AKC Dog Breeds: Papillon

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Toy Group
Height:8-11 inches  Weight: 7-10 pounds  Color: white with patches of any color except liver

The Papillon is a small, friendly, elegant toy dog with a fine boned structure. He is light and dainty, yet still lively, and is distinguished from other breeds by his beautiful, butterfly-like ears. They are known to be happy and alert little dogs that are not shy or aggressive. Papillons, which used to only have large, drooping ears, were known in the 16th and 17th centuries as Dwarf Spaniels and were often depicted on the laps of French and Spanish noblewomen. Over time, an erect-eared type, fringed as to resemble the ears of a butterfly, developed (Papillon means "butterfly" in French). In the United States, Papillons (erect-eared) and Phalenes (drop-eared) can be born in the same litter and are shown together as one breed. The breed was registered with the AKC in 1915.

General Appearance
Also called the Continental Toy Spaniel, the Papillon has a tail which is long and plumed and carried curled over the back. For this reason the Papillon was once called a Squirrel Spaniel. Its long lustrous coat is white with patches of any color, except liver. Besides the butterfly ears, the trademark of the little Papillon is the coat of hair. To tell a good quality Papillon coat is to take the hand and run it backwards against the dog's hair. Quality hair will fall right back into place, and its maintenance will be a breeze as the hair is simple and straight normally. Many breeders of Papillons say that Papillon hair has the "flexibility of nylon but feels like 'peau d'ange', " which is French for angel's skin, or a wonderful type of satin. The butterfly ears are carried either erect or drooping. Papillon with drop ears are called Phalene Papillon (Moth). There is a well-defined white nose band. It has an alert and intelligent expression. The Papillon's muzzle is short and a bit pointed. The dog should be white with patches of any color. A color other than white should cover both eyes and both ears back to front.


The Papillon is a very intelligent toy dog that is quick to learn and eager to please. These dogs excel in obedience and agility training. These dogs make excellent companion dogs and family pets. Although elegant and graceful, the Papillon also has plenty of energy and loves to play. These small dogs have bags of personality and character, and also have plenty of stamina and enthusiasm for everything they do. An excellent tracker dog, the Papillon loves to work and also enjoys getting involved with family activities and fun. This is not a breed for those that do not have the time to dedicate to interacting with their pets. The Papillon is an alert dog with plenty of spirit, and is an ideal choice for active owners. These intelligent and keen dogs make obedience training easy and fun, although owners will need to exercise assertiveness and confidence in order to try and combat the Papillon's bossy and possessive streak. He is a quick learner and easy to train, making him ideal for the more inexperienced dog owner as well as for those with experience. However, he can be difficult to housebreak. A keen barker, this breed makes an effective watchdog but can get a little noisy! The Papillon will get along fine with older, gentler children. He is not suited to younger or more boisterous children because his tiny size means that he can get injured easily. These dogs will also be friendly and welcoming around strangers, and tend to get along fine with other small dogs and cats, although he may try and stand up to larger dogs. Some dogs can be confident and sociable, but others may be more timid and nervous.


The Papillon is a moderate shedder. Therefore, they need to be brushed several times a week. It is important to pay particular attention to the hair behind the ears and on the stomach as these areas are prone to matting. They should only be bathed when necessary, dry shampooing will typically suffice. It is important to keep the pads of their paws trimmed to prevent splaying.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy
The Papillon has a long life expectancy of around 15-18 years, and there are a number of health issues that are linked to this breed. This includes eye problems, heart problems, liver disorders, PRA, luxating patella, anemia, epilepsy, and sensitivity to drugs and chemicals.

Activity Level
As small as the Papillon is, they still need an average amount of exercise, due to their high-energy nature. The Papillon loves outdoor exercise and enjoys a daily walk. Yards must be securely fenced, as this breed will use their problem solving skills to escape if left unsupervised. The Papillon is an active indoor breed and some of their exercise needs can be fulfilled with play sessions. They are not recommended for apartment living due to their propensity to bark.


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