Boykin Spaniel Society History

The story of the Boykin spaniel begins over 100 years ago, when Mr. L. Whitaker Boykin accepted a small brown spaniel dog named Dumpy at his Pine Grove Planation near Camden, SC. Soon afterward, a mate with similar appearances was discovered, and over the course of the next many years, Whit Boykin began developing his own specialty breed of hunting dog. He wanted a compact yet physical dog with a joyful temperament, a devoted family dog with exceptional zeal for work, an enthusiastic retriever on water land and through the swamps, and highly accomplished in the quest and flush of wild turkeys.

The popular recognition of "Mr. Boykin's spaniels" remained fairly localized to the South Carolina area before World War II, but that changed in the post-war decades as American sportsman from the Northern seaboard more easily found their way south. A featured story in South Carolina Wildlife magazine greatly escalated the public demand for Boykin spaniels, but with sad consequences for the breed.

A small group of Whit Boykin's descendants and relatives gathered at the home of Alice and L. Whit Boykin II in 1977, at the request of a well-respected Camden veterinarian. Dr. Peter McKoy recounted to the Boykin heirs his alarming first-hand accounts of the degradation happening to their legacy. "Either act decisively to improve on past accomplishments and ensure the future of the breed, or allow market demands to destroy what precious generation had developed and nurtured". Without a single bit of hesitation, the family and their friends responded to Dr. McKoy's plea.

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The dogs that started it all are HERE!

Click here to view the Boykin Spaniel Society Foundation Stock Dog photos


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.

On the Wateree River in the early part of this century hunters often used a take apart "section boat." Held together by bolts to form a large craft, the three sections with seats removed could be "nested" to fit neatly into a wagon or train's baggage car. Hunters also used sections as one-man boats just large enough for one person and a compact retriever.

L. W. "Whit" Boykin (1861-1932), a planter, land appraiser and well-known sportsman of the Boykin community just outside Camden, South Carolina, along with his kinsmen the Canteys, experimented with many breeds to resolve the problems posed by their Wateree hunting trips. With selective breeding and a little luck, Boykin developed a small multipurpose retriever now known as the Boykin spaniel.

News & Events

  • Boykin Spaniel Foundation Eye & Heart Certification Clinic
    October 07, 2017

    WE ARE PLEASED TO announce that The Boykin Spaniel Foundation will host a Fall Heart & Eye certification Read More

  • MidAtlantic Boykin Spaniel Club BSS Sanctioned Upland Hunt Test
    December 02, 2017
    Read More

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