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Boykin Spaniel… Everything You Need to Know at a Glance!

Never heard of a Boykin Spaniel?  Well, that probably just means that you’re not from South Carolina, or you don’t do a lot of bird hunting, because if you did, there probably wouldn’t be all that much we could tell you about this incredible dog breed!

You see…

The Boykin Spaniel dog breed has earned the reputation for being a fabulous dog to take on the hunt with you, which is why he as become a preferred choice by many hunters all across the United States.

But that’s not all…

The Boykin Spaniel also makes for an excellent guard dog/watchdog and loyal companion.  Which is why it’s not surprising that this little retriever often makes it on folks “short list” when trying to determine what “kind” of dog they should get.

The problem is…

Just like any dog breed, the Boykin Spaniel is going to have certain “needs” that may make him a better suited for certain folks than he or she would with others.

Let’s take a moment and discuss some of the pros and cons of owning a Boykin Spaniel, so that if you do decide to adopt one, you won’t find yourself regretting your decision six months from now!

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Boykin Spaniel Dog Breed Facts

Country of Origin: United States

Original Purpose:  Hunting Dog

Height:  14 to 18 inches tall

Weight:  25 to 40 pounds

Life Span: 10 to 14 years

Dog Breed Classification:  Sporting

Origins of the Boykin Spaniel

As we’ve already hinted at, the Boykin Spaniel is from the state of South Carolina. And if you’ve never been to South Carolina or have never spoken to someone from South Carolina about the Boykin Spaniel, we can save you some trouble and just let you know right now that South Carolinians are CRAZY about this dog!

So crazy…

That they even decided to make the Boykin Spaniel the official state dog of South Carolina.  The funny thing is that South Carolina decided to give the Boykin this honor back in 1985, nearly 25 years before the American Kennel Club (AKC) even decided to recognize the breed!

But that didn’t bother…

True South Carolinians because they weren’t waiting on the AKC to tell them what they already knew.  After all, the Boykin Spaniel had been around for well over 80 years by the time that it became the “state” dog!

First developed…

In the early 1900’s, the Boykin Spaniel was developed for one purpose and one purpose only… to be the best hunting partner in the world!  And in a state where hunting is VERY popular, being able to make this kind of claim isn’t something that is going to go “unchecked”.

Which is why…

Earning the title of “state” dog in a hunting state is a pretty significant feat!

Prized for his ability…

To retrieve game birds, local hunters found the Boykin Spaniel to be an ideal choice to take out and hunt wild turkeys, waterfowl and pheasants. It also helped that this retriever was of medium size, small enough to fit into the boat, yet big enough to be able to handle himself on dry land or on water.

Who is the Boykin Spaniel named after?

The Boykin Spaniel gets his name from a man called Whit Boykin, who first bred him.

Back in the early 1900s…

Whit found a stray dog with an amazing ability to retrieve birds. And it seemed like a “sin” to let this talent go to waste, particularly in a state like South Carolina, so he decided why not cross this dog with a Cocker, American Water Spaniel, Chesapeake Bay Retriever and a Springer Spaniel.

And what emerged…

From this humble beginning went on to become the cherished Boykin Spaniel!

Boykin Spaniel General Appearance

The Boykin Spaniel is certainly a good looking dog. And while is one of the smaller members of the spaniel club, don’t be fooled by his compact size, this dog is tough!


Between 14 to 18 inches tall and weighing in between 25 to 40 pounds, the “medium” sized spaniel means business.  His compact body, brown eyes and flat ears that drop over his cheeks are all keenly in tune with the hunt and will be ready to spring into action once given the signal.

A signal…

That could mean running through brush, a field or diving into the water, it really won’t matter, because the Boykin Spaniels rich lush outer coat is ready for whatever the world can throw at it.

Either way…

Grooming your Boykin Spaniel wavy fur is going to be easy enough because Boykins don’t shed a ton, so as long as you give his outer coat a light brushing at least twice a week you should be good.

He is a very agile, athletic dog who does very well in most hunt tests. He is one of the best behaved terriers in his category of hunting dogs.

Boykin Spaniel Temperament

The Boykin is a very calm and intelligent dog. You can see that by the way he looks at you. He is also very gentle and kind with children. He is not a funny dog and doesn’t clown around, but he is a dog that you can trust.

And as we’ve already…

Mentioned, the Boykin Spaniel is a hunting dog, which means he is going to require a lot of exercise if you want to keep him happy.  And remember, even if you are an AVID hunter, chances are you don’t go hunting every day, so just remember to be sure to give your Boykin plenty of exercise between the “hunts” so that he’ll not only be a “happy” dog, he will also stay in tiptop shape for you when you need him the most!

Now if you’re not a hunter…

That doesn’t mean that the Boykin Spaniel can’t also be a great family pet for you as well.  After all, these guys make great companion animals and are great with children and other four-legged creatures you may have living with you!

You’ll just want to be…

More conscious of the fact that your Boykin Spaniel is going to need plenty of exercise and should be engaged in play time that appeals to his abilities, such as retrieving items for you.

That said however…

If you are looking for a pet that is going to be “content” spending countless hours on his or her own and NOT being given plenty of time to stretch his or her legs on a daily basis, chances are, this is not going to be the right dog for you.


A bored Boykin is likely to begin to “act” out either by chewing up everything in your home or by barking at just about everything that he or she happens to see walk by.

Training and Socialization

The Boykin Spaniel is a naturally friendly dog that is extremely smart, which not only makes training them pretty easy, it also makes it a lot of fun too!  Just be sure that your being gentle in your training and use plenty of positive reinforcement as these guys generally don’t respond well to SHOUTING!

Did we mention he loves water!

If not, we should have which is why you should always try to allow your Boykin some “water” time especially if you’re trying to train your Boykin to help your retrieve water fowl.

What about the health issues that affect the Boykin?

The Boykin is generally a healthy breed, but he is susceptible to the following health problems…

Which is why…

You should always make sure to get the Boykin puppy only from a breeder that can produce the CHIC certification, and proof of DNA tests that show that he comes from healthy parents.

It’s also why…

If you are thinking about adopting a Boykin Spaniel soon, you should also take a moment and consider what it might cost to purchase a pet insurance policy on him or her.  This way if anything does happy to your new “buddy”, you won’t be on the “hook” for 100% of his or her veterinarian bills.

For more information about pet insurance policies, be sure to check out our Best Pet Insurance Companies article.

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