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Boykin Spaniel: Dog Breed Info, Pictures, Care, Traits & More

Written by: Adam Mann

Last Updated on April 18, 2024 by Dogster Team


Boykin Spaniel: Dog Breed Info, Pictures, Care, Traits & More

With beautiful curly hair and amazing personalities, the Boykin Spaniel has a killer combination of cuteness and charisma that drive them straight into your heart. It’s taken a while for these pups to get the recognition they deserve, but there’s a reason they’re consistently becoming more popular year after year.

Breed Overview


14–18 inches


25–40 pounds


10–15 years



Suitable for:

Active families, families with younger children, first-time pet owners, and multi-pet homes


Friendly, eager, gets along great with kids and pets, loving

While some dogs have a history that dates back thousands of years, that’s not the case with the Boykin Spaniel. They’re a uniquely American dog breed that came about around 1900 as hunting companions in the South.

They soared in popularity there, but it wasn’t until 2009 that the American Kennel Club (AKC) granted them full official recognition. The breed is still growing in popularity today, and with such great personalities, it’s not hard to see why!

Boykin Spaniel Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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Boykin Spaniel Puppies

Image by: Cade Landers, Shutterstock

While it was once all but impossible to find these puppies anywhere outside the American South, thankfully, that’s no longer the case. They’re still more popular there, but today, you can find reputable Boykin Spaniel breeders nationwide.

You’ll still need to do your homework to ensure you’re going with a reputable breeder by getting references, a health guarantee, and inspecting the breeding area yourself. Doing a little more homework now and potentially spending a little more on a puppy upfront can help ensure you’re not supporting a puppy mill and getting a healthier pet in the long run.

Temperament & Intelligence of the Boykin Spaniel

With tons of love and loyalty to go around, the Boykin Spaniel is a pure joy to have in your home. They love the attention a full home can give them, but even if it’s just you, they’ll be more than happy with all the attention and love you can offer.

They’re also among the more intelligent dog breeds out there, and with an eagerness to please their owners, there isn’t much you can’t train them to do. Whether you’re looking for a pup to play fetch with, to train complex tricks to, or for the perfect hunting companion, the Boykin Spaniel can do it all!

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

Boykin Spaniels are outstanding family dogs, and with proper socialization, they can get along with kids of all ages. They’re large enough that toddlers just beginning to walk usually won’t hurt them if they fall onto them but not so large that they’ll accidentally trample the kids.

They’ll take attention from everyone who’s willing to give it to them, but they also don’t demand attention non-stop. If you’re looking for an awesome family dog, it’s tough to top the Boykin Spaniel.

Boykin Spaniel
Image by: Cynthia Davison_Shutterstock

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets? 🐶 😽 

Generally, the Boykin Spaniel gets along with everyone and everything they’re around. They are traditionally hunting dogs, though, so you should be a little more careful with them around smaller pets. But with a bit of socialization, especially early on, you shouldn’t have any problems with a Boykin Spaniel and other pets in your home.

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Things to Know When Owning a Boykin Spaniel

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

As a mid-sized breed, it shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg to give them a high-quality diet. For dry kibble expect to feed them between 1.75 and 2.5 cups of food per day, depending on the dog’s size and the dog food brand. No matter what type of food you go with, whether it be wet, dry, or raw, don’t skimp on quality; otherwise, your pup might not get all the nutrients they need to thrive. If you’re ever questioning what food is best for this breed, reach out to your vet for advice.

Image by: Zadranka_Shutterstock

Exercise 🐕

Unless you have a fenced-in yard, you might find it challenging to meet a Boykin Spaniel’s physical needs. We recommend letting them run around for at least 1 or 2 hours a day, and they’ll still need about two walks daily. Each walk should last between 15 and 20 minutes, meaning they’ll give you plenty of opportunities to get outside and get your steps in!

Training 🎾

While a Boykin Spaniel is relatively easy to train, that doesn’t mean if you don’t set aside the necessary time that they’ll do what you want. We recommend one training session daily, and that training session should only last between 10 and 15 minutes for optimal results. Find some of their favorite treats and only give them these treats while training to really get them honed in during this time.

Grooming ✂️

Boykin Spaniels don’t shed a ton, but you’ll still want to brush them out daily. Not only does this help control the moderate shedding they do, but it’ll also help ensure their curly hair doesn’t knot and turn into a real mess.

In addition, they need you to brush their teeth daily to keep up with their oral hygiene. Keep an eye on their nails and clip them as needed as well.

Boykin spaniel at an empty beach
Image by: Zadranka, Shutterstock

Health and Conditions 🏥

While the Boykin Spaniel is an outstanding pooch in many ways, unfortunately, they are prone to quite a few genetic conditions. You reduce the likelihood of your pet developing these conditions by getting a health history from the breeder and keeping up with frequent vet visits, but you’ll still want to keep an eye out for the following conditions.

Minor Conditions
  • Eye problems
  • Digestive disorders
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Juvenile cataracts
Serious Conditions
  • Degenerative myelopathy
  • Heart abnormalities
  • Exercise-induced collapse

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Male vs. Female

By far, the most notable difference between a male and female Boykin Spaniel is their size. Males stand significantly taller and weigh more, typically standing 2 inches taller and weighing 5 pounds more. While that might not sound like a lot at first blush, when you consider that 5 pounds can be up to 20% of their weight, that’s a pretty big deal!

3 Little-Known Facts About the Boykin Spaniel

1. They’re the Official State Dog of South Carolina

While the Boykin Spaniel is just starting to surge onto the scene nationally, they’ve been a mainstay in South Carolina since 1900. This is where the breed comes from, and in 1985, they officially became the state dog of South Carolina.

2. They’re Great Lap Dogs and Hunting Dogs

If you’re trying to decide between a house pup and a hunting dog, with the Boykin Spaniel, you can have both. They can enjoy all the luxuries of life in a home, and when it comes time to go to the field, they’ll thrive. There aren’t many pups that can do that!

3. They’re Relentless Hunters

When you see a Boykin Spaniel in a home, you’d never suspect their non-stop and tenacious personality in the field. They’re relentless and fearless hunters, deploying a personality you would never expect when they’re lounging on the couch.

Image Credit: Zadranka_Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Whether you’re looking for the most versatile dog, an amazing house pet, a new hunting companion, or all the above, the Boykin Spaniel is the surprising choice! You wouldn’t expect it all when looking at their cute appearance, but there’s a reason they’ve remained so popular in the South for over 100 years!

They’re absolutely amazing dogs with some of the best personalities, and once you get a Boykin Spaniel, you’ll see for yourself what makes these dogs so special.

Featured Image Credit: David Brian Williamson, Shutterstock

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