Skip to Content

Papillon Dog Breed: What You Have To Know

Papillon Dog Breed: What You Have To Know

As the brightest and most trainable of the toy breeds, the Papillon is in a tie with the Toy Poodle. Obedience and agility trainers that want a top-notch competition dog in a little package frequently choose the enthusiastic, athletic Papillon.

Papillons are energetic and playful both indoors and out, but they’re also light-footed and graceful, so they won’t knock down lamps.

However, the Papillon dog breed is not for everyone looking for a toy breed. If you want a quiet, cuddly lapdog, they’re not the ideal pick. The majority of Papillons, especially when young, are energetic, inquisitive dogs. They hate sitting stationary for long periods of time.

The Papillon is a rapid learner who responds well to praise and food-based training techniques. If you jerk these delicate dogs around on a leash, they will wilt.

Obedience, on the other hand, may not come quickly. Some Papillons, particularly females, are cunning and will try to persuade you to do things you don’t want to do. They’ll sulk if it doesn’t work. If you want to outsmart these brilliant girls, you must be both gentle and relentless.

Papillons have a good sense of smell and are vigilant dogs. That means they sound the alarm not only when people are at the door, but also while they are walking down the street or working in the neighbor’s garden. Excessive barking, in other words, can happen and needs to be addressed. Most toy breeds have this characteristic.

With strangers, most Papillons are courteous but reserved. Socialization is critical in the development of a confident attitude toward people in all sweet-natured breeds.

Papillon dog breed

The Papillon, whose name is derived from the French word for butterfly, is a modern interpretation of the little spaniels frequently shown in art from the past. The dwarf spaniel, as he was formerly known, has evolved slightly in look throughout time, but he remains the same beautiful friend that once graced the laps of women and kings.

The word papillon relates to the breed’s fringed erect ears, which resemble the outspread wings of a butterfly. A drop-eared variant known as the phalene, which means “moth,” is a cousin of the butterfly that folds its wings when at rest. Although the Papillon is the more popular and recognized variant, both forms can be born in the same litter.

While the bright, lively, and curious Papillon may be classified as a lap dog due to his size, he won’t be too calm on there. He’s probably not the ideal pick if you want a dog to sit on your lap while you watch TV. He’ll be darting around looking for something to do, and he’ll gladly rid your home and yard of any small rodents that may be lurking there.

And this small dog in a tough package takes his role as family member and guardian very seriously. He has a big-dog mentality and a high degree of vigilance that makes him a great watchdog, but when it comes to guarding you, be sure he doesn’t bite off more than he can handle. He is completely unaware that he only weights 4 to 9 pounds.


Portraits of the Papillon date back to the 16th century, demonstrating the breed’s history. They were depicted in different works of art by Rubens, Watteau, Boucher, Van Dyke, Rembrandt, and Fragonard, frequently with their adoring mistresses. Court ladies all around Europe adored the small spaniels. Traders hauled them across France, Italy, and Spain in baskets drawn by mules.

Early toy spaniels, from which the Papillon descended, had drop ears, but at Louis XIV’s court in the 17th century, a little spaniel with erect ears was developed and given the name Papillon because of its similarity to a butterfly. Epagneul Nain (dwarf spaniel), Dwarf Continental Spaniels, Little Squirrel Dogs (because their full, plumed tail resembled that of a squirrel), and Belgian Toy Spaniels are some of the other names that the breed has been known by over the ages.

The only other significant alteration in the breed’s appearance, aside from the ears, was in color. The small spaniels were formerly solid-colored, but now they’re white with color patches. A Papillon nowadays appears to be very similar to one seen in a Louvre painting. The Phalene, a drop-eared variety, is still around, albeit he’s not as abundant as he once was. The Papillon is number 35 on the American Kennel Club’s list of 155 breeds and varieties.

Papillons were a favorite of royalty due to their small size and delicate, graceful appearance, with Thisbe, the papillon of Marie Antoinette, being possibly the most famous example.

Papillon achievements

In 1999, a Papillon made breed history when it won Best In Show at the Westminster Kennel Club. In addition to the World Dog Show in Helsinki, Finland, and the Royal Invitational in Canada in 1998, the dog, Ch. Loteki Supernatural Being, or Kirby to his friends, won the World Dog Show in Helsinki, Finland, and the Royal Invitational in Canada. The wins of this dog helped to popularize the Papillon by introducing it to many people who had never seen or heard of it before. Despite this, there aren’t Papillons on every street corner. He’s not a rare breed, but neither is he super common. Because Papillons produce tiny litters, most breeders maintain a waiting list.

