The Boykin Spaniel is a medium-sized sporting breed that loves water and retrieving. These dogs are friendly, energetic, and enthusiastic.
Boykins are easily trained with positive, consistent methods. They suit families that have plenty of time and energy.
These dogs aren’t hugely popular yet. But, they are the official dog breed of South Carolina!
So, do these energetic dogs make happy, healthy family pets?
What’s In This Guide
- Boykin Spaniel At A Glance
- In-depth Breed Review
- Boykin Spaniel Training And Care
- Pros And Cons Of Getting A Boykin Spaniel
Boykin Spaniel FAQs
Here are some of our readers’ most popular and frequently asked questions about this relatively new breed.
- Are Boykin Spaniels good family dogs?
- Are Boykin Spaniels hypoallergenic?
- Can Boykin Spaniels be left alone?
- Are Boykin Spaniels smart?
Breed At A Glance
- Popularity: 100 out of 197 AKC breeds
- Purpose: Sporting group
- Weight: 25 to 40 pounds
- Temperament: energetic, friendly, enthusiastic
Boykin Spaniel Breed Review: Contents
- History and original purpose
- Fun facts about Boykin Spaniel
- Boykin Spaniel appearance
- Boykin Spaniel temperament
- Training and exercising your Boykin
- Boykin Spaniel health and care
- Do Boykin Spaniels make good family pets?
- Rescuing a Boykin Spaniel
- Finding a Boykin Spaniel puppy
- Raising a Boykin Spaniel puppy
- Products and accessories
History and Original Purpose
This breed is only one of two US-made breeds named after the families that created them. Originally, the Boykin Spaniel breed started with a small spaniel type dog.
This little pooch befriended a banker walking from his home to the First Presbyterian Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina around 1900. Alexander L. White liked the dog and took it home.
After the dog showed interest in retrieving, he took the dog called “Dumpy” to his friend and hunting partner Lemuel Whitaker Boykin near Camden, South Carolina.
“Whit” Boykin experimented with crossbreeding other breeds. In Boykin’s care, the spaniel became a wonderful turkey dog and waterfowl retriever.
This dog became the foundation of today’s Boykin Spaniel.
Standardising the Breed and Recognition
The Chesapeake Bay Spaniel, Springer Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel, American Water Spaniel, and various pointing breeds were used in the development of this breed.
In 1977, the Boykin Spaniel Society was formed by the Boykin family and began maintaining a studbook in 1979.
The Boykin Spaniel was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1985. The UKC does not close its studbooks so dogs from the BSS or the AKC may be registered into the UKC studbook at any time.
Fun Facts about Boykin Spaniels
This breed is known for its hunting skills and originated in South Carolina during the early 1900’s.
In fact, it was such a beloved breed that it became the official dog of South Carolina, long before it gained official AKC recognition!
So, you’re more likely to see these little dogs around in this state.
Boykin Spaniel Appearance
The Boykin is only slightly bigger than the English Cocker Spaniel but is heavier through the body width.
This breed stands from 14 to 17 inches and weighs around 25 to 40 pounds. Females will usually be smaller and lighter than males.
These dogs’ eyes are appealing and lively, ranging in color from gold to dark amber.
Coat colors for this dog are liver or chocolate.
More About Their Coat
The length of their coat is moderately curly and medium to long length. The hair is fine with light feathering on the legs.
Feathering on the ears, chest, through the tuck-up and long legs can be very small to moderate in density and length.
Feathering may become sun-bleached golden to tawny color.
White on the toes or chest of the Boykin Spaniel is simply cosmetic and will not affect the ability or health of this dog.
Boykin Spaniel Temperament
In everything this spaniel does, from hunting to playing, they are energetic and enthusiastic.
They are best paired with an active family that can give them the exercise they need.
This breed gets along with children if they are brought up around them. Older children who love to play with dogs will get along quite well with the Boykin Spaniel.
