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Boykin Spaniel Dog Breed

About the Boykin Spaniel

The Boykin Spaniel is a versatile and spirited hunter, renowned for its keen abilities in the field and for its friendly disposition. This breed originates from South Carolina and has become the Official State Dog. Its medium-sized frame and rich, chocolate-hued coat have garnered admiration from both hunters and families alike. Equally adept on land and in water, the Boykin possesses an unwavering enthusiasm for retrieving. Beyond its working capabilities, the breed is cherished for its affectionate nature and loyalty to its family members. Whether hunting or resting at home, the Boykin is sure to capture the hearts of many with its amiable personality and pleasing presence.

AKC Group

AKC Group


Dog Breed Height


14 – 18 inches

Dog Breed Weight


25 – 40 pounds

Dog Breed Lifespan


10 – 15 years


Country of Origin United States
Bred For Flushing Birds, Companionship
Known For Friendliness, Gentleness, Willingness, Adaptability
Popularity Moderate
Temperament Friendly, Eager, Lovable
Activities Hunting, Running, Swimming, Conformation Shows, Dog Sports

History of the Boykin Spaniel

The Boykin Spaniel, fondly referred to as the “Little Brown Dog” of South Carolina, has a history that is as charming as the breed itself. A versatile hunting dog with a heart and head for waterfowl, the Boykin has roots that stretch deep into the American South.

The tale of the Boykin Spaniel begins in early 20th century South Carolina. The breed’s story is said to have started with a stray spaniel-type dog named “Dumpy.” Found by a man named Alexander White in the town of Spartanburg, around 1900, the little brown dog was given a home and soon showcased a natural talent for retrieving. Recognizing the dog’s abilities, White sent him to his hunting partner, Lemuel Whitaker Boykin, a man known for his expertise in training waterfowl hunting dogs.

L. W. Boykin refined and developed Dumpy’s innate skills, and from this foundation the breeding and evolution of the Boykin Spaniel began. The breed was specifically tailored for hunting wild turkeys and ducks in the Wateree River Swamp, requiring a compact, energetic dog that could handle both water and land retrieves.

The Boykin quickly endeared itself to local hunters. Its size was perfectly suited for the smaller boats frequenting the Wateree River, and its keen senses, combined with the breed’s boundless enthusiasm, made it indispensable to hunters in the area.

By the mid-20th century, the Boykin’s reputation had become more widely known, garnering even more widespread appreciation. The Boykin Spaniel Society, established to preserve the breed’s unique characteristics and heritage, played a pivotal role in promoting the breed’s many distinct qualities and its uniquely American history.

While its roots are firmly planted in hunting, the Boykin’s original role has diversified over time. Today, besides being a cherished hunting ally, the breed is also beloved as a family companion and Therapy Dog, and an eager participant in a wide variety of dog sports.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized the Boykin Spaniel in 2009. Other major kennel clubs, such as the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) and The Royal Kennel Club (UK), have yet to give the breed their stamp of approval.

The Boykin Spaniel’s importance in South Carolina’s cultural history is clearly evident. In 1985, the state honored the breed by declaring it the Official State Dog, affirming its cherished status among South Carolinians.

General Appearance

Height & Weight

Adult male Boykin Spaniels typically stand between 15.5 and 18 inches tall at the shoulder, while mature females usually range from 14 to 16.5 inches.

When it comes to weight, males generally weigh between 30 and 40 pounds, with females being typically lighter, weighing around 25 to 35 pounds.

Proportion & Substance

The Boykin Spaniel is a breed that exhibits both strength and agility. It has a sturdy frame without appearing bulky. Its body length is slightly longer than its height, giving it a somewhat rectangular proportion. This length, coupled with a strong back and well-developed musculature, equips the Boykin for endurance, particularly when retrieving game. The overall substance of the breed is neither too heavy nor too light, striking a harmonious balance that showcases its athletic abilities and inherent soundness.

Coat Texture, Colors & Markings

Texture: The coat of the Boykin Spaniel is medium in length and can range from slightly wavy to curly. This texture is not only aesthetically pleasing, it also provides the breed with protection in a wide variety of environments.

