Boykin Spaniel

Temperament: Friendly, Eager, Lovable

  • 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 

A medium-sized flushing and retrieving dog known for its rich brown coat, the Boykin Spaniel is avid, eager, merry, and trainable. This mellow housedog and tenacious bird dog was once South Carolina’s best-kept secret.


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.

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.”

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.

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.

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 socialisation 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.

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

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