The history of South Carolina’s state dog


Boykin Spaniel puppy | Image via Unsplash

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Recently, Martha Stewart released a list of The Most Popular Dog Breeds in Every State of the U.S., and can you guess which pooch South Carolinians love the most? According to the list, the Boxer claims the top spot in the Palmetto State. 🐶

Surprised? As much as I (Katie here 👋) love Boxers, I was a little shocked the Boykin Spaniel didn’t make the cut.

If you’ve taken a long walk downtown, and especially if you’ve stopped by the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE), chances are you’ve crossed paths with one of these small, brown hunting dogs. And, did you know that the Boykin Spaniel is South Carolina’s official state dog?

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Mount Pleasant Boykin Spaniel, Jolt – a winner of Garden & Gun’s 2020 Good Dog Photo Contest | Image via Garden & Gun

Boykin Spaniel fast facts:

  • They typically weigh between 25-40 lbs + live 10-15 years.
  • They are known for their friendly, eager + lovable temperament.
  • They were originally bred by South Carolinians to be hunting dogs.
  • The breed was officially named SC’s state dog in 1985.

In the early 1900s, South Carolina hunters on the Wateree River needed a dog that could retrieve on land + in water and was small enough to fit in compact boats during hunters’ river travel.

To allow for enough room for both a dog + hunting gear, Camden’s L. W. “Whit” Boykin experimented with selective breeding to produce the ideal companion. During this time, his acquaintance Alexander L. White stumbled upon a small, stray dog that he took in + named Dumpy, who showed an interest in retrieving. (Check out Dumpy’s book here.) White brought him to Whit to use for breeding, and thus the first Boykin Spaniels were born.

Boykins are known for their webbed feet that allowed them to swim exceptionally well, and were originally used for hunting turkey + waterfowl.

Today, the Boykin Spaniel is both a hunting dog + beloved pet, and can be found in homes across the U.S. If you have been itching for a new furry BFF and want one of these small canines, we recommend checking out Boykin Spaniel Rescue in Boiling Springs. 🐾