A Definitive Guide to Boykin Spaniel Training

Boykin Spaniel Training

Trainability is among the top considerations when looking for a dog to adopt.

Every dog owner expects unconditional loyalty and obedience from their canine companions. But while dogs are naturally a human’s most faithful and obedient friend, some training is required during the animal’s earlier years to impart desirable habits in him.

In this post, we take a look at how easy it is to train the Boykin spaniel. We shall also highlight the different Boykin spaniel training programs and how to go about each one of them.

But first, let’s begin by introducing the Boykin spaniel, just so you can have an insightful idea of what this dog breed is all about before adding him to your family.

What Is The Boykin Spaniel?

The Boykin spaniel is not only one of the cutest dogs. He’s also one of the most resourceful breeds you can ever add to your family.

Now, the Boykin spaniel is classified as a medium-sized dog breed. As the name implies, this breed belongs in the Spaniel group.

Boykin spaniels trace their origin to South Carolina in the United States. The dogs were originally bred for bird hunting.

But like most canine breeds, Boykin spaniels are no longer bred exclusively for their hunting prowess. These dogs are now a favorite for thousands of families around the world, including those that do not necessarily pursue hunting as a hobby or occupation.

Boykin Spaniel Quick Facts

Official Name: Boykin Spaniel
Other Names: Boykin, Swamp Poodle, and Little Brown Dog (commonly abbreviated as LBD)
Subsets: None
Origin: South Carolina, United States
Period Developed: Around 1900
Size: Average height at the withers is 15.5 to 18 inches (39 to 46 cm) for dogs and 14 to 16.5 inches (36 to 42 cm) for bitches
Weight: 30 to 40 pounds (14 to 18 kg) for dogs and 25 to 35 pounds (11 to 16 kg) for bitches
Color: Liver, chocolate, and brown
Coat Characteristics: Medium-length coat that varies in appearance, from straight to moderately curly
General Physical Characteristics: Full muzzle with proportional head, floppy ears, and almond-shaped eyes that sport color hues ranging from brown to amber and yellow
Shedding: Moderate
Grooming Needs: A weekly brushing is more than sufficient
Temperament and Personality: Obedient, Intelligent, Friendly, Playful, Sociable, Eager, Trainable, Energetic, Lively, Outgoing, Companionable
Watch Dog: No. They are generally friendly with strangers
Apartment Living: Larger homes with yards are ideal for this dog breed. However, he can adapt to apartment living provided he is adequately exercised
Trainability: Fairly easy to train
Exercise Needs: At least 60 to 120 minutes of exercise every day is required
Kid Friendly: Yes, with early socialization
Dog Friendly: Yes, with early socialization and training
Ideal for: They are perfect for active individuals and active families who have the time to exercise them
Tolerates Being Left Alone: They can be left alone for between 3 and 5 hours. Just make sure they are well-exercised
Feeding and Diet: 1.5 to 2.5 cups of high quality dog food each day, depending on their size, divided into two or three meals
Common Health Conditions: Hip dysplasia, Congenital Heart Disease, Eye Problems, Patellar Luxation, Thyroid Issues, Exercise Induced Collapse, Endocrine Disorders, Cushing’s Disease, Elbow Dysplasia, Anal Gland Problems, and Allergies
Average Lifespan: 14 to 16 years
Barking Tendencies: When necessary
Separation Anxiety: High
Year Recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC): 2009
Price: Average $750 – $1500 USD
Crate Size: 30 inch dog crate
Other Fun Facts: Boykin is the state dog of South Carolina

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Boykin Spaniel Origin and History

The Boykin spaniel traces his roots to the Wateree River Swamp of South Carolina, United States. The breed’s origin explains why the dog also goes by the moniker ‘Swamp Poodle.’

According to documented reports, the first Boykin spaniel considered to be the main precursor to today’s Boykins was a small stray spaniel-type dog. This stray dog reportedly became friends with a banker named Alexander L. White (1860–1942), who was walking from his home to the First Presbyterian Church located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, around 1900.

After developing a strong bond with the dog, Alexander White decided to adopt the little spaniel and named him Dumpy. White soon discovered that his new canine friend had incredible abilities for retrieving.

