The ideal Beagle, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC), can look cute but he shouldn't look frail or delicate. He should resemble a miniature Foxhound that is solid and big for his inches, with the wear-and-tear look of a hound that can last in the chase and follow his quarry until the quarry gives up, wears out, and/or gets caught.
The AKC breed standard also notes that Beagles come in two sizes: the 13-inch Beagle and the 15-inch Beagle. The 13-incher is supposed to be no taller than 13 inches at the front shoulder. Similarly, the 15-inch Beagle should not exceed 15 inches in height at the front shoulder.
The breed standard is like a blueprint that outlines what reputable breeders should try to produce in their Beagle puppies and what judges should look for when they assess Beagles in the show ring.
A Beagle's skull should be fairly long, with a slight dome at the back part of the head. The skull as a whole should be relatively broad and full, not elongated. Those long, silky ears should reach almost to the end of the nose if drawn out straight, and they should be rounded at the tips. The eyes should be hazel or brown in color and should be large, set far apart, and have a gentle, pleading expression. The muzzle should have a square shape, and the profile should show a clear distinction between the bottom of the face and top of the face.
Wrinkles are okay for Chinese Shar-pei but not for Beagles! The standard stipulates that the neck and throat should not exhibit any skin folds. The shoulders should not be upright; rather, they should slope downward. The dog's chest should be deep and broad but not out of proportion to the rest of the body. The Beagle's back should be relatively short (no channeling of Dachshunds here!).
Legs, feet, and tail
The wiener dog takes another hit when the Beagle breed standard addresses legs, feet, and tails. The standard stipulates that a Beagle's front legs should be straight, not crooked or — yes, the standard gets this specific — resembling the front legs of a Dachshund. The hips and thighs should be strong and muscular. The tail needs to be fairly high on the rump and carried in a jaunty fashion, but it should not curve over the back.
Coat and color
The Beagle should have a medium-length, easy-to-groom coat that lies close to the body and is hard to the touch. Silky tresses are a definite no-no.
As for coat color, the standard is vague, saying only that any recognized hound color is acceptable. The most common color is the black, white, and tan tri-color, but other colors common to hounds such as red and white, chocolate tri-color (solid chocolate brown instead of black), and shaded tri-color (varied shades of brown instead of black) are okay, too. So, too, is ticking: tiny spots of brown or black in white fur.