The Boykin Spaniel Dog Profile

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The Boykin Spaniel is a medium-sized dog designed to flush and retrieve in a variety of terrain with agility and speed. This breed is slightly longer than tall and has robust, but not unduly heavy, bone. Jaws are long and powerful. A medium-length outer coat that can be flat or somewhat wavy protects from the environment and repels water, and a short, dense undercoat provides insulation. With good reach and strong drive, movement is effortless.

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Boykin Spaniel Highlights

  • Created by South Carolinians for hunting turkeys and waterfowl in the state’s swamps, the medium-size brown dog encompasses the best of the spaniel talents and personality.  
  • An ability to flush and retrieve, willingness to work, attractive hanging ears, and a friendly wagging tail. 
  • He’s alert, self-confident, and smart, all of which make him an excellent family companion as well. 
  • He gets along with other dogs and children and takes to training like a duck on a june bug.
  • He makes the transition from hunting companion to family pet easily. Stamina even in hot weather and eagerness to please make this a favorite among hunters in the field, but the Boykin is just as enjoyable at home.
  • He is a born hunter, but also makes a lively, friendly companion in the home. They are outgoing toward people and children, although early socialization is recommended. 
  • The Boykin is full of energy and will need a yard to play in or at least a brisk daily walk. 

Boykin Spaniel Breed Features & Ratings:

Rated base on a 5 Star Scale
ENERGY LEVEL:                                4 Star
PLAYFULNESS:                                  4 Star
AFFECTION LEVEL:                           4 Star
FRIENDLINESS TO DOGS:                4 Star
WATCHFULNESS:                               1 Star
EASE OF TRAINING:                           4 Star
HEAT SENSITIVITY:                              3 Star
VOCALITY                                             3 Star

Boykin Spaniel Breed Profile:

Dog Breed Group:  Sporting Dogs

Height:  14 to 18 inches tall at the shoulder

Weight:  25 to 40 pounds

Life Span: 10 to 12 years

Type: Purebread 

AREA OF ORIGIN:  United States


OTHER NAMES:  Swamp Poodle, LBD (Little Brown Dog)









  • Hunting
  • Tracking
  • Field Trials
  • Agility, Obedience, Rescue, Conformation



Litter Size

5-7 puppies

Puppy Prices 

Average $700 – $1200 USD

On average a Boykin Spaniel puppy will cost $900 in the United States. Most puppies can be found between $700 and $1,200. The price will vary depending on the breeder and location as well as the dog’s bloodline, color, and age among other things.

Boykin Spaniel Health:

Boykin Spaniels are usually healthy dogs, with prudent breeders screening their stock for hip dysplasia, juvenile cataracts, and exercise-induced collapse. The Boykin’s ears should be checked for symptoms of infection on a regular basis and cleaned as needed'”this can be done with soft gauze and an ear-cleaning solution recommended by the dog’s breeder or veterinarian. Brushing the teeth with a toothpaste intended for dogs should be done on a regular basis.

  • Major concerns: Hip Dysplasia
  • Minor concerns: Exercise Induced Collapse
  • Occasionally seen: Patellar Luxation
  • Suggested tests: Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC) DNA test and Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) DNA based test results from an approved lab registered with the OFA.
  • Life Span: 10 – 12 years 
  • Hip dysplasia 

Hip dysplasia in puppies is a progressive, degenerative disease of the hip joints, and is the most common cause of rear-end lameness in dogs. Canine hip dysplasia is most often seen in large breeds like German shepherd dogs, Saint Bernards, and Greater Swiss Mountain dogs, but any size dog may be affected and both male and female dogs are affected with equal frequency.

The cause of canine hip dysplasia isn’t known. The condition is thought to have a genetic link, and dogs suffering from hip dysplasia should not be bred. Puppies from parents that have hip dysplasia will be two times more likely to develop the disease as puppies born to parents with normal hips. However, even dogs with normal parents can develop hip dysplasia.

  • Patellar luxation

Patellar luxation is one of the most common orthopedic conditions in dogs, diagnosed in 7% of puppies. The condition affects primarily small dogs, especially breeds such as Boston and Yorkshire terriers, Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and miniature poodles. The incidence in large breed dogs has been on the rise over the past ten years, and breeds such as Chinese Shar Pei, Flat-Coated Retrievers, Akitas, and Great Pyrenees are now considered predisposed to this disease. Patellar luxation affects both knees in half of all cases, potentially resulting in discomfort and loss of function.

