Boykin Spaniels are quick learners and very willing to please. They quarter naturally and with far less frenetic hoopla than some other spaniels. They are efficient, learn quickly how to use their nose, whiskers, and brain to their advantage, and don’t waste a lot of energy when questing. Boykins tend to range ahead of the hunter (some barking all the way), then hesitate and look before flushing.
This natural tendency is called a “hesitant flush” (sometimes called an “old English hesitant flush”). The dogs want to be precise in their work of putting a bird to wing which gives the hunter the opportunity to get in position to make a safe, effective shot. They take readily to training for “steady to wing, shot and fall” which the hunter uses to keep his canine partner safe. The master Boykin will sit once the bird takes flight, and while the dog might reposition himself to keep eyes on the quarry, s/he won’t break (or move) at the report of the gun, nor will s/he commence the retrieve until the handler gives his or her permission. When trained to be retrievers first and accept their partner’s help, a Boykin can bring back any and every bird the hunters shoot.
That said, we’ve read that Boykins can be known to test their owners, and for that reason, some hunters recommend training one’s Boykin in retrieving first, then using this discipline to develop field search and flushing skills.
Image: “Top Dog” Boykin Spaniel-Woodduck by Jim Killen