Official state dog of massachusetts

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Get to Know the Boykin Spaniel: South Carolina’s State Dog

If you’re from the city, especially some non-Southern city, you probably don’t come across many Boykin Spaniels. But if you’re from the rural South and have any contact with bird hunters, chances are you’ve seen this unassuming little brown “swamp Poodle.” And if you haven’t seen one yet, you will, because the Boykin is rapidly becoming one of the most popular spaniels in America.

Dogster member Remington the Boykin.

More interesting things about the Boykin Spaniel

  • The Boykin Spaniel may be confused with the American Water Spaniel, but the Boykin’s coat is not as curly and his tail is usually docked. He may be confused with a Cocker Spaniel, but his coat is always a solid shade of brown (but some Cockers are, too), and he has much less coat. He may be confused with a Field Spaniel, but he has a shorter head, thicker body coat, and is significantly smaller. He has much longer legs than a Sussex Spaniel.

Boykin Spaniel at sunrise by .

  • In the early 1900s, hunters on South Carolina’s Wateree River needed a small retrieving dog that could fit in their tiny “section” boats, which had to be transported, and often used, in pieces. Each piece could fit one man and one small dog. It was difficult to find a small dog who could perform as needed, though.

Dogster member Whit-Kin the Boykin.

  • L.W. “Whit” Boykin and his relatives tried several crosses to produce such a dog, finally hitting upon success with a small brown stray spaniel found by a friend in Spartanburg, SC, around 1905. The dog, named Dumpy because he was kind of dumpy looking, developed into an adept turkey dog and waterfowl retriever.
  • Dumpy was bred to another stray brown spaniel, and eventually crosses were made with the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Springer Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel, and American Water Spaniel. Boykin’s spaniels became known for their versatility, retaining the flushing abilities of a spaniel but adding water retrieving and even deer driving and tracking. They are equally effective on upland game and waterfowl (where they have been called “the dog who doesn’t rock the boat”).

Dogster member Tripper.

  • The breed’s nexus was around Camden, SC, where many hunters and wealthy families wintered. These families often left in the spring with little brown spaniels, distributing the Boykin around the country, but especially along the Eastern Seaboard.
  • The Boykin Spaniel Society was formed in 1977 and now has worldwide membership.
  • In 1985, the Boykin Spaniel became the state dog of South Carolina.
  • Also in 1985, it was recognized by the United Kennel Club.
  • Because the Boykin Spaniel Society would not pursue AKC recognition, a separate group formed the Boykin Spaniel Club and Breeders Association of America in the 1990s to pursue that goal and gain access to AKC field events. The AKC recognized them as the AKC parent club in 2007.
  • The Boykin Spaniel joined the AKC Sporting group in 2010.

“Who are you calling a swamp poodle?” Boykin Spaniel by .

  • The Boykin is currently the 121st most popular AKC breed. However, this ranking almost certainly underestimates the breed’s popularity, as most Boykin Spaniels are not AKC registered. Many more are registered with the Boykin Spaniel Society, for example, which registers more than 1,000 each year — eclipsing the number of Boykins registered with the AKC.
  • The Boykin has only competed at the Westminster dog show for a few years, and has not yet won any placements in the Sporting group.
  • A slang name for the Boykin is the swamp Poodle. Now, that’s not very nice! But it is kind of funny.

Do you own a Boykin Spaniel? Have you spent time with one? Let’s hear what you think about this fascinating breed in the comments! And if you have a favorite breed you’d like us to write about, let us know that, too!

Interested in other breed profiles? Find dozens of them here.

Read about more spaniels on Dogster:

  • Get to Know the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: Ruler of Hearts
  • Get to Know the Clumber Spaniel: the British Gentleman’s Hunting
  • Get to Know the English Springer Spaniel: The Country Squire
  • Get to Know the Tibetan Spaniel: The Little Lion of Tibet

About the author: Caroline Coile is the author of 34 dog books, including the top-selling Barron’s Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds. She has written for various publications and is currently a columnist for AKC Family Dog. She shares her home with three naughty Salukis and one Jack Russell Terrier.

