Beagles are the most popular hound breed according to the AKC. They are squarely built, sturdy hound dogs with a short and easy to care for coat. Beagles resemble English Foxhounds but have broader heads and shorter legs than their cousins. Their muzzle is straight and square and they have wide, drop ears. Beagles' eyes are brown or hazel in color and have a distinctive expression which usually makes them look like they want something. Their tails are straight and should be carried high and erect at all times. Beagles most commonly come in two color variations – tricolor or red and white – but all hound colorings are accepted in the breed standard.
Size and Weight
Beagles resemble small Foxhounds and stand from 13 to 15 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 18 to 30 pounds. Females weigh in at the lighter end of the spectrum, while males are typically heavier.
The height limit for Beagles in the United States is 15 inches, while in England it is 16 inches. In the United States, two varieties are recognized: those not exceeding 13 inches at the withers, and those over 13 but not exceeding 15 inches at the withers. Any Beagle exceeding 15 inches is disqualified in this country and may not compete in field trials or dog shows.
Coat and Color
Beagles have a short, dense coat that lays flat across the body and is weather-resistant. They shed lightly throughout the year, but this is manageable through weekly brushing.
The AKC standard allows for all hound coloring. The most common color for Beagles is tricolor with a black saddle, white legs, chest, belly, and usually a white tip on the tail. Tan occurs on the head and around the saddle. The second most frequent color combination is red and white in a spotted pattern on the face, neck, legs and tip of the tail. Tricolors are born with only black and white markings, and the brown settles in with age. Beagles almost always have white tipped tails – a characteristic that developed so hunters were able to spot the dog when they're hunting in tall grass.
Beagles shed year round, but they grow thicker coats in the winter, making Spring a heavy shedding time for this breed. Weekly brushing with a higher frequency in Springtime can keep hair from making a mess around the house. They are naturally clean dogs, so they don't require a lot of bathing, but some Beagles like to play hard in the dirt and mud, so some individuals may require monthly washing.
They have drop ears which makes Beagles prone to ear infections. When air can't circulate into the ear, wax, water and harmful bacteria can get out of control. Weekly maintenance ear cleaning with a veterinarian-approved cleanser can keep painful ear infections to a minimum.