For centuries, the Papillon has been bred to be the perfect companion. They are exceedingly people-oriented and insist on being present in their loved ones’ lives at all times. This could be the breed for you if you’re seeking for a vibrant, energetic, outgoing, and social friend. You and your Papillon will have a long and happy relationship.

Appearance of the Papillon

The Papillon’s ears are the most prominent feature on her body. They are naturally enormous and stand upright. With long, feathery hair that frames her face in large fans that resemble butterfly wings. A less common variant is phaléne, which is born with pendant ears (sometimes known as “drop ears”). The dogs, on the other hand, are nearly identical, often coming from the same litter, and are classified as the same breed.

The long, feathery hair that falls from her ears gives the papillon her name. This characteristic, which is now considered a breed standard, did not become popular until the late 1800s.

A petite, intelligent face with huge, dark-colored eyes is framed by the papillon’s upright ears. Their tiny bodies (8–11 inches tall, usually under 10 pounds) are coated in a single coat of long fur that comes in a variety of hues, most commonly white with fawn, chocolate, or black.


There is no undercoat on the Papillon’s long, flowing coat, which is straight, delicate, and velvety. A long strand of hair cascades down his chest. His lovely butterfly-like ears have hair fringed on the outside and medium-length silken hair on the inside. The backs of the forelegs are feathered, and the hind legs are dressed in breeches, or culottes, which have a fringe of longish hair on the thigh area. A long, flowing tail, proudly arched over the body, tops it all off.

The Papillon is always multicolored, with white patches and patches of any shade. Any color other than white covers both the back and front of the ears, and extends clean from the ears to both eyes on the head. A Papillon with a well-defined white blaze and nose band is preferable, but even one with a well-marked head is a good companion. Black lines go down the nose, eye rims, and lips.

The coat isn’t prone to matting, but it should be combed and brushed once or twice a week to disperse natural skin oils and keep the hair and skin in good condition. Bathe the Papillon only as needed because he doesn’t have a canine odor.

Two or three times a month, or as needed, trim their nails. They’re too long if they may be heard clicking on the floor. Periodontal disease is more common in little dogs, so it’s important to start brushing their teeth as soon as possible. Brushing your Papillon’s teeth twice or three times a week, preferably daily, will help keep them clean and tartar-free.

Personality and temperament

Papillons make excellent companion dogs and are content to spend time with their owners. But due to their energy, they are not the best choice as a lapdog. Because of their small size, they may get most of their activity from indoor play, such as bringing a little toy across the room.

Papillons thrive in almost any environment! They’ll get along fine with senior citizens, little children, and other animals. If socialized from a young age, papillons get along well with cats and other dogs. A multi-dog households are a fantastic way to prevent separation anxiety in papillons. Especially when their human is gone for lengthy periods of time. Papillons do not do well in environments where there is little time for the dog.

Papillons are extremely intelligent dogs who are fast to pick up simple instructions and tricks. Their sharp wits, combined with their drive to compete in agility and rally, make them ideal candidates for coursework and contests in these sports.

Whatever you do, make sure your little butterfly dog has something to do on a daily basis. If their busy minds aren’t utilized on a daily basis, they may become bored, which can lead to an overly noisy dog or a dog who refuses to learn to use the bathroom. Keeping her entertained with interactive toys and puzzle feeders is also a good idea!

What affects their temperament?

The Papillon is cheerful, attentive, and outgoing. He shouldn’t be timid or confrontational at any time. This tiny dog, on the other hand, is a leader with a moderate to high degree of activity. He’s a doer, not a cuddler, and he’s extremely intelligent and trainable.

Heredity, training, and socialization are all elements that influence temperament. Nice-tempered puppies are curious and energetic, eager to approach people and be held. Choose a puppy that is in the midst of the pack, rather than one who is savagely attacking his littermates or hiding in a corner. Always meet at least one of the parents — the mother is usually the one who is available — to make sure they have pleasant personalities. It’s also a good idea to meet the parents’ siblings or other relatives to get a sense of how the puppy will grow up.

Papillons, like all dogs, benefit from early socialization, which involves exposing them to a variety of people, sights, noises, and experiences. Your Papillon puppy will grow up to be a well-rounded dog if he or she is socialized. Enrolling him in a puppy kindergarten program is a terrific place to begin. Regularly inviting guests over and taking him to crowded parks, dog-friendly stores, and leisurely strolls to meet neighbors can all help him improve his social skills.

Are they good family dogs?