He decided to put the dog’s skills to the test by sending him to his longtime friend and co-hunter, Lemuel Whitaker “Whit” Boykin (1861–1932), who was based in Camden, South Carolina.

Lemuel Whitaker took Dumpy into his custody and developed several breeds from him, using various pointing breeds like the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Cocker Spaniel, Springer Spaniel, and American Water Spaniel. He then named the resultant breed that exhibited the best hunting techniques after him.

Whitaker originally developed the Boykin spaniel for retrieving wild ducks and turkeys while hunting the Wateree River Swamp of South Caroline. But with time, the dog acquired additional hunting aptitudes. He was no longer used only as a retriever dog, but also as a flushing and pointing dog.

For several decades since his development, the Boykin spaniel has been considered South Carolina’s most iconic dog breed. So much that the breed was named the state dog of South Carolina. The state also dedicated September 1 as Boykin Spaniel day.

Boykin is also one of the dog breeds that has enjoyed a steady rise in popularity over the years. In 1977, the Lemuel Boykin family formed the Boykin Spaniel Society as part of initiatives to preserve the breed’s heritage.

In 1985, the United Kennel Club recognized the Boykin spaniel. A few years later, a group of dog fanciers founded the Boykin Spaniel Club And Breeders Association of America (BSCBAA) as part of initiatives to lobby for the breed’s recognition by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

In 2007, the AKC recognized the BSCBAA as the official parent club of the Boykin breed. Two years later, the AKC finally recognized the Boykin as a spaniel breed.

Boykin Spaniel Physical Appearance


The Boykin spaniel is a medium-sized dog breed. The dog is slightly larger than his spaniel cousin, the English Cocker Spaniel.

Boykin spaniel males measure around 15.5 to 18 inches at the withers, while females measure 14 to 16.5 inches.


Boykin spaniels are relatively more built than several members of the spaniel family.

Males weigh around 30 to 40 pounds, whereas females weigh 25 to 35 pounds.

Coat Color and Texture

Like most dog breeds, Boykin spaniels can sport a wide spectrum of coat colors. But the three dominant ones include liver, chocolate, and brown.

In terms of coat characteristics, Boykins feature a medium-length coat that doesn’t shed much. The fur is straight in some dogs and slightly curly in others.

Depending on the dog’s pedigree, you may also notice some feathering on the legs, belly, chest, and ears.

Other Noticeable Features

Boykin spaniels also stand out for their full, compact muzzles and athletic bodies. The breed sports a head that’s proportional in size to the rest of his body.

Boykins have large, floppy ears and almond-shaped eyes. The eyes come in several color hues, including brown, yellow, and amber.

Boykin spaniels also feature a relatively long tail. However, the tail is traditionally docked when the dog is three days old, leaving only one-third of its length.

Boykin Spaniel Temperament and Personality

Boykin spaniels are fairly intelligent dogs. The breed is also energetic and eager to work.

Obedience, friendliness, and sociability are other core personality traits of the Boykin spaniel.

Being a social and friendly dog breed, Boykin spaniels are excellent for families with small children and other pets. The breed is not easily aroused to anger.

However, the Boykin can crave too much attention and exercise. So, adequate physical and mental stimulation is necessary to keep the dog on his best behavior.

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Are Boykin Spaniels East To Train?

A dog’s temperament and personality are the most crucial factors that determine how easy it is to train the animal. And as you shall discover, intelligence and obedience are the two most important personality traits that influence a dog’s trainability.

A dog should be smart enough to recall commands from years back. But most importantly, he should be obedient enough to actually follow those commands when you say them.

Trainable dogs should also be friendly and sociable. It’s almost impossible to train an aggressive or poorly-socialized dog. Not only will your commands fall on deaf ears. But you may also earn a few bites and scratches for your well-intentioned efforts to impart good behavior in the animal.

Lastly, dogs are considered trainable if they’re fairly energetic and given to work. That’s for the simple reason that many dog training programs require a decent amount of physical energy. You may need to run with the dog, play the game of fetch together, and even take some dips especially in the case of water-loving breeds.

So, where does this leave the Boykin spaniel? Are Boykin spaniels easy to train?

As we already pointed out, Boykin spaniels are relatively intelligent and obedient dogs. The breed is also friendly, sociable, energetic, and eager to work.

