Boykin Spaniel

Table of Contents

boykin spaniel portrait
Say hello to the Boykin Spaniel, South Carolina's own little brown dynamo! This breed is truly a hidden gem, known for its energetic personality, webbed feet, and unmatched ability to retrieve.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Boykin Spaniel is a perfect companion for active families and outdoor enthusiasts. If you’re a lover of adventures, with a soft spot for affectionate, trainable dogs, the Boykin Spaniel might just be your new best friend!


OTHER NAMESBoykin, Swamp Poodle, Little Brown Dog, LBD
ORIGINUnited States
BREED GROUPSporting Group
HEIGHT14-18 inches
WEIGHT25-40 lbs
LIFESPAN10-15 years
boykin spaniel walking in the park
Photo: BestSide/Getty Images Signature


The Boykin Spaniel is a breed that’s as captivating in appearance as they are in character. Let’s start with size. The males stand proud at 15.5 to 18 inches tall, while females measure slightly smaller at 14 to 16.5 inches. As for weight, males tip the scales at around 30 to 40 pounds, and females weigh in at approximately 25 to 35 pounds. This makes them a comfortable medium-sized breed.

Now, let’s talk about their body. The Boykin Spaniel sports a sturdy, compact frame that radiates strength and agility. Their bodies are slightly longer than they are tall, creating a balanced silhouette. Their tails? Often docked, these wagging wonders add an extra dash of cuteness to their overall look.

Moving on to their heads, which are moderately large and broad. Their ears are long, set slightly above or at eye level, and hang close to their faces – perfect for a playful tug during cuddle time!

The eyes are a standout feature, usually a mesmerizing shade of yellow or brown, that sparkle with intelligence and curiosity. Their expression is one of the most endearing things about them. A Boykin Spaniel’s face typically mirrors their personality – gentle, friendly, and eager. It’s hard not to fall in love with that!

As for their coat, it’s a beautiful blend of form and function. Their medium-length hair is double-coated, with a short, dense undercoat for insulation and a slightly wavy or straight outer coat that’s waterproof. The color is what makes them truly unique – a rich liver or chocolate brown that glistens in the sunlight.

Overall, the Boykin Spaniel is a well-proportioned, athletic dog that combines grace, strength, and a dash of Southern charm. Their distinctive features and expressive faces make them a standout breed, one you can’t help but adore.

boykin spaniel running with a ball
Photo: BestSide/Getty Images Signature


The first thing you’ll notice about a Boykin Spaniel is their sociable nature. They’re like the life of the party, always eager to meet new people and make friends. Whether it’s your neighbor, the mailman, or even a stranger in the park, a Boykin Spaniel will greet them with a wagging tail and a friendly nudge. Their approachable, easy-going nature makes them an instant hit in any social setting.

Despite their love for people, Boykin Spaniels are also known for their loyalty and devotion. They form strong bonds with their family members and are happiest when they’re in their company. They’re the type of dog that would follow you around the house, just to be near you. And if you ever need a cuddle buddy, your Boykin Spaniel will happily volunteer!

Another endearing trait of the Boykin Spaniel is their playful spirit. They’re forever young at heart, always ready for a game or some fun. They’ll chase after a ball, play tug-of-war, or even invent their own games just to keep things interesting. Their zest for life and infectious energy can bring a smile to anyone’s face.

But don’t let their fun-loving nature fool you. Boykin Spaniels are also incredibly intelligent and intuitive. They have a knack for understanding human emotions and often seem to know how you’re feeling before you do. If you’re down, they’ll be there to comfort you. If you’re excited, they’ll share in your joy. They’re not just pets, but empathetic companions who are in tune with their owner’s emotions.

Despite their high spirits, Boykin Spaniels also have a calm and gentle side. They’re patient and tolerant, which makes them great around children and other pets. They understand the importance of being gentle and respectful, especially when interacting with smaller or more timid animals.

Lastly, one cannot talk about a Boykin Spaniel’s personality without mentioning their adaptability. They’re happy-go-lucky dogs that can adjust to different environments and situations. Whether it’s living in an apartment or a country home, being in a bustling city or a quiet town, a Boykin Spaniel will take it all in stride.

boykin spaniel in the snow
Photo: David Williamson/Getty Images

Ideal Environment

Physical Environment

Boykin Spaniels aren’t too fussy. They’re equally comfortable living in a suburban home with a big backyard as they are in a city apartment, as long as they get their daily dose of exercise and mental stimulation. A home with a secure, fenced area where they can romp around would be a bonus!

