The Papillon breed of dog is descended from the toy spaniels often depicted in the paintings of the old masters since the 16th century. They are very active and superb competitors in agility and obedience. Although they are purebred dogs, you may find them in the care of shelters or rescue groups. Remember to adopt. Don’t go shopping if you want to take a dog home. The sparkling personality of the breed makes these dogs a favourite with everyone who knows them. Although Papillons may be thought of as lap dogs, these dogs are active and playful, and are not content to stay on the couch all day. However, they love company and will always try to be where their humans are. This is not the breed for you if you are away from home for many hours a day. Meet the needs of the breed and you will have a loving companion who will not want to be separated from you.


Papillons do not do well in environments where there is little time for the dog. Puppies are fragile and can be injured by rough play. They are not suitable for families with very young children. Papillons are among the breeds that are sensitive to anaesthesia. To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill or pet shop. Look for a reputable breeder who tests their breeding dogs to make sure they have no genetic diseases that can be passed on to the puppies and that they have a sound temperament.


The Papillon was portrayed in portraits dating back to the 16th century, a testament to the age and staying power of the breed. Rubens, Watteau, Boucher, Van Dyke, Rembrandt and Fragonard portrayed them in various works of art, usually accompanying their affectionate mistresses. The little spaniels were the favourite companions of court ladies throughout Europe. The first toy spaniels from which the Papillon descended had floppy ears, but at the court of Louis XIV a small spaniel with erect ears was developed and given the name Papillon because of its resemblance to a butterfly. Other names by which the breed has been known over the centuries are Epagneul Nain (dwarf spaniel), Dwarf Continental Spaniels, Little Squirrel Dogs (because its full, feathered tail resembled that of a squirrel) or Belgian Toy Spaniels.besides the ears, the only other major change in the breed’s appearance was the colour. Originally the small spaniels were solid coloured, but today they are white with coloured spots. Otherwise, a modern day Papillon looks very much like one you might see in a painting in the Louvre. The floppy-eared variety, known as Phalene, still exists, although it is not seen as often. The Papillon is ranked 35th out of 155 breeds and varieties registered by the American Kennel Club.

Breed Characteristics:
All Around Friendliness:
Health And Grooming Needs:
Physical Needs:
Vital Stats:
Dog Breed Group: Companion Dogs
Height: 8 to 11 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight: 4 to 9 pounds
Life Span: 12 to 16 years

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