  • Exercise Induced Collapse

Exercise-induced collapse (EIC) is a genetic disorder, mainly found in Labrador Retrievers, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers , Curly Coated Retrievers, and Boykin Spaniels. The genetic mutation has also been seen in a few cases in Cocker spaniels, German wire-haired pointers, Old English Sheepdogs, Bouvier des Flandres, Pembroke Welsh Corgis and Clumber Spaniels. Signs are most likely to first become apparent in young dogs when they enter heavy training, which is usually between 5 months and 1 year of age. Dogs of either sex can be affected. Dogs with this condition are always normal at rest and are described as being extremely fit, prime athletic specimens of their breed.

Dogs affected with this have no problem with regular exercise. The collapse occurs only with very strenuous exercise such as retrieving or participating in trials. Added excitement coincidental with the heavy exercise is more likely to bring on the collapse. Not all dogs with the disorder have an episode each time they exercise. It appears that the condition is more likely to occur with warmer temperatures. The lives of dogs with EIC are normal if extreme exercise is avoided.

  • Collie Eye Anomaly

Collie eye anomaly (CEA) is a congenital, inherited, bilateral eye disease of dogs, which affects the retina, choroid, and sclera. It can be a mild disease or cause blindness. CEA is caused by a simple autosomal recessive gene defect. There is no treatment.

It is known to occur in Collies (smooth and rough collies), Shetland Sheepdogs, Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, Lancashire Heelers,and Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers. Frequency is high in Collies and Shetland Sheepdogs, and low in Border Collies and NSDTRs. In the United States, incidence in the genotype of collies has been estimated to be as high as 95 percent, with a phenotypic incidence of 80 to 85 percent.

Boykin Spaniel Grooming:

The medium-length, wavy coat of the Boykin is low-maintenance. A weekly brushing will keep him looking his best by removing dirt and loose hair, and an occasional wash will keep him clean-smelling. Nails should be cut on a regular basis in all breeds, as excessively long nails can cause discomfort and issues walking and running.

The medium-length outer coat is flat to slightly wavy and tops a short, dense undercoat that keeps the dog warm when retrieving from water. Light feathering covers the ears, chest, legs, and belly. In color, he’s a rich, solid liver, brown, or dark chocolate.

The fur is medium length and resistant to matting and knots, grooming a Boykin Spaniel’s shiny coat is very simple. Brushing and bathing on a regular basis, as well as maintaining good dental hygiene, are recommended. Boykins’ ears have lengthy fur, so give them special attention with regular cleanings and after outdoor romps, gently comb through and check for ticks.

Summer is always a difficult time for hunting dogs. A different hairstyle can assist the Boykin Spaniel stay cooler and avoid bacterial skin problems. Many Boykin’s that hunt or swim during the summer months get “hair cuts” from us. By enabling air to reach the skin, a shorter coat will keep them cooler. It also enables them to dry faster after swimming. This is not only good for your car seats, but it also prevents bacteria from forming on moist, wet skin that doesn’t get enough air. Because of the high humidity in the South, it might take hours for a fully coated wet dog to dry entirely to the skin. This permits bacteria from ponds or mud puddles to thrive in an ideal environment.

To ensure the Boykin keeps the look that we all love, I groom the body only, leaving the head and ears. I also trim or clip the hair from the underside of the ear canal to help airflow to the ear. 

If you are going to work your Boykin in dove fields or on upland game then a clip is recommended to keep the briar damage to a minimum. The soft coat of the Boykin acts like velcro to cockleburrs, foxtails and sandspurs as well as blackberry brambles that wreak havoc on your Boykins’ coat as well as your fingers when you tried to pry them loose. A coating of cooking spray, like PAM, sprayed before you go into the field will help ease the combing out if you leave the coat intact.

Of course, the best time to clip your Boykin is in the late spring or early summer. Don’t clip all of your pups’ coat off late in the fall if he is going to spend the winter outside.