A Note About Color: The only acceptable color for a Boykin Spaniel is solid liver, a deep reddish brown that includes various shades of chocolate, from light to very dark. Some Boykins can have faint color variations due to bleaching from the sun. A small amount of white may appear on the chest, but nowhere else.


  • Skull: Moderately broad and flat on top, the skull tapers gently towards the eyes, culminating in a defined stop. The skull is neither too large for the body nor too small, striking a balance that aligns with the breed’s medium stature.
  • Expression: The breed’s expression is one of eagerness and intelligence, often illuminated with a hint of mischief. It’s this lively and friendly expression that endears the breed to many.
  • Eyes: Set well apart and medium in size, the eyes of the Boykin Spaniel are usually a rich shade of amber or brown. Their almond shape exudes warmth and alertness, reflective of the breed’s keen senses.
  • Ears: Set slightly above the line of the eyes, the Boykin’s ears are of medium length, with a thin leather, and hang close to the cheeks. Their shape is pendulous and they’re covered in wavy hair that gives them a gentle, feathered appearance.
  • Muzzle: The muzzle is of medium length and half as wide as the skull, tapering slightly but not to a point. It is powerful with a straight nasal bone, highlighting the breed’s strength as a retriever.
  • Nose: The Boykin’s nose is broad and dark liver in color. Its well-defined nostrils enhance its impressive scenting abilities, crucial for the breed’s usefulness as a hunting partner.
  • Bite: The Boykin Spaniel has a scissors bite, where the upper incisors closely overlap the lower incisors. This bite configuration is ideal for retrieving, allowing the dog to hold game gently yet firmly. A level bite is acceptable but is less desirable.

Close-up head photo of a Boykin Spaniel.


The tail of the Boykin Spaniel is an essential breed feature, indicative of the dog’s mood and enthusiasm. It is generally docked to a length of 3 to 5 inches and is set slightly below the level of the back. Undocked tails are less common in the breed. The tail is carried horizontally or slightly elevated above the level of the back, especially when the dog is alert or in motion. When the dog is in high spirits or on the move, the tail’s gentle waving motion is accentuated by a moderately dense coat that has a slight feathering.

The Boykin Spaniel – What to Consider?

The decision to bring a Boykin Spaniel into one’s life is to welcome a bundle of energy, intelligence, and affection. These “little brown dogs,” while endearing, do come with certain requirements and considerations that potential owners should be aware of to ensure a harmonious relationship.

Home Life

Interaction With Family

The level of affection a breed typically shows towards family members and familiar individuals will vary. While some breeds may only show genuine warmth towards their owner, remaining standoffish with strangers, other breeds will treat everyone they meet as if they are their closest friend.
Independent Affectionate

Good With Other Dogs

The innate friendliness of a dog towards other dogs can depend on its breed. Although supervision is always recommended during introductions, certain breeds tend to be inherently more or less sociable with other dogs, whether in a home setting or in public spaces.
Not Recommended Reliable With Other Dogs

Good With Young Children

The degree to which a breed will typically be patient with young children, and its overall suitability as a family member, will vary. It is important to always supervise interactions between dogs and the kids in the house, as well as with children who are not accustomed to being around dogs.
Not Recommended Dependable With Children


Amount Of Shedding

The amount of hair that a dog sheds will typically depend on its breed. Heavy-shedding breeds require more frequent brushing, have a higher chance of activating specific allergies, and often necessitate more frequent use of the vacuum cleaner and lint rollers.
Low High

Frequency Of Grooming

The regularity with which a breed needs bathing, brushing, trimming, or other forms of coat care is an all-important consideration. When evaluating the grooming effort required, consider your available time, patience, and budget. It is important to note that all breeds need routine ear, teeth, and nail care.
Monthly Daily

Amount Of Drooling

The tendency of a breed to drool significantly varies from breed to breed. For those who prefer cleanliness or are particular about keeping things tidy, breeds that are likely to leave trails of drool on your arm or large slobbery marks on your clothing and furniture might not be the best fit.
Low High

Coat Type


Coat Length




Trainability Level

The ease with which a dog can be trained and its eagerness to learn new skills can depend on the breed. Some breeds are naturally inclined to please their owners and will readily accept training, while others tend to follow their own desires, often showing independence in how, when, and where they choose to do things.
Stubborn Eager

