The Papillon is a small breed with a dainty and well balanced body which is distinctively characterized by the shape and position of the ears. It has butterfly-like heavily fringed ears set towards the back of the head which, when erect are carried obliquely just like the spread wings of a butterfly, hence the name. Completely dropped ears are known as the “Phalene” (moth). Other facial features include a finely pointed muzzle with a well-defined stop and a black nose, dark round eyes, and complete scissor bite. The Papillon has is longer than it is tall and has a deep chest, straight legs with fairly long and hare-like feet. The long tail is highly set and arches over the back with fringes falling to the side to form a plume. The long, fine, silky coat is abundant with a profuse frill on the chest without any undercoat. The coat colour is white with patches of any colour except liver. Tricolours are black and white with tan spots over the eyes, inside ears, cheeks and under the root of the tail.
The Papillon is a breed that originated in Spain and was developed and perfected in France which became a favourite at the French Court. It was made popular by Henry III when the Papillon was declared as the official dog of the Royal Court during his reign. Papillon got its name from its butterfly-like ears. It is one of the ancient breed of dogs going back to as early as 700 years ago. In its native origin in France, it was known as the “epagneul nain” or dwarf spaniel and had drop-ears similar to the spaniel-type breeds. The breed was featured in many Rennaissance church frescos and Italian paintings during the 13th through 15th centuries. Much of the evidences with regards to the development of the Papillon came from depiction in paintings. Besides being likened to a butterfly, the breed’s way of carrying its tail is also likened to that of a squirrel. Although the original Papillons had drop-ears, somewhere in the phase of their development caused some breeds to litter erect ears. In fact, there were occasions that both drop-eared and erect-eared Papillons came from the same litter. The drop-eared dogs are also known as “Phalene” (French: moth) because the ears resembles that of a moth. Today, the Papillon is more popular than the Phalene, although the latter is gradually gaining popularity as well.
The Papillon is a very swift runner and is very capable of walking great distances. It is a very versatile breed which is quite adaptable to any environment. It is highly energetic and intelligent, and loves exhausting its energy to athletic activities but it can also be quiet, patient and mild when it needs to. The Papillon is very gracious, good-natured and compliant. The Papillon will bark energetically when it hears noises. Occasionally, it is difficult to housebreak but is otherwise easy to train especially in obedience.
Papillon's are highly intelligent dogs and are quite eager and willing to please their owners which makes training challenges quite easy. Successful training with this breed is always archived by having healthy consistency and by starting training at a very early age.
Grooming requirement is moderate. The long, fine, silky coat needs regular brushing and combing. The coat never forms matt or tangle. The Papillon has no doggy odor so bathing should be kept to a minimum. Although it is not generally advisable for an apartment living, it can adapt to an urban environment, but it would be best suited in a house with a yard. However, the Papillon is not a typical outdoor breed so it should be kept inside the house.
The Papillon is generally a healthy breed, although like most dogs, they are not without medical problems. One known medical problem is von Willebrand’s disease, a form of blood clotting problem; luxating patella, common in small breeds, is caused by the abnormal slipping or dislocation of the kneecap. A congenital heart disease known as mitral valve dysplasia can severely affect the breed. Lastly, progressive retinal atrophy or PRA, a hereditary disease of the retina also may affect this breed.
The Papillon should be given foods that are a blend of poultry, lamb, potato, wheat and corn. These foods are very similar to those found in the breed’s native origin.
The Papillon requires regular exercise to keep it in excellent condition. Daily short walks will generally keep this breed happy and satisfied.
It is good with older, more considerate children who will not subject the breed to rough-housing. It can also get along well with other domesticated animals in the house if it is socialized at an early age. It has the tendency to be jealous of its master and may be aggressive towards other larger breeds.