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  • Temperament: Friendly, Eager, Lovable
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 110 of 194
  • Height: 15.5-18 inches (male), 14-16.5 inches (female)
  • Weight: 30-40 pounds (male), 25-35 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 10-15 years
  • Group: Sporting Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Boykin Spaniel head facing left
Boykin Spaniel standing in tall grasses.
Boykin Spaniel standing sideways facing left.
Boykin Spaniel running through tall grasses with an orange decoy in its mouth.
Boykin Spaniel coat detail
Boykin spaniel puppy standing neck-high in a field of blue bonnets.

Find a Puppy: Boykin Spaniel

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GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Boykin Spaniel is medium in size, with emphasis placed on his hunting abilities, characterized by flushing and retrieving, with moderate speed and agility. His pendulous ears, intelligent expression, sturdy build and friendly wagging tail proclaim him part of the spaniel family.

HEAD

The head must be in proportion with the size of the dog. The Boykin’s expression is alert, self-confident, attractive and intelligent. His eyes are varying shades of brown, set well apart, medium size and oval shaped, trusting, and should not be protruding or bulging. The Boykin Spaniel’s ears are set slightly above or even with the line of the eye. The leather of the ear is thin and when pulled forward should almost reach the tip of the nose. The ears hang close to the cheeks and are flat. The skull is medium length fairly broad, flat on top, slightly rounded at the sides and back.

BODY

The neck is moderately long, muscular, slightly arched at the crest and gradually blends into sloping shoulders. The back is straight, strong and essentially level. Loins are short, strong with a slight tuck up. His body is sturdily constructed but not too compact. The shoulders of the Boykin Spaniel are sloping. The brisket is well developed but not barreled, extending to the elbow and not too broad or narrow as to interfere with movement. The croup slopes gently to the set of the tail, and the tail-set follows the natural line of the croup. Tail is docked to a length of 3 to 5 inches when fully mature. The tail’s carriage should be carried horizontally or slightly elevated and displays a characteristic lively, merry action, particularly when the dog is on game.

FOREQUARTERS

The Boykin Spaniel’s shoulders are sloping, clean and muscular. His legs medium in length, straight and well boned but not too short as to handicap for field work or so heavy as too appear clumsy. The pasterns strong with no suggestions of weakness. The toes closely grouped, webbed and well padded. The feet are round, compact, well-arched, of medium size with thick pads. Dewclaws should be removed.

COAT

The Boykin Spaniel has both an undercoat and an outer coat. The coat can range from flat to slightly wavy, with medium length, on the outer coat. The undercoat is short and dense. The ears, chest, legs and belly are equipped with light fringe or feathering. His coat may be trimmed to have a well groomed appearance and to enhance the dog’s natural lines. It is legitimate to trim about the head, throat, ears and feet to give a smart, functional appearance. A rough, curly or harsh coat or no undercoat is to be penalized.

HINDQUARTERS

The Boykin Spaniel has well developed hips and thighs with the whole rear assembly showing strength and drive. The hock joint slightly rounded, should not be small or sharp in contour, moderately angulated. Legs from hock joint to foot pad moderate in length, strong and straight with good bone structure. His hocks are parallel.

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Boykin Spaniel

About the Boykin Spaniel

Boykins are medium-sized spaniels, larger and rangier than Cockers but more compact than Springers. The breed’s hallmark is a beautiful solid-brown coat. Colors range from a rich liver to a luscious chocolate. The large, feathery ears hang close to the cheeks, setting off an expression of soulful intelligence. Bred to work in the lakes and swamps of their native South Carolina, web-toed Boykins can swim like seals.

For years, Boykins were known only to hunters of Carolina waterfowl and wild turkey. But lately, the wider world has discovered that the Boykin is as delightful at home as he is eager at the lake. “They are very, very sweet dogs to have around the family,” a longtime owner says, “but an absolute tiger in the field.”

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Boykin spaniel puppy standing neck-high in a field of blue bonnets.

Find a Puppy: Boykin Spaniel

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Boykin Spaniel Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

The Boykin Spaniel should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING

The Boykin’s medium-length, wavy coat requires only minimal maintenance. A weekly brushing will help to remove dirt and loose hair and keep him looking his best, and an occasional bath will help to keep him clean-smelling. As with all breeds, the nails should be trimmed regularly, as overly long nails can cause discomfort and problems walking and running.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
2-3 Times a Week Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

Boykins have moderate to high energy and require lots of exercise every day. They do best with active people, especially those seeking an athletic partner for activities like hiking, running, or biking. Regular exercise will help keep the Boykin healthy and happy. This can come in the form of long walks and play sessions. The breed also exercises mind and body by participating in obedience, tracking, agility, rally, field events, and other activities that can be enjoyed by both dog and owner.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

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. Early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended to help ensure that the Boykin grows into a well-adjusted, well-mannered companion. Intelligent and eager to please, Boykins are generally easy to train.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Eager to Please

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Alert/Responsive

HEALTH

Boykin Spaniels are generally healthy dogs, and responsible breeders screen their stock for health conditions such as hip dysplasia, juvenile cataracts, and exercise-induced collapse. The Boykin’s ears should be checked regularly for signs of infection and cleaned when necessary—this can be done with soft gauze and an ear-cleaning solution, which the dog’s breeder or veterinarian can recommend. The teeth should be brushed often, using a toothpaste designed for dogs.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • Patella Evaluation
  • EIC DNA Test
  • Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) DNA Test

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Boykin Spaniel running through tall grasses.
Boykin Spaniel

History

The Boykin Spaniel is among the handful of AKC breeds wholly developed in the 20th century. Boykin is a small South Carolina community, population approximately 100 souls, named for a founding resident, Lemuel Whitaker “Whit” Boykin. As the Boykin Spaniel origin story goes, around 1900 a man named Alexander White found a little brown spaniel outside the church in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where he attended services. White gave the young male spaniel the uninspiring name Dumpy. An avid sportsman, White took Dumpy out hunting with his retrievers, and to White’s delight Dumpy showed great enthusiasm and instincts for water retrieves and more than held his own with the pedigreed bird dogs.

