Boykin Spaniel Dog Breed: Pictures, Colors, Bark, Characteristics, and Diet

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The Boykin Spaniel (or just Boykin) is a medium-sized Spaniel that was bred to hunt wild waterfowl and turkeys in the Wateree River Swamp of South Carolina in the early 1900s. 

They are born in litters of 5-7 puppies and reach their full adult size by 11 to 12 months old.

A Boykin Spaniel dog with the beautiful eyes

The average male Boykin Spaniel is around 15.5 to 18 inches (39.4 to 45.7 cm) tall and weighs 30 to 40 lbs (13.6 to 18.1 kg), while the average female stands at 14 to 16.5 inches (35.6 to 41.9 cm)  tall and weighs around 25 to 35 lbs (11.3 to 15.9 kg). 

Also known as the Swamp Poodle or the Little Brown Dog (that doesn’t rock the boat), Boykin Spaniels have the classic Spaniel shape and are excellent swimmers.

They’re a little larger than their cousins, the English Cocker Spaniel, and much broader. 

They have well-boned legs, webbed feet, large, floppy ears, and trusting eyes. Docked tails are common, and they also have medium-length, reddish Browncoats.

The Boykin Spaniel is a friendly, social, and perfect family pet. They’re also energetic, playful, hardworking, and easy to train. The breed has an average lifespan of 10 to 15 years and a bite force of 235 PSI.

Boykins are an active, muscular breed that should eat 2 to 3 cups of a healthy diet and get between 1 to 2 hours of exercise a day, as well as lots of companionship and play.

Keep reading for our top tips on looking after a Boykin Spaniel!

What is a Boykin Spaniel?

A Boykin Spaniel dog chewing a deer horn
A Boykin Spaniel dog chewing a deer horn – Image source

Part of the Sporting Group, Boykin Spaniels are gun dogs. Gun dogs are hunting dogs bred initially to assist hunters in finding and retrieving games, usually birds.

Boykin Spaniels are versatile hunters and ideal for hunting ducks, doves, pheasants, and turkeys. They’re bred to retrieve and hunt upland, flushing birds into flight. 

Boykins are thought to be made up of at least three different hunting breeds, including the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, the American Water Spaniel, and the English Springer Spaniel.

What is the Origin of the Name “Boykin Spaniel”?

The Boykin Spaniel’s name comes from the man credited with developing the breed, Lemuel Whitaker Boykin. They’re actually one of two American breeds named after the family who bred them. 

A Boykin Spaniel dog celebrating the memorial day
A Boykin Spaniel dog celebrating the memorial day – Image source

What is the History of Boykin Spaniel Dogs?

The ancestor of the Boykin Spaniel was reportedly a small, stray spaniel-type dog that befriended a banker called Alexander L. White while walking to Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina, around 1900.

He took the dog home and named him Dumpy. 

When the dog showed some talent for retrieving, he sent Dumpy to his longtime friend and hunting partner Lemuel Whitaker Boykin.

Boykin experimented with crossbreeding Dumpy and his offspring with a few different hunting dogs, eventually resulting in the Boykin Spaniel as we know it today.

The breed was soon noticed and appreciated around the local area and quickly spread around the United States.

In 1977, the Boykin Spaniel Society was formed in Camden, South Carolina, and the United Kennel Club recognized this breed in 1985. 

In 2009, the Boykin Spaniel was fully recognized by the American Kennel Club. They also became eligible to compete in AKC hunting tests. Furthermore, the breed also participates in agility, tracking, rally, and obedience.

How Many Boykin Spaniels are There in the World?

It’s unknown exactly how many Boykin Spaniels there are worldwide. However, in 2020, they rank 87th out of 195 breeds in popularity in the United States, according to the American Kennel Club.

What are the Variants of Boykin Spaniel Dogs?

Most Boykin Spaniels have medium-length wavy or curly coats, but some are smooth-coated dogs within the breed. According to AKC, Boykin Spaniels typically have single coats. However, double coats are also acceptable.

What are the Characteristics of Boykin Spaniel Dogs?

A Boykin Spaniel dog ready for an adventure
A Boykin Spaniel dog ready for an adventure – Image source

The Boykin Spaniel is a great dog with a lovely temperament that tends to get on with everybody. Below we’ve listed their key characteristics and a table summarising their most important qualities. 

  • Family orientated – The Boykin loves to be a part of the pack and forms extremely close bonds with their family members. 
  • Friendly – Boykin Spaniels are also super friendly, especially with children and other dogs.
  • Social – They have high social needs and can suffer from loneliness and separation anxiety if their needs are not met. 
  • Energetic – Boykins are moderately high-energy dogs and need lots of exercises to keep fit and happy.
  • Playful – They’re also very playful and need plenty of mental stimulation every day to avoid boredom and anxiety. 
  • Hardworking – These dogs are hardworking by nature and are happiest when they have a job to do. 
  • Easy to train – Highly intelligent, eager to please, and obedient, the breed is highly trainable, too. 
Boykin Spaniel Characteristics Rating
Relation with Family 4
Good with Children 5
Friendly with Strangers 3
Friendly with Other Dogs 5
Easy to Train 4
Energy Level 4
Barking Level 3
Mental Stimulation Needs 4

What Does a Boykin Spaniel Dog Look Like?