Barking Level

The frequency of vocalization, including barking and howling, will vary from breed to breed. Some may bark at each person who passes by and every bird in the sky, while others will typically bark only for a good reason. Additionally, a few breeds that do not typically bark will still be vocal, using different sounds to communicate.
Quiet Vocal

Energy Level

The level of physical exercise and mental engagement required will depend on the breed. High-energy breeds are always on the go. They are enthusiastic about their next activity and tend to be busy most of the time, running, jumping, and playing throughout the day. In contrast, low-energy breeds are akin to couch potatoes, content to just lounge around and take naps throughout the day.
Couch Potato Busybody

Need For Mental Stimulation

The extent of mental stimulation needed to keep a dog content and healthy will vary by breed. Dogs bred for specific purposes may need tasks involving decision-making, problem-solving, and concentration. Without sufficient mental exercise, these dogs can resort to creating their own activities to engage their minds, resulting in unwanted behaviors like chewing, digging, and escaping.
Minimal Engagement Intensive Interaction

Boykin Spaniel Health

The Boykin Spaniel is typically a sturdy and healthy breed, blessed with a resilient constitution. However, like all breeds and mixed breeds, the Boykin can be susceptible to specific health conditions. Prospective owners should be aware of these potential issues and work closely with a trusted breeder and veterinarian to ensure each individual dog maintains optimal health throughout its life.

Lifespan: The average lifespan of a Boykin Spaniel ranges between 10 and 15 years, but with proper care, regular check-ups, and a balanced diet, many can thrive beyond these years.

Potential Health Risks

Boykin Spaniels, like any other dog, can be predisposed to certain health issues. While it’s essential to remember that not every Boykin will face these challenges, being aware of them can help owners take preventive measures and ensure early detection.

  • Hip Dysplasia: This is a genetic condition where the thigh bone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint, leading to arthritis over time.
  • Eye Conditions: They may be prone to various eye disorders, including cataracts, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), and eyelid abnormalities.
  • Patellar Luxation: This condition is a dislocation of the kneecap, which can be painful and even lead to lameness if not addressed.
  • Exercise-Induced Collapse (EIC): A genetic condition, EIC results from strenuous exercise which can cause a weakening of the limbs, loss of muscle control, and even collapse.
  • Heart Diseases: Boykins can sometimes suffer from heart conditions like Pulmonic Stenosis or other congenital heart disorders.
  • Skin Allergies: Some Boykins might have sensitivities to certain environmental triggers, causing itchy or inflamed skin.
  • Elbow Dysplasia: This is a complex joint disorder that can lead to lameness or arthritis in severe cases.
  • Gallbladder Mucoceles: Abnormal accumulation of mucus in the gallbladder can cause severe abdominal pain or other complications.

It’s important for Boykin Spaniel owners to maintain regular veterinary check-ups that can detect potential health issues early on. Choosing a reputable breeder who screens for commonly inherited health problems can also help in the search for a healthier puppy. Regular vet visits, proper nutrition, and being informed about the health concerns in the breed will all contribute to a dog’s well-being.

Boykin Spaniel Personality

Boykin Spaniels are renowned for their affable nature, exuding a cheerful disposition that’s hard to resist. Their historical role as hunting companions has shaped them into alert and intelligent dogs, but it’s their affectionate demeanor that truly defines them.

For novice dog owners, a Boykin Spaniel can be a joy, as the breed is often eager to please and responsive to positive reinforcement. The sensitivity level of Boykins is moderately high, meaning they thrive on human companionship and do not respond well to harsh corrections or prolonged isolation. It’s essential to approach training with kindness and patience, understanding that the bond formed during these sessions is integral to every Boykin’s welfare.

In terms of socialization, the Boykin Spaniel usually fares well with other dogs, showcasing a playful and non-aggressive demeanor. Early socialization is crucial, as it ensures they develop positive behaviors around other animals and humans. This breed’s gentle nature typically extends to young children, making Boykins a popular choice for families. However, as with any breed, supervision during interactions between dogs and young kids is always recommended.

Their friendly approach isn’t just limited to familiar faces. Boykin Spaniels are usually welcoming toward strangers, albeit with a hint of initial caution. They might take a moment to assess a new person, but once they’re assured of benign intentions, their warm and friendly nature shines through.

