Boykin Spaniel

AKC Sporting Group


Justalildog’lldoya—&147;Bryl”. Bred, owned, and photo copyright © Pamela O. Kadlec, Just Ducky Kennel, Edgefield, SC. All rights reserved.

Justalildog’lldoya—“Bryl”. Bred, owned, and photo copyright © Pamela O. Kadlec, Just Ducky Kennel, Edgefield, SC. All rights reserved.

The Boykin Spaniel was bred from two strays found in South Carolina right at the turn of the 20th century. The first was a small brown spaniel that Alexander White found in the street after church one Sunday. White took the dog home and soon discovered he was a great bird dog. White then gave the dog to his friend and hunting partner, L. Whitaker Boykin, who named the dog Dumpy and bred him to another stray brown spaniel that had been found near a train station. The resulting Boykin Spaniels have been crossed with American Water Spaniels, Springer Spaniels, Pointers, Cocker Spaniels, and other breeds to create a hardy, enthusiastic hunting and companion dog.

It wasn’t until the Boykin Spaniel Society was formed in 1977 that a breed standard was approved. Today the Boykin is the state dog of South Carolina, and is known as an excellent retriever of both upland game and water fowl. It is also known as a turkey rouster and tracker of wounded deer.


This tidy mid-sized spaniel should convey an air of balance, endurance and agility. The body is slightly longer than tall. The Boykin’s head should be spaniel-shaped, with defined stop and parallel planes. The expression should be alert and intelligent, with brown, wide-set, trusting eyes. The pendulous ears should hang close to the cheeks. The jaws need to be long enough to carry game easily. The neck is moderately long and muscular and the back is straight and level. The tail is docked to 3 to 5 inches, and is carried horizontally or slightly up, with lively, merry action, especially when the dog is hunting. The shoulders are sloping and muscular and of medium length. The legs are straight and the feet are round, compact, and padded. The hips and thighs should be well developed and give an appearance of strength and drive. The Boykin’s stride should be long and effortless.

The Boykin Spaniel’s coat should be solid liver, brown, or dark chocolate color, although a small patch of white on the chest or toes is permissible. The coat is flat to slightly wavy, with a medium length outer coat and short undercoat. The coat is short on the head and fronts of legs.

Key Facts

  • Height: 15-1/2 to 18 in. (male); 14 to 16-1/2 in (female)
  • Size: Medium
  • Weight: 25 to 35 lbs.
  • Availability: May take some effort to find
  • Talents: Hunting, tracking, agility, and obedience


Some owners clip the coat to give the dog a neater appearance or to prevent burrs and matting in the field. The hair may mat, so either clipping (to prevent matting) or regular grooming is recommended. The Boykin Spaniel is prone to cataracts, hip dysplasia, and skin allergies.


An enthusiastic hunter in the field and a passionate swimmer, the typical Boykin is also a docile and affectionate pet that loves to be with people (including children) and other animals (including other dogs). They are committed, loyal, animated dogs that breeders cherish for their demeanor in both the house and the field. They are in fact prized for being small enough that hunters can lift both the duck and the dog into the boat.

The Boykin is reasonably easy to train, as long as you make it fun with food and other rewards. The consummate sporting dog, the Boykin needs plenty of exercise and regular work to keep him happy, as well as an owner committed to training him.


  • Children: Excellent with children
  • Friendliness: Loves everyone
  • Trainability: Easy to train
  • Independence: Moderately dependent on people
  • Dominance: Low
  • Other Pets: Generally good with other pets
  • Combativeness: Not generally dog-aggressive
  • Noise: Average barker
  • Indoors: Moderately active indoors
  • Owner: Good for novice owners


  • Grooming: Regular grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping: Some trimming or stripping of the coat needed
  • Coat: Feathered coat
  • Shedding: Average shedder
  • Docking: The tail is customarily docked
  • Exercise: Needs lots of exercise
  • Jogging: A good jogging companion
  • Apartments: Will be OK in an apartment if sufficiently exercised
  • Outdoor Space: Best with at least an average-size yard
  • Climate: Does well in most climates
  • Longevity: Long-lived (15-plus years)

Useful Links

AKC® Boykin Spaniel Breed Standard

Boykin Spaniel Breed Profile

Boykin Spaniel Breed Club

Search for a Breeder

Rescue Organizations

Books about the Boykin Spaniel

Boykin Spaniel Gifts