Boykin Spaniel – Facts & Breed Information

boykin spaniel dog

Are you looking for a compassionate domestic pet who can be your hunting partner too? If so, then a Boykin spaniel dog is what you need to adopt next.

Boykin spaniels are the actual description of what we call energetic fur balls. It has a high energy drive, super high hunting instincts, and an incomparably loyal nature. That’s also the very reason why this dog breed is still the favorite choice of almost all the hunters in South Carolina.

On the other hand, when at home, this rough n tough, serious-looking dog will turn into the most gentle canine you’ve ever seen, making Boykin spaniel an excellent family pet too.

Other worth appreciating characteristics of Boykin spaniels include their untradeable friendliness, unlimited compassion, and fun-loving nature with which they can spread joy in all living conditions and all sorts of companies.

So without any further ado, let’s have a closer look at the history, breed, temperament, health, care, and other aspects of Boykin spaniels.

Keep reading because we’re sure that the information we penned down here will definitely help you decide whether Boykin spaniels can make excellent companions for you or not.

Boykin Spaniel

About the Breed

boykin spaniel

Boykin spaniel is one of those few breeds which were originally bred for hunting purposes. Although this dog breed counts as the best hunter and waterfowl retriever, since it was developed in 20s century, it’s not as popular as other dogs of the spaniel family.

Not only this, but the Boykin spaniel is also one of those few breeds which were developed completely in the United States of America.

Native to South Carolina, they were used to hunting wild turkeys, birds, and fish. Even today, they are unbeatable when it comes to winning obedience and retrieval competitions.

Another distinctive feature of Boykin spaniels is their web toes, with which they can swim super fast, like fishes and seals. That’s also another reason why it’s often referred to as an American water spaniel.

Boykin spaniels have only one weakness; water. They can never resist their urge to jump into the lake or pond they pass by but yes, proper obedience training can make a huge difference.

Due to his water-loving nature, Boykin spaniel also makes a well-mannered companion for boaters, kayakers, and canoers. However, if you want a watchdog or protection dog, Boykin might not be the right choice for you since they could be way too friendly, even with outsiders.

Since they are high-energy dogs, they require an immense amount of exercise to stay in the right state of mind. It also comes with a plus point though; as long as you are providing enough playtime to these pooches, they can adapt to any lifestyle and living condition.

Even if you are not a hunter, you can indulge your adult Boykin spaniels in canine sports like agility, flyball, or water games.

Some people think that leaving a Boykin in a wide fenced area will be sufficient to vent their energy, but that’s not the case. Remember that along with proper workout and play, they thrive for human companionship too.

Leaving this human-friendly canine outside, in your backyard, will end up making him unhappy, depressed, and uncontrollably aggressive. So adopt Boykin spaniel puppies only if you can arrange a company for them, to keep them busy (either in the form of your family members or a dog care center).

History of the Boykin Spaniel

boykin spaniels

As stated before, the Boykin spaniel was originally bred in south Carolina by wild turkeys, waterfowl, pheasants, and other game birds. That’s also the reason why Boykin is considered the state dog of South Carolina. Not only this but south Carolinians even celebrate Boykin spaniel day on the 1st of September.

Speaking of its origin, it is believed that a man named Alexander White took in a stray brown spaniel in 1990. He named the dog dumpy due to his compact body.

Later on, on observing the dog’s extraordinary hunting instincts, retrieving skills, and bird sense, White sends Dumpy for further training to one of his hunter friends, named Whit Boykin.

Boykin, on evidencing dumpy’s superpowers, crossed him with cocker spaniels, springer spaniels, American water spaniels, and Chesapeake bay spaniels.

The resulting dogs came out to be excellent water retrievers due to which, soon they managed to earn huge popularity as duck and dove dogs, in south Carolina. That’s how the Boykin spaniel foundation was led by a stray little brown dog.

If you don’t know that hunters prefer small boats to catch prey because such boats are easier to navigate through small river corridors. And since these small boats are already filled with guns, men, and provisions, hunters can’t go with the retrievers of typical size.

That was the main reason why boaters began switching to this new dog breed; Boykin spaniels have thick and small bodies and can sit conveniently, even in a small boat, without making it tip over.

As time passes by, the popularity of this Boykin spaniel breed is growing and begin touching a high count in America.

