The Breed History
Originally developed from a small stray dog in the early 1900s by Mr. L. Whitaker outside Camden, South Carolina. Initially developed for hunting wild turkeys in the Wateree River and now the dove fields, the duck marshes and as a companion dog. Early ancestors of the Boykin are reported to be the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Springer Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel, and the American Water Spaniel. AKC recognition occurred in 2009.
Breeding for Function
The Boykin Spaniel is a medium-sized, flushing and retrieving hunting dog, with moderate speed and agility. A favorite of hunters due to its willingness to work all day, as well as its smaller size, which allows the hunter to lift both dog and duck into the boat at the same time.
Height at withers: Males 15.5-18 inches (39.5-46 cm), Females 14-16.5 inches (35.5-42 cm).
Weight: 25-40 pounds (11-18 kg).
Coat: Both an undercoat and an outer coat are present. The coat can range from flat to slightly wavy, with medium length, on the outer coat. The undercoat is short, and dense. The ears, chest, legs and belly are equipped with light fringe or feathering. The color is solid - rich liver, brown or dark chocolate. A small amount of white on chest or toes is permitted.
Longevity: 14-16 years.
Points of Conformation: The Boykin's Expression is alert, self-confident, attractive and intelligent. Eyes are varying shades of brown, set well apart, medium size and oval shaped. Ears are set slightly above or even with the line of the eye. The Skull is fairly broad and flat on top. The stop is moderate. Nose is dark liver with well opened nostrils. The Lips are close fitting and clean. The Bite should be scissors (preferred) or level. Back is straight, strong and essentially level. Loins are short, strong with a slight tuck up. The shoulders are sloping. The croup slopes gently to the tail-set in a natural line. Tail is docked to 3-5 inches. Legs are medium in length, strong, straight and well boned. The gait is effortless with good reach and a long stride that is in balance with the rear quarters for strong driving power. As speed increases it is natural for the legs to fall to a center line of travel.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
The typical Boykin is friendly, a willing worker, intelligent and easy to train. The Boykin Spaniel thrives on human companionship and gets along well with other dogs and children. He shows great eagerness and energy for the hunt yet controllable in the field. He has an active nose, which may lead to a tendency to wander.
Normal Physiologic Variations
Hip Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing degenerative joint disease and hip arthritis. OFA reports 34.3% affected. Correlated to hip joint laxity in a study in the breed.
Patella Luxation: Polygenically inherited laxity of patellar ligaments, causing luxation, lameness, and later degenerative joint disease. Treat surgically if causing clinical signs. OFA reports 21.3% affected.
Elbow Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing elbow arthritis. OFA reports 4.1% affected.
Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC, Dynamin 1 Mutation): An autosomal recessive disorder of muscle weakness, incoordination and life threatening collapse accompanied by hyperthermia after just five to fifteen minutes of intense exercise or excitement. After 10 to 30 minutes of rest, most dogs return to normal. Undetermined frequency in the breed. A genetic test is available.
Distichiasis: Abnormally placed eyelashes that irritate the cornea and conjunctiva. Can cause secondary corneal ulceration. Identified in 10.43% of Boykin Spaniels CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Otitis Externa: Boykin Spaniels are prone to chronic ear infections.
Cataracts: Capsular and anterior and posterior cortex cataracts predominate in the breed. Identified in 4.29% of Boykin Spaniels CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. CERF does not recommend breeding any Boykin Spaniel with a cataract.
Hypothyroidism: Inherited autoimmune thyroiditis. 3.9% positive for thyroid auto-antibodies based on testing at Michigan State University. (Ave. for all breeds is 7.5%).
Retinal Dysplasia: Focal retinal dysplasia and retinal folds are recognized in the breed. Severe cases can progress to retinal detachment. Reported in 2.57% of Boykin Spaniels CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Corneal Dystrophy: The breed can develop an epithelial or stromal non-inflammatory, white to grey corneal opacity. Identified in 2.57% of Boykin Spaniels CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Persistent Pupillary Membranes: Strands of fetal remnant connecting; iris to iris, cornea, lens, or involving sheets of tissue. The later three forms can impair vision, and dogs affected with these forms should not be bred. Identified in 1.57% of Boykin Spaniels CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Persistent Hyaloid Artery (PHA): Congenital defect resulting from abnormalities in the development and regression of the hyaloid artery. Identified in 1.14% Boykin Spaniels CERF-examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): Inherited degeneration of the retina. Presumed autosomal recessive inheritance. 0.9% of Boykin Spaniels CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005 are identified as affected or suspicious for PRA. CERF does not recommend breeding any Boykin Spaniel with PRA.
Pulmonic Stenosis is reported.
Isolated Case Studies
Tests of Genotype: Direct test for exercise induced collapse (EIC) is available from the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Lab.
Tests of Phenotype: CHIC Certification: Required testing includes CERF eye examination, patella evaluation, and hip radiographs. Optional testing includes elbow radiographs and a cardiac evaluation for congenital disease.
Recommended testing: Thyroid profile including autoantibodies.
- Breed name synonyms: Boykin
- Registries: AKC, UKC, CKC, FCI, NKC (National Kennel Club)
- AKC rank (none): AKC Recognized in December, 2009. Entire stud book entered.
- Internet resources: Boykin Spaniel Club and Breeders
Association of America: www.boykinspanielclub.org
Boykin Spaniel Society: www.boykinspaniel.org
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