Boykin Spaniels are renowned for their hunting abilities, but their intelligence and pleasant temperament make them just as good family companions. Boykins are medium-sized spaniels, typically between Cocker Spaniels and English Springer Spaniels in proportion.
Origin and History
The Boykin Spaniel is originally linked to a banker named Alexander White. There was a small, stray spaniel-type mixed breed walking near his church in the early 1900s. White kept the small dog, naming him Dumpy, and quickly noticed his aptitude for retrieving.
Dumpy was sent for further training with White's hunting partner, Lemuel Boykin. Dumpy became an exceptionally talented hunter and served as the foundation upon which the breed was developed.
The Boykin is one of the few breeds developed solely in United States during the 20th century. They're also one of the newest breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), having acquired full status in 2009.
This breed is often confused with the Cocker Spaniel, but there are notable differences between the two. Boykins have a unique appearance that distinguishes members of the breed, and once you know what to look for, you will be able to tell these dogs from other spaniel varieties.
The Boykin Spaniel's head is similar to that of any other spaniel; rounded with a relatively long muzzle. The tail is typically docked to between 3 and 5 inches, per the breed standard. The Boykin is larger than the Cocker Spaniel, and has smaller, higher-set ears and long, wavy hair. The Boykin's muzzle is straighter and isn't as furry.
Boykin Spaniels stand between 16 and 18 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 35 to 40 pounds on average. The waterproof coat is curly or wavy, but a smooth coat is acceptable. Boykins are solid-colored, with chocolate, liver, and brown hues, with a splash of white on their chests on rare occasions. Their eyes are also dark in color, with brown or amber tones being the most common.
Boykin Spaniels have a temperament similar to that of most other spaniels. They are smart, eager to please, and energetic. They have the versatility of English Cocker Spaniels and thrive in almost any living situation if their activity requirements are met. If you don't hunt, exercise might be as simple as taking a daily stroll or playing fetch in the yard. Boykins have tremendous stamina and would gladly go for a jog or hike any day.
Boykins do not do well being left alone for lengthy periods of time, due to their exceptionally devoted personality. Boykins who are left alone frequently or who are expected to live in outdoor kennels can become stressed and lonely, exhibiting separation anxiety in the form of destructive chewing, digging, and excessive barking.
These spaniels aren't difficult to train. They are exceptionally smart and eager-to-please. They're quick to obey commands and behave properly. Despite being easy to train, it's important to start as soon as they arrive home to get them off to a good start. Early socialization can also assist them in learning how to socialize with dogs, cats, and people.
The Boykin Spaniel is a working dog who requires a lot of activity on a regular basis, including a lengthy, brisk daily walk. These are high-energy dogs who need regular exercise and a job or purpose to burn off excess energy and exercise their agile minds. When they are bored or their basic needs are not fulfilled, they will find ways to entertain themselves, potentially displaying destructive behavior in the process.
Although considered a generally healthy breed, the Boykin Spaniel is susceptible to several conditions:
- Canine hip and elbow dysplasia: A painful, degenerative disease of the hip and elbow joints.
- Exercise-induced collapse: A condition that causes a dog to collapse after moderate to heavy exercise.
The lifespan of the Boykin is similar to that of other spaniels, ranging from 14 to 16 years.
Although the Boykin typically has a single coat, it is possible for some to develop a thick undercoat. For dogs with double coats, seasonal shedding will likely be an issue regardless of what you do. Brush your spaniel's coat two or three times a week to keep it clean and clear of debris and matting, and to reduce fur around the home.
Boykins can get away with being trimmed every couple of months or so, depending on how long you want your dog's hair to grow. Giving them a bath every few months or so should be sufficient to keep them clean.
Fun Facts About the Breed
The Boykin Spaniel is a relatively new breed, so dog lovers are still finding out new facts about them, but here's what is known thus far:
- The Boykin Spaniel is the state dog of South Carolina, and September 1st is Boykin Spaniel Day in the state.
- They're often referred to as "the little brown dog."
- The breed was specifically designed for hunting.
- Due to their exceptional swimming ability, they spend a lot of time in swamps, earning them the moniker "swamp poodle."
Purchasing or Adopting a Boykin
If you're looking for a Boykin Spaniel puppy, a good place to start is The Boykin Spaniel Club. The club has a breeder directory available as well as helpful tips on how to find responsible breeders with quality dogs. The AKC PuppyFinder page also has a breeder search. Expect to pay around $700 to $1,200, although higher-end show dogs from champion lines can cost as much as $4,000.
If you would prefer a rescued dog, begin your search on PetFinder and Save-a-Rescue. You can also contact the following breed-specific rescues:
- Boykin Spaniel Rescue: A nonprofit rescue organization dedicated to saving and re-homing purebred Boykin Spaniels.
- Last Chance Animal Rescue: A nonprofit organization rescuing Boykin Spaniels and other spaniel breeds.
Is this the Breed for You?
Whether you're searching for a hunting partner or a loving companion, this breed could be the one you're looking for. If you're considering purchasing or adopting a Boykin, keep in mind that this isn't a breed for those who lead sedentary lifestyles. Although they don't require a significant amount of exercise each day, going for a walk or playing games is a must.