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    History & Overview

    The Papillon is believed to be one of the oldest of the toy breeds whose ancestors are believed to be small, long-eared dogs known as Belgian spaniels. These charming, vivacious little creatures used to be companions to the ladies of royal courts. The Papillon (meaning “butterfly” in French), received its name because, when its ears are erect, they appear to resemble the shape of a butterfly.


    This dainty, elegant, intelligent and friendly dog makes an excellent lap dog and companion. However, young children may present a problem for the Papillon because toddlers may play too roughly and abuse this “doll like” dog. Most of all, Papillon dogs want to be with their family, whether it’s long walks on the farm or simply lounging on the sofa, the Papillon is content as long as its by your side.


    Although most people think of Papillons as having those huge, erect, butterfly ears, it’s also perfectly normal for Papillons to have drop ears. These dogs are called Phalenes, a French word for moth. Phalenes look very much like the original Continental English Toy Spaniels.

    At A Glance

    Other Names:

    Continental Toy Spaniel, Pap

    Country of Origin:

    France, Belgium


    Companion Dog


    FCI Classification: Group 9 – Companion & Toy Breeds. Section 9 – Continental Toy Spaniels. Without working trial
    AKC Classification: Toy Group


    Small (8 – 11 inches at the shoulder)


    All colors are admitted on a coat with a white background. On the body and legs, the white must be dominant in relation to the color. A white marking is allowed on the lower part of the head.

    Litter Size:


    Life Span:

    13 – 16 years

    Grooming Requirements:

    Their coat has two layers, is unusually thick and should be brushed and combed two to three times a week.




    Papillons are happy dogs who make wonderful house pets. They are easy to train and very obedient. Papillon owners are very impressed by the Papillon’s intelligence and understanding of their owners. Papillon dogs make excellent therapy dogs.

    Social skills:

    Papillons are generally good with other animals but may challenge larger dogs.

    Suitability for Children:

    Young children may be too rough and clash with the sweet disposition of a Papillon.

    Exercise Needs:

    Papillons do well in apartments, and yet they will love to accompany you for a long walk in the park.

    Train Ability:

    Papillon is very intelligent, gentle and the most obedient of the Toy Breed.

    Health & Behavioral Issues:

    The Papillon breed is prone to progressive retinal atrophy, which affects the eyes and blinds the dog eventually. Dislocation of the knee cap is found in the Papillon as well as other small breeds.

    Video Credits: Animal Planet, Discovery Channel


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