Dog Breed Review

Boykin Spaniel




If it’s true that you should never judge a book by its cover, then the same can be said about judging a dog by their size. The Boykin Spaniel is a breed with a story and history for those who believe in destiny.

This medium sized and slightly huskier version of an English Cocker Spaniel, isn’t just a sporting group breed that is versatile and talented at retrieving, the Boykin Spaniel is a favorite with families, who enjoy a dog that is enthusiastic and caring.

The story of the Boykin Spaniel begins in South Carolina and according to historians, the breed got its start all because of a chance encounter with a banker on his way home from work.

Here is what you need to know about one of America’s own, a tenacious and intelligent dog, the Boykin Spaniel.


It began with a South Carolina man by the name of, Alexander L. White. A banker by trade, Alexander, like most people during the early 1900’s had to walk, and was on his way home from work, when he was greeted by a stray dog. Both befriended one another and White eventually took the dark brown wavy haired dog home. White named the spaniel type dog, Dumpy, and would take him along for hunting explorations.

White noticed that his dog had a knack for retrieving. White decided he would send Dumpy to his friend and dog breeder, Lemeuel Whitaker Boykin. Under the guidance of Boykin, Dumpy became a great hunter, specializing in waterfowl and turkey retrieving.

What Whit Boykin needed in a hunting dog was something tenacious yet small enough to ride along small boats during swamp hunting explorations. After mixing breeds like The Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Springer Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel and American Water Spaniel, Whit Boykin eventually found the solution in what is known today as the, Boykin Spaniel.

Boykin Spaniels are great hunters, with amazing upland hunting and retrieving ability. They can flush birds into flight, drive deer, track injured game, and when the day is done, the breed goes home with his master and makes a great companion dog.

The Boykin Spaniel is the perfect hunting mate for those who hunt in swamps or lakes. So much, that South Carolina recognized the breed as their official dog and designated the breed their own “Boykin Spaniel Day.”

They were officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2009 as a breed in the Sporting Group.


The Boykin Spaniel, according to the American Kennel Clubis a medium sized dog. A male should reach a height between 15.5 inches to 18 inches, while a female should range from 14 inches to 16.5 inches, according to breeding standards.

A male Boykin Spaniel should weigh around 30 to 40 pounds, and a female should weight 25 to 35 pounds.


Judging by what you’ve just read, you may think this breed is an aggressive medium sized dog. While the dog certainly has a long history of hunting along the murky banks of South Carolina, the Boykin Spaniel is eager to please and quite friendly.

This is a dog that must have an active role wherever it lands. If you want a dog that moaps around and enjoys couch surfing, this is not the breed for you.

The Boykin Spaniel makes a fantastic hunter, but they are easy to train and make a wonderful member to the family. Their slightly shy and reserved personality with strangers makes a credible watchdog, but don’t expect the guard of an American Staffordshire Terrier.

If you give your Boykin Spaniel enough attention, socialize them as a puppy, you will benefit from a dog that is interactive and non-destructive. As opposed to a breed like the English Bulldog, the Boykin Spaniel doesn’t drool, they bark at a low volume, and they are very easy to train.

Boykin Spaniels thrive in competition and do well with obedience training. If taught as a puppy, they intermingle well with small children and other pets including cats.

Most of all, they need to use some of that natural energy. Keeping a Boykin Spaniel locked up in a dog kennel or small room is inviting trouble to the inside of your home. This breed requires daily exercise, thrive on the lake as swimmers, and are eager to learn tricks or a new task.


The American Kennel Club gives the Boykin Spaniel a life expectancy rate of 10 to 15 years.

Of course, whenever you buy a purebred dog such as the Boykin, you should research the breeder, to make sure they are reputable and have all the appropriate paperwork. Routine visits and regular checkups is always recommended for any canine breed to maintain the best of health.

For the healthiest Boykin Spaniel, the suggested amount of activity per day is 60 minutes and eight miles of recreational walking.

Like all breeds, the Boykin Spaniel is prone to certain health factors.

One issue that seems to plague the Boykin Spaniel the most is hip dysplasia. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals claims the Boykin Spaniel is at an alarming 30 percent incident rate for this health issue. Many breeders and Boykin owners have done a good keeping those numbers trending down, as Canine Hip Dysplasia is considered to be caused by factors that can be controlled, such as: diet, spaying or neutering and exercise.

Several veterinary studies in the United States have linked the Boykin Spaniel to major health complications like: EIC or Exercise Induced Collapse, Collie Eye, and Degenerative Myelopathy. These are considered inheritable diseases that require testing before breeding.