When you’ve got a state bird, state motto, state flag, and in some cases even a state snack, adding an official dog or cat just seems natural. Some states have made formal declarations, while others have had some fizzled petitions. But either way, we love the idea! Is your state in the mix?

Alaska: It’s no surprise the 49th adopted the Malamute as its state dog in 2010 — the native canines are widely used in dog mushing, which has been the state sport since 1972.

Colorado: In 2013, Colorado became the 12th state to designate an official state pet, choosing shelter cats and dogs (awww) as their “breed” of choice. The proposal was suggested by schoolchildren learning about the legislative process, and although they faced opposition from those favoring purebred animals, the state chose to support its rescue pets.

Georgia: Officials attempted to make the widely-beloved Golden Retriever its state dog in 1991, but the proposal was ultimately struck down because of opponents favoring the bulldog, the mascot of the University of Georgia. No compromise was made, leaving the state official pet-less.

Kansas: There’s no place like home, but Toto’s not quite there yet. Kansans proposed the Cairn Terrier as its dog breed of choice in 2006 because of its connection with the state in The Wizard of Oz. However, the legislature has not made any movements towards adopting a state dog, and a bill that proposed the terrier as state symbol was tabled in 2012.

Louisiana: In 1979, Louisiana decided to make this all-American breed its state canine. The Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog is believed to be the first dog breed developed in North America.

Maine: In a country of 50 states, not everyone is a dog person. Although Maine doesn’t have a state dog, it adopted the Maine Coon as its official cat in 1985. It is the largest domestic breed of cat, and it is particularly prized for its hunting skills.

Maryland: The first state to designate an official pet, Maryland made the Chesapeake Bay Retriever its state dog in 1964. The breed was developed in the Chesapeake Bay area in the 19th century and is best known for its love of water. Maryland later adopted the Calico as its state cat in 2001.

Massachusetts: Named after the state capital, the Boston Terrier became the state’s official dog in 1979. The small dog breed was developed around 1870, and remains one of the most popular pure breeds in the country today. Massachusetts also adopted the Tabby as its state cat in 1988.

New Hampshire: In 2009, New Hampshire decided to make this rare breed of sled dog its state pet. The Chinook is known for its tawny coat and affectionate demeanor.

North Carolina: Originally bred for hunting boar, the Plott Hound is a native to North Carolina, which made it the state dog in 1989.

Pennsylvania: Hello there, Marmaduke. Pennsylvania made the Great Dane its designated dog in 1965. These giant, loving dogs grow to be about 30-inches tall.

South Carolina: In 1985, the Boykin Spaniel was named the official dog of its origin state. These canines were originally bred to hunt wild turkeys in the swamps of South Carolina.

Texas: The Lone Star State made the Blue Lacy its pup of choice in 2005. This working dog was developed in the mid-19th century and was recognized by the state Senate as wholly Texan breed.

Virginia: This scent hound was adopted as Virginia’s state dog in 1966. The American Foxhound was developed to hunt for foxes in the early years of the United States.

Washington: The Siberian Husky was proposed as the state dog in 2004, but the campaign fell through in the Washington State House of Representatives. The sled dog breed is the mascot of the University of Washington.

Wisconsin: Developed in Wisconsin in the 19th century, the American Water Spaniel became Wisconsin’s state dog in 1985. Although these dogs were developed as hunting companions, they are particularly prized for their calm temperament.

South Carolina – State Symbols and Nicknames

South Carolina SC Facts & Firsts SC State Symbols, Nicknames

FEATURED SC State Symbols

Feature Your SC State Symbol Resource Here

SC State and Local Nicknames

South Carolina is widely known as the Palmetto State in honor of our state tree, the Palmetto. However, we were once known as the Iodine State instead. Our state has many other colorful nicknames as well, including many for SC cities and towns. Finally, SCIWAY publishes a wonderful guide to SC Pronunciations that you won’t want to miss.

