Choosing a Boykin Spaniel & A Breeder


1) Take full responsibility for this dog and all its needs for the next 10-15 years? This is NOT a task that can be left to children!

2) Invest the considerable time, money and patience it takes to train the dog to be a good companion? This does not happen by itself.

3) Always keep the dog safe; no running loose, riding in the back of an open pick-up truck or being chained outside?

4) Make sure the dog gets enough attention and exercise? (Boykin puppies need several hours of both, every day!!)

5) Live with shedding, retrieving, and high activity for the next 10-15 years?

6) Spend the money it takes to provide proper veterinary care including but certainly not limited to: vaccines, micro-chipping, heartworm testing and preventative, spaying or neutering and annual checkups?

7) Keep the breeder informed and up to date on the dog's accomplishments and any problems that may arise? Take your questions to the breeder or other appropriate professional before they become problems that are out of hand?

8) Have the patience to accept (and enjoy) the trials of Boykin puppyhood (which can last for three or more years) and each stage afterward? Continue to accept responsibility for the dog despite inevitable life changes such as new babies, kids going off to school, moving or returning to work?

9) Resist impulse buying and instead have the patience to make a responsible choice?

If you answered yes to ALL of the above, you are ready to start contacting breeders. Start early because most responsible breeders have a waiting list ranging from a few months to several years.

Remember, the right puppy or adult dog IS worth waiting for!

Before you fall in love with the first adorable Boykin puppy you see, take the time in an initial phone call to ask the questions listed below. You may not find a breeder who fits 100% of these criteria, but if you receive more than two negative responses, consider another breeder. At the end of the list you will find questions to ask yourself. You should be able to answer all of them affirmatively before you begin your search.

Remember: You are adding a new member to your family for the next 10-15 years. NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO BARGAIN HUNT!!

Prepare to spend $1000 and up or more for a well bred puppy. You may have known someone who has (or you may yourself have purchased) a "backyard" bred dog, a pet store or puppy mill dog and had great success. However, the incidence of problems in the breed makes it prudent to be on guard. Among the undesirable traits are temperament problems including aggression, shyness or hyperactivity, hip dysplasia, heart issues, luxating patellar, Exercise Induced Collapse, Degenerative Myelopathy, Collie Eye Anomaly and eye problems causing early blindness. Responsible breeders do all they can to avoid these problems by researching pedigrees and screening parents for certain inherited problems before breeding. The Boykin Spaniel Foundation encourages all boykin spaniel owners to have hips, eyes, heart, patellar luxation, DM, CEA & EIC testing done and offers financial reimbursements for having these tests done to BSS members.

Breeders are expected to produce Boykins to high standards and adhere to the Code of Ethics of the Boykin Spaniel Society. They are entitled to respect and courtesy from the people they are trying to please, so always be on time for any appointments and be honest in explaining your lifestyle, family activity level, experience with dogs, and knowledge of Boykin Spaniels. Keep this checklist by the phone when you make your calls. Good luck with your search for a quality puppy!!

Responsible breeders usually have a waiting list of puppy buyers. They rarely find it necessary to advertise in newspapers or with a sign out in the front yard.

Ask to see the certificates. "My vet okayed the x-ray" is not a valid clearance. The Code of Ethics requires all breeders to put in writing to new puppy owners if they did or did not have the BSS recommended health clearances done on the sire and/or dam of the litter. (ofa hips, ofa heart certification, ofa eye certification, EIC dna, DM dna, CEA dna , ofa patellar luxation)

This must be performed every year. Do both parents have OFA Heart Certification? Dogs must be 1 year old or older to have an OFA Heart Certification. Do both parents have EIC (Exercise Induced Collapse), Degeneration Myelopathy (DM), and Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) DNA test results (clear, carrier or affected) ?

OFA hip clearances cannot be obtained before that age. Passing grades for OFA hip evaluation are: Excellent, Good and Fair. PennHip determines hip conditions at an earlier age.

Breeding every heat cycle IS TOO OFTEN and may indicate that profit is the primary motive for the breeding.

A responsible breeder will keep track of these statistics and honestly discuss any problems that have occurred in the lines and what has been done to prevent them from recurring. to verify health clearances and see the "family tree" of health clearances.

If the answer is "because he lives right down the street" or "because he is really sweet," it may be that sufficient thought was not put into the breeding.

Is he or she involved in competition or hunting with their dogs?

If the sire is unavailable can you call his owners or people who have his puppies to ask about temperament or health problems? You may also be provided with pictures or videos.

Puppies that are raised without high exposure to gentle handling, human contact and a wide variety of noises and experiences OR are removed from their dam or litter mates before at least 7 weeks may exhibit a wide variety of behavioral problems! Temperament, a genetic trait carried over from the parents, still needs development from the early beginnings of a puppy's life. The breeder should provide extensive socialization and human interaction to the puppies in the litter.

A very shy puppy will not do well in a noisy household with small children, just as a very dominant puppy won't flourish in a sedate, senior citizen household.

Are their coats soft, full and clean? Do they have plenty of energy when awake yet calm down easily when gently stroked?

If there are several breeds of dogs, chances are the breeder cannot devote the time it takes to become really knowledgeable about the breed. If there is more than one litter at a time, it is very difficult to give the puppies the attention they need and may indicate that the primary purpose for breeding is profit, rather than a sincere desire to sustain and improve the breed.

The BSS has a Code of Ethics for all members, especially breeders, which reflect rigid expectations. In order to obtain a puppy that will be eligible for registration with the Boykin Spaniel Society®, you will need to obtain the blue colored individual dog registration application for that puppy from the breeder, and the breeder can only obtain the paperwork if the owner of the sire and the owner of the dam are BSS members, and the sire and dam are identified in the Boykin Spaniel Registry. The only way to obtain registration for your Boykin spaniel is to submit the blue paper from the breeder and pay the fee.

If you feel intimidated or pressured, keep looking! It's worth the effort.

LP is a designation imposed by a breeder on the dog/pup to restrict and/or control the breeding and registration of its future offspring. If a dog bears an LP registration, then the offspring (if any) of such LP registered dog produced after such LP classification is imposed may NOT be registered with the BSS unless the breeder who originally imposed the LP designation on the dog agrees to lift the LP. The breeder must request a LP removal application from the BSS office and a fee of $25 is required to lift the LP. ONLY THE BREEDER CAN REMOVE/LIFT the LP ON A DOG. Limited privilege designation on a pup/dog is between the breeder and the purchaser, the BSS can do nothing to lift/remove the LP once a breeder has imposed a LP on a dog.

A word about rescue dogs - Rescue dogs may or may not have been responsibly bred. However, since they are adults, we are able to evaluate them for any signs of a problem before you fall in love, something that can't be done with a puppy. We consider this only one of the many advantages to adopting an older dog! If you think a puppy may not be right for you, and would like to be considered for an adult dog, contact the Boykin Spaniel Rescue for information.

Puppy Buyer's Questions

Need help finding the right puppy. Below are few questions to ask yourself before buying a boyking puppy.

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.

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.

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. or

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 OFA.

*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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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 ( 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

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 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: