Papillon Puppy Facts

Did you just bring home a new Papillon puppy and want to learn more about the breed?

Maybe you are thinking about buying a puppy and want to know if this is the right breed of dog for you and your family?

No matter what your situation may be, you will find the answers to your questions right here!



Breed History

The breed, also known as Continental Toy Spaniel, Phalene, Epagneul nain Continental, Dwarf Spaniel, and Butterfly Dog, dates back to at least early 16th century Europe. Dogs resembling the modern breed were depicted in numerous paintings of that era.

It's not clear where the breed was developed but there are several theories regarding its origin...

Some experts believe the breed was first created in China before making its way to Italy. On the surface, it seems possible, as China did have small, long-coated spaniels resembling the Papillon.

Others believe the breed originated in Spain because the word "spaniel" means "dog of Spain". But I don't think this is enough to say with certainty that the breed originated in Spain. Finally, FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale) considers England, France, and Belgium as the birthplace of the modern breed.

There are several more theories, but none of them are probable and are not taken seriously. One such theory states that the breed is descended from the Chihuahua after it was brought to Spain from Mexico.

So, while it's not clear where the breed was first created, we know for sure that it first gained its popularity in Italy, followed by Spain. Later, many of these dogs were sold to the court of Louis XIV, thus introducing the breed to France, a country responsible for the breed's name (the Papillon means "butterfly" in French) and most of its development.

Prior to acquiring its modern name the breed was known as the Dwarf Spaniel. The modern name was given after the breed developed the distinctive erect ears that resemble the wings of a butterfly.

There are two varieties of Papillon -- erect-eared (more popular) and drop-eared. In Europe the drop-eared variety is called Phalene. And though both can be born in the same litter, FCI strictly prohibits the two types from mix mating. AKC, on the other hand, allows mix mating. And both organizations allow two varieties to compete in the same ring.

Some of the breed's talents include competitive obedience and agility. It can even be trained to perform tricks!

The Papillon was first recognized by the AKC in 1935.

Physical Characteristics of Papillon Puppies

This is a small, elegant, and fine-boned dog. His body is slightly longer than it is tall, with medium depth chest, well sprung ribs, straight back, and medium length neck. The tail is long, carried arched over the body, and is covered with a long plume.

The front legs are slim and straight. The back legs are slim and parallel when viewed from behind. The feet are small and elongated.

The head is small, slightly rounded and of medium width. The eyes are medium size, dark, and round. The nose is black, slightly flat on top, and small. But it's the ears that are the most distinctive feature of this breed. They are large, with long hair, and can be either erect or drop type. Overall, they have a butterfly-like look that gave the breed its modern name.

The single coat is long, straight, and silky, with extra frill on the chest, tail and the ears. The hair on the head and legs is short except for the back of the hind legs. The coat is always parti-colored or white with patches of any color accept for liver.

    Height Weight
  Male 8 - 11 inches 7 - 10 pounds
  Female 8 - 11 inches 7 - 10 pounds


The Papillon is a lively, playful, and animated dog. He is also a lot tougher than he looks. Many owners call them big dogs in a small dog's body!

The breed is very bright and is considered on par with the Toy Poodle as the most intelligent and trainable of the toy breeds. It also rates highly among all breeds, regardless of size. No wonder it does so well in obedience or agility competitions! It can also be trained to perform tricks.

While Papillons can be standoffish with strangers, they are friendly and get along with other pets. They are good with children but similar to other toy breeds, will do better in a family with older children.

Because of its strong instinct to protect its property, the Papillon will bark at the slightest noise. And while this makes him a good watchdog, the small size prevents him from being used as a guard dog.

While easy to train, like many small breeds, this breed may be more difficult to housebreak than some larger breeds. Don't get discouraged, it's not a reflection of your pet's intelligence.

Also similar to many small breeds, it may develop a Small Dog Syndrome, a condition where a dog likes to act as a pack leader to his family. Some behaviors common to this syndrome include separation anxiety, possessiveness, snapping and biting, and obsessive barking. You will need to set rules for your pet to follow and act as his or her leader to prevent this condition from setting in.

Best Owner / Living Conditions

Many feel that all small dogs are well-suited for an apartment lifestyle. That is not so, and this breed is a good example why. The Papillon has a strong protective instinct and will bark at the slightest noise. If you live in an apartment building, your neighbors will not appreciate them as much as you will.

As far as the type of owner this breed will do best with, there are no special requirements. Well, almost none. It's not the best choice for a person looking for a calm and cuddly lapdog.

Some Papillon breeders may interview prospective owners to make sure this is the right breed for them.

Activity and Exercise

While all breeds need regular exercise to stay physically and mentally fit, the Papillon doesn't need a lot of it. In fact, most of his daily exercise requirements can be satisfied with regular indoor activities, including play.

But even when they get sufficient exercise, all dogs need to be taken for a daily walk. At a minimum, take your pet for at least one walk every day.

Grooming and Care

Many feel that grooming a Papillon dog requires a lot of time and effort. But while these dogs do require daily brushing, their grooming requirements are not that demanding.

In addition to daily brushing, you'll also need to brush your pet's teeth regularly to prevent tartar buildup, gingivitis, and tooth loss. Many feel that brushing their dog's teeth is silly. Well, it's not, especially with smaller breeds such as the Papillon. The leading cause of tooth loss is gingivitis and, because of their smaller jaw bone, small breeds lose their teeth more frequently than larger breeds.

What you will not need to do a lot of is bathing your pet. This is an odorless and very clean breed and you can get away with bathing or dry shampooing you pet only when absolutely necessary.

Health Concerns

Like all dog breeds, Pappilons are susceptible to complications caused by internal and external parasites such as ticks, fleas, and worms.

Additional health concerns include patellar luxation, PRA (minor concern), dental problems, and liver disorders (minor concern). Similar to other toy breeds, this breed exhibits some sensitivity to anesthesia. Visit dog health problems for more information about dog diseases and health.

While buying from responsible dog breeders will not completely eliminate the risk of genetic diseases common to this breed, it will certainly reduce it. So, buy only from reputable Papillon breeders to reduce the risk of the above and many other health problems.

But no matter how careful you are, even healthy dogs get sick. Many health problems will require an immediate attention from your Vet, but numerous others will not be emergencies and you will be able to handle them on your own. If you know how to...

Learn how to save time and money (and how to prevent small problems become big problems) by diagnosing and treating dog health problems that don't require your Vet's attention.

Life Expectancy

The average life expectancy for healthy Papillon puppies is between 13 and 16 years.

Did you ever consider adopting your next pet?

If this is the breed you are interested in, and adoption appeals to you, consider contacting your local Papillon rescue. There are thousands of pets waiting for a loving home and, yes, it's possible to adopt a purebred dog.

Puppy Training

Not happy with your pet's behavior? Need help with training your dog for obedience? If you answered "YES", then check this Papillon Behavior and Obedience Training Guide.

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Papillon Puppies » Dog Breeds

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