Papillons adore kids, but the mix of a little dog and a small child can be catastrophic. If a Papillon is not held properly, he may leap from the child’s hands and hurt himself, and he will not hesitate to protect himself if he is abused. For fear of the dog being damaged, many breeders refuse to sell puppies to families with toddlers.

Make it a rule that small children can only hold or pet the Papillon while seated on the floor. Always teach youngsters how to approach and touch dogs, and supervise any interactions between dogs and small children to avoid biting or ear or tail pulling on either party’s side. Teach your youngster to never approach a sleeping or eating dog, or to try to steal the dog’s food. A child should never be left alone with a dog.

If introduced at a young age, papillons get along well with other family pets, including cats. The fearless Papillon will frequently boss around larger dogs, which may or may not cause problems. It’s fairly uncommon for the tiniest dog to be the boss.

Caring for a Papillon

Papillons are housedogs who do not perform well in the outdoors. They are, however, lively and would appreciate having a yard where they can run around in rounds in circles. If that isn’t an option, they’ll have to make do with tearing through your house and jumping on and off furniture. Mountain goats are common names for them, so don’t be shocked if you find yours on the kitchen table or another high position.

Adults require two or three 20- to 30-minute walks or playtimes every day, and they will appreciate it even more if you are able to supply them. Begin by taking two or three 10- to 15-minute walks with your puppy, gradually increasing the time and distance. They’ll stop or sit if they’re exhausted, whether they’re a puppy or an adult.

Papillon pups can appear vulnerable, even though they grow up to be tough little dogs. They can easily break a leg soaring off the back of the sofa or jumping off the bed, so teach them to utilize steps to get on and off furniture or to wait until you lift them down to prevent such situations.


If you keep them on a routine, housetraining papillons is simple. When they first wake up in the morning, after every meal, after naps, after playing, after a grooming session or bath, and shortly before bedtime, always take them out. When you can’t watch them, kennel them or put them in a puppy-proofed room.

Every dog benefits from crate training, and it is a gentle approach to ensure that your Papillon does not have accidents in the house or get into things he shouldn’t. A crate is also a good area for him to take a snooze. If your Papillon is crate trained from a young age, he will be more accepting of confinement if he ever needs to be boarded or hospitalized. However, never leave your Papillon in a crate all day. It’s not a jail, and he shouldn’t stay in it for more than a few hours at a time unless he’s sleeping. Papillons are social dogs who should not be confined to a crate or kennel for the rest of their lives.

If you use positive reinforcement strategies like food rewards, praise, and play to train your Papillon, you’ll soon discover that he can learn whatever you can teach him.


1/4 to 1/2 cup of high-quality dry food each day, divided into two meals, is the recommended daily quantity.

The amount of food your adult dog consumes is determined by his size, age, build, metabolism, and degree of activity. Dogs, like people, are unique individuals who require different amounts of food. It practically goes without saying that a dog who is very active will require more than a dog who is sedentary. The type of dog food you buy makes a difference as well; the better the dog food, the more it will nourish your dog and the less you’ll have to shake into his bowl.

It’s tempting to overfeed a Papillon, but his knees are sensitive, and he shouldn’t gain weight. Rather than leaving food available all the time, measure his food and feed him twice a day to keep your Papillon in good form.

Living Needs

The papillon is a fantastic partner for just about any location because it is compact, brilliant, and incredibly versatile. They are gentle and sociable enough to make wonderful senior companions, small enough to make apartment living a breeze, and intelligent and amicable enough to get along with other animals.

If you have a fenced back yard, she’ll be happy to run around in it anytime you allow her. She’ll love giving any neighborhood squirrels or birds a hard talking to if they wander into her domain, true to her spaniel instincts.

While papillons are wonderful family dogs, they should be kept away from extremely young children. Papillons are tougher than they appear, but they are still small-boned canines that can be easily injured by children who play rough. Always oversee puppy playtime, as with any dog breed, and teach any little child how to appropriately interact with pets.

Because of her petite stature, a papillon can get most of her exercise from indoor activity. But she’ll like going for a walk around the block with you!

Papillons, on the other hand, have no notion how small they are. Because of their lack of self-awareness, as well as their inherently daring attitude, caution must be exercised in preventing them from jumping from dangerous heights. They should also be kept under close supervision while in the presence of much larger animals, since papillons can happily play with dogs three times their size as if they were equals—and they could be stepped on!


Papillons live a long time and are healthy puppies. A Papillon Club of America survey found that the Paps of their members lived an average of 11 years. However, certain health issues should be considered.

