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Boykin Spaniel Dog Breed Info: Pictures, Traits & Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Boykin Spaniel

Height: 14 – 18 inches
Weight: 25 – 40 pounds
Lifespan: 10 – 15 years
Colors: Solid brown
Suitable for: A family with a large yard
Temperament: A friendly, intelligent, and social dog that is always eager to please.

Boykin spaniels are medium-sized dogs that were first bred in the early 1900s. Originally produced as hunting dogs, they’ve been for used the past 100 years to retrieve downed waterfowl and wild turkeys in the lakes and swamps of South Carolina.

However, these days, they are more likely to be active and loyal house dogs and family pets than hunting dogs.

Boykin Spaniels are highly energetic and best suited to active families who like to get out and about for regular exercise and outdoor fun. They have a forgiving and mellow temperament, and they typically get on with people and other animals.

While they love spending time with their families, Boykin Spaniels are not at all suited to apartment living and need a yard with plenty of room in which they can romp around.

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Boykin Spaniel Puppies

Boykin Spaniel puppy
Image: Pikrepo

The Boykin Spaniel is recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

Because they’re a recognized bred, breeders and owners of purebred Boykin Spaniels can choose to register their dogs with the AKC and purchase an AKC Certified Pedigree that will outline up to four generations of the dog’s family history.

As with any other breed of dog, before purchasing your puppy, you must take the time to check out the breeder you intend to purchase from before parting with any money. We recommend choosing a breeder from the ASCBAA Breeder Directory Program, as all of the breeders listed in the program need to be members in good standing with both the AKC and the ASCBAA.

In accordance with this Code, your chosen breeder will conduct and disclose several basic health checks with potential buyers, so you can be sure that you will be getting a healthy puppy that does not have an elevated predisposition to any known hereditary conditions.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Boykin Spaniel

1. Boykin Spaniels are excellent swimmers

Having been bred to flush and retrieve a variety of fowl from swamps and lakes, Boykin Spaniels are excellent swimmers who love the water. A skill that significantly enhanced by the fact that they have webbed toes that act like swim fins when in the water.

They are so skilled at swimming that their official entry on the AKC’s website says that the “web-toed Boykins can swim like seals.”

2. They are the official state dog of South Carolina

In 1985, the South Carolina General Assembly passed Bill 2403 that became Act 31, 1985 ratifying the Boykin Spaniel as the official dog of South Carolina. The law designating the Boykin Spaniel as the official state dog can be found in the South Carolina Code of Laws, Title 1, Chapter 1, Article 9, Section 1-1-655.

The reasons listed in the Bill for the choice of the Boykin Spaniel as the official state dog include:

  • The Boykin Spaniel is the only dog that was originally bred for South Carolina hunters by South Carolinians.
  • The Boykin Spaniel has developed into a breed of superb hunting instincts and mild temperament.
  • The Boykin Spaniel is a highly regarded pet and hunting dog.

3. The Boykin Spaniel is a true “all-American” dog breed

Named after a founding resident of Boykin, South Carolina, Lemuel Whitaker “Whit” Boykin, the Boykin Spaniel originated in about 1900 when a man by the name of Alexander White found a small brown Spaniel outside his church in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Alexander White named the dog Dumpy and took him out on a hunt with his retrievers. White was thrilled to find that Dumpy was a natural hunter and he later sent Dumpy to undertake hunting training with a local dog man, Whit Boykin.

Boykin saw something in the dog and became fascinated with Dumpy’s ability to hunt waterfowl. Boykin later commenced a breeding program with Dumpy, using a variety of Retrievers and Spaniels as crosses, and the result was the modern-day Boykin Spaniel.

Boykin Spaniel
Credit: Zadranka, Shutterstock

Temperament & Intelligence of the Boykin Spaniel 🧠

Boykin Spaniels are highly intelligent and friendly dogs that love being around people. They are extremely loyal to their owners and are always eager to please, a trait that helps significantly with training.

The breed is known to be inquisitive and they love to explore, but they’re also obedient and will generally listen when called away from something that has taken their interest.

Boykin’s like to be kept mentally stimulated and can entertain themselves with toys and games if you need to leave them alone. Yet, despite their energy levels, they’ll take the opportunity to curl up in a nice sunny spot anytime the chance arises.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

Yes, Boykin Spaniels make great family pets. They adore children and will happily run around outside and play for hours. They will do best with an active family that will be willing to take them out for long walks and runs daily.

Boykins are typically fine around young children. They have a calm and friendly nature that will see them simply walk away if a child starts to annoy them rather than become aggressive.

The breed is not an excessive barker, and they’re not the type of dog to bail-up an intruder. Still, they are quite alert and will bark to warn their family of any perceived threat or danger.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽

For a Spaniel, the Boykin has quite a low prey drive, and are typically fine around other animals regardless of their size.

