Puppy Buyer's Questions

  • I am looking for a pet, companion and hunting dog. Would a Boykin Spaniel be a good choice for me?

    The Boykin Spaniel is an excellent choice as a pet, companion and hunting dog. The Boykin wants to be part of the family and does best when allowed to spend considerable time with the family. Love, affection and attention will not harm the hunting instincts of the dog and in most cases allows the Boykin to form a closer bond with the handler, master and family members. Remember that the Boykin responds best to training that is fun and wants most to please you, his master.

  • What should I look for in a Boykin Spaniel puppy?

    Boykin puppies are like any other puppies. They are all extremely cute and cuddly and make you want to take them home immediately. Resists this temptation and do your research. Look for a puppy that will fit your lifestyle and meet your requirements and needs. Check out as many litters as you can and get to know the breeder that has pups for sale. Boykins have a lot of different personalities and styles. Look into the background of the breeder and the dogs. Ask questions of other breeders and seek referrals from them as to whom they would go to for a puppy. TAKE YOUR TIME AND FIND THE BOYKIN PUP THAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU! For more information, please read Choosing a Boykin Spaniel Breeder.

  • What types of health problems are prevalent in the breed?

    The following potential health issues are not unique to the Boykin Spaniel but are found in many purebred dogs. These are listed to make you, the potential puppy owner, aware of these problems so that you can make an informed decision before buying a puppy.

    Hip Dysplasia
    Hip dysplasia is an abnormal formation of the hip socket that, in its more severe form, can eventually cause crippling lameness and painful arthritis of the joints. It is a genetic (polygenic) trait that is affected by environmental factors. It can be found in many animals and in humans, but is most commonly associated with dogs, and is common in many dog breeds, particularly the larger breeds. Hip dysplasia is one of the most studied veterinary conditions in dogs, and the most common single cause of arthritis of the hips. It is important to have your Boykin evaluated by the OFA/PennHip before you breed your dog and also equally important that you consider acquiring puppies from OFA/PennHip breeding stock. www.offfa.org or www.Pennhip.org

    Juvenile Cataracts.
    Eyes are another potential problem with cataracts being the most commonly diagnosed malady. Once again, it is extremely important to have your dog CERFed before breeding and every year thereafter as long as being used as breeding stock, and to also consider purchasing puppies from eye CERFed Boykins.

    Pulmonic Stenosis.
    Pulmonic stenosis is a congenital (present at birth) defect characterized by the narrowing and obstruction of blood through the heart's pulmonary valve, which connects the pulmonary artery to the right ventricle (one of the heart's four chambers). Depending on the severity of the obstruction, it can cause anything from a murmur to an arrhythmia to congestive heart failure. Both sire and dam of the litter should have a Heart CERF number from OFA. OFA Heart certification is done after the age of 1 year old.

    Exercise Induced Collapse.
    The syndrome has recently been discovered in Boykin Spaniels. Affected Dogs show signs of muscle weakness, incoordination, and life-threatening collapse when participating in strenuous exercise or activity. Affected dogs can tolerate mild to moderate exercise, but just 5 to 20 minutes of strenuous activity, or even extreme excitement such as that seen in field trials or hunt tests, can induce weakness or collapse. Dogs Affected with EIC usually cannot continue with intense retriever training, but can live normal lives as house pets. There is a DNA test available to identify the EIC mutation through the University of Minnesota.

    Luxating Patella
    Luxating Patella(or trick knee, subluxation of patella, floating patella, or floating kneecap) is a condition in which the patella, or kneecap, dislocates or moves out of its normal location. Diagnosis is made through palpation of the knee, to see if it slips inside the joint more than would normally be expected. Even with Luxating Patella, there may be no symptoms or only mild ones, such as intermittent limping in the rear leg. Physical examination and manual manipulation are the preferred methods for diagnosis.

    Skin allergies.