Paroxysmal respiration or pharyngeal gag reflex, also known as “reverse sneezing,” is a common papillon disease. The syndrome, which is not technically a sneeze, is caused by a variety of reasons, including allergic reactions to perfumes or strong scents, pollen allergies, and overexertion. Reverse sneezing is nothing to be concerned about in any event.

People are often scared by reverse sneezing since it sounds so odd. However, it is a completely harmless condition.

Most common health problems

Patella Luxation

Many toy dog breeds, such as Shih Tzus, Chihuahuas, Pugs, and Pomeranians, suffer from this health issue. Genetics and the form of the bones are the main causes of patella luxation, commonly known as slipping kneecaps.

The patella, or kneecaps, are located within the tendon of the thigh muscles. The tendon is a stiff, inelastic band of tissue that connects the muscle to the bony connection. The patella will be loose and move back and forth underneath the tendons if your Pap has patella luxation.

The patella, or kneecap, is a tiny bone in the knee area that lies beneath the tendon of the thigh muscles. The kneecaps become displaced and begin to slip in and out of this tendon. In an attempt to reassign the kneecap to its proper position, he may limp on the affected leg and stretch it occasionally.

Tracheal Collapse

Tracheal Collapse is another significant health danger for little dogs. The trachea (also known as the windpipe) is a circular cartilage group that helps mammals to breathe. If these get weakened, they may collapse, narrowing the space available. Due to the development of dry, harsh coughing and gagging, your dog’s breathing becomes more difficult.

Tight collar and genetic disposition from over-breeding are two major causes of tracheal collapse. Tracheal collapse can occur if the trachea is frequently compressed by a tight collar.

Pharyngeal Gag Reflex

When they experience a rapid and powerful inhale of air through their nostrils, some dogs have a pharyngeal gag reaction, often known as reverse sneezing. Papillons that have experienced reverse sneezing have been described as sounding as if they are attempting to sneeze.

Reverse sneezing can be caused by a variety of things, including tooth infections, nasal irritation, and environmental irritants like smoke and pollen. An inflamed larynx or palate, which can produce spasms in those areas, is another cause of this health concern.


In this condition the thyroid gland produces an exceptionally little amount of hormones. A common sign of this illness is infertility. Some of the more noticeable symptoms include obesity, mental dullness, drooping eyes, low energy levels, and irregular heat cycles. The skin gets thick and black, and the dog’s fur becomes harsh and brittle, falling off. Hypothyroidism is treated by giving the dog daily medication for the remainder of his life. Thankfully, a dog who receives daily thyroid medication can have a long and happy life.

Cushing’s Syndrome

Cushing’s Disease is a condition that affects dogs who are stressed or anxious. High quantities of a hormone called cortisol are produced by this condition, which is generally accompanied by a tumor.

Heart Problems

All dogs are susceptible to heart disease, which should be treated properly even if it is moderate. Pomeranians, like humans, are susceptible to heart disease if they have a bad genetic history as well as unhealthy habits such as obesity, lack of exercise, and insufficient socialization.

Dogs can avoid heart disease by eating well-balanced meals, exercising regularly, and getting regular exams.


That’s right, you read that correctly. Canines, too, can develop epilepsy and seizures. The frequency of a seizure and epilepsy differs significantly. Epilepsy is diagnosed if the seizures persists.


Hypoglycemia is a condition in which blood sugar levels are abnormally low, and it is more frequent than you might believe. Glucose is a sugar produced by the digestion of food that can be present in our bodies.

Hypoglycemia is most commonly caused by a puppy’s poor diet and lack of food. While a puppy needs to move around more, such as when exercising or walking, he or she requires more glucose to function.

Because glucose fuels the body for energy, a young puppy with hypoglycemia will be tired. The puppy will become weak and lethargic without the energy-giving glucose. In severe situations, the puppy may have a seizure and, in the worst-case scenario, become comatose and die.

Papillon price

If you’ve never had a dog before, there are a lot of costs associated with purchasing everything your new puppy will require before they even arrive at your house! If you’ve previously owned a dog, you can save money by repurposing some of your old equipment.

However, some seasoned dog owners may want to buy fresh equipment for their new puppy, or your prior dog may have been larger than the Papillon.

Your new puppy is going to be the most expensive one-time expense.

Papillon Adoption, National Breed Club & Rescue

Adopting a puppy or an older dog from a shelter is a wonderful way to provide a loving home for a homeless dog. Adopting from a government shelter, on the other hand, is not likely to be free. Because they must cover the costs connected with each dog, adoption fees typically include vaccines, initial home checks, and other veterinary treatments such as spaying or neutering. Papillons are sometimes abandoned to shelters due of their disposition and feisty personality. Fees for adoption will range between $200 and $300.