A lovely Boykin Spaniel dog sitting on the front door
A lovely Boykin Spaniel dog sitting on the front door – Image source

The Boykin Spaniel has a medium-sized body with a larger build than the average Cocker Spaniel.

They have straight, well-boned legs and webbed feet, typically docked tails, and their faces are beautifully Spaniel-like, with long snouts, large, floppy ears, and piercing eyes. 

They also have medium-length, liver-color, single or double coats with thick, wavy fur. Some have more pronounced curls, and a small portion of Boykins even have smooth coats.

Their fur also feathers on the legs, ears, chest, and belly. 

How big are Boykin Spaniels?

The average male Boykin Spaniel stands at 15.5 to 18 inches (39.4 to 45.7 cm) tall, while the average female Boykin is around 14 to 16.5 inches (35.6 to 41.9 cm) tall. They need to live in a home, preferably with a yard to run around in. 

They can live in an apartment with a small yard as long as their exercise needs are consistently met, but small apartments are a no-no.

If you’re planning on crate training your Boykin Spaniel, you should look for a crate that is around 30 inches in size.

Boykin Spaniels
Physical Features
Male Female
Height  15.5 to 18 inches
(39.4 to 45.7 cm)
14 to 16.5 inches
(35.6 to 41.9 cm) 
Weight 30 to 40 lbs
(13.6 to 18.1 kg) 
25 to 35 lbs
(11.3 to 15.9 kg) 

When is a Boykin Spaniel fully grown?

Boykin Spaniels reach their full adult size by 11 to 12 months. They reach adolescence at around 5 to 6 months, sexual maturity at 8 to 9 months, and emotional maturity at about 15 months old.

What’s the average weight of Boykin Spaniel dogs?

The average weight of a Boykin Spaniel depends on their size, sex, and health, but the average male Boykin weighs around 30 to 40 lbs (13.6 to 18.1 kg), and the average female weighs 25 to 35 lbs (11.3 to 15.9 kg). 

What is the Lifespan of a Boykin Spaniel?

The average lifespan of a Boykin Spaniel is 10 to 15 years with good care. This includes lots of exercise and a good, healthy diet.

Common health issues experienced by the breed include hip dysplasia, luxating patella, and some eye and skin problems. 

What Coat Type Do Boykin Spaniel Dogs Have?

Charming Boykin Spaniel while on trail
A charming Boykin Spaniel dog while on the trail – Image source

Boykin Spaniels have thick, medium-length single or double coats.

They need brushing with a slicker brush every few days to remove loose fur and debris and bathing every couple of months with natural dog shampoo to keep their coats clean. 

What’s the Boykin Spaniel’s coat like?

The Boykin’s coat is soft, liver-color, and with thick, wavy fur. Some Boykins have more pronounced curls, and a few have smooth fur with waves in the “feathered” areas of the coat. 

How long is the Boykin Spaniel’s coat?

The average Boykin Spaniel’s coat is medium in length. They may need the occasional trim every few months in feathery coat areas to prevent tangling, matting, and bad hygiene. 

How dense is the Boykin Spaniel Dog’s coat?

The Boykin Spaniel’s coat is pretty thick and dense. If double, it consists of a short, thick insulating undercoat and a flat, wavy, or curly waterproof guard coat.

These qualities helped the breed to stay warm and dry when hunting in water. 

Do Boykin Spaniel dogs shed a lot?

The Boykin Spaniel sheds a moderate amount of fur, and they shed all year round, with heavier shedding during the spring and fall seasons, especially if they have double coats.

That said, some breeds shed far heavier than the Boykin, and you can keep shedding to a minimum with regular grooming. 

Is it Possible for Boykin Spaniels to Survive in the Cold?

A Boykin Spaniel dog enjoying the snow
A Boykin Spaniel dog loves to dip in the snow – Image source

Boykin Spaniels are a pretty hard breed weather-wise. One with a double coat can handle the cold but will be slightly better off in a warmer space. 

However, no dog should be exposed to extreme conditions for extended periods, especially if they’re puppies, older, sick, or vulnerable. Considering that, it will be best for Boykin Spaniels to stay in areas with moderate temperatures.

What Colors are Boykin Spaniels?

Most breeds come in a few different colors or color combinations. However, the Boykin Spaniel can only be found in a solid liver color.