Climate Adaptability

Now, let’s talk climate. Born and bred in the Southern United States, Boykin Spaniels are naturally more suited to warmer climates. Their dense double coat protects them from getting wet and cold during water retrievals, but it doesn’t mean they’re immune to extreme cold. In colder weather, they’ll need a warm place to snuggle up and possibly some protective gear when going outside.

Conversely, in hot weather, it’s important to keep your Boykin Spaniel cool and hydrated to prevent overheating. Regular grooming can also help manage their double coat in both hot and cold conditions.\

Ideal Owner

Boykin Spaniels thrive in active households. They adore families who can match their energy and enthusiasm – think long walks, playful games, and interactive playtimes. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast or have an active lifestyle, a Boykin Spaniel will fit right in like the missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle.

Other Pets

When it comes to other pets, Boykins are generally sociable and get along well with them. They’ve got a gentle and friendly nature that helps them make fast friends with other dogs and even cats. However, remember that each dog is an individual and introductions to new pets should always be done gradually and under supervision.


Grooming a Boykin Spaniel is like taking care of a living, breathing teddy bear – it’s all about keeping that adorable fluff clean, shiny and healthy. Let’s dive into the world of Boykin grooming, which is as enjoyable as it is essential.

Coat Care

Starting with their beautiful, medium-length coat, Boykin Spaniels require regular brushing to keep it looking its best. About two to three times a week should do it. Use a slicker brush to gently detangle any knots and remove loose hair. This not only keeps their coat neat but also distributes natural oils, giving it a healthy shine. Remember, grooming is not just about appearance, but also about bonding with your furry friend!

Now, let’s talk bath time. Boykins are active dogs and love outdoor activities, which means they can get dirty fairly quickly. A monthly bath should be enough unless your pup has managed to find a mud puddle to roll in! Use a dog-friendly shampoo to protect their skin and coat, and always make sure to rinse thoroughly.

Ear Care

Next up, ears. Boykin Spaniels have long ears that hang down, creating a warm, moist environment that’s perfect for bacteria and yeast. Check their ears weekly for any signs of redness, bad odor or inflammation. Gently clean them using a vet-approved ear cleaner and a cotton ball. Never insert anything into their ear canal.

Dental Care

Dental care is another crucial part of grooming. Brush your Boykin’s teeth at least two to three times a week to remove tartar buildup and prevent gum disease. Use a toothbrush and toothpaste designed for dogs, and make this a fun, rewarding experience for them.

Nail Trimming

Don’t forget those nails! If you hear clicking on the floor, it’s time for a trim. Typically, a monthly nail trim should suffice. If you’re uncomfortable doing it yourself, your vet or a professional groomer can help. Regular walks on concrete can also help keep their nails naturally filed down.

Additional Grooming Tips

Finally, keep an eye on their overall skin health. Check for any rashes, sores, or signs of parasites when you groom. Early detection can save your pup from discomfort and prevent more serious problems.

boykin spaniel's face up close
Photo: David Williamson/Getty Images


If you’re considering bringing a Boykin Spaniel into your life, get ready to step up your fitness game! Boykins are energetic and athletic dogs that love to be on the move. But don’t worry, their exercise needs are as fun as they are beneficial.

Exercise Amount & Types

A typical day in a Boykin’s exercise routine involves at least an hour of physical activity. This could be a brisk walk around the neighborhood, a game of fetch in the backyard, or even a swim in a nearby lake – after all, Boykins are natural water dogs!

One of the best ways to keep your Boykin Spaniel entertained is by mixing up their exercise routine. One day, you could go for a hike and let them explore new scents and sights. Another day, you could set up an obstacle course in your backyard and watch them navigate it with gusto. The key is to keep their minds stimulated as much as their bodies.

Dog Sports

If you’re into dog sports, then you’re in luck! Boykin Spaniels excel in various dog competitions like agility, obedience, and dock diving. Their intelligence, agility, and desire to please make them naturals on the competition circuit. Plus, it’s a fantastic way to bond with your furry friend.

