The papillon is a tiny toy breed with its origins set firmly in French soil. The energetic spaniels' name translates from French as "butterfly" -- a reference to the their big, wing-like ears. The history of papillons is a long one, dating back roughly 700 years. They were initially called "dwarf spaniels" and spent lots of time cuddling up to society ladies of France and Spain.
Papillons have a lot of prominent physical features, notably their smooth, long and luxurious fur. They do not have undercoats. Some papillons have mottled coat coloring, while others are mostly white with smaller markings in other colors. Their sizable trademark ears appear in two varieties; some papillons' ears are distinctly upright, while others are hanging. Both male and female papillons are similar in terms of size. Mature papillons generally grow to between 8 and 11 inches in length, with weights of between 4 and 9 pounds.
Papillons typically display jovial, spirited, clever and content temperaments. They adore making the humans in their lives feel good. They usually respond well to training. When they encounter new and unfamiliar people, they tend to be warm and inviting. Some papillons, however, are a little on the shy side. They tend to get along famously not only with fellow furry household pals, but also with children. Make sure to always closely look over them while they're around big dogs, as they are somewhat delicate due to their diminutive size, however. Papillons often possess guardian tendencies, and can be quite vigilant regarding their surroundings.
These spry canines need to go outdoors a minimum of two to three times each day for brief sessions of walking exercise. They also appreciate exercise in the form of interactive play sessions, say a brisk round of fetch in your living room. Papillons can thrive in all types of living situations, from sprawling rural homes to smaller urban condominiums.
Grooming of papillons isn't excessively time-consuming due to their lack of undercoat. However, routine brushing is still still imperative -- think once a week, at minimum. Papillons only call for "once in a while" bathing, so make a goal of 3-month intervals unless your little one got caught up into an icky, gooey mess or the weather is particularly sticky or muggy.
Papillons, for the most part, are sturdy dogs, with average lifespans of between 13 and 16 years. As with most canine breeds, however, papillons are susceptible to a handful of medical ailments. These include tooth issues, tracheal collapse, patellar luxation and progressive retinal atrophy. Regular visits to the veterinarian are an absolute must for papillons -- and for pooches of any other doggie breed, for that matter.
By Naomi Millburn
Animal Planet: Papillon Guide
The Westminster Kennel Club: Papillon
American Kennel Club: Papillon
DogChannel.com: Bringing Home a Papillon
ASPCA: Groom Your Dog
Papillon Club of America: Home
About the Author
Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.