How To Groom A Boykin Spaniel: The Complete Guide

Whether your Boykin Spaniel is a field-traipsing hunting partner or a household pet, grooming is essential. It not only keeps your Boykin Spaniel looking and smelling good, but it can also prevent discomfort and even illness. Grooming also benefits a Boykin Spaniel’s owner because it helps to keep the house clean and hair-free.

Train your Boykin Spaniel puppy to cooperate with grooming. Brush Boykins once a week and increase during shedding seasons. Trimming is optional. Clean their ears and brush their teeth each week. Bathe a Boykin and clip its nails each month. Wipe eye boogers when they form. Express anal glands as needed.

Grooming a Boykin Spaniel, and indeed any dog, does not just involve brushing them regularly. You also have to bathe them, trim their coats appropriately, and take care of their eyes, ears, feet, teeth, and anal glands.

In the sections below, we will discuss training your Boykin Spaniel to be groomed, how to thoroughly groom your Boykin Spaniel, how often each aspect of grooming should be attended to, and the benefits of hiring a professional groomer.

Do Boykin Spaniels Have To Be Groomed?

Boykin Spaniels are actually relatively low maintenance when it comes to grooming. Boykins are definitely easier to keep clean and tidy than their Cocker Spaniel cousins. However, even though they are described as ‘wash and wear’ dogs, this does not mean that they can go without any grooming.

Not only do Boykin Spaniels need regular maintenance grooming, but they also need a thorough groom several times a year and extra baths, etc., if they get dirty from any outside activity or stomach illness.

The breed standard recommends trimming to enhance the lines of the Boykin Spaniel but never shaving. Trimming is not just for looks. It allows airflow onto the skin, improving heat tolerance, and it also helps them dry faster after swimming (which Boykin Spaniels love doing).

Boykin Spaniel Physical Description

Boykin Spaniels are medium-sized dogs, about 14-18 inches and 25-40 pounds, with an unmistakable Spaniel appearance.

The coat of a Boykin Spaniel is of a medium length, silky texture, and solid liver color. According to the breed standard, the coat can be flat, slightly wavy, or even curly.

Most Boykin Spaniels only have an outercoat, but some can have a dense undercoat. They also have moderate feathering on their ears (which are medium to long and hang down), chest, legs, and belly. Their feet and toes are also hairy.

A Boykin Spaniel’s tail is typically docked to be approximately 3-5 inches when the dogs are fully grown. When not docked, the tail is long and covered with the same medium-length coat as the rest of the body and with slight feathering.

The eyes of a Boykin Spaniel are of medium size, almond- or oval-shaped, and set well apart. They are not heavily lidded like the eyes of a Clumber Spaniel; they should not droop like the eyes of a Basset or Bloodhound, nor should they be protuberant like those of a Pug.

Boykin Spaniels are not prone to underbites like Bulldogs, Pugs, and Boxers. They have close-fitting and thick lips, as opposed to flews or thick hanging lips.

Training Your Boykin Spaniel To Be Groomed

It is in your best interests and the best interests of your Boykin Spaniel to train them to be groomed while they are still puppies. You want brushing, bathing, nail clipping, and all the rest of it to be as stress-free as possible and even an enjoyable bonding time between you and your Boykin Spaniel.  

It is best to start grooming training when a puppy is between 7 and 16 weeks old, so begin this training when you bring your Boykin Spaniel home.

Teaching Your Boykin Spaniel Puppy To Be Handled

Grooming involves a lot of handling. You need to pick your Boykin Spaniel up, lift their ears, tails, touch their tummies and toes, open their mouths, and bring things near their eyes. All of these things can be alarming to a dog that is not used to being handled.

Hopefully, your breeder will have been handling your Boykin Spaniel as part of its vital socialization even before you took your puppy home, but you will need to take it further.

The trick is to show your Boykin Spaniel puppy that hands and handling are associated with pleasant things like pats, toys, and food.

Start by stroking and patting your Boykin Spaniel pup on their chest, shoulders, top of the head, neck, sides, and back. Speak to them in a calm voice, praising them for a relaxed response to your touch. You can also give them a few treats as a reward.