Getting an elderly dog from a shelter comes with one of the most generous gifts you can give: a safe, loving home for the remainder of their lives. A Papillon puppy is unlikely to be found in a shelter, so if you want one, you’ll need to contact a breeder.

Papillon Breeders

Given the popularity of papillons, you should have no trouble finding a breeder. Always inquire if you may visit a breeder’s facility to meet the parents and puppies. This might help you get a sense of the personality of any puppies and ensure that they are kept in safe and hygienic environments.

Puppy mills and unscrupulous backyard breeders may refuse to allow you to visit their facilities, so if a breeder attempts to scare you away or suggests that you pick up your new puppy at a meeting spot, consider it a red flag and conduct additional research before parting with your money.

Always demand proof of health tests on the parents and puppies from breeders. They should also be willing to give you with consumer references.

The cost of purchasing a puppy from a breeder can range from $500 to $1500.

What to be concerned about when buying a Papillon


Too many people buy a puppy from a toy breed without realizing how delicate the breed is. Stepping on or sitting on a Papillon puppy can cause significant injury or death. By leaping from your arms or off the back of your sofa, papillons might harm or kill themselves. With one rapid shake, a larger dog can grasp a Papillon and snap his neck. Owning a toy breed necessitates regular monitoring and surveillance of your small dog’s surroundings.

Papillon pups are not suitable for toddlers, regardless of how well-intentioned the child is. Children can’t help but be clumsy, and the fact that a child was trying to help is no consolation to a Papillon who has been walked on, sat on, rolled on, squished, or put onto the patio by accident. The loud shouts and rapid movements that children can’t help themselves make can overwhelm even adult Papillons, causing worry and dread.

Their high energy level

This breed isn’t known for being a peaceful lapdog, especially when they’re young. There are exceptions, such as cuddlebug Papillons, but the majority of young Papillons are active, spirited, agile, and athletic. They enjoy being on the go, but they must be kept safe in a fenced yard or on a leash. They’re simply too quick, too rapid, and too prone to chasing after anything that moves.


Papillons, who are naturally shy, require a lot of exposure to people as well as strange sights and sounds. Otherwise, their innate trepidation may manifest itself as shyness.


Papillons are notorious for being overly alert to every new sight or sound. To stop them, you must be similarly quick. You can only do this successfully if your dog listens to you, which means you must build the proper leadership and follower connection with your Papillon.


The breed’s signature long ear fringes are prone to matting and must be combed or trimmed to avoid matting. The same goes for their underarms, which can knot up horribly and make it difficult for the dog to move. For sanitary reasons, you should also clip the hair around their “bathroom areas.”


I only bring this up because some breeders advertise their pets as hypoallergenic or minimal shedding. This isn’t the case. Papillons shed a little more than the typical dog, but not nearly as much as a true light-shedding breed like a Toy Poodle or Maltese.

Final thoughts

The Papillon is a lively and outgoing creature. He enjoys being around people and is a joyful dog that readily distributes kisses to everyone. Because of his small stature, the Papillon is easy to handle, and his coat, while thick, is easy to care for and does not shed excessively.

His energy level runs from moderate to high, and because he’s extremely trainable, he’s an excellent choice for canine sports like agility or rally. Papillons are also great obedience competitors, and they are the most popular toy breed in obedience competition.

Even if it’s just to guarantee that they don’t spoil their adorable friends, all Papillon owners should take an obedience class. If not taught early enough that such conduct would not be condoned, papillons might develop a stubborn character. On the positive side, their desire to please and achieve allows kids to pick up techniques and whatever else a creative person can teach them. Papillons can even learn to pull a little cart and parade with it.

Will they do well with the rest of my family?

If introduced at a young age, papillons get along well with other family pets, including cats. The fearless Papillon will frequently boss around larger dogs, which may or may not cause problems. It’s fairly uncommon for the tiniest dog to be the boss.

Papillons adore kids, but the mix of a little dog and a small child can be disastrous. If a Papillon is not held properly, he may leap from the child’s hands and damage himself, and he will not hesitate to protect himself if he is abused. When dogs and children are present, they must always be supervised, regardless of breed.

This is a breed with a long lifespan. It’s not uncommon for Papillons to live well into their teens, so keep that in mind if you’re thinking about getting one. For years to come, the dog will be a member of your family.

My name is Katy and I am 27. I love to travel and you would be surprised how good I am at karaoke. 🙂 Passionate dog lover and a "mother" to a beautiful toy puddle named Zara. I work as a volunteer in a local shelter and I am a veterinary assistant helping our four-legged friends every day.