Papillon - Breed Introduction
Elegances. That’s what the “butterfly” of the dog world portrays. The Papillon (which is “butterfly” in French) is a small, friendly toy dog. It’s distinguished from other breeds for its fine-boned structure, lively action, and most of all, its beautiful butterfly-like ears.
Small, the Papillon measures 8 to 11 inches at the shoulder, and its weight will be in proportion to its height. It’s small bone structure makes it surprisingly a very light weight breed.
History of the Breed
Bright and perky, with elegant ears and a royal attitude, the Papillon is a hardy little dog that brightens the darkest day. Bred to be a companion, this toy dog fills that role to perfection, for it thrives on human company and delights in pleasing its owners. Developed from the Continental Toy Spaniel, the Papillon looks like a butterfly because of its distinctive head markings that resemble that magnificent creature.
The Phalene, a separate variety of the breed with drop ears, takes its name from the butterfly's cousin, the moth, another winged beauty that folds its wings when at rest. Phalenes and Papillons can be born in the same litter, but Phalenes are not as popular as their brethren with the upright ears.
The Papillon is related to several toy spaniels, and it is difficult to ascertain when it became a separate breed. The dog is one of several developed during the height of royal reign in Europe as a lap dog for the ladies of the court, for the royal families were the only ones who could afford to buy and breed dogs solely as companions.
European artists as far back as the 15th Century included Papillons in their paintings of kings and princes. The dogs figure in the lore of royal families. According to Carolyn and David Roe in their book "The Complete Papillon" King Henri of France suspended small, open baskets around his neck, filled them with Papillons, and appeared in council. One of these tiny dogs warned him of the treachery of the monk Jacques Clement, but the king did not listen.
When the dog refused to cease barking at the monk, the king confined her to another room. The monk stabbed the king. Thanks to the din raised by the dogs, the monk was caught, but the king died.
Of the two types of Papillon, the drop-eared variety probably preceded the erect-eared dogs as it more closely resembles the other toy spaniel breeds.
First represented in the American Kennel Club in 1935, this delightful little dog enjoys great popularity in both conformation and performance competitions.
Color and Coat
The Papillon has a long, silky top coat with no undercoat. The hair is straight; the chest, ears, backs of the forelegs, and the hind legs above the hocks are fringed. However, as fine as this hair is, it needs little grooming.
The coat is abundant, long, fine, silky, flowing, straight with resilient quality, flat on back and sides of body. The Papillon has a frill on its chest, its ears are well fringed, and the hind legs are covered to the hocks with breeches (culottes). The tail is a long, flowing plume. Hair on the Papillon’s feet is short, but fine tufts may appear over toes and grow beyond them, forming a point.
The Papillon is always parti-color or white with patches of any color(s). On the head, color(s) other than white must cover both ears, back and front, and extend without interruption from the ears over both eyes. A clearly defined white blaze and noseband are preferred to a solidly marked head.
Symmetry of facial markings is desirable. The size, shape, placement, and presence or absence of patches of color on the body are without importance. Among the colors there is no preference, provided nose, eye rims and lips are well pigmented black.
In the show ring, the Papillon will be penalized if any color other than white is covering both ears (back and front) or is not extending over both eyes. And all white dog or a dog with no white is not accepted.
Personality and Temperament
The Papillon is a “big dog in a little package”. It doesn’t know it’s small, and will take on any person or dog that it thinks is a problem. It’s a great watchdog, and will bark at any noise it does not recognize. While a small dog and perfect for apartment living, its barking can become a problem if the Papillon is trained not to do it.
While intelligent, it is also stubborn. If it becomes mad or upset, it can make messes, or be hard to housebreak. If you need to be gone a long time during the day, it’s worth the time to crate train your Papillon and invest in a good crate for it to stay in.
While many families would like to have Papillons for their younger children because of their size, it’s not recommended because the puppies and younger dogs are fragile. If the child is older, and knows how to handle and play with a smaller dog, then the Papillon is a perfect dog for them.
They love attention, and in turn, will give their owner their undivided attention. They make perfect therapy dogs because of their size, light weight and personality, not to mention their gorgeous look!
The judge looks for a friendly, intelligent face of course framed by the large butterfly ears. The gait should be free, quick, graceful; with two feet on the ground at all time, and not a one-foot pattern.
The bone structure is dainty, fine boned. The feet are thin and more hare-like. And despite its small size, the Papillon is a well developed dog.
Typical Health Concerns
Physically healthy, the Papillon is long-lived. Its major health problems include patellar luxation (loose kneecaps), some eye problems, and occasionally a soft spot or fontanel on the skull. Dogs that have these problems should not be bred.
Called the “wash and wear” dog, the Papillon’s silky coat makes it easy to groom. It should be combed out when it’s still damp so the hairs don’t break. Some corn starch will help the hairs not to stick together, making combing easier.
The hair between the pads on the feet can be trimmed. Do not trim any of the hair on its ears, hind legs or tail! It’s ears, eyes and nose should be checked and cleaned regularly.
Average Life Span
Long lived due to its small size, the Papillon’s average life span is 13 to 16 years.