Boykin Spaniel

The Boykin Spaniel was developed as a first-rate turkey dog and waterfowl retriever. His brown coloring was the perfect camouflage in the areas of South Carolina where he was – and still is – used for hunting. He is now the official state dog of South Carolina.


In the early years of the 20th century, a small stray dog — some kind of brown spaniel — was found outside a church in Spartanburg. Alexander White, a member of the congregation, took pity on it and gave it a home. The dog was a young male and was given the name of "Dumpy". Later, when White took it out hunting with his retrievers, he found that, to his surprise, it showed a great enthusiasm for the sport and outclassed his other dogs. So he sent the young animal to his hunting partner for training. It turned out to be a superb turkey-dog and was crossed with other hunting dogs to create a new breed, which soon became known as the Boykin Spaniel. The other breeds involved were the Cocker Spaniel, the English Springer Spaniel, but it was "Dumpy" that was the true founding father.

The Boykin Society was created in 1977 to support the breed and within one year could boast over 300 participants. In 1979 the community started a registry. Within a few years there were over 4,000 dogs on their list. Before the end of the century, the Boykin had been named as the official State Dog.


Country of Origin: United States

Height: Males 15.5-18 in (39-45.5 cm) / females 14-16.5 in (35-5-42 cm)

Weight: Males 30-40 lb (13.5-18 kg) / females 25-35 lb (11-16 kg)

Coat: Double coat with fairly long, flat to slightly undulatory outercoat and short; flat to fairly curly [UKC]

Colors: Dark chocolate, liver; may have white markings; also brown [AKC]

Registries (With Group): AKC (Miscellaneous); UKC (Gun Dog)


But the most characteristic feature of this dog is its personality. Devotees of the breed insist that it has a uniquely cheerful, energetic, enthusiastic nature that endears it to all those who work with it. Because of this, it has also enjoyed a new career as a well-loved household pet. It is a "gentle and tender" dog that responds rapidly to kindly training, but cannot stand harsh treatment.

The Boykin Spaniel is notably docile, pleasant, and obedient with a keen desire to please, a go-everywhere, do-anything dog. He is an excellent swimmer and loves the water. He gets along well with people and other pets, and socializing him is easy, as he is friendly to all he meets.


His athleticism and energy demand that the Boykin Spaniel receive regular and consistent exercise. He needs long walks and romps in the yard to satisfy his exercise requirements.


The Boykin Spaniel is easy to train and eager to learn. He gets along well with people and other pets, and socializing him is easy, as he is friendly to all he meets.


His soft, wavy fur needs but a weekly brushing, though many hunters clip the coat to avoid briar damage when hunting.


Breed health concerns may include cataracts; corneal dystrophy; ear infections; eyelid distichiasis; hip dysplasia; patellar luxation; and retinal dysplasia. Average life span is 14 to 16 years.

Gallery of Boykin Spaniel