    Collie Eye Anomaly (CAE)
    Collie eye anomaly (CEA) is a congenital, inherited, bilateral eye disease of dogs, which affects the retina, choroid, and sclera. It can be a mild disease or cause blindness. CEA is caused by a simple autosomal recessive gene defect. There is no treatment. CEA is caused by improper development of the eye. Failure of the cells of the posterior portion of the optic vesicles to express growth hormone affects the differentiation of other cells of the eye. The choroid, especially lateral to the optic disc, is hypoplastic (underdeveloped). A coloboma, or hole, may form in or near the optic disc due to a failed closure of embryonic tissue. The degree of these abnormalities varies between individual dogs, and even between the same dog's eyes. CEA is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait that has a penetrance reaching 100 percent, and has been localized to canine chromosome 37. The most common sign of CEA is the presence of an area of undeveloped choroid (appearing as a pale spot) lateral to the optic disc. The choroid is a collection of blood vessels supplying the retina. CEA can also cause retinal or scleral coloboma, coloboma of the optic disc, retinal detachment, or intraocular hemorrhage. It can be diagnosed by fundoscopy by the age of six or seven weeks. Severe cases may be blind.

    Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) - is an incurable, progressive disease of the canine spinal cord that is similar in many ways to ALS in humans. Onset is typically after the age of 7 years. DNA swab test that can be done at any age and will determine the DM status of your dog. Paw Print Genetics and University of Missouri do CEA testing accepted by OFAhttp://www.offa.org/dnatesting/dm.html

    *Aggressiveness and certain structural faults have also recently come to the attention of the BSS as being undesirable traits that may be eliminated in time by conscientious breeding practices. *Note: Some aggression is learned. If you socialize your puppy - let him play with other dogs, children, meet people from all walks of life, introduce him to different stimuli, he will be a better adjusted adult dog and less likely to be aggressive. Sheltering your pup from all of the above can make him more timid and more likely to bite out of fear.

  • Are skin conditions prevalent in the Boykin breed? What can be done to eliminate these problems?

    Skin conditions are fairly prevalent in some bloodlines of this breed. Changing your dog's diet or using medications available from your veterinarian can sometimes alleviate skin problems but do not usually totally eliminate them. The only thing that can be done to eliminate these problems is to not breed dogs that have them.

  • Do Boykin Spaniels make good house pets? I heard they were 'hyperactive'. Is this true?

    As with any breed, some bloodlines are more active than others. Before buying a pup, check out both the sire and dam, and if possible, the grandparents to see what kind of temperament they have. Chances are if the parents are mellow dogs the pups will be too.

  • Can Boykins withstand duck hunting in cold weather and icy water?

    Some Boykins have dense double coats and can withstand cold water. It is not recommended to work your Boykin in extreme temperatures for extended lengths of time. Neoprene vests help but please use discretion when hunting in frigid weather.

  • Our Boykin is a great dog. One problem, he chews everything - socks, shoes, furniture, our fingers - everything!. What can we do to stop this behavior?

    Chewing is not a Boykin-specific trait. Most dogs chew things up and usually your best pair of shoes rather than the old loafers. Don't let your pup chew on any shoes instead of asking the dog to learn which shoes are okay and which ones aren't! Give your dog safe chew toys. Young pups can work on a rawhide bone without ingesting them but they are not recommended for adults. One example of safe toys are Kong toys - they can be stuffed with treats to keep the dog amused. Ask your veterinarian for other examples. When you see the pup chewing something he's not supposed to, give him one of his toys instead. When you can't supervise his activities, kennel or crate him. As for biting you, one method is to gently grab his muzzle and say, "No bite." Another is to yelp (loudly!) in pain when he bites. Never hit the pup in the face.

  • Is the Boykin Spaniel easily trained or will my pup have to be sent to a professional trainer?

    Boykin Spaniels are relatively easy to train if you will invest the time and effort. These are great little dogs but their natural abilities will take them only so far. You must make a commitment to invest your time if you want your dog to develop to its full potential. Professional trainers are a great choice if you have limited time or want to have a more polished dog for hunting or for hunt testing.