White sent Dumpy for training to his hunting partner, community patriarch Whit Boykin, who was the area’s leading dog man. Boykin was fascinated with the brown spaniel, who turned out to be as skillful on flushing and retrieving wild turkeys as he was at duck hunting. Boykin built a new breeding program around Dumpy, utilizing crosses to such breeds as the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Cocker, English Springer, and American Water spaniels. The result was the upbeat gundog we know today as the Boykin Spaniel.

From the breed’s beginning, sportsmen working Carolina’s swampy terrain were enamored of the breed’s intensity, versatility, and effortless balanced gait. The Boykin’s popularity was for years restricted to the immediate area of its birth. Eventually, though, the Boykin caught on with bird hunters around the country, especially on the East Coast. The keys to the breed’s success were its unbridled energy in the field, the ability to work on land or lake, and a sweet, gentle manner at home.

South Carolinians have made the Boykin Spaniel their official state dog and celebrate September 1 as Boykin Spaniel Day. The Boykin gained full AKC recognition in 2009, joining the elite assembly of the AKC’s “all-American” dog breeds.

Did You Know?

The Boykin Spaniel is AKC's 163rd breed.
The Boykin Spaniel (designated by Act Nov. 31, 1985) is the official dog of South Carolina.
The Boykin Spaniel is so small that you can lift both dog and duck into your boat at the same time.
The Boykin Spaniel has been approved to compete in the Miscellaneous Class since January 1, 2008.
The Boykin Spaniel was recorded in the Foundation Stock Service from 1997 to 2018.
The stray dog that Mr. Alexander l. White found was named "Dumpy" because of his short, rather thick build.
The Boykin Spaniel has been eligible to compete in AKC Spaniel Hunting Tests since January 1, 2006 and in Companion Events since July 1, 2006.
The Boykin Spaniel is the only dog which was originally bred for South Carolina hunters by South Carolinians.
The Boykin Spaniel was first bred at the beginning of the 20th century.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Boykin Spaniel is medium in size, with emphasis placed on his hunting abilities, characterized by flushing and retrieving, with moderate speed and agility. His pendulous ears, intelligent expression, sturdy build and friendly wagging tail proclaim him part of the spaniel family.

HEAD

The head must be in proportion with the size of the dog. The Boykin’s expression is alert, self-confident, attractive and intelligent. His eyes are varying shades of brown, set well apart, medium size and oval shaped, trusting, and should not be protruding or bulging. The Boykin Spaniel’s ears are set slightly above or even with the line of the eye. The leather of the ear is thin and when pulled forward should almost reach the tip of the nose. The ears hang close to the cheeks and are flat. The skull is medium length fairly broad, flat on top, slightly rounded at the sides and back.

BODY

The neck is moderately long, muscular, slightly arched at the crest and gradually blends into sloping shoulders. The back is straight, strong and essentially level. Loins are short, strong with a slight tuck up. His body is sturdily constructed but not too compact. The shoulders of the Boykin Spaniel are sloping. The brisket is well developed but not barreled, extending to the elbow and not too broad or narrow as to interfere with movement. The croup slopes gently to the set of the tail, and the tail-set follows the natural line of the croup. Tail is docked to a length of 3 to 5 inches when fully mature. The tail’s carriage should be carried horizontally or slightly elevated and displays a characteristic lively, merry action, particularly when the dog is on game.

FOREQUARTERS

The Boykin Spaniel’s shoulders are sloping, clean and muscular. His legs medium in length, straight and well boned but not too short as to handicap for field work or so heavy as too appear clumsy. The pasterns strong with no suggestions of weakness. The toes closely grouped, webbed and well padded. The feet are round, compact, well-arched, of medium size with thick pads. Dewclaws should be removed.

COAT

The Boykin Spaniel has both an undercoat and an outer coat. The coat can range from flat to slightly wavy, with medium length, on the outer coat. The undercoat is short and dense. The ears, chest, legs and belly are equipped with light fringe or feathering. His coat may be trimmed to have a well groomed appearance and to enhance the dog’s natural lines. It is legitimate to trim about the head, throat, ears and feet to give a smart, functional appearance. A rough, curly or harsh coat or no undercoat is to be penalized.

HINDQUARTERS

The Boykin Spaniel has well developed hips and thighs with the whole rear assembly showing strength and drive. The hock joint slightly rounded, should not be small or sharp in contour, moderately angulated. Legs from hock joint to foot pad moderate in length, strong and straight with good bone structure. His hocks are parallel.

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Boykin Spaniel

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Liver Check Mark For Standard Color 123

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