Other health issues include:

  • Patellar Luxation
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Persistent Pupillary Membrane
  • Corneal Opacities

Aside from those concerns listed above, the AKC considers this breed to be relatively healthy. Most of the issues can be avoided with proper nutrition, testing and exercise.


The Boykin Spaniel will have no difficulty to adapting to new surroundings. The ideal space for them, however, is in a place, where they can run around and expend their natural inherited energy. However, they can make for a good apartment pet, for as long as they get their daily exercise and proper amounts of attention.

As a breed, that has wavy and feathery coats, you will notice that Boykins do shed seasonally and should be groomed weekly. Daily brushing or regularly will make life much easier for your furniture and clothing.

Training is a breeze with this breed. They are considered as one of the easiest dogs to train because of their high aptitude for learning and their alertness. Give your Boykin plenty of mental stimulation, and they will reward you with tricks and completed tasks. When training, a reward system is helpful, and this breed can be slightly sensitive to commands if done with haste.

They make for great hunting companions, but they can also hang out with other family pets as well. Naturally, they may try to control the fun, but with proper socialization, you can easily break aggressive and dominant behavioral traits.

Exercise your Boykin Spaniel regularly, and shower them with an adequate amount of attention.

Depending on how active and where your Boykin Spaniel exercises, you will want to pay attention to their ears, nails, and coat. Keep their ears cleaned regularly. If you noticed a foul odor from their ears, there’s a good chance of infection.


Boykin Spaniels are a medium sized dog, which means finding a good diet and food source for them shouldn’t be difficult.

All breeds are different and the same can be said for each Boykin. What one puppy eats may not work for a fellow puppy.

On average, three to four meals per day for a puppy is routine. At about a year, however, you should ween the puppy into two meals per day. Boykin Spaniels seems to respond better when they mentally believe they are eating with a schedule like their masters.

2.5 cups a day should do the trick for feeding your Boykin Spaniel. As always, you will want a food rich with top quality protein sources such as turkey, beef or fish.

The daily estimated cost to feed a Boykin Spaniel is about $2 and between $50-$60 per month.

You should always leave your puppy or adult Boykin with fresh and clean drinking water, as Boykins are extremely active and can dehydrate quickly.

Ultimately, Boykins seem to be prone to food allergies. Consult your veterinarian about an appropriate diet


The Boykin Spaniel has a double medium length coat.  This can result in a wavy texture or even feathering around the ears, legs, or chest. If your Boykin is very active, then so won’t your maintenance for keeping their coat healthy and vibrant.

A Boykin Spaniel’s hair tends to mat up or invite critters, especially in the Spring season, when Boykins tend to shed more. Keep it nice and clean, with regular brushing (3 to 4 times) weekly.

Boykins do have short and dense undercoat, which helps them keep warm during swimming excursions.

This breed’s coat is one color, which can be a dark chocolate or rich liver, according to the American Kennel Club

It it custom to see white patches along their chest or toes.

Fun Facts About The Boykin Spaniel

  • The Boykin Spaniel is ranked the 110th most popular breed in the world by the AKC.
  • When this breed was officially recognized by the AKC, they became the 163rd to be inducted.
  • Boykin Spaniel Day in South Carolina was officially passed in 1984.
  • Boykin Spaniels can also be called: Swamp Poodle and Little Brown Dog.
  • There are more than 30,000 Boykin Spaniels today, according to the Boykin Spaniel Society.
  • This breed isn’t just a great upland hunter, but they are wonderful swimmers as well thanks to their web toes. It is said they can swim like Seals.
  • An average litter size for a Boykin is five to seven puppies per liter.
  • The Boykin Spaniel was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1985.
  • In 1977, the first Boykin Spaniel club was formed called, Boykin Spaniel Society. The first studbook was created by the Boykin family in 1979.

Closing Words

It was the walk in the early 1900’s along the streets of Spartanburg, South Carolina, that gave this breed its identity. It was a man, who loved experimenting and crossing different breeds to find the perfect purebred for his hunting purposes, that created one of the most energetic and versatile hunting dogs created in America.

A Boykin Spaniel will eagerly run up the muddy banks, slip and slide down the swampy terrains, and patiently wait for its turn to flush out a turkey for their owner to get the perfect shot.

Then, when it’s time to go home, a Boykin makes just as good of a household companion as he does a hunting dog. A Boykin Spaniel is eager to please, friendly with other animals, a talented hunter, and a fun loving pet.

Image By Zadranka/

More Dogs