Boykin Spaniel

Breed History

Boykin Spaniel is a medium size gun dog with floppy ears and a docked tail. Endless energy and a true pursuit of retrieving game made them the ideal fit for the job they were bred to do.

Hunting dog that specializes in wild turkeys and ducks in their home state in South Carolina. South Carolina adores the dog so much they dedicate September 1st of every year as the Boykin Spaniel day and they are the dog of the state.

Relatively new breed that shows early documentation in the early 1900’s. Most dogs show documentation much earlier in history and that is a unique feature of this breed.

Alexander White who found a Spaniel, brown in color, that was without ownership that man brought the dog home. He took a chance on the dog and found out this dog had tremendous instincts and could retrieve with the best of them.

Sending the dog to his friend Whittaker Boykin who would refine the breed into the perfect retriever dog and in respect to his efforts they take his last name. That began the history of this breed.

Since this dog was showing so many signs of promise he began to crossbreed this dog with multiple dogs to achieve the look and qualities they now feature. American Water Spaniel, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Cocker, and the English Springer.

One of the few dogs to originate in America because most of the other dogs are imports from different countries. Some refer to this dog as “All-American” because of their roots in the south.


In 2009, they finally receive their recognition from the American Kennel Club. Only Kennel Clubs that show recognition currently are in the United States with the AKC, CKC, and UKC respectfully. This is normal and happens to all breeds before they are imports into new countries.

Top 100 in registration by numbers they are climbing the ranks into more popularity every year. Sporting or Gun dog group with each of the American Kennel Clubs due to their retrieving background.

Here are the three Kennel Clubs and their breed standards for this breed.


Male Height: 15-18 inches

Female Height: 14-16 inches

Male Weight: 30-40 pounds

Female Weight: 20-30 pounds

Boys are bigger than the girls in weight, but they are around the same height.

Litter Size

6 puppies are the litter size for a Boykin Spaniel. Mothers are most likely to have a normal birth and don’t need the assistance of humans. In case of an emergency circumstances may change. Conduct vet visits to ensure the health of the dog is good enough to deliver.



Small amount of white is acceptable on the chest and there should be no other white on any part of the body. No markings are allowed with this breed,


$1,000-$2000 is the average price of this dog and that depends on multiple factors. Dogs with papers will command a higher price due to the quality of puppy. When both parents have papers then the puppy can receive papers.

Without papers the dog will cost much less around a few hundred bucks. Although it is easy on the wallet at some point one or both parents couldn’t receive papers.

That increases the chance that the bloodline has crossbreeding outside of the guidelines for the Boykin Spaniel.


Before every grooming session exercise the dog at least one hour especially the first times you try to groom. You want the dog calm and able to relax quickly whenever you are starting, during, and after the process. Makes a huge difference when you do it with or without exercise.

  1. Brushing
  2. Combing
  3. Bathing
  4. Ears
  5. Nails
  6. Professional Help

You want to brush a Boykin Spaniel at least once a week. The dog isn’t the biggest shedder, but they do shed at some point every year. Removal of excessive hair can speed up when using the proper brushing.

Combing is something else you should do at least once a week at the same time as brushing. Both activities should be done from the skin outwards throughout the entire body.

Bathe the dog once a month and every six weeks at the latest. Although you could have guessed it make sure the dog gets a long exercise session before the bath for the best behavior.

Ears are an issue with this breed which we will discuss in the health issues section. Make sure you keep the ears clean of dirt to prevent costly reoccurring vet bills.

Trimming the nails should happen every day while you exercise the dog which we recommend. If you don’t exercise, which we don’t recommend, take the dog to a groomer or cut them with clippers.

Professional help isn’t a recommendation for this breed.

Life Span

12-15 years is the average lifespan for the Boykin Spaniel. That’s a long time for anyone to own one dog and owners should be aware of the commitment they are making before they buy this dog. This a great dog you can adopt due to the long lifespan.