All these happen to be the same character traits that make a dog easy to train. So, it’s only fair to conclude that Boykin spaniels are incredibly easy to train.

One more thing that makes Boykin spaniels easy to train is that, unlike many dog breeds, Boykins do not require a consistent pack master. You may have noticed that when walking with your Boykin spaniel, the dog prefers to heel beside you. It’s important to keep things this way, as it allows the dog to believe that you’re the one in charge.

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When To Start Training A Boykin Spaniel?

According to many veterinary experts and professional pet trainers, dog owners should consider training their canine friends from as early as 7 and 8 weeks. That’s mainly because most puppies are already weaned by this time (weaning typically starts around 4 weeks). It’s also because the animal is yet to develop certain prejudices and unhealthy habits.

So, around seven weeks is the best time to begin training a Boykin spaniel puppy.

7 to 8 weeks is also the ideal time to start socializing your Boykin puppy and get him acquainted with other household members. Part of that socialization should entail allowing the animal to explore his surroundings freely, using his senses of smell and taste.

How to Train a Boykin Spaniel

There are numerous training programs for Boykins and other dog breeds in general. The techniques may differ slightly depending on the specific program in question.

However, there are several Boykin spaniel training tips that you ought to observe, despite the kind of training involved.


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Listed below are some of the best practices when training a Boykin spaniel;

1. Start Early

We’ve just pointed out the importance of training Boykin spaniels (and dogs in general) from a tender age. Many experts suggest 7 to 8 weeks as the ideal age to begin training and socializing a dog.

But since all canines are different, you may start training your Boykin even earlier than the recommended age. That’s especially if the dog has already been weaned and no longer depends on his mother for protection and survival.

2. Exercise Patience

Boykin spaniels may be brilliant dogs. But they’re no genius.

As with all dog breeds, patience is a virtue when training your Boykin spaniel. Don’t expect the dog to learn all the commands on the first or even second training day.

In fact, you can expect some resistance during the earlier training days. It’s part of the animal’s way of approaching new activities.

3. Be Consistent

Training a Boykin spaniel doesn’t call for patience alone. It also requires consistency.

You cannot begin training your Boykin today and then go on a long hiatus tomorrow. Not only will that work against your goals. But it will also leave the dog more bewildered.

In the same breath, it’s important to choose a reasonable training frequency. Training your Boykin for two weeks continuously may be counterproductive as it denies the dog ample time to explore on his own.

So, breaks are necessary. Just know when to incorporate them into your training program and how long they should last.

4. Work on the Dog’s Terms

It’s commendable that you want your Boykin spaniel to learn to stay in his crate. But it’s equally important to establish the best training hours. Note that Boykins (and dogs in general) are easier to train when they’re at their best elements.

You might consider giving your Boykin spaniel sufficient physical and mental stimulation before embarking on any training program.

Similarly, you cannot train a sick or visibly aggressive Boykin. You’ll need to allow the dog ample time to get well or calm down first.


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5. Establish Dominance

Boykin spaniels naturally know their place in the family hierarchy. That’s why these dogs prefer to heel beside their owners and not run in front of them.

However, as your Boykin continues to grow, he may become more confident and independent. Although these traits are generally admirable, they could cause the dog to think that he’s the alpha of the house.

Therefore, it’s important to establish dominance even prior to training your Boykin spaniel. Ensure the dog understands that you’re in charge and that every other household member submits to you.

6. Handle Your Boykin With ‘Pup’ Gloves

No matter how slow your Boykin spaniel takes to learn, never shout or yell at the dog. Even your ‘No’ and ‘Don’t’ commands should be softly spoken.

Shouting at your Boykin will only work against your training goals. Be gentle with the dog, constantly petting him and speaking softly to him even when he seems to be getting everything wrong.

Rest assured that your Boykin spaniel will eventually become adept at whatever program you’re trying to train him for, no matter how long it takes.

7. But Don’t Forget the Leash

Boykin spaniels were bred for hunting. That explains their tendency to become distracted.

The sight of a bird hovering in the sky may get your Boykin curious and distracted from the task at hand. So, you may need a leash to keep the dog attentive.

You can gradually evolve into leash-free training as your Boykin becomes more focused on his training lessons.

8. Time the Sessions Properly

When training a Boykin spaniel, the conventional wisdom is to keep the sessions short enough. Long training sessions will not work for your Boykin, bearing in mind that these dogs are easily distracted.

