound Color—What about the colors of Beagles; how many colors do they come in?
  • Proper Movement in Beagles—Description and Pictures.

Let’s start with Color

When one in the US thinks of a Beagle, they usually visualize the most familiar color, the classic tri-color; black, tan, and white. Actually, Beagles come in a variety of colors. When the writers of the Beagle Standard said, “any hound color,” basically, at that point in time, they were saying any foxhound-type color. The AKC English Foxhound Breed Standard reads: “Hound colors are black, tan, and white, or any combination of these three, also the various ‘pies’ compounded of white and the color of the hare and badger, or yellow, or tan.”


These color combinations are typically what are seen in Beagles. Tri-colors include black/tan/ white, blue/tan/white, liver (chocolate)/tan/white, and lilac/tan/white. They may have the classic saddle pattern, faded tri, or open-marked. All are EQUALLY correct.
Bi-colors include red/white, tan/white, lemon/white, and fawn/white. All are EQUALLY correct. Pieds have not often been seen in the US, but with the importation of this color in recent years, more are being seen in the ring. To the untrained observer, pieds may look like a faded open-marked tri-color. One distinguishing feature is the nose coloration. Pieds have a “dudley” nose or a nose with a little bit of pinkish tint to the center of it. Genetically, they are different than tri- and bi-colors. This is also an EQUALLY correct color.
Two color patterns that have never been genetically shown to occur in Beagles are brindle and merle. These color patterns are not acceptable.


Acceptable colors (just a small sample)
More acceptable colors

Beagles are working hounds, typically with heads held lower and with ears that act to gather the scent.

Two Varieties: Is it a 13 or 15?

A good 13-inch should be just a smaller version of a 15-inch. Being a 13-inch does not mean looking toy-ish, spindly or dwarf-ish. Many times, a Beagle lacking in bone, substance, and head is said to be “okay for a 13-inch.” This is always incorrect. The only way a 13-inch Beagle should be “less than” a 15-inch is height at the shoulder—balance is always key. A 15-inch is any Beagle that measures over 13 inches at the withers. A small, balanced 15-inch (say 13-1/2 inches at the withers) is just as correct as a 15-inch that is right at the 15-inch mark. Look at the good examples below. Can you tell which ones are 13s and which ones are 15s? The answers will appear at end of this article.


A Gentle, Pleading Expression

And one that melts your heart! This is a description of the Beagle head. Proper structure creates
this expression.

The correct headpiece of the Beagle is a thing of beauty. It is created by a correct eye shape and size, combined with a generally darker eye color, with the ears framing the head properly and set level with the outer corner of the eye. The ears should, when drawn out, reach nearly, if not quite, to the end of the nose. They should be rounded at the tip and with the forward edges slightly inward-turning to the cheeks and correct head planes. Beagles are working hounds, typically with heads held lower and with ears that act to gather the scent.

Incorrect ear set.

In last few years, lower set, heavy, almost Basset-looking type ears are being seen in the ring. These are incorrect.


Short Sternums

One hot topic that is being discussed by many Beagle breeders is the short sternums and short rib cages that are being seen in the ring. Here is an illustration of the bone structure of the Beagle. Note where the sternum ends and notice the length of rib cage compared to the loin. A two-thirds ribcage to one-third loin ratio is correct.

An example of incorrect length of sternum.

A running hound needs a nice, long rib cage to provide protection for the internal organs and room for heart and lung capacity. Heart and lung capacity is an important endurance factor. The proper rib cage structure’s form follows its function. Often, with the short sternum and/or short rib cage, the tuck up will be extreme. This can be felt on exam, and the sternum ends just barely past the front legs.

An example of correct sternum length and rib structure.

Beagle Movement

Movement is not mentioned in the Standard. Basic assumptions are made based on the description of the running gear, shoulder, and rear construction. A Beagle works in the field at a walk, trot, and gallop. Efficiency in movement is important. Movement should appear effortless, efficient, and ground-covering. Front and rear legs are not thrown in or out. In trotting, the forequarters and hindquarters are coordinated and the back should remain level, firm, and relatively motionless.

Proper rib cage to loin ratio. 2/3 rib cage and 1/3 loin desired ratio.

The head carriage should be between slightly above the horizontal to approximately 35 degrees. As the front foot is brought forward, there should be minimum lift. The toes should appear to almost skim the ground as they are coming forward. The hind feet should fall into the footsteps of the front feet.

Overall, the Beagle is a working hound. Moderate is one word used often to describe a Beagle. Another “M” word for a Beagle is Merry. A Beagle should be happy and curious, not shy or spooky. Many aspects of the Beagle could be discussed more in-depth. Watch for more articles, especially online.

Examples: Correct Movement

Answer: All examples are 13-inch Beagles with the exception of numbers 4 and 6.

Correct movement


Our National Specialty always offers the best opportunity to learn about our merry little hounds! This year’s National will be held October 23-29, 2023 in Mesquite, Texas.

Sweepstakes and Conformation: October 23–26 at Hampton Inn & Suites and Convention Center

Scent Work: October 24 at Mesquite Convention Center/Hampton Inn & Suites

Obedience: October 25 at Hampton Inn & Suites

Rally: October 26 at Hampton Inn & Suites

Hunting Performance Test: October 26–27

Agility: October 27–29 – Supported Entry in conjunction with Bell County Kennel Club All-Breed Shows

Judges: Conformation Judge: Nanette Prideaux;
Sweeps Judge: Beverly Davies-Fraser;
Junior Showmanship/4-6 Month Puppy/PeeWee Competition: Linda Clark;
Performance Event Judges: TBD

Judges Education Seminar: October 24 held in conjunction with the National Specialty. Seminar & Hands-On, Tuesday afternoon. Presenter: Ruth Darlene Stewart; Ringside Mentoring, Wednesday & Thursday, October 25 & 26, 2023.

Show Chair: Ann Wolf

Unable to attend the Beagle National but want to learn more about our Merry Hound?

The NBC educational PowerPoint presentation that is used for Judges Education, and the Visualization that was created several years ago by the Judges Education committee, are available to anyone, at any time at on the NBC education page!