Boykin Spaniel


The Boykin Spaniel originated in South Carolina in the early 1900’s and is named after Lemuel Whitaker Boykin, an avid hunter and dog trainer.

According to legend, Alexander White adopted a stray dog outside of his church and noticed it had a personality for hunting. He asked Boykin, his hunting partner, to train the dog. Boykin fondly called the dog “Dumpy” for his short, thick stature and quickly discovered its natural abilities at hunting wild turkeys and water fowl. He realized that Dumpy’s size made it easier to load him into the small swamp boats used for hunting along the river’s edge. Large and heavy retrievers were currently being used for this type of hunting and often got in the way amongst the hunters and their equipment. Soon Boykin began experimenting with breeding for this smaller size hunting dog.

The rest, as they say, is history and a new breed was born. Through years of selective breeding, Lemuel Whitaker Boykin developed his namesake to be small, strong, and agile. It is believed that the ancestors to the Boykin Spaniel are the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Springer Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel, Pointer, and American Water Spaniel.

Today, the Boykin Spaniel is South Carolina’s official state dog and has become an all-around great hunter with proven retrieving abilities both in the field and in the water. With its sturdy, compact body, this dog is built for endurance, agility, and moderate speed. Its typical friendly spaniel nature includes great enthusiasm and a high desire to please making it easy to train and a wonderful member of the family.

General Appearance

The Boykin Spaniel is a medium sized dog, solidly built so as to be able to endure a full day of hunting over many types of terrain. Its eyes are yellow to brown coordinating with its solid-colored reddish brown or dark chocolate medium length coat. The coat can be smooth or somewhat wavy with light feathering found on the legs, feet, ears, chest, and belly. As these Spaniels are excellent water dogs, they have both an under coat and outer coat. As with many Spaniels, the tail is typically docked to 2-1/2 to 5 inches at maturity.

Height from the withers (ridge between shoulder blades): 14 – 18″

Average Weight: 25 to 40 lbs

Coat Color: reddish brown or dark chocolate

Grooming Needs: Weekly brushing to minimize shedding and prevent tangles.


The typical Boykin Spaniel is friendly, trusting and eager to please making it an excellent family pet. Due to its social nature, this dog does best when allowed to spend considerable time with the family so that it can display its characteristic love and affection. This extra attention will not harm the self-confident hunting instincts of the Boykin Spaniel but rather allows for a closer bond to be formed with its handler.

Good with children? Due to its cheerful and gentle nature, the Boykin has a reputation as a good family dog that is exceptional with children.

Good with other dogs? Yes, especially when properly socialized as a puppy.

Good with cats? Generally, yes.

Good watch dog? A friendly, social, and inquisitive dog that happily greets anyone, including strangers, therefore not a good watchdog.

Easy to train? Yes. The Boykin is self-confident and intelligent, responding best to training that is fun.

Can be left alone? It is smart enough to amuse itself if it gets bored or is left alone for long periods of time, though this could include digging, however no more than the average dog.

Barker? Generally a responsible barker, who barks to sound an alert of an approaching person or a strange sound.

Activity level? An active breed that requires daily exercise to maintain proper weight and condition. The perfect Boykin family will be active and involve their dog in their outdoor activities.

Where to look for a Boykin Spaniel

Breed Rescue – Boykin Spaniel Rescue,, 1-877-LBD-Dogs (1-877-523-3647)

Breed Registry – The Boykin Spaniel Society,

Breeders Association (AKC national parent club) – The Boykin Spaniel Club,


Creel, Mike. “The Boykin Spaniel.” The Boykin Spaniel Society. Web. 22 June 2010.

The Boykin Spaniel Society. Web. 22 June 2010.

Boykin Spaniel Rescue. Web. 22 June 2010.

American Kennel Club. Web. 22 June 2010.