This can vary between light and darker shades of chocolate brown. They’re usually all one color without any markings, although small markings can sometimes be found. 

What Markings Do Boykin Spaniel Dogs Have?

As mentioned above, most Boykin Spaniels tend not to have any markings. However, some have little white markings on their chests.

If a dog’s coat is affected by sun bleaching, meaning the coat lightens due to sun exposure, the American Kennel Club accepts this.

Are Boykin Spaniels Good Family Dogs?

A Boykin Spaniel and a Schnauzer dog sitting together
A Boykin Spaniel and a Schnauzer dog sitting together waiting for treats – Image source

Boykins Spaniels are the perfect family dogs. They’re loving, loyal, affectionate, and sweet-natured, with a lovely temperament and lots of playful energy. They’re very gentle with children and even great with other dogs. 

Boykin Spaniel Temperament Rating
Adaptability 4
Friendliness 4
Mouthiness 4
Playfulness 4
Family-Oriented 4
Stranger Tolerance 3

Do Boykin Spaniels get along with other dogs?

Boykin Spaniels are typically very good with other dogs. They’re known to be generally friendly with other family dogs and unfamiliar dogs they meet on walks. 

Are Boykin Spaniels friendly with other people?

Friendly dogs, Boykin Spaniels will not hesitate to get close to other people as long as they are introduced and not suspicious. This is true, especially if they are properly socialized early. 

Are Boykin Spaniels good with strangers?

Thanks to their sweet and social nature, the Boykin Spaniel is known to be friendly towards strangers, just so long as they are approached respectfully and interacted with kindly. 

How do Boykin Spaniels and young children get along?

Boykin Spaniels are known to be excellent with children, even young children. They make the perfect child’s pet and playmate. That said, all children should be taught how to interact with their pets safely to avoid accidents. 

Can Boykin Spaniels Adapt Easily?

A Boykin Spaniel dog lounging on the bed
Meet Scout, a spoiled Boykin Spaniel dog lounging on the bed – Image source

Boykin Spaniels are generally adaptable to different environments but need regular companionship to avoid loneliness and anxiety.

However, they’re not ideally suited to life in small apartments as it can be hard to meet their needs in such small spaces. As long as their exercise requirement is met, Boykin Spaniels will thrive in apartments with a yard. 

Are Boykin Spaniels Aggressive?

Boykin Spaniels are not known to be aggressive. However, any dog can react aggressively when frightened or mistreated or if they feel the need to protect its home and family.

Nevertheless, like any other breed, the Boykin Spaniel will benefit from early socialization.

Are Boykin Spaniels Dangerous?

As mentioned above, Boykin Spaniels are not generally dangerous dogs, but any dog can be dangerous if they have been mistreated and are not handled with care or approached respectfully.

Do Boykin Spaniel Dogs Bite?

Boykin Spaniels are especially nippy puppies, but this is a puppyhood behavior, not an aggressive one. They have a bite force of 235 PSI but should not bite as adults unless provoked or when defending themselves or a loved one. 

During puppyhood, you can teach your dog that biting is wrong by yelping and ignoring them whenever they bite.

You can also teach them what is and isn’t theirs to chew by redirecting “naughty” chewing and praising good chewing. 

Are Boykin Spaniel Dogs Protective?

Boykin Spaniels are fairly protective of their homes and families but are not usually over-protective or territorial.

Their even temper and social nature allow them to read situations very clearly, so they’re not prone to overreacting. 

Are Boykin Spaniel Dogs Easy to Train?

A Boykin Spaniel dog in an adventure
A Boykin Spaniel dog on top of a rock during an adventure – Image source

Boykin Spaniels are pretty easy to train because of their brightness, natural obedience, and eagerness to please.

Owners should take time to bond with their Boykins to take advantage of their eagerness and keep training sessions concise to avoid boredom. 

Positive reinforcement should be the driving force, and using a behavioral marker like a clicker will speed up training significantly. 

Can Boykin Spaniels be used as working dogs?

Boykin Spaniels are most often kept as beloved companion dogs, but they can still put their hunting talents to use in field trials and are common competitors in dog sports and other dog shows and competitions.

Thanks to their gentle and sensitive nature, they can also do well as therapy dogs

Is the Boykin Spaniel good at hunting?

The Boykin has a natural talent for hunting. Although it’s not a common activity anymore, there are still some hunting practices that the Boykin can take part in, such as field trials, in which the breed is a well-suited participant. 

Watch the Boykin participate in a field trial hosted by the Carolina Boykin Spaniel Retriever Club

Do Boykin Spaniel Dogs Bark a Lot?

Boykin Spaniels are known to be “responsible barkers, ” meaning they only bark when they need to, such as when they spot something you should be alerted to.

They’re not unnecessarily or excessively vocal and aren’t usually nuisance barkers. 