  • Earlier SC Nickname – Iodine State
  • Nickname for South Carolinians – Sandlappers
  • Nicknames of South Carolina Cities, Towns

SC State Symbols

South Carolina has many state symbols of cultural and historical relevance. Most have only recently been designated state symbols, although the state seal was first used in 1777. The state flag wasn’t adopted for almost another century, when South Carolina seceded from the Union and desired a new flag. The 1900s saw the introduction of many new state symbols such as South Carolina’s state tree in 1939, the state animal in 1972, and the state fruit in 1984.

SC Amphibian – Spotted Salamander

Named the official state amphibian in 1999, following a year-long campaign by the third-grade class of Woodland Heights Elementary School in Spartanburg.
SC Amphibian, Spotted Salamander

SC Animal – White Tailed Deer

Deer can be seen bounding through South Carolina’s woods year-round. They are plentiful in our state, and in 1972 the legislature named them the official state animal.
SC Animal, White Tailed Deer

SC Beverage – Milk

Act 360 of the 1984 General Assembly stated that dairy farmers could be found in all but seven counties in South Carolina, making it a multi-million dollar industry for our state. These farms, located mainly in the Midlands and Upstate, raise goats and cows for milk production.
SC Beverage, Milk

SC Bird – Carolina Wren

Known for nesting in unusual places such as bags, boxes, flower pots, and even shoes, the Carolina Wren is beloved by many in our state. Interestingly, our state bird was the Mockingbird from 1939 until 1948.
SC Bird, Carolina Wren

SC Butterfly – Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Named for the long portion of their hind wings which resemble a swallow’s tail feathers, each of the forewings of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail has four black stripes resembling a tiger. Butterflies are most prevalent in South Carolina during the autumn.

SC Butterfly, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

SC Dance – The Shag

The Carolina Shag was designated the official state dance of SC in 1984, but for more than a half-century, it has been synonymous with warm sand, cold beer, and beach music. A form of Southern swing, it’s said to have begun along the Grand Strand as early as the 1920s.
SC Dance, The Shag

SC Dog – Boykin Spaniel

The native SC breed was first bred in the early 1900s by L. W. “Whit” Boykin. Boykin had longed for a better dog to hunt water fowl with. Boykin trained a friend’s stray, spaniel type dog, “Dumpy,” to be a superior hunt dog and retriever. Dumpy became the father of the Boykin Spaniel.
SC Dog, Boykin Spaniel

SC Duck – Summer Duck (Wood Duck)

Designated as the state duck in 2009, the wood duck can be found in South Carolina year-round. These ducks like marshy areas and can commonly be found in wooded parts of rivers, ponds, swamps, and shallow lakes.
SC Duck, Summer Duck (Wood Duck)

SC Fish – Striped Bass (Rockfish)

This species of bass is among the largest with many adults surpassing 20 pounds in weight. Traditionally favoring coastal rivers for their flowing water, the striped bass has adapted over the years and now thrives in lakes across the state too.
SC Fish, Striped Bass (Rockfish)

SC Flag

In 1775, Colonel William Moultrie designed a flag based on the blue uniforms and crescent badges which decorated the caps of guards during the Revolutionary War. Over the years, variations of Moultrie’s flag flew in the state on which the palmetto tree had been added.
SC Flag

SC Flower – Yellow Jessamine

Yellow jessamine, pronounced “JES-uh-min” or “jaz’min,” became our official state flower in 1924. Because it is native to our state, it is also called Carolina jessamine. Jessamine is an evergreen vine that climbs trees, fences, and latticework. It blooms in late winter or early spring.
SC Flower, Yellow Jessamine

SC Folk Art & Craft Center – SC Artisans Center

Located in the heart of downtown Walterboro, the center proudly showcases the work of over 270 South Carolina artisans. The medium of craft and art styles is vast, spanning from the traditional to modern.
SC Folk Art & Craft Center, SC Artisans Center

SC Folk Dance – The Square Dance

Sixteenth and seventeenth-century settlers came to America from across Western Europe bringing with them the customs and heritage of their homeland. Eventually, French quadrilles, Irish jigs, and English reels were interwoven and the square dance was born.
SC Folk Dance, The Square Dance

