The black and white Beagle is an unusual alternative to the traditional tricolor Beagle coat.
It takes a special genetic mix for a Beagle puppy to inherit a black and white coat without any tan.
When they do, they share their appearance with the world’s most famous Beagle – Snoopy!
Black and White Beagles
As a proud Beagle owner or aspiring owner, you probably want to learn as much as you can about the black and white Beagle coat color pattern.
In this article, we investigate how this eye-catching coat pattern occurs, black and white Beagle temperament, coat care or health. In addition, we’ll look at how to make sure you choose the healthiest puppy or rescue dog.
What is a Black and White Beagle?
The black and white Beagle coat color is just one of many wonderful Beagle colors they can inherit.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) Beagle breed standard outlines the accepted standard and non-standard coat colors and patterns as per the Beagle breed club.
Black and white is a non-standard coat color pattern. However, this doesn’t mean that a purebred black and white Beagle is disqualified from competing in AKC shows.
Standard colors and color patterns are those colors that occur most commonly throughout the purebred Beagle breed line. Non-standard colors and color patterns are additional or alternate colors that can also occur but are less commonly seen.
Actually, the official breed standard on coat color is quite vague, citing that it must be a “true hound color” in order to be eligible to compete in shows.
But what the breed standard doesn’t say is that the black and white Beagle coat color is quite rare. Where the black and white coat color pattern is much more common is when a third coat color is present.
Beagle Coat Color Patterns
According to the breed standard, black and white commonly appear in standard and non-standard Beagle coat color patterns. The first color denotes the predominant or main coat color while the second and third colors are accent colors:
- Black, red and white
- Tan, black and white
- White, black and tan
- Black, fawn and white
- Red, black and white
- White, black and tan
If you want to show your black and white Beagle in AKC-sponsored events, your dog will still be eligible even though their coat is considered a non-standard color pattern.
The only colors or patterns that are specifically disqualified will be listed in the official breed standard. At this time, there are no disqualified colors or patterns listed in the official Beagle breed standard.
Black and White Beagle Genetics
With such a stunning diversity of Beagle coat colors and patterns, it surprises people to learn that there are two basic pigment colors: black (eumelanin) and red (phaeomelanin).
How pigment gets to different areas on your dog’s body.
All dogs have special pigment carrier cells called melanocytes. These cells deliver the correct pigment in the correct quantity to the right area of the dog’s body.
Dark areas of your Beagle’s body have lots of melanin, while lighter areas have less melanin.
Does white mean albino?
White areas on your dog’s body have no melani, although this doesn’t mean that your dog is an albino.
In fact, researchers know that certain types of albinism in dogs and people – both rare conditions – is caused by the same gene, which is inherited when both parents pass it to a puppy.
Albinism is characterized not just by the absence of pigment in the coat and skin, but also light eyes and pinkish skin.
Beagles have five basic coat color patterns
Purebred Beagles are bred in five broad coat color categories: tri-color, bi-color, single (self or solid) color, pied and mottled.
- Tricolor: the coat has three prominent colors that display in distinct patches. The most common tricolor Beagle coat pattern is black, white, and tan.
- Bicolor: the coat has two prominent colors that display in patches. White is the underlying color and patches can be lemon, red, brown, tan or – rarely – black.
- Single color: the only recognized solid coat color for Beagles is all white.
- Pied: a pied Beagle coat has a mixing of three colors that is not in patches. Lemon, hare and badger pied are the three main color types.
- Mottled: a mottled Beagle coat has solid patches that include white and the white portions have black specks or flecks.
Do Beagles carry the merle Gene?
One common misconception is that a black and white Beagle might be carrying the controversial merle gene.
However, experienced breeders state that the purebred Beagle line has never carried the merle gene (dapple). Although a Beagle from a mixed breed (hybrid) line might theoretically inherit it.
This is important since the merle pattern is associated with potential health risks that increase if a puppy inherits this gene.
While the merle pattern sometimes looks like the black and white Beagle coat pattern, a black and white Beagle gets this color in another way.
Puppy coat to adult coat
If you want a black and white Beagle, it’s key to know that the coat appearance is not always a reliable guide in predicting what your dog will look like as an adult!
It is actually quite common for the Beagle coat to change considerably when the puppy coat falls out and the adult one grows in.
In fact, it is quite rare for any black and white Beagle puppy to retain just these two colors in adulthood. Typically a third color such as red, tan or fawn will also be present to some degree.
This helpful website shows puppy-to-adult coat transitions for many of the coat colors so you can get an idea of how your dog’s coat may change.
Here are three common scenarios of coat transition:
- Blue tick: A puppy born looking black and white may grow up to be a blue tick Beagle (brown face, black body patches with white/black ticking pattern in between). The “blue” color is actually a diluted black which can look slate grey
- Chocolate tri-color: A dark chocolate brown color can look black in a Beagle puppy but lighten considerably into a true brown and white color pattern.
- Tan tri-color: A black and white Beagle puppy keeps the black and white coloration but develops the tan patches in adulthood.
Black and White Beagle Temperament
The Beagle, an ancient dog breed that has had a long history of working side-by-side with humans, is known to be a sociable, friendly, outgoing and cheerful dog.
Some limited studies of other purebred dog breeds (such as Labrador Retrievers and English Cocker Spaniels) have shown possible genetic links between coat color and temperament.
To date, no similar studies have been conducted that are specific to the purebred Beagle dog. So for now, there is no known link between Beagle coat color or color pattern and temperament.
