Boykin Spaniel

“The Palmetto State Dog”

Photo of Boykin Spaniel


In the early 1900s, Alexander L. White adopted a stray dog that turned out to have a lot of aptitude for hunting. He gave the dog, named Dumpy, to his friend, Whit Boykin, an avid hunter who was trying to breed the perfect hunting dog. Dumpy became the main ancestor of the Boykin Spaniel, along with a bit of Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Springer Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel, and American Water Spaniel. Today, they are still great fowl hunting and retrieving companions, but they are also terrific family pets – and they are the official state dog of South Carolina.


Boykins are known for being friendly, sociable and family-oriented – so they do best with families who want to spend a lot of time with their dogs. They are active and energetic, and are always up for an adventure. Boykins are stable and adaptable, as long as they get enough exercise and attention, and tend to be great with children and other dogs.


These medium-sized spaniels have a medium outer coat with a short, dense undercoat to keep them warm when retrieving in the water. Their outer coat is flat, wavy, or curly with light feathering, and they are found in varying shades of brown. They have feathered ears that hang close to their cheeks, and their big, brown eyes are alert and friendly.


Boykins are smart, hardworking and eager to please, making them easy to train – as long as training is kept positive and fun. They excel in field trials and some of their energy can be channeled into other dog sports, such as agility and flyball. If you are looking for a hunting companion, they are best for dove, pheasant and other upland game, but also for driving deer, and retrieving water fowl since they do well in boats.

Grooming & Care

With their medium coats, they only require brushing once or twice a week, as long as they are kept burr- and tangle-free - some owners opt to trim the feathering to keep this simple. Frequent ear-cleaning is also a good idea, as they can be prone to ear infections. The best care you can provide for a Boykin is a ton of vigorous exercise and plenty of affection.

Health Concerns

Keep an eye on those ears as Boykins are prone to chronic ear infections. They can also be prone to hip dysplasia, patella luxation, and Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC). Ask breeders about the parents’ CHIC certification, which includes hip, knee and eye testing, with optional heart and elbow tests. There is also genetic testing for EIC available.

Famous Boykin Spaniel

The most famous Boykin is Dumpy, the little stray that started it all.

Ideal Owner
Activity LevelActive
ScheduleFull-time but comes home for lunch
Personal StyleEasygoing and casual, Inclusive, Friendly
Training StylePositive, Creative and fun
HomeAnything goes with enough exercise
ChildrenAny age is fine
ExperienceNot necessary
Quick Facts
GroomingCheck ears frequently
ExerciseHigh - needs to walk every day, plus some running and play
TrainingEager to please, Fast learner, Teach tricks, Teach sports
TempermentFriendly, Enthusiastic, Intelligent
ChallengesThese are pretty easy dogs, but they are smart so they can get into trouble when they’re bored.
Height14 to 18 inches
Weight25 to 40 pounds
Life14 to 16 years
Home AloneFine with lots of exercise first
With KidsExcellent
With StrangersFriendly
AvailabilityAvailable, so choose your breeder carefully

This client information sheet is based on material written by: LifeLearn

© Copyright 2014 LifeLearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.