Provided they are socialized, they will get on fine with almost any other dog, and they’ll happily be your cat’s best non-feline buddy. Boykin Spaniels also don’t get too hung up about their position in the family, and as such are unlikely to feel threatened by the presence of any new pet you bring into your house.

Boykin Spaniel puppy
Credit: Zadranka, Shutterstock

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Things to Know When Owning a Boykin Spaniel:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Boykin Spaniel’s are highly active dogs and need a diet that is going to give them both the nutrition and energy they need.

We recommend that a Boykin Spaniel should be fed a high-quality dry dog food that is formulated specifically for medium dogs, and a product such as would fit that bill perfectly. Of course, there are many other brands of food available both online and at your local pet food store.

You should be aware that like many spaniels, Boykin Spaniels will put on excessive weight if you overfeed them. So, it is important to follow the weight and activity guide food guide on your pet’s dog food. We also recommend feeding your dog twice a day, giving them half of their daily serving in the morning and the other half at night.

As always, we recommend that if you have any questions or concerns about your dog’s health or nutrition, you should speak to your vet.

Exercise 🐕

As we’ve mentioned above, Boykin Spaniels are highly active dogs. They were bred to have the ability to walk, swim, and hunt all day and they’re not going to be happy if you don’t give them the chance to burn through their energy.

Boykin Spaniels are great jogging companions and will be more than happy to accompany their family on any outing that will involve getting outside for some exercise or play.

The Boykin Spaniel’s intelligent and curious personality means that in addition to physical exercise, they also need a fair amount of mental stimulation. This came come in the form of obedience or agility training, tracking, or any number of other activities that can be enjoyed by humans and dogs alike.

Training 🦮

Being intelligent and eager to please, the Boykin Spaniel responds well to training. You will likely find that your puppy will relish spending the time with you and learning new things. Of course, that’s not to say that training a Boykin Spaniel won’t be without its challenges, but rather that the process itself will be enjoyable for both you and your dog.

We recommend starting your training early in your puppy’s life with socialization and puppy training classes to help ensure that your Boykin grows into a well-mannered and well-adjusted adult dog. Then, once you and your pet have mastered the basics, you can look to more interesting and challenging activities such as agility training or learning how to track.

Of course, if you plan on using your dog in their traditional hunting role, you will need to undertake some specialized hunt training. And unless you are an experienced hunter and dog trainer, you should seek professional assistance with this.

Boykin Spaniel
Credit: Zadranka, shutterstock

Grooming ✂️

Boykin Spaniels have medium length, wavy coats that only require minimal attention. Regular weekly brushing is generally all that is needed to keep their coat from matting, and it may be helpful to have a dog groomer clip your dog’s coat to cut any longer hair around sanitary areas. The breed does shed, but only moderately.  More regular brushing may be required when they are shedding.

You shouldn’t need to wash your Boykin Spaniel too often, and we recommend being guided by how dirty your dog gets during its work or play.

As with all dogs, Boykin Spaniels also need the nails clipped every month or two and will benefit from having their teeth brushed regularly with canine toothpaste. You should also check their ears regularly for any signs of infection.

Health and Conditions ❤️

Overall, the Boykin Spaniel is a healthy breed. There are some common conditions you should watch out for, and we have listed these below, but careful breeding and comprehensive testing have gone a long way to reducing the incidence of most of these conditions within the breed.

The most common conditions that affect Boykin Spaniels include:

Minor Conditions
  • Weight gain
  • Diabetes
  • Ear infections
Serious Conditions
  • Patellar luxation
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Exercise-induced collapse (EIC)
  • Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA)
  • Heart disease

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Male vs Female

As with many dog breeds, male Boykin Spaniels tend to be a little taller and heavier than females. But apart from this, there is little physical difference between the sexes.

From a temperament point of view, there is also little difference. Although, while on heat, female dogs may become a bit more territorial, and of the two sexes, males (particularly whole dogs) will be more inclined to roam.

For the most part, a much better way to choose a dog is to have a look at the litter and seek the advice of the breeder. Usually, it will be quite easy for the breeder, who has spent hours with the puppies, to help you find the quietest, active, or stubborn individuals in the litter.

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Final Thoughts

Boykin Spaniels are fun-loving, intelligent, and playful dogs. They make great family pets, companion dogs, and hunting dogs.  They don’t require a great deal of care when it comes to grooming and they are relatively easy to train. They do, however, need a home with a yard and plenty of space to run around, and are not at all suited to apartment life.

Ideally, if you’re considering a Boykin Spaniel puppy, you or your family are active outdoor types who love to work, run, and explore the great outdoors. You should also be prepared to train and care for a dog that wants to be an active part of your life for at least the next 10, possibly 15 years. And most of all, you need to understand that you won’t just be getting a dog, you’ll be adding a new member to your family.

Featured Image Credit: PxHere

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