The Beagle Breed Standard
(As from 01/01/2010) Ammended 21/08/2014
A Breed Standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance including the correct colour of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function. Absolute soundness is essential. Breeders and judges should at all times be careful to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed. From time to time certain conditions or exaggerations may be considered to have the potential to affect dogs in some breeds adversely, and judges and breeders are requested to refer to the Breed Watch section of the Kennel Club website here
If a feature or quality is desirable it should only be present in the right measure. However if a dog possesses a feature, characteristic or colour described as undesirable or highly undesirable it is strongly recommended that it should not be rewarded in the show ring.
GENERAL APPEARANCE: A sturdy, compactly-built hound, conveying the impression of quality without coarseness.
CHARACTERISTICS: A merry hound whose essential function is to hunt, primarily hare, by following a scent. Bold, with great activity, stamina and determination. Alert, intelligent and of even temperament.
TEMPERAMENT: Amiable and alert, showing no aggression or timidity.
HEAD & SKULL: Fair length, powerful without being coarse, finer in the bitch, free from frown and wrinkle. Skull slightly domed, moderately wide, with slight peak. Stop well defined and dividing length, between occiput and tip of nose, as equally as possible. Muzzle not snipy, lips reasonably well flewed. Nose broad, preferably black, but less pigmentation permissible in lighter coloured hounds. Nostrils wide.
EYES: Dark brown or hazel, fairly large, not deep set or prominent, set well apart with mild appealing expression.
EARS: Long, with rounded tip, reaching nearly to end of nose when drawn out. Set on low, fine in texture and hanging gracefully close to cheeks
MOUTH: The jaws should be strong, with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. the upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws.
NECK: Sufficiently long to enable hound to come down easily to scent, slightly arched and showing little dewlap.
FOREQUARTERS: Shoulders well laid back, not loaded. Forelegs straight and upright well under the hound, good substance, and round in bone, not tapering off to feet. Pasterns short. Elbows firm, turning neither in nor out. Height to elbow about half height at withers.
BODY: Topline straight and level. Chest let down to below elbow. Ribs well sprung and extending well back. Short in the couplings but well balanced. Loins powerful and supple, without excessive tuck-up.
HINDQUARTERS: Muscular thighs. Stifles well bent. Hocks firm, well let down and parallel to each other.
FEET: Tight and firm. Well knuckled up and strongly padded. Not hare-footed. Nails short.
TAIL: Sturdy, moderately long. Set on high, carried gaily but not curled over back or inclined forward from root. Well covered with hair, especially on underside
GAIT/MOVEMENT: Back level, firm with no indication of roll. Stride free, long reaching in front and straight without high action; hind legs showing drive. Should not move close behind nor paddle nor plait in front.
COAT: Short, dense and weatherproof.
COLOUR: Tricolour (black, tan and white); blue, white and tan; badger pied; hare pied; lemon pied; lemon and white; red and white; tan and white; black and white; all white. With the exception of all white, all the above mentioned colours can be found as mottle. No other colours are permissible. Tip of stern white.
SIZE: Desirable minimum height at withers 33cm (13ins.).
Desirable maximum height at withers 40cm (16ins.).
FAULTS: Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog's ability to perform its traditional work.
NOTE: Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
Copyright The Kennel Club
Reproduced with their kind permission
Defining the Colours in the UK Beagle Standard
The Kennel Club states in our Breed standard (from January 1st 2010):
“Colour: Tricolour (black, tan and white); blue, white and tan; badger pied; hare pied; lemon pied; lemon and white; red and white; tan and white; black and white; all white. With the exception of all white, all the above mentioned colours can be found as mottle. No other colours are permissible. Tip of stern white.”
We have tried to reproduce examples of the colours here to help explain this part of the Beagle Breed Standard. If you have any questions please contact Sam Goldberg or any other member of the NMCBC to help you understand them or if you would like help with registering puppies the correct colour.
Tricolours: black, tan and white. Puppies are born mainly black and white or with some tan showing. The amount of white varies from hound to hound. As they age the black area gradually changes to more tan and some may lose most of their original black with the saddle over the body being the last to fade.
Blue, white and tan: This is a variant of the tricolour with a colour dilution gene. There is a blue cast to the area, which would normally be black, and the tan is usually lighter.