Most dog trainers recommend training your Boykin spaniel 3 to 5 times a day and keeping the sessions about 5 minutes long.


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9. Adopt a Reward System

We reward our kids for excellent performance in school or simply for being on their best behavior. Why not apply the same concept when training your Boykin spaniel?

Rewards serve as positive reinforcement. And the good thing is that there are multiple options to experiment with.

You can reward your Boykin with his favorite meal or toy. Some Boykins may also feel appreciated simply by being given a gentle belly rub or pat on the back.

However, the best practice when rewarding your Boykin spaniel is to deal the treats at the right time. That way, the dog will associate the treat with good behavior. Besides, rewards can also stimulate your Boykin’s enthusiasm for the next training sessions.

10. Engage Professional Services When It Calls For It

If all the above interventions fail despite your best efforts, then you might consider hiring the services of a professional dog trainer.

A simple online search of a relevant phrase like “dog trainer near me” will turn up numerous trainers operating within your general vicinity. You can then check the trainers’ history and check their reviews before choosing the best from the list of potentials.

If possible, consider trainers that specialize in Boykin spaniels.

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Exploring Various Boykin Spaniel Training Programs

Boykin Spaniel Obedience Training

Obedience training is widely considered the foundation of all other forms of Boykin spaniel training. It allows Boykins to follow commands without question.


i. Select a command.

Common commands you can teach your Boykin spaniel include; COME, GO, NO, STOP, LIE, QUIET, etc.

In this procedure, we’ll use the QUIET command and assume you’re planning on how to train a Boykin spaniel to stop barking.

You’d then proceed as follows;

ii. Determine when your Boykin barks the most and ensure you’re around him at that time.
iii. When the dog starts to bark, gently but firmly shout the word “QUIET.”
iv. Repeat this until the animal is able to associate the word ‘QUIET’ with a command to stop barking.
v. Reward your Boykin appropriately using his favorite dish or toys.


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How to Train a Boykin Spaniel Not to Bite

Boykin spaniels are considerably friendlier than many dog breeds. But that doesn’t mean your Boykin won’t attempt to bite if he feels threatened by the presence of a stranger around.

Fortunately, you can train your Boykin spaniel to stop biting by following the below tips;

i. Allow your Boykin to explore his surroundings freely from a tender age.

This is among the best ways to socialize the dog.

During his routine explorations, your Boykin spaniel will pick up and store the sights, sounds, and scents of objects in his surroundings. That will go a long way in preventing the dog from biting unprovoked.

A well-socialized Boykin spaniel is unlikely to get nervous or aggressive even when exposed to new situations.

ii. Sterilize your Boykin spaniel.

Numerous studies indicate that sterilized dogs are less likely to turn aggressive and bite than unsterilized ones.
So, you might also consider neutering or spaying your Boykin, depending on his sex.

iii. Understand your Boykin’s body language.

Dogs will usually exhibit a range of warning signs before biting. Understanding these signs will go a long way in helping avert undue confrontations with your Boykin spaniel.

The following are common tell-tale signs that your Boykin feels threatened and is likely to go on the offensive;

  • Body stiffening
  • Teeth baring
  • Lowering of the head
  • Rising of the hackles
  • Staring intently in a particular direction

If you notice any of these warning signs, it’s best to back away and let your Boykin spaniel calm down.

In case the dog is threatening to attack someone else, you can de-escalate the situation by asking him to ‘back off’ (bearing in mind that he’s already familiar with this word or a related command).

And as is the tradition, remember to reward the dog if he heeds your command not to bite.


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How to Leash-Train A Boykin Spaniel

Leash training is another popular Boykin spaniel training program. It allows the dog to familiarize himself with a leash and avert unnecessary anxieties while leash-walking him.

Here’s how to leash-train your Boykin spaniel;

i. Introduce the dog to a leash but don’t put it over his neck on the first day.

ii. Repeat the above step for a few more days, allowing the animal to sniff, nip, and play with the leash.

iii. When you’re certain that your Boykin is well-acquainted with a leash, slowly get him to wear the leash, rubbing his fur and patting him gently on the back to calm any anxieties.

iv. Repeat this for a few more sessions, gradually increasing the duration the leash stays on the dog’s neck.

v. After a few more days, take some steps with your Boykin with the leash on.

vi. Again, increase the duration of leash-walking gradually until the dog is comfortable being held on a leash.

