Boykin Spaniel


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Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:

10 to 15 years



Maintenance Level:


Shed Level:




Coat Color:

Blue Ribbon

Best For

Originally bred to hunt birds in South Carolina, Boykin Spaniels are athletic, intelligent pups. They're the ideal companion for pet parents who lead active lifestyles (think hiking, biking, swimming) and have access to big outdoor spaces for all the high-spirited exercise they need and love.

Boykin Spaniel Traits

Boykin Spaniel Temperament

Boykin Spaniels have a sweet smile and a speedy, bouncy gait; and their personality tends to be high-energy and outgoing with a somewhat mischievous streak—don’t say we didn’t warn you! They’re so lovable that their antics, however naughty, will still probably make your day.

Looking for a family dog to add to your brood? Boykin Spaniels typically get along well with people, other dogs, cats and children. In fact, Boykin Spaniels are great for families with kids.

Some Boykin Spaniels can be a little testy, but—as with a lot of breeds—this is often because they haven’t been taught boundaries and rules. When it comes to biting tendencies, Boykin Spaniels don’t bite any more or less than any other retrieving breed. Some might want to mouth you a little on the arm; but don’t worry, they don’t grip down—it’s just their way of playing.

Because Boykin Spaniels were bred to be hunting dogs, their high energy level serves them well in jobs of that type. If you have one with a calmer disposition, they can do well as therapy dogs in places like schools and nursing homes.

How to Care for a Boykin Spaniel

Caring for a Boykin Spaniel takes time, but you’ll love every minute you spend doting on these adorable pups, making sure they’re eating right and that they have everything they need to stay healthy and busy. Plus, you get to have a blast charging through field, forest and stream with these energetic outdoor pals. Like you, they have a need for speed! Ready to bone up on caring for these beauties? Here’s the 101 on Boykin Spaniel dogs.

Boykin Spaniel Health

Boykin Spaniels have a life expectancy of 10-15 years, but they’re also prone to some health issues. It’s helpful to know what those potential health problems are in advance so you can keep your pup healthy for longer. 

  • Exercise-Induced Collapse: Boykin Spaniels are prone to exercise-induced collapse, where a dog will collapse either during or right after intense exercise. Preventative treatment involves avoiding excessive exercise and ensuring that your dog is well-hydrated and doesn’t become overheated. 
  • Eye Conditions: Boykin Spaniels are prone to several eye conditions, including Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) and juvenile cataracts. Both conditions can lead to vision loss. Genetic testing is available for both conditions, so be sure to discuss if your pup and their parents have been tested with any potential breeders. 
  • Hip Dysplasia:Hip dysplasia is a genetic disease affecting many dog breeds. It’s a deformity that occurs during growth and can be affected by factors such as diet and exercise. Treatment options can range from lifestyle changes like weight loss to surgery, depending on the severity of the dog’s condition. 
  • Degenerative Myelopathy:This genetic spinal disease that gradually causes paralysis can affect Boykin Spaniels. Dogs can be tested to help determine their risk for the disease. Although there is currently no cure for degenerative myelopathy, treating other concurrent problems such as hip dysplasia or arthritis may make dogs more comfortable. A healthy diet and exercise that doesn’t stress joints, like swimming, are also important in preventing obesity, which can exacerbate the condition. 
  • Patellar Luxation: Kneecap dislocation can cause pain and lameness. Treatment options can range from medications to surgery, depending on the severity. 
  • Pulmonic Stenosis: Pulmonic stenosis is a congenital heart defect that can present as a heart murmur or with symptoms like exercise intolerance or fainting. Treatment typically involves passing a balloon catheter into the heart to widen the narrowed heart valve. 

Boykin Spaniel History

Boykin Spaniels have an impressive origin and history. They were originally bred for wild turkey and duck hunting in the swampy areas of South Carolina in the early 1900s. Word got around pretty quickly about these medium hunting dogs’ high levels of physical and mental stamina—as well as their relentless work ethic—and they soon became so beloved in their home state that they’ve earned the title of the official state dog of South Carolina.

Although the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the Boykin Spaniel in 2009, their popularity has skyrocketed in the decade or so since thanks to their highly desirable characteristics and personality. Although they can be very focused on work, especially hunting, their friendly and happy-go-lucky nature has blossomed to the benefit of families who enjoy being active with these high-energy pets.