Boykin Spaniel Exercise:

Boykins have a high level of energy and demand a lot of exercise on a daily basis. They prefer active persons, particularly those looking for an athletic companion for activities such as hiking, running, or bicycling. Boykin will be healthier and happier if they exercise regularly. Long hikes and play sessions are examples of this. The breed also engages in mind and body exercises such as obedience, tracking, agility, rally, field events, and other activities that both the dog and the owner can enjoy.

Boykin Spaniel Training:

The Boykin Spaniel is a hardy, energetic, and eager hunting dog who is also kind and content at home. Boykins are known for their affectionate and fiercely devoted personalities, and they make ideal family companions. 

Companionship is important to them, and they enjoy being around youngsters and other dogs. To guarantee that the Boykin matures into a well-adjusted, well-mannered companion, early socialization and puppy training programs are recommended. Boykins are often easy to train because they are intelligent and eager to please.

Apart from that, training Boykin Spaniels is relatively easy. The breed is smart, with plenty of capacity for picking up new tricks and skills. And because they love to both be with and please their caregivers, you’re unlikely to face a lot of resistance when training your Boykin. With treats and plenty of positive reinforcement you can train your Boykin Spaniel to be a wall-mannered dog in no time.

Boykin Spaniel Food and Nutrition:

A high-quality dog food, whether professionally created or cooked at home with your veterinarian’s supervision and consent, should be fine for the Boykin Spaniel. Any diet should be tailored to the age of the dog (puppy, adult, or senior). 

Some dogs are prone to becoming overweight, so keep an eye on their calorie intake and weight. Treats can be a useful training aid, but feeding too much might lead to obesity. Discover which human foods are suitable for dogs and which are not. If you have any concerns regarding your dog’s weight or diet, consult your veterinarian. 

At all times, clean, fresh water should be available.

Recommended daily amount: 1 to 1.5 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.

In terms of nutrition, Boykins, like most dogs, do their best on a high-quality, high-protein diet. To maintain their sleek and athletic frame, be careful not to overfeed. However, since Boykin Spaniels should be getting plenty of exercise, you can probably get away with being generous with treats. If you notice your Boykin gaining too much weight, talk to your veterinarian to come up with a balanced nutrition plan that fit their individual needs. 


  • Great with children
  • Excellent for athletic dog parents, and happy to tag along on bikes, hikes, and runs
  • Easy to train


  • Requires a lot of mental and physical stimulation, which isn’t ideal for certain caregivers
  • Limited and rare breed in the U.S.
  • Can gain weight fast if they’re not getting proper exercise

Boykin Spaniel Temperament and Personality:

The Boykin is a friend to all, happy and eager to join any adventure—especially if it involves hiking, swimming, or traipsing through the woods. They are eager to please and relatively easy to train, fine for novice owners. They get along well with other dogs and pets. They don’t bark excessively and are well-behaved house dogs as long as they get enough exercise.

The average Boykin spaniel is eager to please and pleasant. He’s a natural hunter, but he’s also a lively, cheerful houseguest. Although early socialization is essential, they are outgoing toward people and children. The Boykin is a high-energy dog who will want a yard to play in or at the very least a daily walk. The Boykin is a simple to train that should receive basic obedience training at a young age. They are excellent swimmers and quick learners who appreciate having a task to complete. This breed is a hunter’s dream and is ideal for a family who enjoys going hunting or camping on a regular basis.

Boykin Spaniel Care/Upkeep:

Boykins require a great amount of physical activity. Every day, a lengthy walk or jog, as well as games of fetch, will typically suffice to meet their activity requirements. They also like to swim. Because the coat is greasy, it needs to be brushed weekly and bathed on occasion. Ears should be examined on a regular basis.

As you might expect, a dog developed for sport isn’t going to be content with a simple walk around the block. Boykin Spaniels are high-energy dogs who need plenty of exercise to stay happy and healthy, making them ideal partners for dog owners who enjoy hiking, swimming, biking, and running. Many Boykins also love activities that challenge their minds, like as nose work, agility, and obedience training.

Boykin Spaniel Relationship with Children and Other Pets

These intelligent dogs enjoy their human family members, including children. With proper socialization, they can even get along with other dogs in the house. Their high energy level, however, may make them unsuitable for apartment residents. To stay happy, these intelligent and active canines require a lot of physical and mental stimulation. This is the breed for you if you can keep up with an active puppy!

