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The Boykin Spaniel

Breed Standard


The Boykin Spaniel is medium in size, sturdy and typically spaniel. This sporting dog is first and foremost a working dog with proven retriever instincts and hunting ability. The breed is characterized by boundless enthusiasm and endurance, and moderate speed and agility, possessing an intelligence and desire to please that makes him easy to train. His amicable disposition makes him an exceptional pet and companion. Love and personal attention improve his desire to hunt. He is a strong swimmer, taking to water easily, and therefore is valuable for water retrieving as well as field retrieving.

The head is basically spaniel in shape. Viewed from above, the width of the muzzle is half the width of the skull. Viewed from the side, the nasal bone is straight, with a positive break at the junction of the muzzle and the skull. Measuring from the tip of the nose to the base of the skull, the length is about the same length as that of the neck. The forehead is covered with smooth, short hair.
The muzzle and jaws are sufficient to carry game, and sufficient in length and surface for free development of good scenting power. The upper lip comes down full to cover the lower jaw, but is not pendulous or exaggerated.

Fault: Snipey nose.

TEETH - A full complement of strong, white teeth meet in a scissors bite, the lower incisors touching behind the upper incisors.

EYES - Eye color varies from dark yellow to brown, harmonizing with the coat. They are set well apart, with an alert and intelligent expression.

EARS - The ears are set high above the level of the eyes, and have rounded tips. They are flat and close to the head, reaching to the leather of the nose. They are not too pendulous.


The muscular neck is moderately long and slightly arched at the crest. It blends gradually into sloping shoulders.
Faults: Abruptly angled neck. Excessively throaty.


FORELEGS - When viewed from the front, they are strong and straight.

The Boykin Spaniel is sturdily constructed, but not too compact. The height, measured at the shoulder, should equal the length of the body, measured from the shoulder to the root of the tail. The chest is well developed. The back is strong, straight and level.
Fault: Barrel chested.


HIND LEGS - When viewed from behind, they are strong and straight.
Fault: High hindquarters.


The feet are round, firm and well padded, harmonizing with body size. They turn neither in nor out.

The tail is docked to result in a 2½-to-3-inch tail at maturity. Suggested docking procedure is to leave one-third of the tail when docking at between three to seven days of age.

The desired coat is flat to moderately curly and of medium length, but a short, straight coat is acceptable. Light feathering on the legs is acceptable.

Desired colors are a solid, rich liver or a dark chocolate. A small white spot on the chest is permissible.
Disqualification: Albinism.


Height: Dogs - 15½ to 18 inches; Bitches - 14 to 16½ inches. Weight: Dogs - 30 to 40 pounds; Bitches - 25 to 35 pounds.

Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid. Viciousness or extreme shyness. Albinism.


Breed history states that sometime after the turn of the 20th century, a small dog was found wandering near a Methodist church in Spartanburg, South Carolina. One of the people attending the services there, a Mr. Alexander L. White, took the dog home as a pet. The dog apparently displayed some hunting aptitude so Mr. White sent the dog to be trained by his hunting partner, Mr. L. Whitaker Boykin of the Boykin community just outside of Camden, South Carolina. With this training, the little stray developed into a superb turkey dog and waterfowl retriever.
This dog, said to be a male, was the forerunner of all Boykin Spaniels in existence today. Early ancestors of the breed are thought to be the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Springer Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel and the American Water Spaniel.

The Boykin Spaniel was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1985.