The Boykin Spaniel is a medium-sized dog built to flush and retrieve over all types of ground conditions with agility and reasonable speed. This breed has strong, but not overly heavy, bone and is slightly longer than tall. The jaws are long and strong. The coat has a medium length outer coat that can range from flat to slightly wavy, which protects from the elements and repels water; and a short, dense undercoat for insulation. Movement is effortless with good reach and strong drive.
In the early 1900s, hunters on South Carolina’s Wateree River used section boats, which were large boats that broke into smaller boats. They needed a small retrieving dog that could fit into these tiny sectionboats that could only fit one man and one small dog. L.W. “Whit” Boykin and his relatives tried several crosses to produce such a dog, finally hitting upon success with a small brown stray spaniel found by a friend in Spartanburg, South Carolina around 1905. The dog, named Dumpy, developed into an adept turkey dog and waterfowl retriever. Dumpy was bred to another stray brown spaniel, and eventually crosses were made with the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Springer Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel, and American Water Spaniel.
These dogs became known for their versatility, retaining the flushing abilities of a spaniel and adding water retrieving and driving and tracking. The breed does not point, but flushes. They have excellent stamina and can hunt upland game even in hot weather. Their forte, however, remains waterfowl, where they have been called “the dog who doesn’t rock the boat.”
The breed’s nexus was around Camden, South Carolina, where many hunters and wealthy families wintered. These families often left in the spring with little brown spaniels, distributing the Boykin around the country but especially along the eastern seaboard. The Boykin Spaniel Society was formed in 1977 and now has worldwide membership. In 1985, the Boykin Spaniel became the state dog of South Carolina, and in that same year it was recognized by the UKC. It joined the AKC Sporting Group in 2010. The Boykin Spaniel is more popular than the AKC registration numbers would indicate, and is traditionally a dog used for companionship in the southeastern United States.
The Boykin is a friend to all, happy and eager to join any adventure—especially if it involves hiking, swimming, or traipsing through the woods. They are eager to please and relatively easy to train, fine for novice owners. They get along well with other dogs and pets. They don’t bark excessively and are well-behaved house dogs as long as they get enough exercise.
Boykins need a fairly high level of activity. A long walk or jogging venture, along with games of fetch, will usually satisfy their exercise needs each day. They also enjoy swimming. The coat is somewhat oily so requires weekly brushing and occasional bathing. Ears should be checked regularly.