SC Food – Grits (unofficial)

Grits are considered a staple in South Carolina, a comfort food, and a symbol of our unique culinary traditions. The color of grits depends on the color of corn used – yellow or white.
SC Food, Grits

SC Fossil – Columbian Mammoth

The bill was signed in 2014 after the efforts of a third-grader from Lake City. In 1725, fossilized mammoth teeth were discovered in a SC swamp.
SC Fossil, Columbian Mammoth

SC Fruit – Peach

It wasn’t until the 1850s that peaches were commercially in our state. Then, in the 1920s, their popularity blossomed as cotton farmers stymied by the boll weevil looked for new crops. South Carolina now leads all southern states in peach production – including Georgia!
SC Fruit, Peach

SC Grass – Indian Grass

Typically 3-5 feet in height, this warm weather plant can grow in a variety of soil types. Its adaptivity has lead to the Indian Grass to be declared a weed in some areas of the country.
SC Grass, Indian Grass

SC Gemstone – Amethyst

A variety of quartz, amethyst became our official state gemstone in 1969. This designation followed the discovery of several world-class amethysts at the Ellis-Jones Mine near Due West. Samples of these amethysts are on display at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.
SC Gemstone, Amethyst

SC Handcraft – Sweetgrass Basket

Woven with a native plant, sweetgrass baskets are valued for their complexity, their beauty, and their utility. They also serve to remind us of the rich African heritage brought to this country by slaves.
SC Handcraft, Sweetgrass Basket

SC Horse – Marsh Tacky

Tracing its heritage back to stock that arrived with Spanish explorers, the Marsh Tacky has been in our state for over 400 years. Once thought extinct, DNA testing in 2005 proved the breed was still alive in coastal South Carolina.
SC Horse, Marsh Tacky

SC Hospitality Beverage – Tea

Tea was first brought to North America in 1799 by French botanist Francois Andre Michaux, who planted it near Charleston at Middleton Barony (now called Middleton Place). Today, “America’s Only Tea Garden” is located on Wadmalaw Island at the Charleston Tea Plantation.
SC Hospitality Beverage, Tea

SC Insect – Carolina Mantid

Ranging in color from light green to brown-gray, the Carolina Mantid can easily blend into its environment. With eggs hatching in the spring, the insects are mature by the end of summer and are most commonly seen from then through early fall.
SC Insect, Carolina Mantid

SC Mace – Mace of the House of Representatives

Made for the Commons House of Assembly in 1756, the SC mace is the oldest, continuously used one by any US state legislature. At almost 4′ long and weighing over 10 pounds, the mace stands for the authority of the South Carolina House of Representatives.
SC Mace, Mace of the House of Representatives

SC Marine Mammal – Bottlenosed Dolphin

Bottlenosed dolphins can be found worldwide in temperate ocean waters and coastal areas. In SC, these mammals can be seen offshore as well as in bays and estuaries. Typically 8′-9′ in length, the bottlenose dolphin is protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
SC Marine Mammal, Bottlenosed Dolphin

SC Migratory Marine Mammal – Northern Right Whale

This critically, endangered species is found off the SC shore late winter through spring. At a population estimated at just 450, the Right Whale Sighting Advisory System has been developed to reduce collisions with ships. If you spot a whale, please report it here.
SC Migratory Marine Mammal, Northern Right Whale

SC Mottos

South Carolina has two state mottos. Both were first used in 1777 when the state seal had two sides. On the front of this seal was, “Animis Opibusque Parati,” which is Latin for “Prepared in Mind and Resources.” And the back, “Dum Spiro Spero,” which is Latin for “While I Breathe, I Hope.”

