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One of the oldest toy Spaniels, the Papillon, has been around for centuries, appearing in various artwork in the 1500s. The Papillon’s name comes from its unique butterfly appearance of long, fringed hair hanging below its pointed ears. These tiny canines were famous in many parts of Europe in ancient days, especially among royal families. Still, the majority of the breed’s development took place in France.
Although they are not one of the most popular toy dogs today, Papillons make excellent companions nonetheless. Papillon owners adore them for their playful nature, infinite cuddles, and of course, their super cute looks.
Learn more about Papillon Breed
Meet the Papillon
These pocket-sized pups weigh just 4 to 9 pounds and stand 8 to 11 inches tall. They have dainty bodies with delicate bones, giving them an elegant appearance. They have gorgeously long and silky coats and distinctive, large ears that stand erect with long, feathery hairs hanging down to make them look like butterfly wings.
Not all Papillons will have pointed ears, though. Those with floppy ears are known as Phalene, which translates to “moth”, the cousin of the butterfly. Both Papillons and Phalenes can be born into the same litter and possess the same lovely personality traits. However, Papillons are aesthetically more desirable among dog owners.
The Papillon’s large ears look enormous against its tiny face. It had dark-coloured eyes with black rimming and a black nose and lips, defining its beauty further. Their soft, fluffy fur is a single coat that can be one of several interesting parti-colour combinations, white with fawn, chocolate, or black markings. The darker markings will be around the face and head, but they will have varying levels of white on their forehead and nose (known as the blaze and noseband).
As well as feathering around the ears, they usually have some on the forelegs and hind legs, too. Their hair is straight and fine and not as challenging to maintain as you would think. They don’t shed much, and you only need to brush them once or twice a week and bathe them very occasionally. Of course, you will need to take them to the groomers for trims from time to time, too.
The temperament of a Papillon dog
Papillon dogs are playful and active, and although they love to snuggle and curl up on their owners’ laps, they aren’t one to sleep all day long. Instead, these curious pups like to keep busy, always looking for something to do or some form of entertainment. Because of their high energy levels, they need frequent exercise and play sessions. Still, luckily they tire quickly, so you can play with them indoors rather than take them for a long walk.
Papillons tend to do fine in the heat but are susceptible to cold weather because of their lack of undercoat. Therefore, you should keep your Papillon mainly indoors during the winter.
Papillons are obedient, responsive and eager to learn, making training them a joy. They are also very smart and quickly learn basic commands and tricks. In addition, well socialised Papillons are outgoing and super friendly towards strangers, giving licks and kisses to their new friends. Plus, they will get along swimmingly with other dogs and cats if they receive early socialisation.
Papillons like to stay close to their owners at all times and can develop separation anxiety when their humans are away. However, if they live in a multi-dog household, having other canines around can ease their loneliness somewhat.
When you cannot give your Papillon attention, you’ll need to entertain them another way, with toys and puzzle feeders. They can get bored quickly, which you’ll want to avoid as boredom can lead to excessive barking and destructive behaviours.
10 reasons to add a Papillon to your family
- They have a unique appearance - This breed’s hallmark is undoubtedly their butterfly style ears.
- They are adorable and elegant - Their dainty bodies give them a very graceful look, while their gorgeous colouring and long, silky fur make them absolutely stunning.
- They are pocket-sized - Okay, you won’t be able to squeeze them in your pocket. Still, they will easily fit into your handbag and will enjoy you carrying them around like a princess.
- They are playful yet cuddly - These tiny pups get crazy energy bursts and love to run around. However, they also will snuggle with you on your lap after they quickly tire out.
- They like meeting new people - Papillons are friendly towards strangers and extremely warm and welcoming to anyone they meet.
- Their coats are easy to care for - You only have to brush them twice a week, and you won’t find dog hair all over your sofa and bed as they rarely shed.
- They love to learn - A Papillon is always up for a training session and gets just as excited as you when they pick up a new trick.
- Royal families loved them - Papillons have a long and exciting history, including being the companion of many European royal families.
- They can stay in any home environment - These adaptable pups do well anywhere they live and don’t need a garden.
- They live a long time - You’ll have up to 15 years of love and fun with this lively canine.
Best homes for a Papillon dog
The most important thing for a Papillon dog is to have an owner who is always around. Therefore, they do not do well in homes where their owners work full time or are too busy to give them the necessary attention. However, as they are small, easy to look after, and trainable, Papillons often make fabulous companions for retired older people.
Papillons do fine living in apartments and flats, so a garden is unnecessary for this breed, although they will certainly welcome it. If you introduce a Papillon puppy to other animals, it will most likely get along with them. Finally, they are not the best canine to bring into a home full of young, energetic children because of their small, delicate structure.