June 3, 2020 // 6 minute read

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Papillons are tiny dogs that only stands at about 11 inches. The Papillon is most known for their large, wing-like ears, which earned them their name. Their small bodies are covered with a long and silky coat that comes in white color with patches of black, red, orange, tan, or sable.

Toy Dog Breed - Papillon

Despite their small size, the Papillons aren’t the best lapdogs. They are lively, bright, busy, and curious dogs. They won’t be the type that you can cuddle or allow to sit on your lap, but if you want a great playmate, you will surely love the Papillon.

Papillon Statistics

Dog Breed GroupToy
Breed SizeToy
Height8-11 inches
Weight5-10 pounds
Lifespan14-16 years

Papillon Ratings

Energy level
Exercise needs
Requires attention
Friendly with family
Friendly with kids
Friendly with strangers
Friendly with other dogs
Prey Drive

Papillon History

Papillons are believed to be descendants of the European Tour Spaniels, dogs resembling Papillons but with drop ears. These little toy dogs were the favorite companions of court ladies in Europe. And with their small size, they are usually carried in baskets.

It was in the 17th century when the Papillons were developed. This was during the reign of King Louis XIV. Since then, they have become famous models for famous artists such as Rubens, Rembrandt, Goya, and Toulouse-Lautrec.

These dog breeds are famous among royalties of France. But it was in Italy and Spain where the breed was refined and popularized. By 1915, the American Kennel Club officially registered the dog breed.

Now, Papillons rank 54th as the most popular dog in the US.

Papillon Dog Breed


The American Kennel Club describes the Papillons as happy, alert, and friendly. They are also known to be one of the brightest and easiest dogs to train, so they’re great dogs for first-time dog owners.

However, if you’re looking for dogs that you can put on your lap or cuddle with, these are not it. Papillons are highly active and playful, regardless if it’s indoors or outdoors.

They are affectionate dogs to family and would love to stay close to their humans. That’s why they would do well with people who are not always away. They are friendly with children, but, might get overwhelmed if over touched, so supervision is highly needed.

Papillons are kind to strangers but cautious. But, they are sociable with other family pets, although there are those with a bossy tendency toward larger dogs.

Training is essential when raising a Papillon. But, this shouldn’t be very hard as these dogs are known to be easy to train. They are also very responsive and will do very well when praised and encouraged often.

Early socialization is essential to maintain their best behavior. This will also make them more well-rounded and confident.

Care Requirements

  • Nutrition: It’s essential to feed your Papillon a high-quality food that will help supply his energy and maintain his beautiful coat. It should include all essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Protein content for the Papillon should depend on his lifestyle. If your dog is less active, he will need a protein of less than 21%, while the active ones would need more than that. You can get protein from high-quality meat such as fish, lamb, or chicken. You can add some fish oils for great fat source, and fruits and vegetables for fiber. Whole grains such as brown rice are also an excellent source of carbohydrates. Avoid foods that contain corn or wheat, by-products, fillers, and artificial flavoring. This will not be good for your dog’s digestive system. Learn to watch their daily calorie-intake too. You shouldn’t get your dog overweight, so they don’t be more at risk of any diseases.
  • Grooming: The Papillon’s long and silky coat sheds seasonally, and unlike other long-haired dog breeds, they don’t require a lot of grooming. Weekly brushing is best to maintain their healthy coat, and this will help remove any mats and tangles. It’s best to pay attention to the areas in the thighs, legs, and ears when brushing your Papillon. Baths should be given occasionally or depending on how dirty he is. Pay close attention to their nails, too, as these grow quite fast. Make sure to check and regularly trim to provide your Papillon the best comfort. Brushing their teeth is also very important, and so does cleaning their ears frequently.
  • Exercise: Unlike other lapdogs, Papillons would need regular exercise. They are highly active dogs that would surely enjoy playtime every day. You can play fetch and any other games that would have interactions with you. Daily walks or jogs are great too, but make sure to put them on a leash. With their spaniel background, these dogs tend to chase after small prey, and they’re not afraid to fight a large dog. It’s best to have a secured and fenced yard if you want him to run around freely. And always keep a close eye on him.
  • Health: Like any other small breeds, Papillons have a long lifespan, especially if taken care of well. So, it’s best to know what health conditions you need to watch out for. Some of the most common health conditions that affect Papillons are dental problems, patellar luxation, and seizures. This is common to a lot of small dog breeds. Another health issue common to some Papillons is open fontanel, which affects skull formation. They are also prone to progressive retinal atrophy, allergies, and intervertebral disk disease. There are some tests and screening that your dog can take to detect some diseases, such as Willebrand’s disease. It’s also best to do some research on some symptoms and make sure to pay attention to your dog’s everyday behavior.
  • Lifespan: The life expectancy of Papillon dogs is 14-16 years.

Papillon Toy Dog Size

Famous Papillons

  • Chewy and Stinky: The Papillon dogs of Christina Aguillera
  • Gem: The Papillon of the artist Eliza Leahy; Gem also acts as a psychiatric service dog
  • Coco: The Papillon dog of Marie Antoinette
  • Kirby: The only Papillon who won Best in Show at Westminster

Fun Facts about Papillons

  • Papillons were originally bred as ratters.
  • The name papillon means butterfly. They earned this name because of their bug-inspired ears.
  • There are two ear varieties: the butterfly ears and moth ears.
  • They became popular in Italy.
  • They are loved by many famous painters and have been featured in many paintings.
  • They have many names: Butterfly dog, Squirrel dog, Belgian Toy Spaniel, Continental Toy Spaniel, Dwarf Continental Spaniel.
  • Their coat comes in various color combinations – black, brown, red, lemon, sable, and tan.
  • The dog breed is among the most intelligent dog breeds.

Check Out Other Toy Dog Breeds:
Affenpinscher, Brussels Griffon, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua, Chinese Crested, English Toy Spaniel, Havanese, Italian Greyhound, Japanese Chin, Maltese, Miniature Pinscher, Pekingese, Pomeranian, Pug, Shih Tzu, Silky Terrier, Toy Fox Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier

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