SC Mottos

SC Music – The Spiritual

Although not officially designated until 1999 as the state music of South Carolina, the Spiritual has been a part of the state’s culture for generations. Originating in the slave era, these songs have strong religious foundations and roots that stretch to African ancestors.
SC Music, The Spiritual

SC Opera – Porgy and Bess

Charleston native DuBose Heyward wrote the novel “Porgy” in 1925 about the fictional Catfish Row and its Gullah residents. Famed composer George Gershwin immediately contacted Heyward after reading it to form a collaboration to develop a folk opera based on the book.
SC Opera, Porgy and Bess

SC Pledge

Penned by Mrs. John R. Carson in 1950, “I salute the flag of South Carolina and pledge to the Palmetto State love, loyalty and faith.” was officially designated the state pledge in 1966.
SC Pledge

SC Poet Laureate – Marjory Wentworth

Selected by the state’s governor, Marjory Wentworth has served since 2003. Previous Poet Laureates were Bennie Lee Sinclair, 1986-2000; Grace Beacham Freeman, 1985-1986; Ennis Rees, 1984-1985; Helen von Kolnitz Hyer, 1974-1983; Archibald Rutledge, 1934-1973.
SC Poet Laureate, Marjory Wentworth

SC Popular Music – Beach Music

Beach music originated around the time of the second World War, and has come to be regarded as synonymous with the official state dance, the Carolina Shag. At first this music could only be found locally on the jukeboxes of South Carolina’s beachside “jump-joints” and saloons.
SC Popular Music, Beach Music

SC Reptile – Loggerhead Turtle

Named for their large, log-shaped heads, loggerhead turtles are the most common species of saltwater turtle in the United States but have been on the threatened species list since the late 1970s. Nests are made on beaches during mid-to-late summer.
SC Reptile, Loggerhead Turtle

SC State Seal

Originally dual sided, the state seal has included both mottos since its inception in 1777. The two sides were combined into one when it proved difficult to include impressions of both in wax for documents. The seal has the mottos, a palmetto tree and Roman goddess Spes.
SC State Seal

SC Shell – Lettered Olive

Named for the shells’ brown markings, which somewhat resemble letters of the alphabet. Native Americans made necklaces using the shells. This tradition continued into the early 1900s when commercially made “panama shell” necklaces were popular with tourists.
SC Shell, Lettered Olive

SC Snack Food – Boiled Peanuts

Peanuts, goober peas, groundnuts – no matter what you call them, most South Carolinians agree they taste better boiled! In fact, they are such an important part of South Carolina culture, they were designated the state’s official state snack in 2006.
SC Snack Food, Boiled Peanuts

SC Songs – Carolina and South Carolina on My Mind

Why have just one state song when two would be even better! That is what the South Carolina General Assembly decided in 1984 when they designated South Carolina on My Mind as an official state song. It joined Carolina which was adopted in 1911.
SC Songs, Carolina and South Carolina on My Mind

SC Spider – Carolina Wolf Spider

The Carolina Wolf Spider is the largest wolf spider in North America so it is no wonder why it is also known as the Giant Carolina Wolf Spider. Found throughout the US, the Carolina Wolf Spider is 3-4 inches long and often mistaken for the much more dangerous brown recluse.
SC Spider, Carolina Wolf Spider

SC Stone – Blue Granite

Blue Granite is unique to the Midlands and the Piedmont region of the state. When the bill designating this symbol was passed in 1969, legislators declared that it had been used “to beautify all areas of South Carolina.” It was even used in the 1908 construction of the SC Statehouse.
SC Stone, Blue Granite

SC Sword – Sword of the Senate

Records show that SC has had an official state sword since 1704 when a decree for the purchase of a silver sword was issued. This sword was stolen in 1941 and is still listed in the FBI’s National Stolen Art File. The current sword, engraved with the state flower and seal, was a gift in 1951.
SC Sword, Sword of the Senate

SC Tartan – Carolina Tartan

In 1980 Scot tartan historian Peter MacDonald was commissioned to design the tartan. He based the design on the Royal Stewart tartan, which is believed to have been used on a ceremonial coat of King Charles II. The Carolinas were created by a 1663 grant issued by the king.
SC Tartan, Carolina Tartan

SC Tree – Sabal Palmetto

The trunks of palmetto trees (Sabal palmetto) are not comprised of wood but a fibrous material that allows the tree to bend in the strong winds common to the South Carolina coast. They also tolerate salt spray and sandy soil and can even withstand ice and snow.
SC Tree, Sabal Palmetto

