Choosing a Boykin Spaniel – Boykin Spaniel Breed Profile

Dog Breeds > Selecting a Dog Breed >

Hailing from the Palmetto State of South Carolina, the affable Boykin Spaniel is a small but skillful retriever. In addition to being an energetic and agile swimmer, the Boykin Spaniel also has the honor of holding the title of South Carolina’s “Official State Dog.”

History and Origin of the Boykin Spaniel

Coming from humble beginnings, the breed originally developed in the early 1900s from a small stray dog found just outside a church in Spartanburg, South Carolina. This dog became an excellent bird dog and waterfowl retriever for his owner (L. Whitaker Boykin), and eventually developed into the Boykin Spaniel. The breed became popular for waterfowl hunters with small boats, who could lift both dog and bird back into the boat at once.

Appearance and Size of the Boykin Spaniel

The Boykin Spaniel is a medium-sized breed, weighing anywhere from 25-40 pounds. Being the smallest of the retrievers, this breed is ideal for recreational boaters with small crafts such as canoes or kayaks. The breed is known for its curly or wavy coat, which range from liver to deep chocolate brown in color. They are solidly built and slightly longer than they are tall.

Personality of the Boykin Spaniel

The Boykin Spaniel is generally friendly and playful. The breed may be smaller than other retrievers; however, what they lack in size is made up for in activity level. A well-exercised Boykin is a happy Boykin. Although they were bred to be hunters, a daily walk or hike, a swim, or dog sports such as agility or flyball would keep them happy. Their intelligent expressions gaze longingly and expectantly at their owners, as if waiting for the next activity.

Home and Family Relations with the Boykin Spaniel

Being a smaller breed, the Boykin Spaniel is a good choice for active families with children, provided the dog has been well-acclimated to them from a young age. They are superb companions who prefer the company of people and other dogs.

Training of the Boykin Spaniel

Some Boykin Spaniels can demonstrate higher energy levels or a tendency toward aggression, especially toward unfamiliar dogs. It is recommended that training and socialization begin at an early age to prevent or decrease this aggression. They are intelligent and will bloom with positive reinforcement. Their favorite rewards include praise, play, and food.

Grooming of the Boykin Spaniel

The Boykin Spaniel benefits from gentle weekly brushing. It is helpful to comb the coat first in order to remove any mats, tangles, or burrs picked up from outdoor adventures. They may require intermittent trims to keep up a neat, even appearance. Since they are avid swimmers, it is important to bathe the Boykin thoroughly-making sure to clean the ears-after a swim in saltwater, a lake, or a pond containing algae. Regular nail trims are beneficial, as is routine trimming of the fur between the footpads.

Special Care of the Boykin Spaniel

The longer fur of the Boykin Spaniel has a tendency to collect undesirable objects such as foxtails or burrs, and careful inspection of the fur after outdoor activities is highly recommended. Their longer ears and penchant for swimming can also increase the likelihood of ear infections.

Common Diseases and Disorders of the Boykin Spaniel

In general, the Boykin Spaniel is a healthy dog with few medical concerns. However, the following diseases or disorders have been reported:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Luxating patella
  • Eye conditions (including juvenile cataracts)
  • Seizures
  • Skin and coat problems (which may be linked to endocrine or thyroid disorders)
  • Exercise induced collapse

    Other conditions that are linked to Boykin Spaniels include pulmonic stenosis (a congenital condition in which the narrowed pulmonary valve obstructs blood flow through the heart), and collie eye anomaly (improper development of the eye leading to impaired vision or blindness).

  • Life Span of the Boykin Spaniel

    The average life span of the Boykin Spaniel is 14 to 16 years.