Boykin Spaniel Facts

boykin soaniel
  1. Boykin spaniel is one of those two American dog breeds that were named after a man. The second on the list is the plot hound.
  2. Some experts confirm that the coat color of this dog breed was created intentionally into earthy tones so he could get camouflage while hunting.
  3. Boykin spaniels are more compatible with moderate to hot weather.
  4. In one litter, about 5-7 Boykin puppies are born.
  5. The life expectancy of a Boykin spaniel is 14-16 years. However, they can live even longer with appropriate diet and exercise.
  6. Boykin spaniels communicate like other dogs, via howl, growl, bark, whimper, etc. In addition to this, they also transmit messages by marking territories and secreting pheromones.
  7. Boykin spaniels are not insane barkers. They only bark when it’s inevitable which disqualifies them from being a watchdog. At the same time, this quality will save you from the hassles you have to face with your excessively barking dog.
  8. Boykin spaniels are not too slobbery, and they drool only when you are eating their favorite meal besides them.
  9. Boykin spaniels have relatively elongated bodies and small stature. In fact, the trait which distinguishes them from cocker spaniels is their height as Boykin spaniel is taller.
  10. In addition to barking, Boykin spaniels also have low tendencies to snore and dig under the fence.

Boykin Spaniel Appearance

A Boykin spaniel puppy can be easily mistaken for a springer, Sussex, and cocker spaniel since they all possess the same floppy ears with light feathering, soft n silky fur, and long, expressive eyes.

However, Boykin spaniel also comes with lean, long snouts, wavy fur, well-developed chests, and sloping shoulders, which makes them look slightly different from other spaniels.

To have a clearer idea about Boykin’s appearance, let’s have a quick look at some major features;


Although Boykin spaniels are commonly called little brown dogs, they are of medium sizes, with longer body frames. Like other dog breeds, the males of this one are also taller than the females as males might be 15-17 inches tall. On the other hand, a female Boykin spaniel may grow up to 16 inches.


Based on the size, the weight of Boykin spaniel dogs may vary. Generally, the healthy males of this breed may weigh around 32-38 lbs, whereas the healthy females of this breed should weigh only around 30-36 lbs.


boykin spaniel temperament

Although the coat of a Boykin spaniel dog is of medium length, it might be wavy or curly, which means they are highly prone to matting or tangling. However, with routine grooming, you can maintain their coats to look as shiny and fluffy as always.

Likewise, the coat may shed moderately means you’d need to undergo regular cleaning and brushing of your home to free it of dead hair.


Boykin spaniel canines come in a wide range of colors (mostly earthy tones). Generally, you’ll get to find these field spaniels in solid liver, brown, black, dark chocolate, and sometimes, in blue shades. Besides solid colors, Boykin spaniels also exist in bi-colored and impressive patterns.

Boykin Spaniel Temperament and Personality

boykin spaniel breed

According to the American Kennel Club, a Boykin spaniel is an “avid, eager, merry, and trainable” dog.

All the activities of Boykin spaniel dogs represent one thing to the greatest extent; their high-energy drive. And that’s the very reason why they are considered the ideal dog for active people. It doesn’t matter which sorts of activities or adventures you find interesting, your Boykin will prove himself the best companion.

Although his favorite hobbies are playing retrieving games in water or hunting birds and small animals, Boykin spaniels can also accompany you in hiking, canoeing, camping, surfing, and trekking, with utmost enthusiasm.

In other words, if you need a lazy, couch potato sort of dog, Boykin is not for you!

Likewise, they are not so nice with infants or toddlers unless you are supervising their interaction. Unlike other dogs, boykins decide instantly whether they like or dislike a person. So if your toddler won’t behave correctly or would try to tease him, this pooch might react harshly.

On the other hand, if your child is big enough to understand how to handle a dog, he won’t find any inconvenience.

On early socialization, your dog will always be ready to welcome new members of the family, without feeling reserved or repelled by them. So you better start taking them to your social groups from puppyhood.

And since Boykin is easy to train and eager to please, they don’t need harsh or negative reinforcement to learn new and better things. You can even teach them to stay gentle around toddlers during playtime.

However, you should also remember that Boykin spaniels, on not getting enough mental stimulation, are prone to show undesirable behaviors. These adverse behaviors might be a result of loneliness or boredom too, so you better provide them with enough exercise and attention to keep them in their healthiest and happiest states.