SC Vegetable – Collard Greens

The green, leafy plant became the state vegetable in 2011 when a Lexington third-grader wrote her state senator. This cool-season crop grows across the state and should be planted early enough in the spring so that it is ready for harvest before temperatures become too hot.
SC Vegetable, Collard Greens

SC Waltz – The Richardson Waltz

Believe it or not, South Carolina’s State Waltz is a song – not a dance. The music, evolved over a period of perhaps 300 years or more, has been passed down by ear through generations of the Richardson family. The waltz is a traditional European musical form.
SC Waltz, The Richardson Waltz

SC Wildflower – Goldenrod

Goldenrod is a common sight in South Carolina, growing naturally and profusely in fields, on roadsides, and along fence lines. Its bright yellow blooms appear in the fall. Tall Goldenrod became the state wildflower in 2003 when championed by garden clubs.
SC Wildflower, Goldenrod

SC Wild Game Bird – Wild Turkey

The Wild Turkey is one of only two birds native to North America to have been domesticated. Wild Turkeys are very good fliers. Even though they fly relatively close to the ground and only for short distances, they can reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour!
SC Wild Game Bird, Wild Turkey

More About SC State Symbols

More about symbols, emblems – official state plants, animals, gems, foods and drinks, music and dances, and more

What would be Florida’s official state dog?


With more than 20 million people living in the Sunshine State, you’d think we could throw a bone to our best friend, the dog. It’s come to my attention that even though the German Shepherd is the most popular dog here, there’s no room for his canine kind on our official state roster.

We have a state freshwater fish — the largemouth bass. We also have a state reptile — the American alligator. We even have a state bird — the mockingbird. Where are our most loyal companions on this list of state animal adoration? Nowhere close by, for sure.

To be fair, there’s no Florida state cat either (not counting the Florida state animal being the Florida panther), but I totally understand that one. Cats are jerks. Shhh. You didn’t hear it from me. I don’t need feline retribution from the four in my house.

More: Southern Perspectives: People aren’t the only ones looking forward to spring

Actually, only 11 states have legally declared certain breeds their favorites. Louisiana loves the Catahoula Leopard dog, Texas adores the Blue Lacy and Virginia claims the American Foxhound. What breed would the fine folks of Florida even choose?

We don’t have an affinity for a particular one, I think. Sure, the American Kennel Club released statistics last year declaring the German Shepherd the most commonly owned dog in Florida. I find it a bit surprising since they’re fairly big dogs, and they require a lot of space and exercise. Golden Retrievers are the national favorite by far, so we’re running with a smaller pack here, but what’s new?

Certainly, there must be one sort of dog that’s right for us, but danged if I know which one. Florida is such a diverse state. We use dogs of all kinds as worker and service dogs, like hunting and farming, so there’s no real preference there. We don’t have a certain individual dog or breed which is special or native here, like the Alaskan Malamute is to Alaska. In Florida, we love them all.

With this in mind, I vote we follow the most excellent example set by our neighboring state, Georgia. Instead of choosing one breed of dog to represent them, those good folks adopted the Adoptable Dog as their favorite, which also goes for cats. Kudos to them!

More: Southern Perspective: This Valentine’s Day, show her you care with red velvet cake

Meant to help all shelter animals in need, their resolution states, “… and the State of Georgia wishes to promote animal rescue and adoption.” I’m so proud of the residents of Georgia, and I don’t even live there.

So, unless someone can offer a certain breed of dog which holds special significance to Florida, I say let’s be heroes to all of our friends who need homes here. Let’s show them some love with an official designation. We’ll get that love right back with every dog rescued.

Linda Davis is a columnist for the News Journal.

Democratic state Sen. Kevin Rader is attempting to give forgotten pets a little bit of the spotlight with a new bill designating shelter animals as the “state pet.”

“Any shelter animal that resides at or has been adopted from an animal shelter or an animal rescue organization is designated as the official Florida state pet,” the legislation reads.

Rader, who represents Senate District 29, filed the bill (SB 240) on Monday.