Spend approximately a week doing this a few times each day until your Boykin Spaniel is completely comfortable with the contact. During this stage, stay away from the more sensitive areas like the legs, belly, tail, and face.

The next step is to teach your Boykin Spaniel puppy to accept your touch in areas that dogs don’t always like having touched. This includes the face, ears, legs, paws, belly, and tail. Only stroke or pat these areas; do not hold them. Once again, praise your puppy in a calm voice for relaxed responses and give them treat rewards.

If your puppy tries to squirm out of reach, pull their legs back, or turn their faces away, stop the contact. Don’t reward them with a treat but continue to talk to them reassuringly. Give it a break and try again in a few hours or the next day.

When they are comfortable with touch, move onto holding. Start with a few seconds and reward acceptance of the handling. Increase the length of time of your hold slowly. Don’t forget to hold your Boykin Spaniel’s paws and touch its toes in preparation for nail clipping.

Using the same technique of reassurance and reward, start to accustom your Boykin Spaniel to having its feet, ears, and tail lifted up. Your dog also needs to get used to people looking and touching near its eyes and lifting its lips.

Don’t forget about the area around the private parts and anus. Intact females will need to have their vaginas wiped as they produce discharge during estrus. Male dogs may need their sheaths cleaned along with the rest of their bodies after a day out in the field or park.

All dogs can get diarrhea and fecal crusts that cling to their coats, so you need to be able to wash around their anus. Additionally, your Boykin Spaniel’s anal glands will need to be expressed at regular intervals. This will never be comfortable for your dog, but it is worse if they are not used to any contact in this area at all.

Teaching Your Boykin Spaniel Puppy To Be Held And Restrained

During grooming, your Boykin Spaniel will have to be held and restrained, so you need to make sure this is not a stressful experience for them. Some Boykin Spaniels will happily be picked up and held, so that is a great start; others may require a bit more work.

Start by sitting next to your Boykin Spaniel puppy and placing your hands gently on its sides, over the rib cage. This is not the same as just touching; the position of your body and arms is more constraining.

Your Boykin Spaniel might try to walk away, but gently hold them back until they relax. Make sure you speak calmly and don’t squeeze them. Let them go after a few seconds and reward them with a treat.

Slowly increase the duration of holding, making sure that you don’t let them become distressed at any point. Then you can change the holding positions. Try to think about what positions will be required for grooming and simulate these.

If they wriggle a lot without calming down, slow the speed of progression or even go back a step and spend a bit more time on that.

Getting Your Boykin Spaniel Puppy Used To The Grooming Equipment

Start by showing the brushes, combs, towels, nail clippers, etc., to your Boykin Spaniel—not all at once, though! Allow them to sniff and investigate these items. Reward them with praise and treats when they show a relaxed response.

Once they are comfortable being around the items, you can try touching them to your Boykin Spaniel. Touch them to the sides, shoulders, and back before the face, ears, and legs. Give them a treat when they respond calmly.

As soon as they are comfortable with the touch, you can try actually brushing them. Avoid areas that may have a few tangles, which can hurt when worked out. Start with two or three strokes and then show them the brush or comb again and give them a treat.

You can also start touching the toothbrush to their lips and cheeks. Then try to lift their lips and touch their teeth for a second or two. Build up slowly and also introduce them to the toothpaste. Put some on your finger and let them lick it off.

Practice standing in the tub without water first. You can get in with your Boykin Spaniel to show them that the tub is not scary. Boykin Spaniels have a high affinity for water, so they are not likely to be afraid of getting wet, but you don’t want them to have a bad experience.

Another thing you want to avoid is playing with your Boykin Spaniel using the spray nozzle or hose. If you do, your Spaniel will be challenging to bathe as they think the water is a game, and they won’t stand still.

If any of your equipment makes noise, such as a trimmer or hairdryer, allow your Boykin Spaniel to investigate it before turning it on. Don’t bring the trimmer toward them when it is making a noise; wait for your Spaniel to approach it.

A slow and steady approach with praise and reward is the key to successful grooming training.

Prepare For The Grooming

Try taking your Boykin Spaniel for a walk before grooming; this will help them to burn off some extra energy so that they can stand still while being groomed.

Get everything ready before you collect your Boykin Spaniel for its grooming session. Arrange for someone to help you, if you can. This will make the task easier.