Pied beagles: Intermingling of hairs with different colours producing different shades over the body produces the pied group. The background colour is a cream rather than white. Badger pied is the darkest of these with the colours black, silver and tan or fawn mixing to give a badger type colour.
Hare pied is the middle road with less black hairs that are confined to the spine giving a stripe along the backbone.
Lemon pied is a mixture of two colours with no black hairs giving a much lighter look. These beagles can appear almost cream all over.
Lemon and white: red and white; and tan and white are all variations of depth of colour of the group where only two colours are inherited. No black hairs are present on such beagles. Such hounds are born white or white with some shading on the body that darkens as they age. A true lemon and white has a black nose whereas the other two coloured beagles tend to have a lighter often-brown nose.
Black and white: a very unusual combination in show beagles, such hounds may have very small tan “pips” above the eyes.
White: again an unusual colour to be found in beagles. In some breeds of dog lack of ear pigment can be associated with deafness although this is not common in beagles.
Mottle pattern variant: this is a gene inherited separately from the other colours and produces a spotting pattern in the white areas. It is a dominant variant of the white patterning gene (at least one parent must carry it) and not to be confused with hounds that have a few small ticks on the legs. Mottling is not present at birth but the colour gradually appears and such hounds have pigmented feet and fully pigmented noses.
Colour description by Sam Goldberg
THE BEAGLE - a breed profile
The Beagle is aptly described by the Kennel Club Standard as, “a merry hound whose essential function is to hunt “, and as “bold, with great activity, stamina and determination.” His small size, unexaggerated appearance, short coat and pleasant disposition, particularly with children, are all points in his favour as an ideal family pet. It must be remembered however, that despite his good temperament, the Beagle can be extremely strong willed and independent and not an easy dog to train.
There are many colours and a wide range of markings acceptable in the breed including tricolour, lemon and white, hare-pied and mottled. They are all equally acceptable although of course people have individual preferences. The only essential marking is the white tip to the stern (tail) that is there to enable the huntsman to see it more easily in thick cover. Whilst accepted by hunting packs, the Kennel Club standard does not permit liver as a colour option.
Two of the Beagle’s greatest loves are exercise and food. He loves free exercise, off the lead so that he can explore and gallop to satisfy his inquisitive and energetic nature. He will walk as far as you want him to, and more besides, but will be content to enjoy a minimum walk of say one mile or 20 minutes each day, so long as he also has frequent access to the garden for a chase or a sniff around. As far as feeding goes, he will thrive on very little; in fact the Beagle Owner’s biggest downfall is often to overfeed his pet - Beagles are not only noted for their good appetites but also for their inclination to put on weight very easily.
Being a short-coated breed, a Beagle requires a minimum amount of grooming. A hound glove with a bristly side and a velvety side is all that is really required to keep his coat clean and shiny. Although Beagles do shed their coats it is rare for them to do so heavily. Usually the transition from old to new occurs more gradually than in other more densely coated breeds.
Beagles are generally a healthy breed with a few reports of epilepsy, hip dysplasia, steroid responsive meningitis (SRM) and Musladin-Leuke Syndrome. SRM is currently under investigation and DNA testing for MLS status has recently started in the UK.
The best way to keep your beagle healthy is to ensure that he isn’t allowed to put on too much weight and so long as his other basic needs, such as regular exercise and a warm dry bed to snuggle up in, are catered for, he will provide his owners with affection and fun for many years, possibly well into his teens. For further information you may find the following link useful The Health of UK Beagles
A good sense of humour, lots of patience and occasionally nerves of steel are all essential characteristics of the successful Beagle owner, particularly on those occasions when the beloved pet refuses to come back when called; preferring to play with one of his canine pals, pursue the line of a rabbit or simply to roll in something nasty!
The Health of UK Beagles
BEAGLE by Elizabeth Lanyon; Part of the Pet Love series, published by Vincent Lane.
ISBN: 1-902389-33-6 A good general introduction to the breed with lots of practical advice for the novice owner.
BEAGLES TODAY by Andrew H. Brace; published by Ringpress books Ltd. 1997. ISBN: 1 86054 096 1
Of particular interest to those who wish to become involved in exhibiting, breeding and judging beagles.