The bill was filed just a day after reports said nearly 300 dogs and cats were killed at the Humane Society of Grand Bahama because of the destruction of Hurricane Dorian.

Florida already has a state animal (the Florida Panther), a state bird (the Mockingbird) and even a state butterfly (the Zebra Longwing), among other animal-related symbols.

But Rader’s measure would add “state pet” to the list of state symbols.

Shelter animals are stray or lost animals that are kept and rehabilitated. Those shelters then attempt to find a home for those animals.

Rader’s push isn’t the only proposed addition to the state symbol list.

State Sen. Lauren Book, a Plantation Democrat, filed a bill in August (SB 38) that would designate coconut patties as the official state candy.

Should Rader’s bill win support, the measure would take effect immediately upon being signed into law.

Should the Seeing Eye dog be New Jersey’s official state dog?


The horse is New Jersey’s official animal. The blueberry its official fruit and the common blue violet its official flower. New Jersey is very close to having official bacteria – streptomyces griseus. What it does not have is an official state dog.

Thirteen states have an official state dog. Maryland was the first to adopt an official dog breed in 1964 with the Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Pennsylvania followed the year after with a Great Dane.

With the headquarters of the Seeing Eye based in his legislative district, and with the national service organization using downtown Morristown as a daily training course, Republican Sen. Anthony Bucco says the choice is an easy one.

Bucco, (R-25) is sponsoring a bill to designate the Seeing Eye dog as the state dog of New Jersey, in honor of the nonprofit group that has trained and matched more than 17,000 visually-impaired individuals with service animals since 1929.

Primary breeds trained for the Seeing Eye duty include German shepherds, Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers and Labrador/golden crosses.

“We often take for granted seeing a stop sign, or the edge of a train platform, but for those who are visually-impaired, something so simple can become a critical or even life-threatening obstacle,” Bucco said. “Every day, Seeing Eye dogs are trained in Morris County to create safety, independence and mobility for those in need.”

Seeing Eye spokeswoman Michelle Barlak said the idea has come up in the past, but never gained any traction among Trenton lawmakers.

“In recognition of our 90th anniversary, which is coming up in January, it seemed like a good time to pursue something like this,” Barlak said.

“This legislation is a great way to honor all they have done for the thousands of people in need of a loving service animal in New Jersey,” Bucco said.

Choosing an official state dog is not as easy as it sounds. Take for instance Georgia.

An effort to make the golden retriever the official Georgia state dog in 1991 was met by opposition by those who wanted the bulldog as the official dog. The bulldog is the official mascot for the University of Georgia and supporters thought that was the way to go. No agreement could be reached and Georgia, much like New Jersey, has no official state canine.

Perhaps New Jersey’s decision will be an easier one.

Morristown residents and visitors, in particular, have come to embrace Seeing Eye dogs as part of the fabric of the community. Dogs in training are seen walking with volunteer trainers on downtown streets throughout the day.

Bucco introduced the bill, S-2849, without a sponsor, on Thursday. It was referred to the Senate Health Committee for discussion.

“I don’t know why it didn’t come up sooner,” said Bucco, who owns a black Labrador.

Seeing Eye offices are based in Morris Township, but the organization bases training from a facility in neighboring Morristown. After the dogs are run through the program, visually-impaired owners come to Morristown to train with the dogs before they go home together.

“We started the guide-dog movement in the United States nearly 90 years ago, setting the standard and linking The Seeing Eye and the state of New Jersey as pioneers in the service-dog industry,” said Seeing Eye President and CEO Jim Kutsch. “Each year, hundreds of individuals travel to Morris County from across the United States and Canada to enhance their independence with a Seeing Eye dog, and our iconic brand is recognized around the world for the highest level of guide dog quality.”

Bucco added that the Seeing Eye also helps meet the needs of New Jersey’s veterans by prioritizing applications submitted by service members

Veterans are only charged a $1 fee for the cost of the dog, instruction and other resources.

