Papillon: those ears, though. The long hair that hangs from their cute, perky little ears makes them look like little butterflies. (Or Chrissy Snow from “Three's Company.”) Originally called the “dwarf spaniel,” this breed might have gotten its new name from the last queen of France. Marie Antoinette called her dog “le petit papillon,” or “little butterfly.” Stories have it that her majesty carried her Papillon with her while she walked to the guillotine. (The dog supposedly survived the revolution; Marie Antoinette, of course, did not.)
This ancient breed has also appeared in paintings by Renaissance giants Rembrandt, Titian, and Rubens. Today, most Papillons are cherished lapdogs. They also do well in therapy work.
Originally from France, this small-sized and medium-energy breed can grow to between 4-9 pounds and lives an average of 12-15 years. The breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club and classified as a member of the Toy group.
AKC Recognized: Y
Breed's Original Pastime: Companion
Breed Group: Toy
Average Lifespan: 12-15 years
Bark Factor: Moderate
AKC RANKING 36
FAMILY spitz, spaniel, companion
AREA OF ORIGIN France
DATE OF ORIGIN 1500s
ORIGINAL FUNCTION lap dog
TODAY'S FUNCTION companion
AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 8-11 Weight: 4-9
AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 8-11 Weight: 4-9
OTHER NAME epagneul nain (phalene is also known as Continental toy spaniel)
Energy level High energy
Exercise needs Low
Playfullness Very playful
Affection level Very affectionate
Friendliness toward other dogs Very friendly
Friendliness toward other pets Very friendly
Friendliness toward strangers Very friendly
Ease of training Hard to train
Watchdog ability High
Protection ability Not very protective
Grooming needs Moderate maintenance
Cold tolerance Low tolerance
Heat tolerance Medium tolerance
BEHAVIOR & TRAINING
WHAT IS A PAPILLON'S PERSONALITY LIKE?
Cheerful, clever, and curious, Papillons are basically butterflies that you can cuddle. They're affectionate, playful, and funny. These dogs are absolutely wonderful with children. As with any tiny breed, however, you'll want to be sure to supervise play so that your little furry friend isn't accidentally injured. Strangers of the two- or four-legged variety are just friends your Papillon hasn't met yet.
WHAT IS PAPILLON BEHAVIOR LIKE?
This is a little dog with a lot of energy. While you can meet her exercise needs with indoor romps, your Papillon's busy brain will enjoy the opportunity to get outside and sniff the flowers. These dogs also enjoy playing fetch. At home, they're usually calm and alert. Papillons can be a bit barky, so be sure to discourage nuisance barking early and often.
HOW EASY IS IT TO TRAIN A PAPILLON?
People-pleasing Papillons are exceedingly trainable. They learn quickly and respond well to games and treat rewards. They're also sensitive, so be gentle with your furry friend.
Among toy breeds, these dogs are some of the best competitors in agility and obedience. They make good canine citizens in the dog park, but will probably be safest and most comfortable on the small dog side of the park.
CARE & HEALTH
HOW MUCH DO PAPILLONS SHED AND WHAT ARE THEIR GROOMING NEEDS?
A Papillon's long, straight, silky coat will need twice-weekly combing and brushing. That single coat doesn't require much professional grooming, though — just bathe them as needed. They're average shedders.
WHAT HEALTH PROBLEMS DO PAPILLONS HAVE?
Papillons are generally healthy. Some are prone to eye disease, slipping kneecaps, seizures, and heart disease. Testing for von Willebrand Disease is standard in this breed. Some skeletal and spinal conditions can be problematic as well, so be sure to discuss this with your veterinarian if you're considering getting your own “little butterfly.”
As do many toy breeds, Papillons need to eat often to stave off hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Feed them small, frequent meals of complex carbohydrates, fat, and high protein.
Breed history has moved while this section is under construction. Please check out the first tab for fun facts about this breed's history. You can also read on to learn about this breed's ideal family situation.
ARE PAPILLONS GOOD FOR PEOPLE WITH ALLERGIES?
The American Kennel Club doesn't list Papillons among its breeds recommended for allergy sufferers.
You can reduce your furry friend's impact on your allergies with frequent baths and brushings to reduce loose hairs and aggravating proteins in your pet's dander. Use a damp cloth to wipe off your dog after you've been playing outside. Smaller dogs have less surface area, and so produce comparatively less dander than larger breeds — definitely something to keep in mind with a dog as tiny as a Papillon! Remember that no breed is 100% hypoallergenic, and any breed can aggravate allergies.
WHAT IS A PAPILLON'S BEST DAY?
Playing with your Papillon outside — a game of fetch or a romp at the small-breed dog park would be just the thing.
SHOULD I ADOPT A PAPILLON?
These loving, playful, travel-sized dogs do well in many different kinds of homes. Papillons don't mind the heat, but their coats and tiny size don't provide much protection from the cold. (Bonus: excuse to dress this cutie up in adorable little sweaters.) Obviously, if you need a dog to protect farm animals, Papillons are not up to the task. But for folks in search of a sweet-natured companion, these dainty dogs are just the right size to fit in your heart and home.
Have you decided that a Papillon is the perfect dog for you? Why not be your new best friend's hero and adopt a rescue! Be sure to check out our article on what to expect when you're adopting a dog or cat.