The modern beagle typically stands between fourteen and sixteen inches at the shoulder, and has a lithe, athletic build. Up until the Second World War there was a great deal of overlap between the hunting and show types.Since then the two have diverged until today they are quite different in appearance . Before 1891 no formal breeding records were kept.But in that year the AMHB was formed, and a Kennel Stud Book was compiled listing the breeding of all beagles belonging to packs which had joined the AMHB. This record has been maintained every year since. So it is possible to take almost any beagle hunting today and trace its pedigree in an unbroken line through maybe twenty generations, back to the Victorian era.
The availability of this record has undoubtedly helped to improve the quality of the breed, by allowing scientific breeding methods to be used. Up to the Second World War, hunting beagles could be bought and sold (there were regular auctions around the country), and stud fees charged. However, most beagles were put down at the outbreak of war, and to re-establish the breed after 1945 the AMHB decided to prohibit the sale of registered hounds, or the charging of stud fees. This had the effect that anyone building up a pack of beagles could have access to the best breeding stock, and that packs which had bred more hounds than they needed would offer puppies free of charge to those that needed them. Through this policy beagling rapidly re-established itself after the war, and the quality of hounds improved as well. These rules remain in force today.