Boykin Spaniel Feeding & Nutrition

The nutritional needs of a Boykin Spaniel change over the course of its life, and understanding these requirements is crucial for its overall health and well-being. Feeding a balanced diet tailored to the dog’s age, weight, activity level, and health needs can make a significant difference in its vitality and longevity.

For Boykin Spaniel puppies, it’s essential to provide a nutrient-rich puppy formula that supports their rapid growth and development. As puppies are notably active and have higher energy needs, they often require more frequent meals. Instead of feeding large portions, it’s advisable to break down their daily food intake into smaller meals spread throughout the day.

As the Boykin Spaniel transitions to adulthood, its metabolism may slow down a bit. It’s during this phase that owners should shift from puppy formula to adult dog food. Monitoring the dog’s weight and adjusting the food portions is necessary to ensure a Boykin maintains a healthy weight. Typically, an adult might consume between 1.5 to 2.5 cups of high-quality dry dog food daily. However, this amount can vary based on the dog’s activity level and individual metabolic rate.

It’s also worth noting that Boykin Spaniels, with their enthusiastic nature, can sometimes be prone to overeating. Owners should be cautious about overfeeding and refrain from giving too many treats, especially those not specifically designed for dogs.

To ascertain the most appropriate diet for a Boykin Spaniel, consulting with a veterinarian or a pet nutritionist can be invaluable. They will provide personalized recommendations that cater to the specific needs of each individual dog.

Boykin Spaniel Training

Training a Boykin Spaniel can be a delightful experience, thanks to the breed’s inherent eagerness to please and its agile mind. Historically, these dogs were trained to assist hunters in retrieving game, which honed their ability to follow commands and work cohesively with humans.

However, their responsive nature doesn’t necessarily mean training is always a walk in the park. Patience and consistency are vital. Using positive reinforcement methods, such as praise or treats, can go a long way in cementing desired behaviors. Boykins respond best to gentle, reward-based training techniques.

When it comes to vocal tendencies, the Boykin Spaniel might occasionally exhibit a tendency to bark, especially when they’re alerting their owners to someone’s arrival or if they’re bored. Early training can help to manage and even reduce excessive barking.

The breed’s intelligence is one of its most notable traits. Boykin Spaniels are quick learners, able to grasp new commands and tricks with relative ease. However, this same intelligence can sometimes lead to stubbornness if they’re not mentally stimulated. To counteract this, incorporating puzzle toys, agility training, or advanced obedience lessons can keep their minds sharp.

Wanderlust is generally not a pronounced trait in the Boykin Spaniel, but they’re still dogs, and an intriguing scent or an exciting sight might tempt them. As a safety precaution, it’s always a good idea to have a secure yard or to keep them on a leash during walks.

In terms of predatory instincts, while the Boykin Spaniel is a retriever at heart, they don’t have a particularly high drive to chase. Early socialization and training, however, can help to ensure they interact appropriately with smaller pets or wildlife.

Boykin Spaniel Exercise

Ensuring a Boykin Spaniel receives ample exercise is integral to its physical and emotional well-being. As Sporting Dogs, they are naturally active and thrive when they have opportunities to expend their energy in productive ways.

Exercise Expectations

Energy Level High
Exercise Requirements 1 Hour/Day, Daily Walks, Weekly Swimming, Regular Exercise, Playing with Another Dog, Mental Stimulation

In terms of exercise needs, the Boykin Spaniel requires regular and consistent physical activity. A couple of daily walks, combined with some playtime in a fenced yard, can help to meet this requirement. They particularly enjoy retrieving games, making fetch a favorite activity for many within the breed.

The energy level of the Boykin Spaniel is moderately high. While they’re capable of bursts of energy during play or work, they also cherish their downtime with family members. After a good exercise session, a Boykin Spaniel is often content to simply relax and cuddle.

Intensity is a characteristic feature of this breed when they’re engaged in a task or play. Whether it’s chasing a ball, going for a swim, or participating in dog sports, a Boykin Spaniel tends to give it their all. Owners should be mindful of this intensity, ensuring the dog doesn’t overexert itself, especially in hot weather.

Lastly, they have a playful streak that endears them to both young and old. This playfulness, combined with their friendly disposition, makes them excellent companions for families, singles, and seniors alike.

