The Boykin Spaniel, one of the smallest retrievers, originated in the Southern United States and was bred primarily to hunt turkeys and retrieve waterfowl, but today the breed is found throughout areas on the East Coast. The Boykin was developed from a small spaniel-type dog that was found by Alexander White in Spartanburg, Tennessee, who discovered that the dog was a great hunter and retriever. Along with his friend, Whit Boykin, both avid hunters bred the small dog to a few known retrievers and spaniels such as the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, English Springer Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel, and the American Water Spaniel. These crossings resulted in what is known today as the Boykin Spaniel, a breed that was also deemed the official state dog of South Carolina in 1984.
A medium-sized spaniel breed, the Boykin has a beautiful flat coat that comes in colors that range from solid liver to rich chocolate. Due to their endurance, speed, and agility, they are a proven hunter that is an equally great swimmer, making them a potential choice for both field and water retrieving. Their eyes can range from yellow to brown, matching the color of the coat, and are set well apart with an alert expression. The ears of the Boykin Spaniel, a distinctive feature, are large, flat, can reach the tip of the nose when pulled forward, and have long wavy hair. The muzzle of this small spaniel is a moderate length with a dark-colored nose and they have a docked tail that is carried horizontally or slightly elevated.
The Boykin has the typical characteristics that are seen in most spaniels. They are obedient, people-orientated, and eager to please their owners and family. Due to their intelligence and persistent personality, these loving dogs participate in obedience training with enthusiasm and determination. They do require plenty of exercise and it is ideal if they are taken on long daily walks, runs, or hikes. The high activity level of the breed makes them less likely to do well in apartments if they do not receive enough exercise, which can lead to unwanted destructive behavior. Loyal and affectionate, the Boykin Spaniel is known to get along very well with children and other dogs because of their pack-hunting mentality. Due to their hunting nature and high prey drive, small animals should be supervised, but they can get along if raised with them from puppyhood or properly socialized. Although not a nuisance barker, these medium-sized spaniels will alert their family of unfamiliar sounds or strangers, but they are generally a friendly breed that is not considered to be watchdog material. As an avid hunter and esteemed family pet, the Boykin Spaniel is an exceptional companion with a lovable disposition.