A pure white Beagle doesn’t meet the criteria of the official breed standard. This color is very rare.
There are a couple of genetic anomalies which can cause white Beagles. Some colored Beagles also appear white as puppies, and may be sold as white Beagles by breeders.
Understanding the inheritance of pale coat colors in Beagles is a good way to avoid being misled about white Beagle puppies.
So, let’s find out more about this interesting color.
What Is A White Beagle?
The Beagle is one of the United States’ favorite dog breeds.
These happy little hounds make friends easily, and suit people with a love of the great outdoors.
Their looks are almost as iconic as their personality. Whilst the breed standard accepts “any true hound color” Beagles are best known in tricolor coats – black, tan and white.
Despite being less common, lots of other colors are also permitted. But is all-white among them?
The answer is no.
But despite this, very pale Beagles do exist, and white Beagle puppies are sometimes advertised for sale. So how do those dogs fit in?
Types Of White Beagles
A true all-white Beagle doesn’t meet the breed standard. But, any of the following Beagles might look white, or be described as white:
- lemon and white puppies, which have yet to become fully pigmented
- lemon and white adult dogs, with very low amounts of pigment
- piebald dogs with predominantly white coats
- dogs with hereditary albinism
- and Beagle-mix dogs which have had the genes for a white coat introduced by outcrossing with another breed.
We’ll take a closer look at each of these, and how they come about, next.
Lemon And White Beagles
Lemon and white Beagles have white coats with patches of cream, buff, or even pale yellow (hence their name).
The lemon and white coloring is caused by a gene called the chinchilla gene, also known as Ch.
The Ch gene modifies the appearance of tan and red fur so that it’s color becomes far more muted.
Lemon and white Beagle puppies appear entirely white when they are born. The pigment in their colored patches materializes as they grow up.
Some adult lemon and white Beagles still have very little pigment in their colored patches, and seem little more than off-white.
Some senior lemon Beagles also start to fade again as they get older, and return to a ghost-like appearance.
What Breeders May Say
A breeder with yellow and white puppies for sale might describe them as white.
A generous interpretation of this is that their puppies’ lemon parents stayed very pale throughout their lives. And they’re under the impression the puppies are going to do the same.
A more cynical interpretation is that they’re trying to make their litter sound more special than it really is, to increase their value.
Piebald White Beagles
Piebald white Beagles have tricolor or bicolor coats which are predominantly white.
They still have some pigmented areas, but they are small. These Beagles are sometimes called “patch Beagles”.
All Beagles with white in their coats have the piebald white spotting gene, also known as Sp.
The Sp gene causes patches of white in dogs’ coats, but the amount of white is not always uniform.
Patch Beagles simply have very large white patches.
Patch Beagles are even more likely to look like white Beagles at first glance if their patches are lemon, buff, or cream.
Albinism is a genetic mutation which completely inhibits pigment formation in a dog’s eyes and coat.
The gene responsible is called the SLC45a2 gene, but breeders more commonly call it the Z gene, or Z factor.
It’s very rarely expressed in Beagles. But it is also recessive, which means dogs can carry the gene silently for many generations, until two carriers are mated.
Albino Beagles have no pigment anywhere in their fur, skin or eyes. Their fur is white, or off-white, the skin on their nose and paw pads is pink, and their eyes are very pale blue, or even pinkish.
White Beagle-Mix Dogs
The final way to breed dogs which have lots of Beagle characteristics and a white coat is by introducing genes for a white coat from another breed.
Breeds such as Bull Terriers often carry a lot of white in their coat. Breeders have speculated that this is because they carry a gene known as the extreme white spotting gene, or Sw.
Introducing the Sw gene into a population of Beagles in one generation, then selecting very white individuals for breeding in subsequent generations can create dogs with lots of Beagle characteristics, and a mostly or entirely white coat.
You can read more about Beagle mixes here.
But now let’s take a look at what to expect of a white Beagle as a pet.
White Beagle Health
We’ll start with white Beagle health. Because the ways that a white coat can affect a Beagle’s health are also responsible for knock-on effects in temperament and grooming, which we’ll come to after.
All purebred dogs are susceptible to an increased risk of some hereditary diseases.
Beagles are especially noted for being prone to
- hip dysplasia
- diseases of the teeth and gums
- distichiasis (eyelashes which grow in the wrong direction and irritate the surface of the eye)
- and thyroid disease.
They live for 12-13 years, on average.
Lemon and white Beagle health is comparable to that of the average Beagle.
But in patch Beagles, large areas of white spotting have also been linked to congenital deafness.
And albino dogs, since they don’t produce any melanin, are more vulnerable to tissue damage by UV rays from the sun.
This can affect their eyes, and lead to blindness. In humans, the same albinism mutation has also been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer.
Finally, the health and lifespan of Beagle-mix dogs will also be influenced by the other breed in the mix. It is likely to include an increased risk of congenital deafness again.
But how do these things affect white Beagle temperament and grooming?
White Beagle Temperament
Your dog’s personality is the product of lots of factors, including his breed, the specific traits of his parents, the way you raise him, and his experiences in the world.
So, every white Beagle is different, regardless of how he got his coat.
Typically, Beagles are affectionate and energetic. They love the company of humans and other dogs, and they live for playtime.
Owing to their working background, during which they spent long days out on hunts, they have lively minds, and bags of stamina.
You’ll need to commit a lot of time to training, exercising, and playing with your Beagle before he’ll be ready to relax at the end of the day.
Beagles are also very vocal communicators. This is essential for working effectively in a pack on a hunt.
White Beagles of all types will share lots of these characteristics.
But patch Beagles might behave differently if they experience hearing loss.
And Beagle mix dogs may have some, or a lot, of traits from their other parent breed.
White Beagle Grooming
Beagles have short, coarse, and hard wearing coats.
They’re neither very prolific shedders, nor exceptionally low shedding.
Of course, white Beagles will show dust and dirt quicker than dogs with black or brown coats!
But they are easy to keep clean and tidy with brushing and the occasional bath.
Beagles with albinism will need extra daily care to protect them from sun exposure. This can include goggles to protect their eyes, and sunblock to protect their nose leather.
Your White Beagle
A white Beagle doesn’t meet the official breed standard, but there are a few reasons why a dog might be described that way.
If you see a white Beagle puppy advertised for sale or adoption, have a frank conversation with the person offering them about why they’re described that way.
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References and Resources
- Baranowska Korberg et al. A Simple Repeat Polymorphism in the MITF-M Promoter Is a Key Regulator of White Spotting in Dogs. Plos One. 2014.
- Cavanagh & Bell. Veterinary Medical Guide to Cat and Dog Breeds. CRC Press. 2012.
- Fernandez et al. SLC45A2: a novel malignant melanoma‐associated gene. Human Mutation. 2008.
- Official Standard for the Beagle. American Kennel Club. 1957.
- Orthopedic Foundation for Animals
- Schmutz & Berryere. Genes affecting coat colour and pattern in domestic dogs: a review. Animal Genetics. 2007.
- Strain. The genetics of deafness in domestic animals. Frontiers in Veterinary Science. 2015.