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Papillon Dog Breed

The Papillon dog breed is a lively, charming and very dainty small breed that is easily recognized by its distinctive ears, which stand straight up and resemble spread out butterfly wings - hence its French name which means Butterfly.

A variation of the Papillion dog is the Phalene, which has dropped ears - and whose name refers to a moth which folds its wings down at rest.

papillon dog

Although there is considerable debate about the breed's country of origin, the ancestors of the Papillon dog are believed to include several varieties of toy spaniels. Some sources claim a dwarf Spanish spaniel as the primary ancestor, while others point to the Epagneuls Nains of Belgium.

This breed was very popular with the French aristocrasy at the time of Marie Antoinette who, it is said, enjoyed owning one of them. Their likeness has also often been captured in paintings by many famous artists dating back to the 15th Century, such as the one below by Renoir.

One interesting fact about the elegant Papillon dog breed is that they are thought to have extra-sensory perception.

Papillon Dog Breed Health Profile

papillons dog owner guideWhile Papillon dogs are generally considered to be a very healthy breed and live a relatively long life, in some cases up to seventeen years, there are a few health concerns associated with this toy dog.

One of the top issues has to do with dental related problems. As to be expected, the Papillon's teeth are small as are the roots. Small teeth and small jaw bones seem to coincide with greater tooth loss in toy dogs, if and when the pet should develop a gum disease such as gingivitis.

While preventative dental care, including regular brushing and tartar removal is necessary for all dogs, it is of even greater importance for this little dog. In addition to tooth loss, oral problems can lead to infections and in turn to other significant diseases affecting the major organs.

Another condition that occurs more commonly is Luxating Patella, or slipped kneecap in the rear legs, which is believed to be a genetic issue. Of course, this delicate boned dog is also more prone to broken bones, so care should be taken to protect him from activities that may increase the risk for injury.

A potential issue for the Papillon dog breed is Progressive Retinal Atrophy, which can cause blindness. Those interested in acquiring a Papillon puppy would want to ask about the health history of the parents with respect to eye conditions and to make sure that the have been certified to be clear of this disease.

In addition to the issues mentioned, anaesthesia can be more troublesome for this small dog.

Personality and Traits:

The Papillon dog breed is a very affectionate dog and is know for forming close bonds with its human family. In fact, they are often referred to as velcro dogs because they like to follow owners around the house, getting in the middle of everything.

This delightful small dog is an excellent companion dog that is quite protective - as such, it also follows that they can be barkers. Early training is needed to prevent them from becoming nuisance barkers which shouldn't be a problem since they are quick learners and thrive on both mental and physical challenges.

Papillon dogs are hardy, agile and smart and are a good choice if you are interested in training them for competitive obedience, or agility in which they can hold their own.

papillon dog

Appearance, Coat and Care

Height: 8-11 inches
Weight: 8-10 pounds
The Papillon dog breed is delicate in structure with slender legs, a small rounded skull with eyes appearing on the large size, and a pointed narrow face.

Official AKC coat colors are white and black, white and lemon, white and red, white and sable, or tri-color (white, black and tan). More often the coat colors we see are predominantly white with patches of black or brown.

This breed is very clean and self-grooming. There is no undercoat and shedding is about average. Although the coat is long and silky, it doesn't require a great deal of grooming - just a couple of brushings a week will keep it orderly. However, left unattnded, mats could become a problem.

Activity Level

The Papillon dog is an ever curious pet, very active and playful around the house. As such, it doesn't require a lot of additional exercise, but a daily walk is always enjoyed and recommended to benefit the health of mind and body.

The dog park is another option for exercising your Papillon as, believe it or not, they are very good at retrieving the usual flying objects such as balls or small frisbees.

Organic Toys For Papillons

organic cotton petite elephant dog toy
Petite Grey

organic cotton 4-inch cow with squeaker dog toy
Organic Cotton
Squeaker Toy
organic cotton piggy poo with squeaker dog toy
Piggy Poo
Squeaker Toy

Space Needs

This breed is better suited to living in a house as they do tend to sound the alarm in response to unfamiliar noises, which might be unpopular in an apartment setting.

Aside from giving consideration to this trait, they do not require a lot of space, although a yard is always useful for play and other obvious necessities.


This little dog does not like rough play and is more suited to families with older children who are very considerate of pets and gentle with them.

It is best not to have them be around small children, especially as puppies, because their bone structure is even more delicate at this stage and more prone to injury during playful activities.


Elderly or more sedentary owners who do not have "resident" small children or grand children will enjoy this delightful and undemanding breed.

Papillon dogs are attentive and loving and have frequently been used in therapy situations. However it should be kept in mind that while they don't require huge amounts of exercise, they should not be kept housebound and do need get out for walks.

Papillon dog breed image

Fun Stuff for Small dogs:

funny book -  Memoirs of a Furry Genius, as told by a Papillon dog
Small Dog, Big Life: Memoirs of a Furry Genius

Read this hilarious book as told by
Genvieve, a very cute Papillon!

Find more information on the breed here

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