Spaniel Journal

Not Just Another Little Brown Dog
by Pamela O. Kadlec

Nine years ago a client walks into my taxidermy studio with an adorable little brown dog. Obviously a spaniel, but what kind? After talking to the client about all of the virtues of this unique little dog I decided I had to have one. I had been training and hunting Labs for the past ten years. I was also getting older and wanted a smaller dog that could share my home as well as my duck blind. I made a deal with the client to mount a (coincidentally South Carolina) white tail deer in exchange for a pick of the litter puppy.

Boykin Spaniel

The short version of the breed's history: the Boykin Spaniel originated from a little brown (spaniel type) dog found in Spartanburg, South Carolina in the early 1900's and found his way to a man named Whit Boykin. Mr. Boykin saw hunting potential in the dog, trained and bred him initially to another little brown (spaniel type) dog found abandoned at a train station. From there several breeds were introduced, all with the idea of making the perfect hunting companion. Some breeders added American Water spaniel, English cocker, Springer spaniel, Irish setter, pointers, and maybe a Chesapeake Bay retriever. There is some speculation that the original dogs were perhaps Field spaniels, dogs with a Clumber or Sussex spaniel background, or from a now-extinct spaniel breed. No one will ever know for certain.

The dog was initially used for turkey hunting: the dog would flush the turkeys and come back to his owner. The dog was then expected to lie quietly while the hunter called the birds back in. Due to the happy nature of the dog, his wagging tail rustling leaves would spook the birds. Legend tells that is why the tails are docked today.

Boykins were also used extensively for duck hunting. Hunting on the Wateree River in South Carolina meant using section boats that could be carried through the woods. These small boats required a small dog. Anything the size of a Chesapeake would capsize the boat along with the hunter. Given their compact size the Boykin was perfect for the section boats and became known as the dog who "won't rock the boat."

"A dog that is biddable in the duck blind yet charges into cover to flush coveys of quail."

Nowadays the Boykin is the perfect all around hunting companion. He will fetch your dove and ducks, flush and fetch your quail and pheasant, roust the turkey (where legal) and track your wounded deer. All that and sit in your lap at the end of the day.

In 1977 the Boykin Spaniel Society formed, the breed standard was approved and a registry was started in 1980. The breed standard was developed which calls for a dog

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