    For more information click here to view Teaching and Training Resources

  • Where can I hunt test my Boykin?

    The Boykin Spaniel is first and foremost a hunting dog. Here are some contacts: BSS Annual Hunt Test - Boykin Spaniel Society® - The Boykin Spaniel Society® sponsors two hunting tests each year, in January (Upland) and April (BSS Nationals) in South Carolina. The BSS Nationals in April tests Boykins in Puppy, Novice, Intermediate and Open classes with a separate Roustabout flushing event and also a Natural Ability test for the less experienced dog. The April National Hunt Test normally draws in excess of 140 entries for this three day activity. The Upland is our newest event and is well on the way to becoming a tradition with BSS members as it allows us to put our dogs through an entirely different set of hunting senarios than we experience in the non-slip retrieving event in April. The Upland tests dogs in Novice, Intermediate and Open classes. Guidelines and Hunt test rules for both the Upland and the Spring Nationals may be found elsewhere on these WebPages.

    CBSRC- Carolina Boykin Spaniel Retriever Club - The Carolina Boykin Spaniel Retriever Club was formed in the early 1980’s to hunt test Boykins in a similar format as that recognized by the Boykin Spaniel Society®. The CBSRC holds hunting tests every other month beginning in August of each year. For more information on the CBSRC visit their WebPages at

    HRC - - Hunting Retriever Clubs, affiliated with The United Kennel Club (www.ukcdogs.com) offers Boykin owners the opportunity to compete in licensed hunt tests in numerous locations across the United States and Canada.

    Mid-South Boykin Spaniel Retriever Club (MSBSRC) Midsouth Boykin Spaniel Retriever Club, MSBSRC,Boykin Spaniel A truely versatile gundog , Boykin Spaniel hunters, boykin spaniel trainers, Southern United States

    Mid-West Boykin Spaniel Retriever Club A Boykin Spaniel club formed in the Midwest consisting of Boykin enthusiasts that are forming to share information, training ideas and the love of the breed.

    Mid-Atlantic Boykin Spaniel Club The Mid Atlantic Boykin Spaniel Club is for owners in the Mid Atlantic States, sanctioned by the Boykin Spaniel Society.

    Upper Mid-West Boykin Spaniel Club The Upper Midwest Boykin Spaniel Club is where owners and fans of a highly versatile little brown hunting dog gather for social events and structured Boykin Spaniel Society Upland Hunt Tests

    Boykin Spaniel Club of Texas

    Northwest Boykin Spaniel Club

    Southern Boykin Spaniel Club "Our goal is to get people interested in training their Boykin Spaniels and having quality time with other Boykin owners. Encourage, promote and tain the natural qualities of the Boykin Spaniel to hunt and retrieve game. We want to encourage boykin owners to get involved with Boykin Spaniel in other activities such as flyball, agility, pet therapy or obedience."
    We are on Facebook at Southern Boykin Spaniel Club

  • I have the best Boykin in the world and would like to offer his services at stud. (Or - I would like my female Boykin to have one litter of pups before I get her spayed.) How do I go about it?

    First have his/her hips x-rayed at 2 years old or older and sent off to either the OFA or PennHip to make sure he/she does not have hip dysplasia. Next have the eyes examined by a certified ophthalmologist to make sure there aren't any inherited eye defects. At one year of age have the heart checked for Pulmonic Stenosis or other heart issues. Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC), Degenerative Myelopathy (DM), Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) DNA testing should be done prior to breeding to determine if your dog is clear, carrier or affected. These genetic tests are available through a variety of OFA approved labs http://www.offa.org/dna_alltest.html?test=&breed=Boykin+Spaniel&btnShow=Show Provided the dog is free of hip dysplasia, heart issues, EIC, DM. CEA, eye defects, patellar luxation, skin or temperament problems, and no disqualifying structural faults, then you can proceed in finding a mate. Information on testing hips, heart, patellar luxation, EIC, DM, CEA and eyes before breeding your Boykin Spaniel: www.offa.org