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Boykin Spaniel: The State Dog of South Carolina. A "Dog That Doesn't Rock the Boat," Literally

Boykin Spaniel

The original Boykin Spaniel, the "father" of today's breed, was a small stray that a banker named Alexander L. White befriended and took home with him. He noticed that this little dog had retriever capabilities and sent him to his friend and hunting partner, L. Whitaker Boykin, who crossbred this dog to ultimately come up with the one named after him, the Boykin Spaniel. The result of his breeding efforts became the foundation stock for the modern breed. Officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2009, this friendly, sociable little dog makes an excellent family pet that responds well to training and is eager to work. Affable and gentle, it gets along well both with children and other dogs.

History
In the early part of last century, between 1905 and 1910, a banker named Alexander L. White was walking to the First Presbyterian Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina when he came across a little Spaniel-type dog that was apparently a stray. White took the dog home with him and found that it had a natural tendency to retrieve. He christened the dog "Dumpy," and promptly sent it to his hunting partner and friend L. Whitaker "Whit" Boykin. Boykin experimented with this breed’s development to ultimately come up with the foundation of the Boykin Spaniel, which may have been a result of crossbreeding of the Springer Spaniel, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, American Water Spaniel, and Cocker Spaniel. Small enough to ride in the boats used by hunters in the swamp, it was affectionately known as "the dog that doesn't rock the boat," and was noticed by resort visitors in the area around Camden, South Carolina. It became popular and ultimately a familiar pet around the United States.

In 1977, the Boykin Spaniel Society was formed, followed by the maintenance of a stud book two years later. The closing of this stud book since 1982 meant that only dogs whose parents were registered with the Boykin Spaniel Society were now eligible for registration with the Society. Recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1985, this breed was accepted into the American Kennel Club in December 2009 as an officially registered breed. Currently, the AKC Boykin Spaniel stud book remains open.

Appearance
Slightly larger than the English Cocker Spaniel, the Boykin Spaniel is heavier throughout the body. It stands 15 to 18 inches at the shoulder and weighs 25 to 40 pounds in adulthood. With a luxuriant and usually wavy or curly coat, (although it can also be smooth), that is usually chocolate brown or liver in color, this dog has engaging bright eyes that are usually dark amber or gold. It wears an expectant expression that is always asking, "What do you want me to do next?" The Boykin is a water Spaniel with a waterproof coat that is usually one to two inches long, although some can have short, straight coats like the Labrador. Feathering occurs on the chest, ears, and through the tuck-up, which is the area under the loin in a small-waisted dog. Field dogs can be shaved without penalization in show as long as the coat is long enough to protect the skin. White markings on the chest are acceptable, as long as they are not more than 60% of the chest's width.

Temperament
Enthusiastic, energetic and playful, the Boykin needs activity at all times. This breed is great with children as long as you educate your children to be kind and gentle with the dog. Although an exceedingly tolerant and easy-going pet, the Boykin Spaniel can object if little ones are inadvertently abusive.

In the appropriate environment, though, this pet will be naturally affectionate with you and your family – and anybody else, in fact – as long as you have exposed it to a variety of people from an early age. Alert and very intelligent, it is best to train this breed with positive reinforcement. While intelligent enough to be a watchdog, it is much too friendly an animal to be any good at it.

A huggable "teddy bear" on four legs, the Boykin needs to be with the people it loves. Don't adopt a Boykin Spaniel if you don't truly intend to make it an integral part of the family who will share every special moment with you.

When you train your pet, make sure to use only a kind, encouraging manner. A negative strategy of training can turn your pet fearful and even "aggressive" – in the nippy fashion Spaniels can sometimes adopt. Consistency is also key, since it's easy to confuse your pet without clear direction at all times. Formal training classes at an early age, 10 to 12 weeks old, are strongly recommended. Since Boykin Spaniels are so smart, they can become headstrong if not trained properly. However, once given a clear set of guidelines, the Boykin Spaniel is an ideal pet. Its endearing, quizzical facial expression seems to always be asking, "What are we doing next?"

Originally bred as a hunting dog, the Boykin Spaniel has a lot of energy and needs vigorous activity to satisfy its drive for excitement. You don't have to be a hunter, of course, but this makes an excellent pet for jogging or long runs in the dog park. Make sure you give your pet the opportunity to find daily physical challenge, so that it does not become frustrated.

Health
Although quite a hardy pedigree, current breeders struggle with the fact that Boykin Spaniels have a 37% chance of being born with hip dysplasia. Eye problems, patellar luxation (dislocation of the knee), seizures and Exercise-Induced Collapse, or EIC, have been identified as a characteristics of the breed by the American Kennel Club's Health Group, which subsequently registered the breed in the database for the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. Currently, 56% of studied Boykins have one or two copies of the gene that causes EIC which is the highest level reported for any breed tested for the disease at present. DNA testing can identify carriers. While the strenuous exercise associated with a hunting agenda can prove fatal for those with this condition, afflicted dogs can otherwise live long, healthy lives as normally active house pets. Currently, reputable breeders are expected to test for hereditary eye disease, hip dysplasia, and pulmonary stenosis, as well as patellar luxation, elbow dysplasia, and allergies. Consult the website of the Canine Health Information Center, or CHIC, to review current eye health certifications for breeders’ dogs. Despite these genetic worries, the lifespan of the average healthy Boykin Spaniel is 14 to 16 years.

Grooming
Grooming for your pet is relatively easy. The medium length double coat, which usually has light feathering on the chest, legs, ears and belly, needs to be brushed weekly, and an occasional bath should be given. It's not necessary to trim your pet professionally, but you can do so if you wish to keep the coat neat. The Boykin Spaniel is a moderate shedder, but regular brushing should keep this under control.

References
AKC Meet the Breeds®: Get to know the Boykin Spaniel.
http://www.akc.org/breeds/boykin_spaniel/index.cfm
Retrieved August 24, 2013.

Boykin Spaniel.
http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/boykinspaniel.htm
Retrieved August 24, 2013.

Boykin Spaniel.
http://www.scencyclopedia.org/boykinspaniel.htm
Retrieved August 24, 2013.

Boykin Spaniel.
http://www.statesymbolsusa.org/South_Carolina/dog_BoykinSpaniel.html
Retrieved August 24, 2013.

Boykin Spaniel.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boykin_Spaniel
Retrieved August 24, 2013.

Boykin Spaniel.
http:// www.vetstreet.com/dogs/boykin-spaniel.
Retrieved August 24, 2013.

Group Classification: Sporting, Gun Dog

Recognized By: BSC, BAA, FCI, UKC, NKC, CKC, APRI, BSS, ACR, DRA, AKC

Country of Origin: US

Date of Origin: 1900's

Hair Length: Short, Medium

Shedding:

Body Size: Medium

Weight Male: 35-40 pounds

Height Male: 15.5-18 inches

Weight Female: 25-25 pounds

Height Female: 15.5-16.5 inches

Litter Size: 5-7 puppies

Life Expectancy: 14-16 years

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