Boykin Spaniel: A Versatile Gun Dog [Back to Monthly Pro Staff Articles]
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Years ago I met a group of duck hunters in North East Georgia in which we all shared a common bond. We all had a little brown duck dog sitting beside us in the duck swamps or on the front of our boats, getting into the backwaters of our area lakes. Friendships were born, and we began training together during the off-season in an effort to build and enhance our versatile dogs. This grew into a passion of mine as I decided to step out in faith and begin training Boykin Spaniels full time.
A lot of people ask, “Do you train them like a lab?” Most often my response is, “If you want a good one you do!” While there are some subtle differences in how we reach our goals, the end result is the same. A dog that feels at home in a number of different hunting situations, and can attain the same hunt test titles as our long legged counterparts with tails.
Patience is the real X-factor. It can be explained most simply like this: at times in training that you might push a Lab, I like to look at it as “pulling” the Boykin. Teach, teach, teach, and teach some more. Going through the same training progression, but taking the time to make sure there is clear understanding of the task at hand before applying pressure and expecting compliance. And while there are some that can handle the pressure and rigors of training just as the average lab would, many require a bit more finesse and patience.
As in any breed, buying the best puppy you can afford, may increase the likelihood of achieving your goals in the field. Find parents that have excelled in the hunt test and/or field trial games. Be cautious of the, “both parents were great hunting dogs” line that many less than stellar breeders may give you. Be sure to check all the health clearances that are known to cause issues in Boykin Spaniels. At a minimum, make sure the parents have “good” hips rated by the OFA, as hip dysplasia is something to be mindful in the breed. Eyes certified by an Ophthalmologist, free of cataracts or other genetic abnormalities. Also, make sure both parents have been tested for EIC (Exercised Induced Collapse).
As a dog that is capable of the following:
- Withstanding the excruciating heat of early season dove hunts in the south
- Breaking ice in a timber hole during a late January waterfowl hunt
- Sitting at the foot of a layout blind picking up Canada geese in a grain field
- Quartering and flushing upland birds
- The Boykin Spaniel truly is a versatile dog that is capable of getting the job done!
The Boykin Spaniel Society website at boykinspaniel.org is a great place to start your search.
If you’d like more information on finding a puppy or training your Boykin Spaniel, feel free to contact us anytime.