Boykin Spaniel

Type: Gun Dog

Height: Male: 15.5 - 18 inches; Females: 14 - 16.5 inches.

Weight: Male: 30 - 40 lbs.; Females: 25 - 35 lbs.

Life Span: 12 - 15 years

Litter Size: 5 - 7 puppies

Country of Origin: USA

Activity: Medium. Boykins are sweet and obedient by nature, and therefore will do what you ask of them. If they need to retrieve and hunt, they will be active in doing so. If they need to relax in the house with you, they will do so.

Watch-dog: Medium. They are part of the Spaniel family, and therefore can give a good warning, but are not prone to do so always.

Guard-dog: Low. Boykin Spaniels are friendly to most people and animals.


Description: The Boykin Spaniel is medium in size, sturdy, and a typical spaniel. They are first and foremost a hunting dog with proven retrieving and flushing abilities characterized by boundless intelligence. Boykin Spaniels show great desire to please. They are a strong swimmer, taking to the water easily and are valuable for water retrieving as well as field retrieving. The Boykin Spaniel is peaceful, obedient and loyal. They are known for being good with children, and are a friendly family pet. They are generally good-natured and affectionate, wagging their stub of a tail to move their whole bodies. Their hunting aptitudes are excellent and they have served hunting families since the early 1900s. They are usually chocolate brown with an enthusiastic expression. Boykin Spaniels have great endurance, and make excellent pets for the country home.

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Colors: Solid, rich, liver (reddish brown or dark chocolate). They range from solid liver to dark brown, allowing a small white spot on chest.

Coat: The coat can be flat, wavy, or very curly. The coat is waterproof as well, and they have a light feathering all over. The coat is medium length. Their ears are exceptionally curly.

Temperament: Boykin Spaniel is friendly with an admirable disposition. They have no hostility towards other dogs or people in normal situations. Excessive timidity or hyperactivity is not seen with the Boykin's character. They retain excellent hunting and retrieving skills, as well as a sweet temperament that is docile, pleasant and obedient. They are highly intelligent, trainable, and loves work. They swim very well, are versatile and have great endurance.

With Children: Yes. Great with children, said to be better with children than their cousins, the Cocker Spaniel.

With Pets: Yes. Boykin Spaniels usually get along with everyone.

Care and Training: Boykin Spaniels need bi-monthly brushing. Boykin Spaniels shed in the spring. The coat requires brushing, as it will mat. Daily walking and swimming are best for the Spaniel as the weather permits. Boykin Spaniels are good swimmers and will do so in any aquatic environment. Finesse and well-timed coaching will work better than some of the more severe methods used on large retrievers. Boykin Spaniels do well in training, though, and will aim to please.

Learning Rate: High. Boykin Spaniels are very intelligent. They are excellent in retrieving, hunting and other training skills.

Special Needs: Exercise and grooming.

Living Environment: Inside or fenced in backyard. Boykin Spaniels are generally like other spaniels; docile, happy and obedient. Boykins are very good at swimming, and therefore can be used in hunting on boats or in trials to stimulate them mentally and physically. Boykins, unlike Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, would not do well retrieving in large, cold rivers such as in the North. The best owner for the Boykin Spaniel would be with an active family that generally create outdoor activities, such as hunting and boating, in a rural or country environment.

Health Issues: Several puppies per year are born with hip dysplasia, and should be checked. Boykin Spaniels can also have problems with their eyes, heart, and skin (allergies). Other health concerns include patellar luxation, elbow dysplasia, sometimes poor temperament and under bite jaw.

History: The ancestry of the Boykin Spaniel involved Springer Spaniels, American Water Spaniels, Pointers, Cocker Spaniels, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and a stray, unidentified male spaniel. In the year of 1911, a man named Alexander White was coming home from church in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and found a stray brown spaniel. He decided to take it home and use it as the family pet. The dog, apparently, had very good hunting abilities and was sent to White's hunting partner, L. Whitaker Boykin. With Boykin's training, the dog was developed into an excellent waterfowl and turkey retriever. Boykin bred the stray with other female cockers that had similar aptitudes, eventually breeding those dogs with the aforementioned breeds and thus producing the Boykin Spaniel. The Boykin Spaniel was apparently "just right" size to hop into boats used on the Wateree River Swamp, and did well to keep quiet hunting in the brush on ground. The place in which Boykin resided was ideal for a northerner's vacation, therefore puppies were sold there and the breed spread from that point. The Boykin Spaniel is now the South Carolina state dog and fans of the breed have created the Boykin Spaniel Society. The Boykin Spaniel is still used today to retrieve a hunt all along the Atlantic coastline.

First Registered by the AKC: 2009

AKC Group: Sporting Group

Class: Gun Dog

Registries: UKC