This tidy mid-sized spaniel should convey an air of balance, endurance and agility. The body is slightly longer than tall. The Boykin’s head should be spaniel-shaped, with defined stop and parallel planes. The expression should be alert and intelligent, with brown, wide-set, trusting eyes. The pendulous ears should hang close to the cheeks. The jaws need to be long enough to carry game easily. The neck is moderately long and muscular and the back is straight and level. The tail is docked to 3 to 5 inches, and is carried horizontally or slightly up, with lively, merry action, especially when the dog is hunting. The shoulders are sloping and muscular and of medium length. The legs are straight and the feet are round, compact, and padded. The hips and thighs should be well developed and give an appearance of strength and drive. The Boykin’s stride should be long and effortless.
The Boykin Spaniel’s coat should be solid liver, brown, or dark chocolate color, although a small patch of white on the chest or toes is permissible. The coat is flat to slightly wavy, with a medium length outer coat and short undercoat. The coat is short on the head and fronts of legs.
The Boykin Spaniel was bred from two strays found in South Carolina right at the turn of the 20th century. The first was a small brown spaniel that Alexander White found in the street after church one Sunday. White took the dog home and soon discovered he was a great bird dog. White then gave the dog to his friend and hunting partner, L. Whitaker Boykin, who named the dog Dumpy and bred him to another stray brown spaniel that had been found near a train station. The resulting Boykin Spaniels have been crossed with American Water Spaniels, Springer Spaniels, Pointers, Cocker Spaniels, and other breeds to create a hardy, enthusiastic hunting and companion dog.
It wasn’t until the Boykin Spaniel Society was formed in 1977 that a breed standard was approved. Today the Boykin is the state dog of South Carolina, and is known as an excellent retriever of both upland game and water fowl. It is also known as a turkey rouster and tracker of wounded deer.