Boykin Spaniel Grooming

Grooming a Boykin Spaniel is essential not just for aesthetic reasons but also for their overall health and well-being. The breed’s coat, characterized by a wavy to curly texture, requires regular maintenance to keep it in optimal condition.

Grooming Expectations

Coat Type Wavy to Curly, Medium Length, Waterproof
Grooming Requirements Weekly Brushing, Occasional Bathing, Routine Ear Cleaning, Periodic Nail Trimming, Regular Tooth Brushing

In terms of ease of grooming, the Boykin Spaniel falls into the moderate category. Regular brushing, at least a few times a week, can help to prevent tangles and matting. This routine not only keeps the coat looking its best, it also aids in distributing the natural oils of the skin, promoting a healthy shine.

Shedding is a natural part of a Boykin Spaniel’s life. While the breed doesn’t shed heavily, there’s a consistent, light shedding that takes place throughout the year. Regular brushing can help to manage and reduce the amount of loose hair, ensuring a cleaner living environment and a healthier coat for the dog.

Apart from coat care, other grooming essentials for a Boykin Spaniel include regular ear checks and cleaning. Due to the breed’s floppy ears, Boykins can be more susceptible to ear infections. Keeping the ears clean and dry can help to prevent such issues.

Routine nail trimming, dental care, and periodic baths round out the grooming regimen. A Boykin Spaniel might need a bath every few weeks or when it gets particularly dirty. Using a dog-specific shampoo can help to maintain the coat’s natural oils and ensure healthy skin.

Living with a Boykin Spaniel

Preparing your living space and lifestyle for a Boykin Spaniel can be a rewarding journey, but understanding the breed’s specific needs can make the experience smoother for both the dog and owner.

For apartment living, Boykin Spaniels can adapt well, given that their exercise needs are adequately met. Their medium size and affable nature make them suitable companions for smaller living spaces. However, it’s crucial to ensure they get daily outdoor time to burn off energy and stimulate their minds.

When it comes to weather adaptability, Boykin Spaniels have a coat that offers some protection against the elements. In colder climates, their dense, wavy to curly coat provides insulation, but it’s always a good idea to be attentive during extreme cold spells and consider protective gear if necessary.

Conversely, in hot weather, Boykin Spaniels can be susceptible to overheating. Ensuring they have easy access to shade and fresh water, and limiting their exposure during peak heat hours, can help to keep them safe and comfortable.

Boykin Spaniel Puppies

The charm of Boykin Spaniel puppies is undeniable. These bundles of energy, with their soulful eyes and eager-to-please attitudes, can melt the hearts of anyone they meet. However, as with all puppies, Boykin Spaniels come with their own unique set of needs during their early life stages.

Caring for a Boykin Spaniel Puppy

Bringing a Boykin Spaniel puppy home is an exciting event, but it’s also a time that demands commitment, patience, and understanding from the new owner. From the very start, it’s essential to establish a stable routine, as puppies thrive on consistency. This routine includes feeding times, potty breaks, playtime, and rest.

Socialization is a crucial aspect of every Boykin Spaniel puppy’s life. Early exposure to various people, sounds, sights, and experiences can help shape their temperament and ensure they grow up to be sociable and confident adults. Puppy classes, home visits, and controlled outings can be beneficial for their development.

Diet plays a pivotal role in a puppy’s growth. It’s vital to feed a high-quality puppy food that meets a puppy’s nutritional requirements. Keeping a watch on a pup’s weight and ensuring it is not overfed are equally essential, as obesity can lead to health issues later in life.

Teething can be a trying period for both the puppy and everyone else in the house. Providing chew toys can help alleviate some of the discomfort and protect household items from being chewed.

Lastly, early training sessions should be short, fun, and positive. Boykin Spaniel puppies, with their eager nature, can pick up on commands quickly when taught with love and positive reinforcement.

