Measuring Up

Today’s post is in response to a request from someone on my waiting list who asked recently about measuring beagles. Thank you for the writing prompt.

In the US, beagles are shown in two varieties:  13” and 15”.  The development of the two varieties originated early in the twentieth century as the popularity of brace trials, as well as small and large pack field trials, grew.  The varied terrain and game available in different parts of the country resulted in the development of the two varieties, each adapted to the needs of the local area.  The two varieties carried over into the conformation ring where the standard is the same for both varieties.  There should be no structural difference between a 13” beagle and a 15” beagle, only a difference in size.

According to the standard, a 13” beagle is a hound that does not exceed 13”.  Those hounds that are 13” and under are shown in the 13” variety.  Those that exceed 13”, even if only by a fraction of an inch, are marked “ineligible” and should be shown as a 15” beagle…even if they are just 13 ⅛”.

A 15” beagle is a hound that exceeds 13” but does not exceed 15” in height.  A hound that measures more than 15” shall be disqualified from competition…again, even if by the slightest fraction of an inch.

A breeder can have both 13” and 15” beagles in the same litter…but it’s nearly impossible to tell, as puppies, which variety they may be.  We may have a strong sense of size if, for example, we’ve bred two 15” beagles with predominantly 15” beagles in their pedigrees.  Or, if the breeding is a line-breeding and we have some history upon which to base our estimate, we may be able to predict, with some accuracy, the adult size or variety.  But, growth patterns can vary and it’s helpful to keep records and observe trends within bloodlines to help determine a puppy’s future size. 

I’ve been keeping a record of the height of my beagles for twenty years.  The first measurement is taken at 6.5 weeks and I’m comfortable if a puppy is under 8 inches at that age.  If they’re over 8 inches, particularly if they’re a male, I get a bit anxious about their ability to stay under a 15” wicket as an adult.  There is nothing set in stone about this metric, though.  I had a bitch puppy once that measured 8.25 inches at 6.5 weeks and she is just barely over 13 inches as an adult.  Her sire was a Danish dog that exceeded 15” so there was certainly reason for concern but she was a lovely bitch so I ran her on to watch her mature.  At four months, she simply stopped growing:  balanced, proportional, sound…and small.  As a breeder, we have to make some tough decisions at 9 weeks of age, decisions about the placement of puppies, and size, while not the most important of considerations, is one of the many traits that must be taken into account when deciding which puppies to place and which to run on.

Since I typically keep just one puppy from each litter, it’s helpful when pet owners can provide the heights of their puppies to help me predict growth trends in the future.  As a breeder of conformation beagles, it doesn’t matter to me whether my beagles are 13” or 15”…only that they remain 15” or under to keep my bloodline within the standard.  I’m grateful to all of the owners who stay in touch and provide feedback regarding height and other issues that can be relevant to the future of my breeding program.

For an in depth explanation of the wickets and measurement from the AKC, visit the following link:  https://images.akc.org/pdf/judges/measuring_weighing.pdf

For my more casual demonstration of measuring, see the video in the Talbot Hill Beagles Facebook group, posted July 12, 2020.

For an explanation of the significance of the 14” Height requirement in agility, check this post again soon for an explanation from guest contributor, Laura Hiatt – Matador Beagles.


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