Boykin Training and Grooming Tips
In response to periodic inquiries from Boykin Spaniel Society members, we've compiled some suggested reading and viewing materials which address dog behavior and dog training. Our Boykins are thought of as being extremely unique, and in many respects they are, but generally they are like most of the other dogs developed for the purpose of being cooperative hunting dogs. Conditioning your dog to be a polite member of the household does take a lot of understanding that dogs aren't like human children: we have to learn how to communicate with them in their natural ways. Luckily, a well-bred healthy puppy is ready and eager to learn what is expected from the pack leader.
The materials we suggest here are not meant to be an endorsement of any author, and we certainly do not mean to imply that these are the only materials to explore. We just think these are some of the better resources that can become a part of your library. They are presented in three groupings:
- General Training for building the foundation for learning inside both of you
- Basic Training for Retrievers and Flushers to get both of you on track to be happy, skilled co-workers
- Advanced Training for Retrievers will aid in taking your partnership to the top of your game
Grooming Your Boykin Spaniel
The summer is always a challenge for hunting dogs. An alternative hair style can help keep the Boykin Spaniel cooler and also help prevent bacterial skin infections. We do "haircuts" on many Boykin's that hunt or swim in the summer months. A shorter coat will keep them cooler by allowing the air flow to the skin. It also allows them to dry more quickly after swimming. This is not only helpful for the seats in your car but also keeps bacteria from growing on moist, wet skin that has no air flow to it. With the humidity levels we have in the South, a full coated wet dog can take hours to dry completely to the skin. This allows the bacteria from the pond or mud puddles to grow in a perfect environment. This in turn can cause a skin infection and hot spots. Skin infections cause dogs to scratch. Scratching causes broken skin which can then turn into a staph infection. We have found that dogs prone to skin infections do much better with a shorter coat.
For a practical field cut I would groom the body only, leaving the head and ears intact or if preferred a guard comb can be used to lessen the thickness of the ears and then trim them to the leather. I also trim or clip the hair from the underside of the ear canal to help airflow to the ear. I prefer to use a #4 or #5 blade on the body, blending the back of the head so that it connects the head and neck rather than an abrupt stop. I typically use the same blade on the entire body and hind legs/tail for a field cut and then trim all fringe off the front legs. For a more in between trim without a complete field cut for pets who are active in the summer but not in fields I like to use a guard comb cut. These can range from 3⁄8” to 1” of coat left and can be used on just the body, the body and legs, or the entire dog including ears. A consultation with your groomer of choice to discuss the look you like and your plans during the months following can result in the perfect cut for you and your dog. Boykins have a range of coats with some being much easier maintenance and some being softer and more difficult to manage.
If you are going to work your Boykin in dove fields or on upland game then a clip is recommended to keep the briar damage to a minimum. The softer coated Boykins fur acts like Velcro for cockleburs, foxtails and sandspurs as well as blackberry brambles that wreak havoc on your Boykins' coat as well as your fingers when you tried to pry them loose. Of course, the best time to clip your Boykin in a field cut is in the late spring or early summer as they will need their coat If hunting or outside dogs during the winter months.
Whether you clip or don't clip, brush your Boykin's coat once a week to keep the shedding down to a minimum and keep their longer areas mat free. It's recommended not to bathe your dog more often than once a month and then to only use quality pet shampoos and more importantly, conditioner to replenish moisture and keep them from drying out. NEVER use dishwashing detergent as it will dry out your dogs' skin. The ONLY time I use Dawn dish liquid is in the skunk bath recipe using Dawn, baking soda, and peroxide immediately after a dog has been sprayed (careful to avoid eyes) and before any water has been put on the dog as water will set in the skunk smell for months. While you are grooming, check the inside of your pups' ears. Some spaniels have chronic ear problems and a once weekly application of a quality flushing ear solution will help keep the ears dry and clean. Proper ear care on dogs that swim or hunt in tall wet grass is very important. Heavy eared dogs, mainly the spaniel breeds, tend to have chronic ear infections. The two main causes are internal (nutrition) and external (ear care and maintenance).
To maintain the ear externally, it is recommended that you keep the hair on the underside of the ear clipped to allow air flow which keeps the ear canal dry and cool. This can be done with scissors or clippers. Simply flip the ear back over the dog's head, cut any excess hair that is on the bottom of the ear canal opening to expose the opening completely. You can also clip away any excess hair that is on the underside of the ear leather to allow more air flow. This is not seen from the outside and therefore keeps the natural look to the ears and head. Secondly, it is recommended that you clean the ears after swimming or any exposure to water to dry out excess water from the ear canal. To do so, use a flushable ear cleaner and pour directly into the ear canal. Then massage the base of the ear for several seconds and allow them to shake. Finish by wiping clean with a cotton round-this helps bring deep debris to the surface where it can be wiped out easily. Look for ear cleaners that contain drying agents and antibacterial such as low amounts Tea Tree oil. Never use straight Tea Tree oil in a dog's ear. You can also ask your veterinarian for an ear wash that will balance the PH in the ear for those that are very prone to ear infections or yeast. Always consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to medication or ear wash they have prescribed.
Whether you clip or don't clip, start grooming habits as a puppy - messing with his feet, making him sit or stand still - and your pup will look forward to being groomed (making your job not only easier, but enjoyable for both of you.) A dog’s success always starts with the owner making good habits a priority early on whether it be grooming, training, or socialization.
Cady Lee & Brianna Brown
Simply Fur Grooming LLC