How to Train a Boykin Spaniel to Retrieve

Retrieval is part of Boykin spaniel field training. Not only do you desire a dog that can track down quarry, but also one who’ll be able to retrieve the prey when it’s finally cornered.

i. Determine whether to conduct this training on dry land or in water.
ii. Choose a suitable object; one that’s light enough for the dog to fetch and buoyant enough to stay on the water surface (if training in water).
iii. Throw the object and tell your Boykin to fetch it.
iv. Reward the animal if he’s able to retrieve the object and bring it to you.


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How To Potty Train a Boykin Spaniel Puppy

Dogs can be sweet and affectionate. But the smell of dog poo rotting away on your furniture is anything but sweet. Fortunately, you can minimize these undesirable experiences by toilet-training your Boykin spaniel early enough.

The following is a handy guide to follow when potty training a Boykin spaniel;

i. Take your Boykin spaniel out more frequently, preferably once every hour.

You can also do this when you’re certain the dog is about to go to the toilet. Common signs to watch out for include squatting, sniffing on the floor, circling, and barking. Besides, it’s recommended to take your Boykin to a specific area each time.

ii. Wait there for a couple of minutes to see if the dog will need to go.

iii. Be sure to praise your Boykin using treats if he’s able to go to the toilet outside.

With time, the animal will understand that they’re expected to go to the toilet outside.

iv. Try to extend the duration between taking your Boykin pup outside and see if he can take the initiative on his own.

Ensure the dog can open the door leading to the outside by himself.

v. You can then introduce your Boykin’s litter box and try to get him to use it.

On a long enough timeline, the dog will be able to use the litter box even if it’s not necessarily placed outside.

How to Crate Train A Boykin Spaniel

According to experts, crate training a Boykin spaniel should commence as early as seven weeks of age or the very first day you bring the dog home.

Crate-training a dog serves two fundamental purposes. First, it lets you travel safely with your pooch. And secondly, it allows the dog to stay in a confined space when he feels threatened or following an injury.

What makes crate training particularly interesting is that dogs are naturally given to seeking out hiding dens. So, your Boykin spaniel will probably develop an instant liking for the crate.

You can train your Boykin to love his crate by following the below procedure;

i. Start by finding a suitable crate.

One best practice when shopping for a crate for your Boykin is to select a crate that’s large enough for the dog to sit down, lie down, stand up, or turn around. It’s also important to keep your dog’s adult size in mind when determining the right crate size to buy him. Remember that the animal may still prefer to retreat to his crate occasionally even when he’s grown.

Besides size considerations, you should also choose a crate for your Boykin spaniel based on material. Popular options include metallic crates, plastic crates, wooden crates, and fabric crates.

Ventilation is another crucial factor when shopping for a Boykin crate. Note that dogs do not have an efficient ventilation system. So, go for a crate that comes with numerous ventilation holes.

And in the interest of portability, consider collapsible crates or those that can be disassembled and reassembled.

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ii. Feed your Boykin puppy in his crate.

This helps the dog associate his crate with food or mealtime.

However, remember to take the animal out of his crate as soon as he has finished eating so he can go to the toilet. That’s especially important for puppies that haven’t been potty-trained yet.

iii. Choose a command for your crate training.

Your Boykin spaniel should have a simple word or list of words that he associates with a command to go inside his crate.

You’ll need to choose these commands and then help your dog to master them through obedience training.

iv. Open and shut the crate door calmly.

It doesn’t matter whether your Boykin is the bold or skittish type. It’s important to be gentle when opening or shutting the door. Getting the crate door to squeak will only scare the dog away.

In the same vein, it’s recommended to close the crate door only when your Boykin visibly feels comfortable inside the crate.

v. Gradually increase the time taken in the crate.

This is important in helping your Boykin spaniel love his moments in the crate. Unless the dog retreats to the crate on his own, it’s important to moderate the period he spends inside the crate.

vi. Offer a treat where necessary.


There goes our definitive guide to training a Boykin spaniel. Feel free to bookmark this post for reference the next time you want to impart good behavior in your Boykin.

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