Papillon Guide

Toy Dog Breeds

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The papillon is a small, dainty, elegant dog of fine-boned structure, slightly longer than it is tall. Its gait is quick, easy and graceful. Its abundant coat is long, silky, straight and flowing. Its hallmark characteristic, besides its friendly temperament and alert expression, is its butterfly ears.

One of the most obedient and responsive of the toy breeds, the vivacious papillon is also gentle, amiable and playful. It is friendly toward strangers, other dogs and pets and is very good with children. Some can be timid.


FAMILY spitz, spaniel, 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

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The lively papillon thrives on mental stimulation, and it enjoys a daily walk on leash as well as challenging games indoors or out. This is not a breed that can live outdoors. Its coat needs brushing twice weekly.
• Major concerns: none
• Minor concerns: PRA, patellar luxation
• Occasionally seen: none
• Suggested tests: knee, eye
• Life span: 12 – 15 years
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The name papillon is French for butterfly, which the face and ears of this sprightly little dog should resemble. The papillon has its roots in the dwarf spaniels that were so popular throughout Europe from at least the 16th century. These little dogs were extremely popular with the nobility; as time went on, Spain and Italy became the centers of dwarf-spaniel breeding and trading. The court of Louis XIV of France was particularly fond of papillons and imported many of them. At one time the papillon was known as the squirrel spaniel because it carried its plumed tail over its back in the same way a squirrel does. These early dogs had drooping ears, but through some unknown event, some dogs sported erect ears. Both drop- and erect-eared papillons could be found in the same litter. Even today both ear types are equally correct, although the erect-eared dog is much more popular. In America, the drop-eared pap is known as the phalene, which is French for moth, whereas in Europe it is called the epagneul nain or Continental toy spaniel. By 1900, the papillon was well-represented at French dog shows and soon afterward was being shown in England and America. These earlier exhibits tended to be larger than those seen today, and featured mostly solid-colored dogs, usually of some shade of red. Selective breeding has resulted in a smaller dog that is distinguished by its striking colors broken by patches of white. A symmetrically marked face with white blaze adds to the butterfly appearance. The papillon has become one of the more popular toy dogs, functioning equally well as a loving pet, beautiful show dog and adept obedience competitor.
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