Boykin Spaniel Activities & Dog Sports

Boykin Spaniels, with their Sporting Dog lineage, are naturally inclined towards activities that challenge their physical abilities and mental acumen. Their enthusiasm and drive make them excellent participants in a wide array of dog sports and events. Here are some activities in which Boykin Spaniels excel:

  • Spaniel Hunting Tests: Given their history as waterfowl retrievers, Boykin Spaniels are naturals in those tests and trials that showcase their skills in flushing and retrieving game under various conditions.
  • Agility: Agility courses, with their jumps, tunnels, and weave poles, offer Boykin Spaniels a platform to demonstrate their speed, dexterity, and trainability.
  • Obedience: With their eager-to-please attitude, Boykin Spaniels can excel in Obedience, highlighting their discipline and ability to follow commands.
  • Dock Diving: Capitalizing on the Boykin’s love for water, Dock Diving is a sport where these dogs can exhibit their prowess in jumping and retrieving items from a cool body of water.
  • Rally Obedience: A sport which combines elements of Obedience and Agility, Rally-O offers Boykin Spaniels an opportunity to showcase their versatility and cooperative spirit.
  • Tracking: Using their keen sense of smell, Boykin Spaniels can be trained in Tracking activities, where they are given the chance to locate items or people based on scent trails.
  • Flyball: A relay race that involves jumps and fetching a ball, Flyball is another activity that can appeal to the energetic nature of the Boykin Spaniel.
  • Therapy Work: Beyond competitive sports, Boykin Spaniels, with their gentle and affectionate demeanor, can be trained as Therapy Dogs, providing comfort and companionship to those in hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities.

The Boykin Spaniel is a versatile breed, making it suitable for a wide range of activities. Engaging the Boykin in these activities not only showcases its many talents, it also provides the mental stimulation and physical exercise the breed craves.

Group Classification & Standards

The Boykin Spaniel is recognized by the world’s leading registries and kennel organizations, which categorize the breed into a specific Group based on its unique characteristics. This breed is recognized worldwide under the following Group designations:

International Organizations

Organization Group Designation
AKC (American Kennel Club) Sporting
UKC (United Kennel Club) Gun Dog
CKC (Canadian Kennel Club) Not Recognized
ANKC (Australian National Kennel Council) Not Recognized
RKC (The Royal Kennel Club) Not Recognized
FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale) Not Recognized

The ideal Boykin Spaniel is described by a Breed Standard that is approved by each of the world’s leading registries and kennel organizations. The Breed Standards for this breed may be found in the following links:

Breed Standards

Organization Breed Standard
American Kennel Club AKC Boykin Spaniel Breed Standard
United Kennel Club UKC Boykin Spaniel Breed Standard
Canadian Kennel Club Not Recognized
Australian National Kennel Council Not Recognized
The Royal Kennel Club Not Recognized
Fédération Cynologique Internationale Not Recognized

Boykin Spaniel Clubs

The Boykin Spaniel, a breed cherished for its unique history and versatile skill set, has captivated the hearts of generations of breeders, enthusiasts, and dog lovers. Many breed clubs and organizations emphasize the importance of preserving the breed’s legacy and championing its distinctive qualities.

In the United States, the Boykin Spaniel Society, established in 1977, remains at the forefront of championing the breed. The club works diligently to educate the public about the breed and promote responsible breeding practices. It also holds Retriever Field Trials as well as Upland Field Trials.

Additionally, local clubs and groups across the US celebrate the Boykin Spaniel. These local entities often organize community events, training sessions, and meet-ups, providing a platform for Boykin Spaniel breeders, trainers, and enthusiasts to connect, share experiences, and deepen their knowledge about the breed.

Boykin Spaniel Rescue Groups

The breed enthusiasts’ dedication to the Boykin Spaniel extends beyond breed promotion to ensuring the welfare of individual dogs that might find themselves in less than ideal situations. Rescue groups play an invaluable role in this endeavor, providing temporary care, rehabilitation, and ultimately, finding loving forever homes for Boykin Spaniels in need.

In the United States, Boykin Spaniel Rescue, Inc. stands out as a beacon of hope for these endearing canines. This organization operates nationwide, coordinating with volunteers, foster homes, and potential adopters to secure a brighter future for Boykin Spaniels in need. The members’ tireless efforts have seen countless Boykins transition from challenging circumstances to families that cherish them.

The United Kingdom too has a network of general dog rescue organizations, such as the Dogs Trust and Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), which could potentially take in and rehome a Boykin Spaniel, providing the same level of care and attention that is dedicated to all breeds.