What is known, however, is that the health and temperament of parent dogs, the quality of the breeder’s operation, proper weaning and puppy nutrition, early proper socialization, access to preventative veterinary care, positive reinforcement training methods and an enriching daily life can greatly contribute to a Beagle’s temperament.
If you are still searching for your black and white Beagle puppy or rescue dog, you can get off on the right foot by working with a reputable, health-focused breeder or rescue organization that places the health and wellbeing of your Beagle first.
Black and White Beagle Health
Canine genetic research is helping breeders and dog owners learn about health issues specific to different dog breeds.
For instance, the Beagle is known to struggle with certain health conditions that occur more frequently in Beagles than in other dog breeds.
Beagle parent dogs can be pre-tested for thyroid dysfunction, hip dysplasia, MLS (Musladin-Leuke Syndrome) and various cardiac function issues.
What is important to know here is that, while each of these known health issues is heritable, at least to date none of these health conditions has been specifically linked to a Beagle’s coat color or color pattern.
Color dilution alopecia (CDA)
If your Beagle has inherited a dilute form of the black coat color (so showing up as blue, gray or light black), it is possible your dog may be more vulnerable to a condition called CDA (Color Dilution Alopecia or black hair follicular alopecia).
Only limited research has been done for Beagles on this health issue, but if your dog seems to suffer from overly dry skin, scaly skin, sun or cold sensitivity, sunburn, folliculitis (infected hair follicles) or hair loss, it is important to know that there is a possible link worth investigating.
Sun sensitivity and skin cancer
Similarly, dogs of any breed who inherit predominantly white coats can be more sensitive to heat and to sun exposure. This can lead to a higher-than-normal risk for developing tumors and skin cancer.
Predominantly white-coated or all-white coat dogs can sometimes also be more prone to developing deafness.
In Beagles, the piebald or pied color gene is implicated in increasing the risk of canine deafness. An affected dog can be deaf in one ear (unilaterally deaf) or deaf in both ears (bilaterally deaf).
It is thought the affected ear(s) do not develop properly due to a lack of pigmentation in the ear canal.
While Beagles are not known to be particularly affected by this association between the piebald gene and canine deafness, it certainly is possible. This is something you can test for before making a commitment to a black and white Beagle puppy. Ask your veterinarian to perform a BAER hearing test.
Genetic eye dysfunction and blindness
Dogs with white coats are often more prone to inheriting eye issues, including blindness, smaller-than-normal eyes, malformed eyes, non-functioning eyes, missing eyes, light sensitivity and/or night blindness.
Working with a reputable, responsible, health-focused Beagle breeder is the best way to ensure you make a commitment to a healthy black and white Beagle puppy.
Your breeder should be able to show you records of all health pre-tests ensuring the parent dogs are healthy. You should also be permitted to meet and spend time with each parent dog and to tour the breeding facility to see for yourself that all dogs are healthy, happy and well cared for.
If you are interested in adopting an adult black and white Beagle, this is another good way to sidestep potential health issues that may not show up in a puppy but will be apparent in an adult Beagle dog.
Black and White Beagle Grooming
The official Beagle breed standard explains what a purebred Beagle coat should look like. This holds true regardless of what coat color your Beagle has.
The breed standard states that the Beagle’s coat should feel coarse and hard to the touch and should lay flat and close to the skin, The coat length should be medium. Coat faults in the show ring include a short, sparse, thin or soft coat quality.
Purebred Beagle dogs will have a double-layer coat with a water-resistant outer coat layer and a soft, insulating undercoat. This coat is protective by nature – the outer layer helps repel the damp and the inner layer keeps your dog nice and warm.
Beagles definitely shed year-round and more profusely when the seasons change each year. This more intense period of shedding is called a “coat blow.” During these periods, daily brushing can groom out dead hair before it falls out and covers your floor, furnishings and clothing.
Otherwise, coat color doesn’t influence what type or frequency of grooming your Beagle will need. All Beagles need and enjoy at least a weekly brushing session to keep the coat clean and rejuvenate the skin.
You shouldn’t need to bathe your black and white Beagle too frequently unless your dog has rolled in something wonderful (awful) on the lawn.
Your Black and White Beagle
We hope you have enjoyed learning more about your precious Beagle dog’s unique black and white coat color!
Are you caring for a black and white Beagle puppy or adult dog? Has your Beagle dog’s coat changed over the years, either getting lighter or darker or displaying an additional color beyond pure black and white?
Please post a comment to share your black and white Beagle story – we love to learn from our readers!
References and Resources
Schröder, K., “Hound Colors,” Lemon Drop Beagles Kennel, 2019.
Perdew, T., “Colors: Pictures and info about Beagle Colors,” CR Beagles Kennel, 2018.
Sager, M., “Beagle Breed Standard,” The National Beagle Club of America, 2018.
Buzhardt, L., DVM, “Genetic Basics – Coat Color Genetics in Dogs,” VCA Animal Hospital, 2016.
Stansell, C., “Just Ask the AKC to Remove Non-Standard Colors,” SD Bulldogs/The Bulldogger, 2016.
Stewart, R.D., “Norwegian Blue Beagles – A New Color – Not,” Aladar Beagles Kennel, 2016.
Peterson, N., “Breed Colours,” The Beagle Club,” 1999.
Philipp, U., et al, “Polymorphisms within the canine MLPH gene are associated with dilute coat color in dogs,” BMC Genetics Journal, 2005.
Winkler, P., et al, “Dogs and people share ‘albino gene’,” PLOS One Journal, 2014.
Ilska, J., et al, “Genetic Characterization of Dog Personality Traits,” Journal of Genetics, 2017.
Strain, G.M., PhD, “Genetics of Deafness in Dogs,” Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine, 2017.