Health Issues

Hip Dysplasia – is a hip issue that causes pain of discomfort. When they have this condition, the bones are rubbing together instead of being inside of the socket. Dogs will show discomfort with exercising and you should take them to the vet for an x-ray. For mild cases you will catch it on an examination when they get older.

Patella Luxation – Kneecaps are an issue for small to medium size dogs. Partial or complete kneecap dislocations can occur and any favoring of one leg should be taken seriously.

Cataracts – most Boykin Spaniel inherit cataracts and it could develop at any age. Young dogs have this condition right after birth, and it can cause a lot of different health problems.

Ears – moisture from the floppy ears puts this dog at a disadvantage and can result in more than a few ear infections. Odor from the ear can become an issue as well. Keep the ears dry and clean.

Breed Group

Proud member of the Sporting Group, or Gun Dog Group. Dogs in this group are strong at retrieving animals with their strong jaws and bringing them to the owner without damaging the animal further.

Strong energy and determination are key characteristics to work for a few hours during hunting season.

Here are some of the dogs in the Sporting or Gun Dog Group

Exercise Needs

Boykin Spaniels need a lot of exercise and a job to do. As a dog that was bred for retrieving and great stamina is one of their key features’ owners should look to go with the flow and not against it.

Failure to exercise this dog properly will result in undesirable behavior you will wish to avoid. Jumping, over excitement, whining, barking excessively, digging, nipping and eventually dog aggression.

When you are fulfilling your Boykin Spaniel exercise needs you will notice that they will stop doing all the behaviors you wish they would stop and start resting at home preparing for another long exercise session.

Shifting from frustration to survival for the next day will change the patterns from bad to nothing at all in most cases. Owners will start exercising too little and notice none of the behavior changes.

Here is a basic recommendation we think all owners should start with

Morning: Hour (run, walk or treadmill)

Evening: 30 minutes (run, walk, or treadmill)

Regardless of energy levels two session per day 30 minutes- one hour each will show signs of effectiveness right away. Sometimes it will take a week, but the dog will get it.

Younger dogs need a lot more runs and double day sessions than their older counterparts. Due to their youthful spirit they will need to channel that energy into something positive like one morning run with a daily walk in the evening.

Adult dogs need more balance you can’t run them all the time. If they were with you exercising at a young age, they will act different than anybody dog that doesn’t exercise.

Lastly, senior dogs don’t need much exercise. Every day can be too much and a walk around the block every two days can be enough.


  1. Exercise program
  2. Commands
  3. Socialization
  4. Corrections

There is no foundation you can built more solid than a great daily exercise session. For a retrieving dog you can have them swimming while paying fetch to replicate their roots or you can take them hunting. Getting them daily exercise will help with leadership because the dog is listening to you for one to two hours per day. Long term that’s 365-700 hours of exercise a year. For multiple years you will have a calm dog. Expect to spend lots of time and energy in this area.

Commands training is very popular and should be. Although we admire the enthusiasm, we caution that sit, stay, and lay doesn’t do anything for excitement or frustration from lack of exercise. Exercise will make the dog listen much better to all commands in contrast. Repetition can easily teach dogs the basics from a beginning.

Socializing with a great exercise program is best case scenario. After a long session get the dog around other humans and dogs at dog parks and let the magic begin.

Correct the dog verbally, on leash, or off leash when the dog is behaving incorrectly. Key to an effective correction is timing not force. When a dog growls at the bowl they growl before a dog gets there not while the dog is eating their food. Prevention is the key to an effective correction program with the sitting or laying after the correction.

Is Boykin Spaniel a Good Family Dog?

Yes, they are fantastic family dogs that are great with kids, older family members, and other dogs. The key to having a great dog is putting in the work and blazing the trail every day getting them enough exercise.

Owners that are willing to put in this type of work will see the fruits of their labor in the short term future and long term will have one of the best pets they ever had before.

Additional Resources