Boykin Spaniel Health and Care

boykin spaniel dogs

Boykin spaniels are generally healthy canines but still, if they are not bred by responsible breeders, the next generation may show numerous genetic illnesses.

Besides genetic disorders, your Boykin may develop some severe health problems in middle or old age due to improper screening or inappropriate diet.

Boykin spaniels might develop hip dysplasia as they age, according to Boykin Spaniel Club. This illness severely affects the dog’s joints caused by a malformation.

Another common eye disorder among Boykin spaniels is progressive retinal atrophy which involves the gradual destruction of the retina. As a result of this, your dog’s vision gets affected severely and if not treated on time, he might grow blind completely.

Other health issues include retinal dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and cataracts.

Since their ears are floppy, they are also prone to develop infections, if not cleaned properly. So make sure you clean your Boykin’s ear regularly, especially after swimming and bathing, using a good quality ear cleaning solution.

In case you are unable to find a suitable ear solution, get alcoholic cotton swabs and remove dirt and debris from the ears thoroughly with them.

Besides ears, your dog’s feet and other sensitive body parts may also develop corn. However, such problems can be avoided by providing enough maintenance and grooming. Don’t worry since the maintenance needs of Boykin spaniels are not insane.

Just keep checking under the ears for infections. Give a playtime of about 30 minutes a day, at least. Discuss your dog’s feed with your vet so he could recommend a healthy amount, after evaluating your dog’s weight, size, energy, etc.

Depending upon the coat type, brush it throughout the coat length. Generally, weekly brushing is considered sufficient for all coat types and densities. Last but not the least, make sure to trim their nail and brush their teeth, using the special dog toothpaste.

Boykin Spaniel Training

boykin dog

You might find it hilarious but training your Boykin spaniel for obedience and agility is not as difficult as training him for potty. Yes, this dog’s potty training may take several weeks, but that’s the only thing into which you’d have to put an effort.

As they enter into their adulthood, they become more and more intelligent so training them in newer things and more desirable manners become easier.

Many canine experts and vets have confirmed that you should start training your Boykin spaniel at the age of 4 weeks. Why four weeks? Because that’s exactly the time when most dogs wean and start developing bad habits.

When your Boykin spaniel puppy becomes seven to eight weeks old, let him explore his surroundings freely and increase his socialization pace. By doing so, he won’t only learn to stay calm among strangers but also learn to use his senses completely.

Stay patient and never expect your Boykin to understand your verbal commands and instructions in the first few training sessions. Give him some time to understand what his human wants from him, and never think about using negative reinforcement.

Keep in mind that way too harsh training with ample mental & physical stimulation may make your Boykin aggressive and stubborn, after which, you can never persuade him to act according to your desires.

According to professional trainers, the best way to train a Boykin spaniel is by using the reward method. Doing so will not only encourage him to learn quickly but also learn more and more, without getting tired.


So here we are, moving towards the conclusion. We discussed almost every aspect of owning a Boykin spaniel, but before wrapping up, we’d like to share some suggestions before buying a Boykin spaniel.

Always get in touch with a reputable breeder because such a breeder will more likely to be open about the dog’s health and breeding standards.

Similarly, you better ask for the results of health tests, recommended by the national breeding club. Some of these tests include a hip evaluation test, EIC DNA test, patella evaluation, ophthalmologist evaluation, and collie eye anomaly DNA test.

If a breeder refuses to present the results of these essential health tests, never buy a puppy from him. Some people think that buying a Boykin spaniel without documentation and then getting it checked by the vet is sufficient, but that’s not the case.

Remember that some health problems tend to arise later in life which not even the vet could diagnose at such an early age. Likewise, a vet’s checkup can’t eliminate or deal with the risk of genetic disorders so you better check them.

If you are thinking about buying a Boykin puppy from an online breeder, go through his website to check for the red flags like credit card payments, 100% availability of puppies, multiple puppies birth from the same litter, etc.

Cody Mitchell
Cody Mitchell is a pet lover and a passionate pet writer. He has worked as a professional writer for over 6 years, with a focus on creating compelling content for pet-related brands. His work has been featured in major publications. When he's not writing, Cody can be found playing with his two dogs (a labradoodle and a cocker spaniel) or cuddling his cat.

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