beagle looking at camera

Beagles: Dog Breed Information

Posted by Elizabeth Racine D.V.M. on

beagle looking at camera

Beagles are a popular, family-friendly dog breed, and for good reason! These small to medium-sized pups are described by the breed standard as being “big for their inches." They are loyal, loving hounds with traditionally good temperaments and sweet personalities.

We’ll explore the fundamentals of Beagles in this article. They’re wonderful dogs, and it’s important to know how to properly care for them if you bring one home. 

Let’s get started!

Beagle Colors, Sizes, & Tails

The American Kennel Club breed standard describes the Beagle breed as having a “houndlike expression, gentle and pleading” and there’s certainly no way you’ll be able to overlook a Beagle’s soft brown eyes. 

How Big Are Beagles?

The Beagle, also known as the American Beagle, comes in two varieties: the 13-inch variety for any Beagle up to 13-inches, and the 15-inch variety for those exceeding 13-inches but not to exceed 15-inches in height for a full grown Beagle. Beagle height is one of the key ways to distinguish between the two types.

The 13-inch Beagle weight is anywhere from 20 to 30 pounds whereas a 15 inch Beagle might way up to 35 pounds. You can expect females to weight 1 or 2 pounds less than their male counterparts. 

Beagle Colors

Types of Beagles can come in a variety of colors, including the typical tan, black, and white tricolor. They can also include “any true hound color” according to the breed standard. This includes colors such as black, white, lemon, red, chocolate, and blue tricolor. 

You'll usually find white markings throughout an individual Beagles coat regardless of the other colors on its body. 

puppy beagle with tail up

Tail Characteristics

Although a white tipped tail is common and serves as a “flag” for hunting Beagles in the field, the absence of a white tip is not unusual and is not penalized in the show ring. Much more important is a Beagle’s tail carriage, which should be “carried gaily” according to the purebred Beagle standard.

A “gay tail” is one that’s held above the point that the breed standard denotes. To most of us, this just means that they prop their tail up happily! If the tail is pointed upward, you can think of that tail as being held “gaily.”

Beagle Characteristics: Personality

Beagles are described as being “merry” and often have bright and friendly personalities. They are bred to work in packs which means they should be friendly and companionable with other dogs. 

That said, it’s important to note that an individual dog’s personality is determined by many factors. These include genetics, learning, environment, and more. Good socialization and positive reinforcement training with Beagle puppies starting at a young age are essential to ensure your Beagle has a happy demeanor and a pleasant temperament. 

Beagle Grooming

Beagles have a close, medium-length coat that requires minimal grooming. They also shed, particularly in the springtime when they start to lose their thicker winter coats. Grooming during this time helps to remove loose hair and encourage new hair growth. 

Regular bathing is not necessary unless your Beagle happens to get into something smelly! They may be more prone to ear infections due to their pendulous ears, so your veterinarian may recommend routine ear cleaning to help prevent infections from occurring. Floppy ears come with a little more responsibility! 

Ask your vet for a good maintenance ear cleaner to use for your Beagle. You might want to consult with them on how to use it as well, or even ask them to demonstrate it for you on your pet. 

beagle with ball in mouth

Beagle Training and Exercise

Beagles are bred as hunting dogs. This means that they’re very active and energetic dogs. They require at least an hour of active playtime and exercise daily to burn off energy and stay mentally stimulated.

Dogs that don’t receive enough exercise and stimulation can become destructive or develop other behavioral problems. Beagles must also be kept in a fenced area or on a leash at all times, as their active noses may easily lead them astray! These animals are curious, and they’re equipped with noses that can pick up just about anything. 

In fact, it’s thought that Beagles have the third-best sense of smell (1) of all dogs, only ranking below Basset Hounds and Bloodhounds.

Beagles are often highly food motivated, which makes them great candidates for training with positive reinforcement. By encouraging desirable behaviors with a reward (usually a tasty treat) you’ll ensure your Beagle will want to perform that behavior for you again and again! 

Beagle Health

The average life expectancy for a Beagle is about 10-15 years. 

Like all dogs, Beagles require routine veterinary care including regular veterinary visits, vaccinations, and routine health screenings to maintain their health. It is also very important to keep your Beagle at a lean body weight to maintain overall health. 

Beagles are predisposed to some health conditions such as hypothyroidism, intervertebral disc disease, and idiopathic epilepsy, among others. Keeping a close eye on your Beagle for changes in health and behavior will be necessary, as with any dog. 

If you have any concerns about your Beagle’s health, your veterinarian is your best resource to answer any questions you may have. Regular checkups with your veterinarian will ensure your Beagle stays healthy and happy for as long as possible.

Choosing a Beagle Breeder

When choosing a Beagle breeder, look for one who screens their breeding stock as recommended by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals Canine Health Information Center (OFA-CHIC). This organization recommends Beagle breeding stock be evaluated with the following tests:

  • Evaluation for hip dysplasia
  • Eye examination by a boarded ophthalmologist
  • MLS DNA testing
  • Advanced cardiac evaluation
  • Testing for Autoimmune thyroiditis
  • OFA evaluation for patellar luxation
  • DNA test for epilepsy (optional but recommended)
  • DNA test for Factor VII deficiency (optional but recommended)
  • DNA test for neonatal cerebellar cortical degeneration (optional but recommended)

In addition to the recommended testing, be sure to ask whether the breeding stock has received all appropriate preventive veterinary care such as vaccinations, routine physical examinations, deworming treatments, etc. The breeder should be able to produce veterinary records for the litter and the dam upon request.

If possible, visit the breeder’s facility and see the breeding stock for yourself. 

  • Is the facility clean and well-kept? 
  • Are the animals well-groomed, friendly, and outgoing? 
  • Do the dam and sire have temperaments that you would want to see in your own puppy? 

These factors are very important when choosing a reputable breeder.

beagle with baby and mother

Bringing a Beagle Into Your Family

Choosing to add a new dog to your family is always a big decision. A Beagle may be right for your family if you’re looking for a dog that is active, outgoing, and loves the outdoors.  

Activity Needs

However, make sure you are prepared to provide your Beagle with plenty of exercise and that you aren’t bothered by this breed’s baying bark and tendency to howl! Beagles are an excellent family dog, but like any breed, they require clear and consistent positive reinforcement training and good socialization to reach their full potential. 

Beagles may need to stay on-leash at all times when outdoors, as they do have a tendency to catch a scent trail and follow their noses into trouble! Like all dogs, Beagles also need regular veterinary care to keep them healthy and in tip-top shape.

If you do decide to add a Beagle to your family, you will be getting a lovely, friendly breed with a gentle personality and a merry disposition. Enjoy your new friend and have fun!

Want to Learn More About Dog Breeds?

There are thousands of dog breeds to discover. Beagle dogs are excellent friends, companions, and family dogs, but there’s a chance that the information above has you rethinking your plan to bring home a Beagle puppy.

If that’s you, we’ve got information on more breeds that might suit you better!

We’ve also got great insights into pet wellness, common challenges of ownership, and a whole lot more. Explore our site to dive into everything you want to know about taking care of your pets! 



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Elizabeth Racine D.V.M. is a small animal veterinarian with a passion for improving the lives of pets. She has worked in the veterinary field in various roles for more than a decade, with professional interests in behavior, nutrition, and palliative care. As a writer, her work has been featured by several world-renowned pet health and wellness brands. Dr. Racine shares her home with her dog Dasher - a beagle with his own storied career training new veterinary students - and her trouble-making orange cat named Julius.

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