How does a Boykin Spaniel bark?

The Boykin Spaniel has a short, sharp bark that is deep, not high-pitched. Their barks are pretty loud, although, as of yet, nothing has been officially recorded about exactly how loud they bark. 

How Energetic are Boykin Spaniel Dogs?

A Boykin Spaniel dog playing a tennis ball
A Boykin Spaniel dog chewing a tennis ball on the grass – Image source

Boykin Spaniels are known to be a hyperactive breed of dog. They need dedicated owners willing to provide them with a couple of hours of exercise and fun, challenging play daily.

Is the high energy of Boykin Spaniel dogs suitable for the home?

The high-energy nature of the Boykin is more than suitable for the home, so long as the home is safe, secure, and not too small.

It is preferable to have an outdoor space, but not essential, so long as the dog’s exercise needs are being met. 

Are Boykin Spaniels Active?

Boykin Spaniels need around 1 to 2 hours of exercise daily, preferably split into two walks. They love walking, running, hiking, exploring new places, and swimming.

Swimming is an excellent way to expend your Boykin’s energy, as they’re natural-born swimmers and love the water more than anything. Lakes, beaches, and rivers are ideal locations for walks! 

Young Boykin pups should build up their appetite for exercise by walking for 5 minutes per month of their age, up to twice a day.

Although it may not seem like enough for such an energetic puppy, it’s essential not to overwork their developing joints, as this could cause irreversible damage.

Similarly, senior Boykins should slow down gradually to avoid strain on their aging joints.

Are Boykin Spaniels Playful?

A playful Boykin Spaniel enjoying the tennis ball
A playful Boykin Spaniel dog enjoying the tennis ball – Image source

Boykin Spaniels are very playful dogs. Toys that work their natural hunting talents, such as treat-dispensers and snuffle mats, are great fun for the breed.

They also love to play games that engage those instincts and entertain and challenge their bright minds. Some popular choices include the following:

  • Fetch
  • Chase
  • Obstacle course
  • Hide and seek
  • Treasure hunt

Do Boykin Spaniels Drool a Lot?

Boykin Spaniels are not heavy droolers, although, like any dog, they can drool when around food. However, if they drool excessively, it could be a sign of stress or an underlying health condition. 

What is the Family Life of Boykin Spaniel Dogs Like?

If you’re willing to put in the time and effort to meet their needs, Boykins Spaniels make the ideal family dogs, especially for active families that like to play and go on lots of adventures.

They’re great with kids and other pets and love to be part of the pack.

What is the Average Cost of a Boykin Spaniel Puppy?

Boykin Spaniel puppies have a price range of $750 to $1500 with an average cost of $1,125 with papers but without breeding rights or show quality.

The price will vary depending on the breeder’s reputation and location, the puppy’s lineage, age, color, and much more. For a registered purebred Boykin, expect to pay as high as $2000 to $4500. 

If you’re considering adopting a Boykin dog, the price is considerably lower, with adoption fees ranging from $300 to $500.

What Kind of Food Should Boykin Spaniels Eat?

A Boykin Spaniel dog waiting its breakfast
A hungry Boykin Spaniel dog excited for the kibble with egg breakfast – Image source

Boykin Spaniels, like all dogs, should eat nutritiously complete and balanced food that is age-appropriate, with all of the nutrients needed to thrive.

Healthy adult Boykins should eat food with an optimal amount of protein to power their active bodies and healthy fats to prevent obesity. 

An adult Boykin Spaniel should eat 2 to 3 cups of food per day, ideally split into two meals.

Pups should eat 20g of food per 1kg of their body weight daily, and older dogs should eat fewer calories as their exercise routine decreases to prevent weight gain. 

What are the Best Dog Foods for Boykins?

Following the abovementioned criteria, we’ve created a list of the best commercial foods for Boykin Spaniels. These are our top recommendations for both puppy and adult Boykins! 

Our top picks for Boykin Spaniel puppies:

Our top picks for adult Boykin Spaniels:

What Other Dog Breeds Look Like Boykin Spaniels?

An American Water Spaniel dog laying on the floor
An American Water Spaniel dog just chilling on the outdoor deck – Image source

Although they’re distinctly solid-colored, Boykin Spaniels can easily be mistaken for one of their Spaniel cousins, of which there are several. The following breeds look the most like the Boykin.

The Verdict: Should You Get a Boykin Spaniel?

If you want a fierce, imposing guard dog, you’re probably better off getting a German Shepherd. However, if you want an all-around fabulous family dog, the Boykin Spaniel may just be the breed. 

With their adorable floppy ears, gentle nature, and endless playful energy, they’re ideal for active families looking for a loyal, loving companion, so long as you’re willing to put in the time and effort, they need every day. Plus, kids will love them.

Do you have a Boykin? Let us know what you love the most about them in the comments below.

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