Papillon dogs are also called the Continental Toy Spaniel and the Butterfly Dog, this diminutive breed features long, fringed hair on its ears, resembling a butterfly’s wings. Papillon dogs are animated and lively, greatly enjoying times of play. These affectionate gentle little dogs love to cuddle with their owners as well. Papillon means butterfly in French.
Elegant and fine-boned, this dog is a member of the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) Toy Group. It stands only 8 to 11 inches tall (20 to 28 cm) and weighs just 7 to 10 pounds (3 to 5 kg). It is part of the United Kingdom Kennel Club’s (UKC) Companion Dog Group. The AKC first recognized the breed in 1915 and the UKC recognized it in 1950.
Despite its small size and generally gentle nature, this breed can also be a warning protector, and therefore has a tendency to bark. So, although this dog is a good size for a small residence, it might not be the best apartment dweller because of the close proximity to neighbors.
Activity, such as play and daily walks, is needed for this energetic breed. Papillons enjoy the outdoors and frisky play. They can live to 16 years, sometimes longer.
Once known as Dwarf Spaniels, these dogs were found in 13th to 15th century Italian paintings. French and Spanish noblewomen often chose these little dogs as companions. Legend has it that Marie Antoinette walked to the guillotine with her small spaniel-like dog under her arm, possibly a Papillion. According to the story, her dog was spared and was cared for in a building in Paris that is known as the Papillon House. King Henry II owned Papillons and so did Madam de Pompadour, mistress of King Louis XIV.
A drop-eared variety, known as the Phalene (French for “moth”) also exists; originally, the breed had dropped ears. Within the AKC, both varieties are acceptable, but that is not the case with all Kennel Clubs.
A Papillon possesses a single, long, silky coat that requires regular brushing. A plumed tail is carried over the back. The Papillon is always parti-colored, white with patches of another color except liver. A colored mask covers both ears and eyes.
Because of their energy, charm, and love of play, Papillon dogs perform well in agility and obedience trials; they are also known for learning and performing tricks.