Beagles are best known for three things: Snoopy, their big floppy ears, and their amazing sense of smell. Originally used for chasing rabbits in Elizabethan England, Beagles continued to prove their worth as hunters long after the arrival of firearms, sniffing out game birds that fell into deep brush.
Nowadays, Beagles are champions in both work and play. They’re bomb-sniffers, therapy dogs, and companions for families all over the world. If you’re looking to adopt a beagle, and want to know what coat colors they’re born with, you’ve come to the right place.
The American Kennel Club recognizes Beagles in 25 different color combinations and 6 markings, for a total of 150 possible coats. However, that’s probably not the exact number. Some combinations are vanishingly rare, while each color is divided into multiple distinct shades. All official colors are different combinations and markings of the following 7 colors.
We could just say “no two Beagles are alike” and leave it at that. We want to help you get a sense of what to look for, though, so we’ll talk through the colors individually. While you read, remember that you’re likely to see these in a huge variety of combinations.
AKC Standard Color Combinations
These coats are the AKC’s official “breed standard,” describing what a perfect example of the breed should look like.
1. Black and Tan
A black and tan Beagle is almost completely black, including on its back, body, sides, most of its ears and tail, and across some of its face. Tan markings can show up on the tip of the tail, the edges of the ears, other parts of the face, and sometimes the chest, legs, and rear end.
2. Black, Red, and White
A black, red, and white tricolor Beagle has a large “saddle” of black across its back, reaching as far as its sides, neck, and tail.
“Red” isn’t bright scarlet — think of it similar to red hair in humans. Red appears on the head, ears, and around the eyes of these Beagles, plus their thighs, their butts, and the undersides of their tails. Their paws, chests, muzzles, and the tips of their tails are white.
3. Black, Tan, and Bluetick
“Ticking” is a freckled pattern of small dots and patches along one color area of the Beagle’s coat. Bluetick is a faded shade of gray with scattered dots and patches of darker, near-black gray. In certain lights, it looks almost blue.
A black, tan, and bluetick tricolor Beagle has patches of black on its head, face, ears, and also its back and the base of its tail. Bluetick surrounds the black patches, covering everything but the Beagle’s muzzle and paws, which are tan or copper brown.
4. Black, Tan, and White
Black, tan, and white tricolor is probably the most recognizable beagle coat there is. It’s the coat that makes you say, “Yep, that’s a Beagle.”
A big black patch starts on this Beagle’s back and curves around its belly, rising as far as halfway up its tail. Tan patches appear on its head, ears, and upper legs, with white on the Beagle’s neck, chest, muzzle, paws, and at the tip of its tail.
5. Black, White, and Tan
A black, white, and tan Beagle usually has a larger patch of black than a black, tan, and white Beagle, though it still has white on its chest, legs, and tail. Patches of tan are confined to its head and very small markings elsewhere on its body.
6. Blue, Tan, and White
In contrast to bluetick, which is a gray flecked with spots, blue means a solid gray that’s light and silvery enough to appear blue. Blue, tan, and white tricolor Beagles are close to black, tan, and white tris, but express a gene for dilute color that turns their black patches into the light blue-gray.
7. Brown and White
Brown and white Beagles have white coats with scattered patches of brown. These most often occur on the eyes, ears, upper back, and base of the tail. Some of the brown patches can get pretty big, but these bicolor Beagles usually have more white than brown.
Both breeders and owners of Beagles like to refer to a dark brown shade as “chocolate.” While chocolate is a common coat color, AKC doesn’t consider it different from brown, so we’ve decided not to list it separately.
8. Brown, White, and Tan
A brown, white, and tan Beagle has a large brown patch covering its entire back, reaching from its neck to its rear legs and partway up its tail. The tip of its tail and its four legs are white, plus its chest and sometimes its muzzle.
You’ll find small tan markings where the white and brown intersect, and also on the Beagle’s head and ears.
9. Lemon and White
In Beagles, “lemon” means a pale golden color that comes off as yellow in some lights. Lemon and white Beagles have white on their paws, tails, and muzzles. Anywhere else is fair game for an unpredictable, piebald pattern of lemon patches.
10. Red and White
A red and white bicolor Beagle is very similar to a lemon and white bi, but with the pied patches being red instead of golden yellow. Just like with the red tricolor Beagles, the shade of red can be anywhere from pale to a deep chestnut.
11. Tan and White
The last of the officially standard bicolor Beagles, the tan and white bi can have light brown patches on its ears, lower tail, and anywhere on its back and sides. Occasionally, one might have just enough black fur to be visible, though not enough to be called a tricolor.
Non-Standard Color Combinations
The following Beagle coat colors are recognized by the AKC to exist, but for various reasons, they aren’t considered suitable coat colors for a “perfect” Beagle. Some of them are too rare to be part of the standard, while others create health risks or haven’t been reliably bred yet.
Any Beagle of a solid color is rare. However, Beagles can be born completely black, or with so little of any other color that they’re all-black in practice.
13. Black and White
Did you know that Beagles change color throughout their lives? Lots of Beagle puppies are born black and white, but frequently “break” into new colors as they grow older, to the point where breeders will have to change their registration color up to three times.
14. Black, Fawn, and White
Fawn is an extremely dilute red. You’ll also see it called a “cream,” “ivory,” or “isabella” color. A black, fawn, and white Beagle is a red tricolor (see #2) that strongly expresses the gene that dilutes and fades color.
15. Black, Tan, and Redtick
Just like a black, tan, and bluetick Beagle (see #3), but with a ticked pattern of red fur instead of blue. The redtick coat commonly consists of darker red flecks on a paler background.
An all-black Beagle with the dilute gene. Just like the solid blacks, solid blues are rare.
17. Blue and White
You’re probably seeing the pattern by now: this is a dilute black and white Beagle. Many puppies are born with this color, only to change out of it as they grow.
A completely brown Beagle. In this breed, solid-color coats are rare.
A Beagle whose entire coat is a diluted gold. Like all the solid colors, you won’t see many of these, but they sure are cute.
A Beagle with an entirely red coat. Again, this red comes in plenty of shades.
21. Red and Black
A bicolor red and black Beagle. These pups have red as their base coat color, with black marks or patches on top. They’re more common than the solid colors, but not by much.
22. Red, Black, and White
A tricolor Beagle whose base coat color is red, showing some black and white patches or markings.
A Beagle with a solid tan or copper coat.
A Beagle with only white fur. Note that this is different from a full albino, which hasn’t yet been proven possible for Beagles.
White dogs are controversial since the lack of pigment around their eyes can make them extremely sensitive to light. Ethical breeders will do everything they can to avoid producing a white litter, and won’t mate those dogs if they are born.
25. White, Black, and Tan
A Beagle whose base coat is white, with black and tan patches and markings.
While you may have an aesthetic preference, you might also ask: does it matter what color your Beagle is?
As far as its health and comfort go, the answer is almost certainly no. Unless you have a pure white Beagle, no coat color requires special considerations or is extra vulnerable to any ailments.
Outside of your own preference, color only matters if you plan to enter your Beagle into dog shows. In that case, you’ll want to find a Beagle with one of the 11 standard colors listed above.
Featured Image Credit: Tessa Gottschal, Pexels
- AKC Standard Color Combinations
- Non-Standard Color Combinations
- Wrap Up