Boykin Spaniel Facts

  • Nickname: The Boykin Spaniel is fondly referred to as the “Little Brown Dog” of South Carolina.
  • State Recognition: This breed holds the esteemed title of the Official State Dog of South Carolina, an honor it received in 1985.
  • Special Day: Boykin Spaniel Day is celebrated on September 1st in South Carolina.
  • Expressive Gaze: One of the most charming features of the Boykin Spaniel is the breed’s notably soulful and expressive eyes.
  • Boating Buddy: Specifically bred for the swampy terrains of South Carolina, the Boykin Spaniel was the perfect fit for the small boats, or “section boats,” used by local hunters.
  • Coat Functionality: The Boykin’s double coat is not only aesthetically pleasing but also protective, serving as a shield against the swampy conditions of the breed’s home state.
  • Natural Swimmer: Possessing the innate ability to swim with ease and agility, the Boykin Spaniel’s history as a retriever of wildfowl is self-evident in its aquatic skills.
  • Docked Tail: The Boykin’s typically “spaniel” tail, usually docked, results from a decision rooted in the hunters’ need to protect the dog’s tail from harm in murky waters and the thick underbrush found in swampy wetlands.
  • Friendly Companions: Beyond their hunting prowess, Boykin Spaniels are celebrated for their amiable nature, which makes them ideal family companions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do Boykin Spaniels shed?

Yes, Boykin Spaniels do shed. Like many breeds, Boykins have a natural shedding cycle that results in a gradual loss of dead hair. Regular grooming can help manage and reduce the amount of loose hair.

How long do Boykin Spaniels live?

Boykin Spaniels typically have a lifespan of around 10 to 15 years. With proper care, a balanced diet, and regular veterinary check-ups, many Boykins can live a long and healthy life within this range.

Are Boykin Spaniels hypoallergenic?

No breed is truly hypoallergenic, and this includes the Boykin Spaniel. However, some individuals with pet allergies find they react less to certain breeds, but this varies from person to person. Regular grooming can help to reduce dander, which is often the primary allergen.

How big do Boykin Spaniels get?

Boykin Spaniels are medium-sized dogs. Males typically weigh between 30 to 40 pounds, while females usually range from 25 to 35 pounds. In terms of height, adult Boykins usually stand between 14 to 18 inches tall at the shoulder.

Can Boykin Spaniels be quarrelsome?

Boykin Spaniels are not inherently quarrelsome. They are generally known for their friendly and sociable nature; however, like any breed, individual temperaments can vary, and proper socialization from a young age is crucial to ensure well-adjusted behavior.

Are Boykin Spaniels born with tails?

Yes, Boykin Spaniels are born with tails. It has been a tradition in some hunting circles to dock the tails in this breed to a certain length, primarily for practical reasons related to their work in the field, but not all Boykins have their tails docked.

Are Boykin Spaniels good family dogs?

Absolutely! Boykin Spaniels are known for their affectionate and friendly demeanor, making them excellent family companions. Their adaptable nature and love for play can make the Boykin a great playmates for children, though supervision is always advised with younger kids.

Do Boykin Spaniels bark a lot?

Boykin Spaniels have a moderate tendency to bark. While they can be vocal, especially if they spot something intriguing or feel the need to alert their family, they aren’t known as incessant barkers. Training and proper stimulation can help to manage excessive barking.

Is the Boykin a kind of Cocker Spaniel?

The Boykin Spaniel is not the same as a Cocker Spaniel. While both breeds share some similarities due to their spaniel heritage, the Boykin was specifically bred in South Carolina for duck and turkey hunting, and is distinctly different, both mentally and physically, from its Cocker cousin.

How do you groom a Boykin Spaniel?

Grooming a Boykin Spaniel involves regular brushing to remove loose hair and prevent matting, especially due to the breed’s wavy coat. It’s also important to check the ears regularly for signs of infection, given their pendulous nature. Additionally, periodic trimming, especially around the eyes, ears, and paws, will keep the Boykin looking neat and prevent potential health issues from going unnoticed.

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Find a Breeder or Rescue

The best way to ensure a long and happy relationship with a purebred dog is to purchase one from a responsible breeder. Not sure where to begin?

Contact the National Parent Club’s Breeder Referral Program, which is listed on the AKC Breeder Referral Contacts page.

Find a Boykin Spaniel Puppy
Find a Breeder or Rescue