Where is the best place to find Boykin Spaniel puppies today? The AKC’s website offers a list of reputable breeders and contact information for them. What’s the average Boykin Spaniel price? Expect to pay about $1,000 for a pup, although some are as much as $4,500 if you’re looking for a high-quality performance or show dog. For that price, you’re usually getting a dog who’s been screened for health and temperament issues, and they might even come with pedigree papers. You can also reach out to Boykin Spaniel rescue organizations to adopt a Boykin or keep an eye out for the breed at your local animal shelter. Or, search Chewy’s database of adoptable dogs in your area.


Do Boykin Spaniels shed?

Boykin Spaniels are beautiful brown dogs who shed moderately, so they’re pretty low maintenance when it comes to brushing. You’ll typically only need to brush their coats once a week, but you can brush them daily to get rid of loose hair and mats. They’re not hypoallergenic, and they also have a double coat, so they probably wouldn’t be the best choice for a pet parent with allergies.

How long do Boykin Spaniels live?

Boykin Spaniels live about 10-15 years. Luckily, you can help your Boykin dog have the best possible life—and enrich your life in the process—by devoting time and attention to them. Make sure they get lots of exercise, stimulation, the love they need and the right diet to help your furry little companion stay fit, peppy and happy.

Are Boykin Spaniels smart?

The Boykin Spaniel is pretty smart and learns quickly, which typically makes them fairly easy to train. Because they’re sensitive, training that uses positive reinforcement and is consistent and even-handed is the best way for them to learn.

Are Boykin Spaniels good family dogs?

Yes, Boykin Spaniels are good family dogs. As family pets, the Boykin breed is generally outgoing with kids, especially those they’ve been raised with. They would do well with an active family. Like kids, Boykins can be rambunctious, but they still need to be treated gently and lovingly, and they’ll return the affection in spades. As with many breeds, socialization—starting when they’re puppies—is important for the Boykin breed. It’s also important to teach kids how to interact with dogs.

Do Boykin Spaniels bark a lot?

Unlike other hunting breeds like the Redbone Coonhound, Boykin Spaniels aren’t prone to howl or bark a lot. They also typically don’t bark as much as the English Cocker Spaniel. They only bark when they feel they have to, for instance, in response to unfamiliar sounds or to warn their people of potential intruders to the home.

Are Boykin Spaniels easy to train?

Yes, the Boykin Spaniel breed is pretty easy to train, because they’re both intelligent and like to make their pet parents happy. They’re speedy learners who do well with positive reinforcement and training that’s fair, firm and consistent. Although they’ll probably want to be with you a lot, it’s important to train them how to be by themselves for short-term time alone.


Top Takeaways

This high-energy breed is an excellent choice for people who enjoy the great outdoors, are active themselves and have oodles of time to devote to their Boykin. Because Boykin Spaniels were originally bred to hunt, they need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. Occasionally mischievous but always lovable, this dog will win your heart with their beautiful coat, playful antics and zest for life.

Expert input provided by veterinarian Dr. Fred J. Wright, DVM, Cloverleaf Animal Hospital; Susan Marett, CPDT-KA, CSAT, owner of Purely Positive Dog Training; Kim Parkman, breeder, owner, Pocotaglio Kennel, AKC Breeder of Merit, Boykin Spaniel Society Gold Level Preferred Breeder; and Blaine Tarnecki, breeder, Hudson River Retrievers.

Photo credit for “How do I look?” by American Kennel Club.

Breed characteristic ratings provided by Dr. Sarah J. Wooten, DVM, CVJ, a veterinarian at Sheep Draw Veterinary Hospital in Greeley, Colorado; dog trainer and behavior consultant Irith Bloom, CPDT-KSA, CBCC-KA, CDBC, owner of The Sophisticated Dog, LLC, in Los Angeles; and certified animal behavior consultant Amy Shojai, CABC, in Sherman, Texas.

The health content was medically reviewed by Chewy vets.

Top Boykin Spaniel Names

These are the top Boykin Spaniel names as chosen by Chewy's pet parents!

Female Names

  • Sadie
  • Lucy
  • Millie
  • Maggie
  • Dixie
  • Hazel
  • Coco
  • Ruby
  • Piper
  • Daisy

Male Names

  • Cooper
  • Waylon
  • Moose
  • Goose
  • River
  • Bear
  • Tucker
  • Hank
  • Ruger
  • Scout