Exercise Precautions

It’s important to note that puppies and older Boykins won’t need as much exercise. Always adjust the intensity and duration of exercise according to your dog’s age, health, and individual needs.


Get ready for a training journey filled with fun, rewards, and a whole lot of wagging tails with the Boykin Spaniel! This breed is known for its intelligence and eagerness to please, making them a joy to train.

Basic Obedience

Start with basic obedience training. Commands like “sit”, “stay”, “come”, and “leave it” are essential for every dog. Once they’ve mastered these, you can move on to more advanced commands or tricks. Always use positive reinforcement methods, rewarding your Boykin with treats, praise, or a favorite toy whenever they perform a command correctly.

Training a Boykin Spaniel also involves harnessing their natural abilities. They’re excellent retrievers and have a strong instinct to work. You can channel this instinct into fun games like fetch or even participate in dog sports like agility or dock diving.


Socialization is another important aspect of training. Introduce your Boykin to different people, places, and situations from a young age. This will help them grow into confident, well-rounded dogs. Remember, socialization should be a positive experience, so take it slow and let your Boykin set the pace.

Patience & Consistency

Despite their intelligence, Boykin Spaniels can sometimes be a little stubborn. If you encounter resistance, stay patient. Make sure training sessions are short, fun, and varied to keep your Boykin engaged. Consistency is key!

boykin spaniel standing in the river
Photo: redsidephoto/Getty Images

Diet & Nutrition 

What to Feed & How Much

When it comes to what to feed your Boykin, quality is key. Look for dog food that follows the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) guidelines. This ensures that the food meets the nutritional standards needed for a healthy dog.

Whether you choose dry kibble, wet food, or even a raw diet, make sure it’s packed with high-quality protein and a balanced mix of fruits, vegetables, and grains.

The amount of food your Boykin needs depends on their age, weight, and activity level. Puppies usually require more frequent meals – about 3 to 4 times a day. As they grow into adults, this can be reduced to 2 meals a day. An active adult Boykin might need more food than a laid-back senior. Always consult with your vet to determine the right portion size for your individual dog.


Treats are the icing on the cake when it comes to a Boykin’s diet. They’re great for training and rewarding good behavior. But remember, treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake. Opt for healthy options like carrot sticks, apple slices, or dog-friendly biscuits.


Water is just as important as food in your Boykin’s diet. Make sure they have access to fresh, clean water at all times. This is especially crucial during hot weather or after exercise to prevent dehydration.

Additional Feeding Tips

Lastly, keep a close eye on your Boykin’s weight. These dogs love their food and can easily become overweight if their diet isn’t properly managed. Regular weight checks and portion control can help maintain a healthy weight.


On average, a healthy Boykin Spaniel can live between 10 to 15 years. But like any breed, they are prone to certain health issues. Here are common ones to be aware of:

Hip Dysplasia: This is a genetic condition where the hip joint doesn’t fit together properly, which can lead to arthritis or lameness.

Eye Disorders: Boykins can be prone to various eye problems like Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), cataracts, and eyelid abnormalities.

Heart Diseases: Conditions such as Pulmonic Stenosis and other heart diseases have been reported in the breed.

Skin Allergies: They can suffer from skin allergies that cause itching and discomfort. These can often be managed with the right diet and medication.

Exercise-Induced Collapse (EIC): Some Boykins might be prone to this genetic disorder, which causes weakness or collapse after intense exercise.

While this list might seem daunting, many of these conditions can be detected early with regular veterinary checks. A good vet will become your partner in ensuring your Boykin leads a long, healthy life.

A balanced diet is another pillar of good health. Feed your Boykin high-quality dog food that meets their nutritional needs. Remember to adjust their diet as they age, and keep an eye on their weight to avoid obesity.

Don’t forget about vaccinations! They’re essential in protecting your Boykin from various diseases. Your vet can guide you on the recommended vaccination schedule.

Lastly, remember that mental health is just as important as physical health. Regular exercise, mental stimulation, and lots of love can keep your Boykin both happy and healthy.

boykin spaniel sitting in a park
Photo: Julissa Helmuth/Pexels


The Boykin Spaniel’s history begins in the early 20th century in South Carolina. The star of our tale is a small, stray dog named Dumpy. Found wandering near a church in Spartanburg, Dumpy was taken in by a man named Alexander White.