Grooming A Boykin Spaniel’s Coat


Boykin Spaniels need their medium-length coats brushed once or twice a week. Increase the regularity of brushing during their seasonal sheds and if they are often out in the field picking up foliage and mud in their coats. Don’t let tangles turn into mats. Mats can easily lead to skin infections and painful hot spots.

Pay special attention to their feathers, where the hair is longer and more likely to tangle. If you are not showing your Boykin Spaniel, you can trim their feathers slightly or entirely to minimize the chance of debris getting caught.

Spend time on tangles, don’t just rip through them quickly. For tough knots, hold the hair at the base, near the skin, and brush out at the ends first, moving up towards your Spaniel’s body.

Brushing does not just remove tangles and debris; it helps to redistribute the skin’s oils throughout the coat, making it look and feel healthier and glossier.


Bathe your Boykin Spaniel once a month. You can bathe them in a bathtub, a plastic tub, or outside with a bucket and hose. Use warm water; hot water can hurt your Spaniel and cold water can be unpleasant.

You need to use a shampoo that has been designed for dogs. Furthermore, just like human shampoos, dog shampoos are designed for different types of hair, so make sure you choose the right one. Speak to your veterinarian or local pet store employee about the best shampoo.

Don’t put too much shampoo on at once. Work up a lather in one section and then rinse it off before moving to another section. This will help avoid letting the shampoo sit on any patch of skin for longer than necessary. Then give them a final overall rinse when all the shampooing is done. Remember to rinse your Boykin Spaniel’s feet which have been standing in the sudsy water.

Wipe your Boykin Spaniel’s face and head with a wet cloth or sponge, don’t spray the water in their face. Make sure no shampoo gets into their eyes, mouth, or ear canals.

Boykin Spaniels are not prone to skin allergies but watch for any reactions to the shampoo. If they show a mild allergic response, give them an extra rinse with some clean water. If they show an intense reaction, you may have to take them to the veterinarian for a corticosteroid or antihistamine. If your dog shows any reaction, don’t use that shampoo again.

Some people recommend combing or brushing through the coat during rinsing.

Towel-dry or blow-dry your Boykin Spaniel after their bath, and try not to let them race out to the yard and roll in the dirt immediately. They will probably want to run around a little afterward, which you can let them do, but follow them to stop any rolling.

You can give your Boykin Spaniel an extra bath if they are very muddy or dirty from a hunting or sporting session in the field, but be careful of bathing them too often.


If you trim your Boykin Spaniel, make sure its coat is completely dry before brushing it out and trimming it. Wet coats curl more easily, which makes cutting the hair more challenging.

Use a good quality trimmer, keep it clean, serviced, and the blades sharp. The number four-, five-, or seven-blades are recommended for the body and the number ten for the ears, feet, armpits, and area surrounding the anus.

Trim with the grain of the hair, and make sure you clip the coat evenly. Angle the blade down and keep it pressed against the skin for more control. Pull the skin taut to prevent cutting it.

You also need to choose the right time to trim a Boykin’s coat. Leave it longer during the winter, especially if you are hunting or competing in canine sports with them outside.

Grooming A Boykin Spaniel’s Feet

You can clip the hair on the feet with a number ten blade. You also need to check your Boykin Spaniel’s feet every week or so to make sure there is nothing trapped between the pads or toes. Also, watch for cracks in the pads themselves. If there is a problem with your Boykin Spaniel’s feet, you will see them limping or licking excessively.

You will need to keep your Boykin Spaniel’s nails clipped as well; long nails can put pressure on the nail beds while your dog is walking, and they can also crack and break painfully. Once a month clipping should be sufficient to keep the nails trimmed, especially if your Spaniel is often walking on rough terrain that keeps them filed down.

You can buy nail clippers and do it yourself. You get many different styles, but make sure you get sharp, good-quality clippers. To clip the nail, hold the paw firmly in your hand, move the hair away so that you can see the nail clearly, position the clippers over the nail and cut at a 45° angle.

You need to be very careful about clipping your Boykin Spaniel’s nails. If you cut them too short, you will cut into the innervated quick, which will hurt your dog. Additionally, the quick is supplied by blood vessels, so the toe will bleed.