Boykin Spaniel Names

RankBoy NamesGirl Names

All About Boykin Spaniel

The Boykin Spaniel is a medium-sized Spaniel that was bred for hunting wild turkeys and ducks in the Wateree River Swamp in South Carolina, USA. It is the official dog of South Carolina, where hunters found and improved it in the early 1900s.

The Boykin Spaniel is only slightly larger than the English Cocker Spaniel but much heavier through the body width. Traditionally, its tail is docked at the age of three days, leaving 1/3 length. The color ranges from brilliant gold to a dark amber. Buyers should be aware of the size and weight in the puppy’s pedigree before choosing a breeder if size is a factor in their choice.

Boykin Spaniel  History:

In the early 1900s, hunters on South Carolina’s Wateree River used section boats, which were large boats that broke into smaller boats. They needed a small retrieving dog that could fit into these tiny sectionboats that could only fit one man and one small dog. L.W. “Whit” Boykin and his relatives tried several crosses to produce such a dog, finally hitting upon success with a small brown stray spaniel found by a friend in Spartanburg, South Carolina around 1905. The dog, named Dumpy, developed into an adept turkey dog and waterfowl retriever. Dumpy was bred to another stray brown spaniel, and eventually crosses were made with the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Springer Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel, and American Water Spaniel.

These dogs became known for their versatility, retaining the flushing abilities of a spaniel and adding water retrieving and driving and tracking. The breed does not point, but flushes. They have excellent stamina and can hunt upland game even in hot weather. Their forte, however, remains waterfowl, where they have been called “the dog who doesn’t rock the boat.”

The breed’s nexus was around Camden, South Carolina, where many hunters and wealthy families wintered. These families often left in the spring with little brown spaniels, distributing the Boykin around the country but especially along the eastern seaboard. The Boykin Spaniel Society was formed in 1977 and now has worldwide membership. In 1985, the Boykin Spaniel became the state dog of South Carolina, and in that same year it was recognized by the UKC. It joined the AKC Sporting Group in 2010. The Boykin Spaniel is more popular than the AKC registration numbers would indicate, and is traditionally a dog used for companionship in the southeastern United States.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Boykin Spaniel 

We always recommend looking at rescue first. Check out Boykin Spaniel Rescue, Inc. to find a Boykin Spaniel for adoption, and browse adoption sites like Petfinder and Adopt-a-Pet to see if you can find your perfect match among local rescue groups. If you are looking to buy a Boykin Spaniel, look to the Boykin Spaniel Society for advice on choosing the right Boykin breeder.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

There are so many good dogs out there! And if you love the Boykin Spaniel, you may be interested in these breeds as well:

  • English Cocker Spaniel Dog Breed Profile
  • American Water Spaniel Dog Breed Profile
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Dog Breed Profile

With a little bit of research you should have no trouble picking out the right dog breed to add to your family. 

Boykin Spaniel Fun Facts

The Boykin Spaniel, once exclusive to South Carolina (and, in fact, the state’s official dog!), is gaining popularity across the country as a breed that is as devoted and affectionate as it is intelligent and trainable. 

Their rich brown locks and honey-gold eyes, together with webbed toes that make them wonderful swimming partners, make these sociable canines immediately recognisable. 

Boykin Spaniels were originally developed in South Carolina to hunt and retrieve in the state’s many swamps and lakes, but they’ve recently made their way out of the swamp and into suburban backyards, edging closer to the ubiquity of their Cocker Spaniel and Springer Spaniel counterparts.

FAQs about Boykin Spaniel 

Do Boykin Spaniels make good pets?

The Boykin Spaniel is a tough, energetic, and enthusiastic hunting dog, yet gentle and contented in the home. An affectionate and fiercely loyal personality is a hallmark of the breed, and Boykins make wonderful family pets. They thrive on companionship, enjoying the company of children and other dogs

Are Boykin spaniels aggressive?

The Boykin Spaniel is a tirelessly active and affectionate dog. … Some Boykins also have a tendency towards aggression around other dogs; early obedience will help you to combat this behavior. Be consistent and firm with your Boykin and use positive reinforcements

How big will a Boykin spaniel get?

Males stand 15.5 to 18 inches at the shoulder; females, 14 to 16.5 inches. Females are 25 to 35 pounds, males weigh in at 30 to 40 pounds.