The history of South Carolina’s state dog

Boykin Spaniel | Photo via @glennie.the.boykin

It is no surprise we love our four-legged friends in the Soda City. Recently, Martha Stewart released a list of The Most Popular Dog Breeds in Every State of the US, 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 (Jess here 👋) love Boxers, I was a little shocked the Boykin Spaniel didn’t make the cut.

Chances are you’ve crossed paths with one of these small, brown hunting dogs on any given Saturday at Soda City, on a stroll down the river front, or maybe at yappy hour. Did you know that the Boykin Spaniel is South Carolina’s official state dog

Boykin Spaniel | Photo via @littleboykinbeau 

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 or if you wanted to go with Martha’s list there is the Carolina Boxer Rescue, where you can help save the nubs. 🐾

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