If you are nervous, take your Boykin Spaniel to a veterinarian and ask them to show you the correct length to clip them while avoiding the quick.

Grooming A Boykin Spaniel’s Ears

Boykin Spaniels do not have such pendulous and heavy ears as Cocker Spaniels, but they are still long and hairy, so you need to make sure they are clean. Keep the underside of your Boykin Spaniel’s ears trimmed to allow proper airflow into the ear canal, helping prevent infections.

Ask your veterinarian for a good ear cleanser recommendation. If your Boykin Spaniel is a frequent swimmer, then find a cleanser containing a drying agent. Clean your Boykin’s ears once a week or as directed by the veterinarian.  

Soak a cotton ball in the ear cleanser, and gently put it in the ear opening. Squeeze the cleanser into the ear and move the cotton ball around to pick up debris and wax. Remove the cotton ball, press the ear over the canal and rub it gently.

If you see any redness or there is a funny smell, your Boykin Spaniel may have an ear infection. Signs of pain associated with this will be head tilting, tentative ear rubbing or scratching, and head shaking. You will need to take the to a veterinarian to treat the infection.

Grooming A Boykin Spaniel’s Eyes

Heavily lidded, drooping, or protuberant eyes come with a whole set of grooming requirements, which the Boykin Spaniel does not need. You just need to keep a watch on your Boykin’s eyes. Clean any occasional eye boogers with warm water and a cotton pad.

If you notice that the frequency or amount of eye boogers increases or there are changes in eye booger color, it can indicate a problem with your Boykin Spaniel’s eyes. Also, check for any inflammation, redness, tearing, or light sensitivity.

Grooming A Boykin Spaniel’s Mouth And Teeth

Boykin Spaniels have quite thick lips, which can sometimes become dirty, so wipe them out occasionally.

Brush your Boykin’s teeth at least once a week. Make sure you use dog toothpaste; human toothpaste is inappropriate and potentially harmful to your Boykin. Brush the teeth gently, and don’t scrub against their gums. You can also get them some dental chews for between brushings.

Expressing A Boykin Spaniel’s Anal Glands

Anal gland cleansing is really one of the worst aspects of caring for our canine friends, but we do it out of love.

Anal glands are found just inside the anus and on both sides. They fill up with a smelly fluid and need to be expressed. Some dogs are able to keep their anal glands empty naturally (while pooping); others need help. The regularity of expression will depend on your dog.

Expressing anal glands is a delicate operation, and we recommend you consult your veterinarian on the correct method before trying it yourself.

Benefits Of Hiring A Professional Groomer

You don’t have to hire a professional groomer for your Boykin Spaniel’s maintenance grooming, but a thorough groom a few times a year can be an excellent idea if it will not stress your Boykin Spaniel.

Look for a groomer with a good reputation and use them each time to minimize the change and potential stress to your Boykin Spaniel that may be associated with a professional groomer.

The benefits of using a professional are as follows:

  • They have access to the right tools, and you won’t have to buy the equipment yourself.
  • They are convenient. You can drop your Boykin Spaniel off and run errands before picking them up, fully groomed. Alternatively, some have mobile stations, and they can come to your home and groom your dog there.
  • If your Boykin Spaniel did not adjust well to being groomed, then the professional groomers should know a few tricks to make the process quick and as stress-free as possible for your nervous dog.
  • They know how to clip nails and squeeze anal glands, which means you don’t have to do these two less fun jobs.


Having a Boykin Spaniel that is happy to be groomed, or at least tolerates it, is invaluable. Happily, they are ‘wash and wear’ dogs and even show Boykin Spaniels are supposed to have a very natural appearance.

Each week you need to brush your Boykin Spaniel’s coat and teeth and clean the inside of their ears. Once a month, you should give them a full bath and clip their nails. Keep their eyes free of eye boogers and make sure their anal glands are expressed as needed.

You can add extra brushing during shedding seasons and if they come home from a romp in the park or a session in the field with tangles and foliage in their coats. You can also add a few extra baths in if they are particularly muddy or have rolled in something stinky.

It sounds like a lot of work, but it should not take you too long in reality. Happy grooming!

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