The general appearance of the Beagle resembles a miniature Foxhound, but the head is broader and the muzzle shorter, the expression completely different and the legs shorter in proportion to the body. They have a smooth, somewhat domed skull with a medium-length, square-cutmuzzle
and a black (or occasionally liver), gumdrop nose. The eyes are large, hazel or brown, with a mild hound-like pleading look. The large ears are long, soft and low-set, turning towards the cheeks slightly and rounded at the tips.
Beagles appear in a range of colors. Although the tricolour (white with large black areas and light brown shading) is the most common, Beagles can occur in any hound colour.
Tricoloured dogs occur in a number of shades, from the “Classic Tri” with a jet black saddle (also known as “Blackback”), to the “Dark Tri” (where faint brown markings are intermingled with more prominent black markings), to the “Faded Tri” (where faint black markings are intermingled with more prominent brown markings). Some tricoloured dogs have a broken pattern, sometimes referred to as pied. Alongside the Bloodhound and Basset Hound, the Beagle has one of the best developed senses of smell of any dog
English and American varieties are sometimes mentioned. However, there is no official recognition from any Kennel Club for this distinction. Beagles fitting the American Kennel Club standard – which disallows animals over 15 inches (38 cm) – are smaller on average than those fitting the Kennel Club standard which allows heights up to 16 inches (41 cm).
The Beagle has an even temper and gentle disposition. Described in several breed standards as “merry”, they are amiable and typically neither aggressive nor timid, although this depends on the individual. They enjoy company, and although they may initially be standoffish with strangers, they are easily won over. They make poor guard dogs for this reason, although their tendency to bark or howl when confronted with the unfamiliar makes them good watch dogs.
Beagles are excellent with children and this is one of the reasons they have become popular family pets, but they are pack animals, and can be prone to separation anxiety.
Beagles may be prone to epilepsy, but this can often be controlled with medication. Hip dysplasia, common in Harriers and in some larger breeds, is rarely considered a problem in Beagles.