White quickly noticed Dumpy’s keen hunting instincts and sent him to his hunting partner, Whit Boykin. Under Boykin’s guidance, Dumpy honed his skills and became an exceptional bird dog.

But Dumpy wasn’t just any bird dog. He had a special knack for hunting wild turkeys and waterfowl in the Wateree River Swamp, a task that larger breeds couldn’t navigate as easily. His small size allowed him to jump in and out of boats and sneak through the swamp without startling the game.

Dumpy’s impressive skills caught the attention of local hunters, and soon they began breeding their own “Boykin Spaniels.” These dogs were bred for their intelligence, agility, and versatility – traits that are still celebrated in the breed today.

While the Boykin Spaniel’s hunting prowess made them popular among local hunters, it’s their friendly and loyal nature that truly won hearts. They transitioned seamlessly from hardworking hunting dogs to beloved family pets. Their adaptable nature and endearing personality have made them a favorite choice for many dog lovers.

The Boykin Spaniel’s popularity eventually spread beyond South Carolina. In 2009, the breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club. Today, they’re not only cherished as state dogs of South Carolina but have also found fame on a national stage.

While they may not be as high-profile as some other breeds, Boykins have had their moments in the spotlight. They’ve been featured in various outdoor magazines and hunting television shows, showcasing their exceptional hunting skills. They’ve even been honored with their own special day – September 1st is officially known as “Boykin Spaniel Day” in South Carolina.

Parent Club

The Boykin Spaniel Club and Breeders Association of America (BSCBAA) is the official parent club for Boykin Spaniels in the United States. Founded in 1997, the club is dedicated to preserving and improving the breed.

They provide valuable resources for owners and breeders, including breed standards, health information, and event details. To learn more about the BSCBAA, visit their official website.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed.

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

Check out the Boykin Spaniel’s breed standard as set by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

boykin spaniel puppy sitting on green grass
Photo: redsidephoto/Getty Images


Bringing a Boykin Spaniel into your life is an exciting adventure! Before you dive in, make sure you’re prepared. Consider factors like space, exercise needs, and whether you have the time to devote to a new furry friend.

If you choose to buy a Boykin, always opt for a reputable breeder. The Boykin Spaniel Club and Breeders Association of America (BSCBAA) can help you find one. But remember, buying isn’t the only option. Consider opening your heart to a rescue dog. The American Kennel Club and the BSCBAA can also assist you in rescuing a Boykin Spaniel in need of a loving home.

Whether you choose to buy or rescue, prepare to be welcomed with wagging tails and boundless energy. Remember, owning a Boykin means embracing an active lifestyle filled with love, loyalty, and lots of fetch games!


Are Boykin Spaniels good house dogs?

Absolutely! Boykin Spaniels are adaptable and can fit into many living situations, including apartments, as long as they get enough exercise. They’re known for their friendly and gentle nature, making them great companions.

What two breeds make the Boykin Spaniel?

The Boykin Spaniel is not a mix of two specific breeds. It’s believed to have several breeds in its lineage, including the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Cocker Spaniel, Springer Spaniel, and American Water Spaniel.

How smart is a Boykin Spaniel?

Boykin Spaniels are highly intelligent. They’re quick learners and can master new commands with ease. Their intelligence, combined with their eagerness to please, makes them highly trainable.

Do Boykin Spaniels bark a lot?

Boykin Spaniels are generally not excessive barkers. However, like any dog, they may bark to alert you to something unusual, when they’re bored, or if they need attention. Regular exercise and mental stimulation can help keep barking in check.

How much exercise does a Boykin Spaniel need?

As an active and energetic breed, Boykin Spaniels need plenty of exercise. Aim for at least an hour of physical activity each day. This can include walks, playtime in the yard, or even dog sports.

Are Boykin Spaniels good with kids and other pets?

Yes, Boykin Spaniels are known for their friendly and tolerant nature. They generally get along well with children and can coexist peacefully with other pets if properly socialized from a young age.

What kind of grooming does a Boykin Spaniel need?

Boykin Spaniels have a medium-length coat that requires regular brushing to keep it free from mats and tangles. They’re considered moderate shedders. Regular ear cleaning and nail trimming are also important for their overall health.

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