Boykins are easily trained and eager to work. They are also well behaved around other dogs. They do not get easily angered and tend to be eager and love attention.
Boykins are extremely adaptable to different environments if they are given opportunity to socialize and burn off any excessive energy.
This breed is alert, but they are so friendly that they don’t make a good watchdog. They tend to bark only when someone is approaching the home or when they hear an unusual sound.
Can Boykin Spaniels be Left Alone?
These loving dogs form strong bonds with their owners from the moment they come home. This means they are at risk of suffering from separation anxiety.
Boykins will be happiest if they can spend all of their time with you, whether this is going out for a hike and some exercise, or whether it’s just lounging around the house.
Leaving this dog alone for too long can lead to destructive behaviors, such as barking, digging, and more.
You can train your Boykin from the time they’re a puppy to be happy alone, but even with this training, they’ll be happiest when they’re with you.
Training and Exercising
Boykins are intelligent and learn quickly with positive reward treatment. This breed responds well with treat training because of their high food drive.
Like any dog, they will need to be potty trained. Crate training also needs to begin early.
The Boykin Spaniel requires daily exercise to burn off their high levels of energy.
This breed is very social and playful. They love to run around, go hiking, hunt, and exercise. This requires a lot of time and energy on the owners’ part to take care of.
If you aren’t a very active person you may need to consider a different breed.
Boykin Spaniel Health and Care
The Boykin Spaniel tends to live around twelve to sixteen years.
According to statistics developed and maintained by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals since 1985, adult Boykin Spaniels suffer from an alarmingly high rate if hip dysplasia.
The rate has decreased over the last seven years due to the emphasis placed by the Boykin Spaniel Foundation. Going to a reputable breeder can help to keep the rate of hip dysplasia low.
The breed also has a susceptibility toward inherited heart disease, eye disease, and patella luxation.
Skin and coat problems do occur and may be linked to thyroid and endocrine disorders. However, most skin and coat issues for this breed are from mites.
Elbow dysplasia, Cushing’s disease, and hypothyroidism are known in this breed as well.
Other Problems to Watch Out For
In early 2010, exercise-induced collapse was positively identified in this breed by the University of Minnesota’s Veterinary Diagnostics Laboratory.
In 2013, the Boykin Spaniel Foundation and Cornell University’s Optigen laboratory did a random sampling of one hundred-eighty adult Boykin Spaniels for Collie Eye Anomaly. This disease causes malformation of eye components and impaired vision.
A year later, the Boykin Spaniel Foundation did another test for Degenerative Myelopathy which causes the dog to develop gradual, fatal deterioration of the spinal cord and results in death.
DNA testing of these three diseases can identify genetic carriers and at-risk individuals.
Grooming and Care
Choose a high quality dog food to keep your Boykin healthy. Individual dogs that are suffering with skin or coat problems may benefit from hypoallergenic diets, or those for sensitivities.
These dogs will need grooming a few times a week, and potentially more if they are a working dog that regularly gets quite dirty.
Make sure to work out any dirt from their fur, especially if they are exercising in water and mud.
This breed doesn’t shed too often, but they will shed seasonally. So, they aren’t the best choice for owners will allergies.
No dog is truly hypoallergenic, and the Boykin Spaniel is definitely not a lower-shedding choice. If you suffer from allergies, a different breed might be best.
Do Boykin Spaniels Make Good Family Pets?
The Boykin Spaniel makes a great family dog for active families. This breed requires a lot of exercise so keep this in mind before adopting.
Nevertheless, Boykins get along very well with children and are loving dogs. They have a cheerful, friendly, inquisitive personality.
They are medium sized dogs, and can suit a variety of different environments as long as their exercise needs are met.
This breed does have some health problems, so we recommend adopting an adult dog or having a DNA test of the dog to check for any unwanted health issues.
