Boykins Will Capture Your Heart
BY BOYKIN SPANIEL CLUB & BREEDERS ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA & ROSLIN COPELAND
T he Boykin Spaniel is unique in that no other breed of canine can claim that he is a dog originally bred by South Carolina hunters. The hunt- ers needed a small, rugged, and compact dog to retrieve game on land and in water; for hunting wild turkeys and waterfowl in the Wateree River Swamp during the early 1900s. As a result, the Boykin Spaniel came to be known as “the little brown dog that doesn’t rock the boat.” The Boykin Spaniel now exquisitely adapts to the dove fields, the duck marshes, upland game CPR/ native grassland fields, and the homes and hearts of his present-day owners. Most individual Boykin Spaniels have a special, super-energized personality with a desire to please his “peeps,” a loving attitude, enthusiastic field ability, flex- ible agility, and reasonable speed; a combination of characteristics that few other dogs, if any, can match. A Boykin Spaniel is unmistakable—if you know what you are looking for. He is a dog that should exhibit a firmly muscled/working appearance, yet lighter and smaller than its larger Sporting dog counterparts. He is solidly built, with moderate bone. His size (to keep in line with the original/historic handlers) is keenly important; standard size is 15.5"-18" and approximately 40 lbs. for males, and 14"-16.5" and approximately 30 lbs. for females. He is a little brown dog with Spaniel-style flop ears that set even with his eyes or slightly higher when alert, a liver-colored (varying shades of brown) coat that may be bleached to reddish fringes by the sun, and some light feathering that helps to protect the dog in the field. The Boykin’s liver coat helps to to camouflage the dog as he hunts. His coat should not be in excess so as to hamper him as an active, working dog, but it should be thick enough to protect him in heavy cover and weather. The Boykin Spaniel Club & Breeders Association of America’s Offi- cial Breed Standard statement about the hair: “The coat can range from flat to slightly wavy to curly, with medium length. Boykin Spaniels are considered a ‘wash and wear’ dog, easily going from the field to the ring. His coat may be trimmed, never shaved, to have a well-groomed appearance and to enhance the dog’s natural lines. It is legitimate to trim about the head, throat, ears, tail, and feet to give a smart, functional but natural appearance.” Also, historic legends claim that the docked tail came about as a man-made modification to keep a long twitching tail from rattling leaves in a turkey blind, and to help keep from rocking the small boat in the swamp. The Boykin Spaniel’s eyes range from yel- low to amber to varying shades of brown, and are almond- or oval-shaped. Of course, protruding or bulging eyes are considered unfavorable. Early ancestors of the Boykin are reported to be the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, English Springer Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel, and the American Water Spaniel. Overall, the Boykin Spaniel is an active, working dog; temperament, struc- ture, and soundness are vitally important to breeders, owners, and enthusiasts of the Boykin Spaniel breed. “Form to Function” is key when evaluating a Boykin; symmetry, gait, attitude, and purpose are more important than any one part. The Boykin Spaniel is an amazingly versatile and compact gundog. They are athletic, tenacious, and enthusiastic, yet loving, gentle, and affectionate at home. The Boykins have abilities for flushing, tracking, scent work, and retrieving as a hunting dog, but also for learning quickly to accomplish just about any task or function they are taught. They rapidly adapt to new environments when intro- duced properly. They are remarkably versatile dogs and great companions for all seasons and all tasks. Be careful, the Boykin Spaniel will swiftly capture your heart and you might not be able to go home without one!
272 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, JUNE 2021
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