- Activity Level: high
- Grooming Level: low
- Trainability: high
- Adaptability: high
- Kid/Pet Friendly: often
- Average Size: Medium
- Average Lifespan: 10-15 years
- Prey Drive: high
- Watchdog: aware
- Registered?: akc, other
Boykin Spaniel Breed Profile
The Boykin Spaniel is a medium-sized spaniel that originated in the United States and is sometimes affectionately referred to as a “Swamp Poodle”. They are a bit larger than a Cocker Spaniel and smaller than a Springer Spaniel. This dog breed was developed in the 20th century, so it is relatively new in terms of established dog breeds. The Boykin Spaniel’s origin story is like a local legend from the small town of Boykin, South Carolina.
Lemuel Whitaker Boykin, known to his friends as “Whit” was a founding resident for which the town was named. He was also an avid hunter and the leading dog man in the area. Another local man named Alexander White found a little brown spaniel around 1900, named him “Dumpy”, and put him to work. Despite his unfortunate name, Dumpy excelled at water retrieval and flushing out game, and he fit right in with White’s other pedigreed bird dogs. Alexander White brought the dog to Whit Boykin and, as they say, the rest is history.
Whit Boykin was so impressed with this little brown spaniel’s bird dog skills that he created a completely new breeding program around him. Boykin included other notable bird dogs in the breeding program with Dumpy like the Springer, Cocker, and American Water spaniels as well as the Chesapeake Bay Retriever. After several generations and successful crosses, we have today’s Boykin Spaniel.
The Boykin Spaniel was a gundog with an upbeat personality, eagerness to work, versatility, and more. They could work endlessly on land, lake, or swampy, marshy areas and then come home to be a sweet companion to a family. The Boykin Spaniel soon caught the attention of bird hunters across the country and quickly spread up the East Coast of the United States. The American Kennel Club fully-recognized the Boykin Spaniel in 2009 as a member of the Sporting Group.
Although the Boykin Spaniel is a hardworking hunting dog, they also make an excellent family companion. This dog breed is social, energetic, and naturally friendly. They love attention and get along well with children and other dogs. Because they are a bird dog, they do have a high prey drive. They tend to be mellow and merry when they are at home and intensely hardworking and focused when out in the field working as a bird dog.
The Boykin Spaniel is a highly adaptable dog breed. They do best in larger homes with a fenced-in yard where they can run. But, they can adapt to apartment living as long as they get enough exercise. They thrive on affection and attention and love spending time with their families, so they do not like to spend a lot of time alone. Boykin Spaniels do well in just about any climate, but, as with all dogs, are sensitive to extreme heat and cold.
As with all dog breeds, there are some health conditions to watch out for when you are looking for a Boykin Spaniel puppy. Some health conditions to be aware of include hip dysplasia, eye disease, patellar luxation, heart disease, elbow dysplasia, and hypothyroidism. By talking to the breeder about the genetic history of the parents and asking to see any health clearances, you can help allay concerns you have about potential health issues.
The Boykin Spaniel is a highly trainable dog breed. With high intelligence and an eagerness to please, Boykin Spaniels tend to pick up quickly on training and are generally a good fit for owners of any experience level. They form a strong, close bond with their families, so they are in-tune with their people.
They respond best to training that is focused on positive methods and is kept fun and interesting. First-time dog owners looking to own a companion that also happens to be a high-energy hunting dog should consider puppy training classes or a trainer with experience with a Sporting dog.
Common coat colors in the Boykin Spaniel are chocolate, brown, and liver. Because there are a variety of breeds that make up the ancestry of this dog breed, there is some variance in the coat. A Boykin Spaniel’s coat can range from flat to moderately curly. It is usually medium length with a longer feathered look on the ears, feet, legs, belly, and chest. Their coat is relatively low maintenance and requires only weekly brushing to keep it healthy and looking great. They also only need to be bathed occasionally as needed.
In addition to coat care, you also need to take care of your dog’s nails, ears, and teeth. Monthly nail trimming is usually sufficient. If you hear your dog’s nails clicking on the floor, it’s time for a trim. It’s important to keep their nails from growing too long as they can cause pain and discomfort during movement if they are not maintained properly.
The Boykin Spaniel has long, floppy ears, so they are more likely to trap moisture, dirt, and debris, which can lead to ear infections. By checking your dog’s ears on a weekly basis and carefully cleaning them as needed, you can help keep your dog’s ears healthy.
Caring for your dog’s teeth is also important in order to prevent dental disease. The ideal dental care for dogs includes brushing your dog’s teeth or using an enzyme toothpaste every day. On top of that, you can also use dental hygiene chews or treats and a specially-formulated dental care diet approved by your vet.
The Boykin Spaniel is a bird dog and gundog bred to work long days in the field. Although their energy can range from moderate to high, they require a lot of daily exercise to stay happy and healthy. They enjoy long walks anywhere with you and love to play.
In addition to their daily walks, they will also often enjoy going on a hike with you, running with you, and or even running alongside as you ride a bike. They might even enjoy swimming with you too! Another way to give your dog some extra exercise and give them a job to do is to train them for dog sports and compete. The Boykin Spaniel tends to be a great fit for field events, rally, tracking, agility, obedience trials, and more.
A fully-grown Boykin Spaniel usually stands 14-18 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs between 25-40 pounds.
A Boykin Spaniel generally lives 10-15 years.
The Boykin Spaniel is the state dog of South Carolina. There is even a day dedicated to them! September 1st is known as “Boykin Spaniel Day” in the area.