South Carolina State Dog

Boykin Spaniel

South Carolina Boykin Spaniel

(C. l. familiaris)

Adopted in March 26, 1985.

The Boykin Spaniel, (C. l. familiaris ,) was designated by Act No. 31, 1985 as the official dog of the State. The Boykin Spaniel is the only dog which was originally bred for South Carolina hunters by South Carolinians and has developed into a breed of superb hunting instincts and mild temperament. They are highly regarded as pets and hunting dogs.

 South Carolina State Dog: Boykin Spaniel

South Carolina Boykin Spaniel

The Boykin Spaniel was first bred by South Carolina hunters during the 1900's to provide the ideal dog for hunting ducks and wild turkeys in the Wateree River Swamp. Hunters on South Carolina's Wateree River needed a small rugged dog compactly built for boat travel and able to retrieve on land and water. In those days wagons, wooden boats and trains afforded hunters access to the game rich corridors along the river. But boat travel limited what hunters could carry. The typical heavyweight retriever was a drawback in a craft already loaded with men, guns, provisions and other gear.

The first Boykin spaniel, or the precursor of today's breed, was reportedly a small, stray spaniel type dog that befriended a banker walking from his home to the First Presbyterian Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina around 1905-1910. Alexander L. White (1860-1942) liked the little dog and took it home. After the dog showed some aptitude for retrieving, White sent the dog called "Dumpy" to his longtime friend and hunting partner Whit Boykin. In Boykin's hands the little stray developed into a superb turkey dog and waterfowl retriever. This dog became the foundation stock for the Boykin spaniel. Other ancestors are reported to be the Chesapeake Bay retriever, Springer spaniel, cocker spaniel, and the American water spaniel.

Characteristics of the Boykin Spaniel

South Carolina Boykin Spaniel

The Boykin Spaniel has a Spaniel type head. The tail is docked. The waterproof coat is rather wavy or curly, but a smooth coat is acceptable. Their coats are slightly curly (straight coats are acceptable, but not desirable) with light feathering on the legs. Coat colors are liver or dark chocolate, and some show a small white spot on the chest. Their chests are thick and well developed. Their tails should be docked as they mature. The Boykin is larger than the Cocker Spaniel, with a smaller higher set ears that are covered with long wavy hair. He has considerably less hair and a straighter muzzle. He is first and foremost a hunting dog with proven retrieving and flushing abilities characterized by boundless enthusiasm and endurance, moderate speed and agility. Being intelligent and possessing a great desire to please make the Boykin easy to train. He is a strong swimmer, taking to water easily and is valuable for water retrieving as well as field retrieving.


Docile, pleasant and obedient. An intelligent and loyal companion. The Boykin Spaniel is a fantastic swimmer. Most owners report that each of these dogs has a unique personally and an enthusiastic field ability seldom matched by other dogs. His fine nose and enthusiasm in the field make him a versatile hunter. Faults: Hostility towards other dogs or people in normal situations or excessive timidity or hyperactivity is not in keeping with the Boykin's character.

Height, Weight

Mature Boykin Spaniel males will grow to a height of 15 ? to 18 inches and weigh 30 to 40 pounds. Bitches will grow to a height of 14 to 16 ? inches and weigh in between 25 to 35 pounds. The Boykin is built to cover rough ground and swim in all conditions with agility and reasonable speed. His appearance should be a sturdy dog with good but not too heavy bone. He should be kept to medium size - neither too small nor too large and heavy to do the work for which he is intended

Weight: 25-40 pounds (11-18 kg.)
Height: 15-18 inches (38-46 cm.)


The Boykin Spaniel is a working dog and needs a lot of daily exercise.

South Carolina Law

The law designating the Boykin Spaniel  as the official South Carolina state dog is found in the South Carolina Code of Laws, Title 1, Chapter 1, Article 9, Section 1-1-655.

Title 1 - Administration of the Government
SECTION 1-1-655.

SECTION 1-1-655. Official State dog.

The Boykin Spaniel is the official dog of the State.

Taxonomic Hierarchy: Boykin Spaniel

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Genus: Canis
Species: C. lupus
    Subspecies: C. l. familiaris

State Mammals
State Mammals & Animals
Mammals are vertebrates (backboned animals) that feed their young on mother's milk.