The Boykin Spaniel breed traces its roots to the United States, South Carolina specifically, in the early 20th century. The breed's development is credited to a man named Whitaker Boykin, and hence, the breed's name. The original purpose for breeding this dog was to create a sturdy and energetic hunting companion capable of retrieving wild turkeys and waterfowl in the swampy terrains of South Carolina. The Boykin's ancestors are reported to include the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, the Cocker, Springer, and American Water Spaniels, and possibly a stray, unidentified spaniel-type breed.
Boykin Spaniels can suffer from degenerative myelopathy and progressive rod-cone degeneration. Genetic testing for these and other conditions such as glycogen storage disease (type VII), phosphofructokinase (PFK) deficiency, exercise-induced collapse, chondrodysplasia (CDPA) and chondrodystrophy (CDDY) with intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) risk can assist veterinarians with diagnosis and proactive care, as well as help breeders identify affected and carrier dogs.
Boykin Spaniels are known for their friendly and eager-to-please demeanor. They are intelligent, which makes them relatively easy to train, and they typically get along well with other dogs and children. Boykins are energetic and require plenty of physical activity to stay healthy and content. They have a strong desire to work and are happiest when they have a job to do, which makes them excellent hunting companions.
Despite their high energy levels, Boykin Spaniels can also be calm and gentle in the home, making them great family pets. They thrive on human companionship and do not do well when left alone for long periods. They are also known to be fairly adaptable, able to live comfortably in a variety of settings, from apartments to houses with large yards, as long as they receive adequate exercise.
The Boykin is the official dog of South Carolina. The state celebrates Boykin Spaniel Day annually on September 1st
The Boykin Spaniel is the American Kennel Club's (AKC's) 163rd breed.
The AKC states that the Boykin Spaniel is so small, they and the duck they caught can both be lifted into a boat at the same time.