Rescuing a Boykin Spaniel
Before rescuing a Boykin Spaniel, you need to consider a few things. Like most rescue dogs they can have anxiety and socialization issues.
This can be problematic for a family, but this can be taken care of if you train them and give them time to get used to their new surroundings.
Also, you need to make sure your house is prepared for a rescue dog. Having food, toys, and a crate will be useful when adopting.
Lastly, watch out for fleas, hair, and skin issues. They may need to be groomed or treated for fleas if they haven’t been already.
Work closely with your chosen rescue center to make sure the Boykin you’re choosing will suit your home and that you can fulfil its needs.
Finding a Boykin Spaniel Puppy
Finding a Boykin Spaniel isn’t a difficult task but finding the right Boykin Spaniel may be.
We have a puppy search guide to better help you on your mission to find the right puppy.
Due to unethical breeding practices we recommend staying away from puppy mills.
Raising a Boykin Spaniel Puppy
Getting on the right path to raising your puppy can be difficult and tricky, but it doesn’t have to be.
The first step you will want to do is get them on a healthy diet. This will ensure that you get your puppy the right nutrients they need to grow big and healthy.
Another good step is to have a good training schedule. This breed is very intelligent and is easily trained to listen.
You can accomplish this by giving them treats. They respond very well to reward based training.
You might even be interested in signing up for an online puppy training class.
If the health issues of this breed are a concern, we recommend looking into similar breeds to possibly avoid these issues.
Here are some you might like.
Pros And Cons of Getting A Boykin Spaniel
Of course, this breed isn’t for everyone. But, for the right family, the Boykin can make a great dog.
- This dog requires lots of exercise, so won’t suit families that can’t get out for some vigorous exercise every day
- Won’t make a great watch dogs for families that are looking for that
- Suffers from some serious health issues, including hip dysplasia
- Can suffer from separation anxiety, so doesn’t suit being left alone for too long.
- These dogs are calm and intelligent, with a lovely temperament
- Boykins usually get along really well with children, if well socialized
- This breed is affectionate, so great for people who want a loving dog
- Boykin Spaniels take well to positive reward training
Boykin Spaniel Products and Accessories
The Boykin Spaniel is a playful pet. They will love a chew toy to keep them busy.
This is a medium sized dog, so you may not want them on your bed. If so, look into getting them a dog bed that fits them just right.
Boykin Spaniel Breed Rescues
There are a few rescues that specialize in this breed. If you want to be added to the list, leave a comment below.
What’s your favorite thing about the Boykin Spaniel? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!
References And Resources
- Gough, A. (et al), ‘Breed Predispositions to Disease In Dogs and Cats’, Wiley Blackwell (2018)
- O’Neill (et al) ‘Longevity and Mortality of Dogs Owned In England’, The Veterinary Journal (2013)
- Schalamon (et al) ‘Analysis of Dog Bites In Children Who Are Younger Than 17 Years’, Pediatrics (2006)
- Duffy, D. (et al) ‘Breed Differences in Canine Aggression’, Applied Animal Behavior Science (2008)
- Adams, V. J. (et al) ‘Results of a Survey of UK Purebred Dogs’, Journal of Small Animal Practice (2010)
- Wangdee, ‘Prevalence and Genetics of Patellar Luxation in Kooiker Dogs’, The Veterinary Journal (2014)
- Tsai, K. ‘Clinical and Genetic Assessments of Hip Joint Laxity in the Boykin Spaniel’, US National Library of Medicine (2006)
- Parker, H. ‘Breed Relationships Facilitate Fine-Mapping Studies: A 7.8-kb Deletion Cosegregates with Collie Eye Anomaly Across Multiple Dog Breeds’, Genome Research (2007)
- Gough, A ‘Diagnosis of Inherited Diseases’, BSAVA Manual of Canine and Feline Clinical Pathology (2016)
- Lowrie, M. ‘Exercise-Induced Collapse in the Dog’, Companion Animal (2017)