Beagling Terminology

If you are new to the world of Beagling, and more specifically field trialing, here's some basic information and terminology to get you started.

Field Trials:

Photo obtained from on 31-Oct-2011.

Hounds are run against each other in competition and judged on their hunting ability in accordance with AKC established rules.  The American Kennel Club has five types of field trials:

  • Brace - A brace is two hounds (sometimes 3) run together.  In this type of trial, dogs are typically very slow.  They walk the line, but give lots of tongue. They are judged mainly on their accuracy.  The conformation of these hounds has  diverged from the beagle standard and brace hounds are often recognized by their heavier builds and shorter legs.
  • Small Pack -  Frequently run in the 2-Pack Coupler format in which  two braces of dogs form a small pack totaling 4 hounds.  Dogs are first tested for gun-shyness by firing a blank into the air above them.  Packs who qualify by showing no fear at the sound of the rifle firing are cast to search.  Once the pack claims a line and the line is accepted by both the judge and handler, the pack will have 20 minutes of time on the line.   Dogs earn credit time when at least 3 of the dogs tongue the line.  The speed of these dogs may vary, but a pack should run at approximately the same speed and work well together.
  • Small Pack Option -  Once again, dogs are run in small packs of 4 -7 hounds and are tested for gun-shyness.  Dogs are typically medium to fast speed.  In addition to being judged on their searching and tracking ability, dogs are also judged on appearance.
  • Large Pack - Packs of up to 25 dogs are run on hare and must demonstrate stamina by running at least one hour in a qualifying round and, should they be called back, 2 hours in a final round.
  • Gundog Brace - This differs from a Brace (see bullet point #1).  Pairs of dogs are run against each other, but the dogs should have traditional conformation.  They are usually of medium to medium-fast speed.  Dogs are first tested for gun-shyness and are then judged on their searching and tracking ability.

In a field trial, judges look mainly at each hound’s positive accomplishments such as searching ability, accuracy in trailing, and proper use of voice; however,  particular faults such as  quitting, backtracking, or racing are considered serious enough to reduce a hound's chances of placing.

Males and females are run separately, typically trialing on separate days;  they are further split into 13" and 15" classes.  Prior to entry the dogs are measured for height at the shoulder to ensure that they qualify for their class.  Dogs standing 13" or smaller (there is no minimum height requirement) qualify as 13" beagles.  Dogs standing 13"+ to 15" qualify as 15" beagles.  Beagles exceeding 15" are not eligible to compete.  Many people ask why beagles are split into two size classes.  It is most likely that function is behind this class distinction.  Smaller beagles are excellent at working their way into and through brush piles and are ideal for hunting heavy cover, such as briar thickets.  Larger beagles, with their longer legs and bigger size, often have more endurance and speed, which makes them ideal for hunting open fields.  On the other hand, large beagles may have difficulty penetrating tight cover while small beagles have trouble keeping up in the field.  Despite these "ideals", there is frequently no difference in the locations at which 13" and 15" beagles are trialed, and size differences are typically a matter of personal preference.


For a more extensive listing of beagle terminology, click here for a link to the Beagles Unlimited  article "Beagling Terminology 101". 

For further information on field trial rules, click on Fieldtrialrules.pdf  for a copy of the AKC Beagle Field Trial rulebook.