“A Seeing Eye dog’s intelligence, loyalty, and gentle temperament make the animal an important resource for those who are visually-impaired,” Bucco added. “The goal of this legislation is to not only honor Seeing Eye dogs, but to also educate the public on how valuable these animals are for people with disabilities across New Jersey. I hope to see it become law as soon as possible.”

Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-19), who chairs the Senate Health Committee, said he was receptive to the bill and would be glad to work with Bucco to help move it “through the process” when the committee meets again in September.

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Staff Writer William Westhoven: 973-917-9242; [email protected]

States with official state dogs

  • Alaska – Alaskan Malamute
  • Louisiana – Catahoula Leopard dog
  • Maryland – Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  • Massachusetts – Boston Terrier
  • New Hampshire – Chinook
  • North Carolina – Plott Hound
  • Pennsylvania – Great Dane
  • South Carolina – Boykin Spaniel
  • Texas – Blue Lacy
  • Virginia – American Foxhound
  • Wisconsin – American Water Spaniel
  • Kansas – Cairn Terrier
  • Colorado – All shelter dogs

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Seeing Eye® Dog Designated As State Dog of New Jersey

While not especially common, the state dog is a symbol used by at least 13 states across the U.S.A, with several others pending legislation. Some state dogs, like the Boykin Spaniel in South Carolina, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever in Maryland, and the Boston Terrier in Massachusetts, reflect homegrown originals first developed in that state. Others, like the “working dog” in New York, are intended to honor broader categories of canines across a variety of breeds.

On January 21, 2020, New Jersey joined the ranks by bestowing the state dog designation on the Seeing Eye® dog. The Seeing Eye, based in Morristown, NJ, was first established in 1929 and is the world’s oldest existing guide dog school. Training and providing Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, and German Shepherd Dog guide dogs for the blind, the organization has been a source of pride in New Jersey for over 90 years. Each Seeing Eye dog is born and raised at the Morristown facility before being paired with a blind individual across the U.S or Canada.

Photo by The Seeing Eye, Inc

“As The Seeing Eye wraps up its 90th anniversary year, we are so honored that the great state of New Jersey has recognized the important role that Seeing Eye dogs have in the lives of the people who raise, train, and own them,” said Seeing Eye President & CEO Glenn Hoagland. “When our non-profit was founded, few people believed dogs could contribute to the health and wellness of humankind in the myriad of ways they do today. The work of our founders paved the way for acceptance of assistance animals in society, eventually leading to their incorporation into the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

The state dog bill was first introduced by the late state Senator Anthony R. Bucco. It passed the New Jersey Senate and Assembly this year with unanimous bipartisan support. Vital to the bill’s passage was Anthony M. Bucco, son of the late introducer. Both Buccos, like so many New Jerseyans, recognized the importance in honoring the achievements of the state’s Seeing Eye dogs through recognition as the official state dog.

The Seeing Eye has been a pioneer in assistance animal training since its outset. Today, they continue to provide blind individuals across the country with mobility support and greater independence. In total, Seeing Eye counts over 17,000 guide dogs pairing among its success stories. Honoring Seeing Eye dogs through the state dog designation is just one small way to recognize these amazing animals.

New Jersey’s New State Dog Is the Seeing Eye Dog

Here in New Jersey, our state bird is the Eastern Goldfinch, our state mammal is the horse, and the state dinosaur is the Hadrosaurus. However we have never had an official state dog, that is until now.

While some states have a specific breed, Tennessee’s is the Bluetick Coonhound and Delaware’s is the Golden Retriever, New Jersey went a different route when appointing our state dog. On Tuesday, Governor Phil Murphy signed the bill that made the Seeing Eye dog the state’s official dog.

The move to make Seeing Eye dogs as the official state dog makes sense since New Jersey is home to the oldest guide dog school in the country. The Seeing Eye in Morristown has a long history that began in 1928. While the school may not have been started in New Jersey, it has lived here since 1931.

Glenn Hoagland, CEO and President of The Seeing Eye stated on their website, “…we are so honored that the great state of New Jersey has recognized the important role that Seeing Eye® dogs have in the lives of the people who raise, train and own them…”