Thursday, September 01, 2011

Celebrate Boykin Spaniel Day

I'm guessing that Boykins are out in full force in South Carolina today, not just because it's Boykin Spaniel Day in the breed's home state; more likely because it's also the opening day of dove hunting season. The Boykin is one of the top breeds I'm considering for my next dog, so it seemed fitting today to blog about the "little brown dog." (Pictured above are Bud and Mattie from the Carolina Boykin Spaniel Retriever Club.)

Boykins were developed in the early 20th century to hunt ducks, wild turkeys and upland game birds such as pheasants in South Carolina's swamps and riverlands. At 14 to 18 inches at the shoulder and 25 to 40 pounds, the Boykin is just the right size to ride in a boat with a hunter, giving rise to his nickname "the little dog that doesn't rock the boat." He has a liver, brown or dark chocolate-colored coat that can be straight or moderately curly. He's a typical spaniel: enthusiastic when it comes to flushing and retrieving anything feathered. Don't hunt but love the water? The Boykin's your dog. Take him kayaking, canoeing, standup paddleboarding or sailing. If it involves getting wet, the highly active Boykin is all for it.

His moderate size and cheerful personality make the Boykin an attractive proposition as a companion or hunting dog, but like every breed and mix, he is predisposed to certain health problems, including eye disease, hip dysplasia, and some instances of exercise-induced collapse and heart problems. To its credit, the Boykin Spaniel Club and Breeders Association of America has established a Canine Health Information Center database that lists Boykins who have top-notch health certifications: annual Canine Eye Registration Foundation exams; an Orthopedic Foundation for Animals patella evaluation; and one of three available tests for hip dysplasia. Optional tests are OFA evaluations for congenital cardiac diseases and elbow dysplasia.

The Boykin was recently recognized by the American Kennel Club as a member of the Sporting Group, which may or may not bode well for its future. Find out more about the breed here and here. And be sure to check out Boykin Spaniel Rescue: they often have what look like some great dogs available for adoption. I cruise by there frequently. I wrote more about Boykins here.

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