• Papillons in the UK
  • Papillon Dog Breed
  • Papillons
  • Papillon Dog
  • Papillons in Great Britain
  • Papillon
  • Papillon in Great Britain
  • Papillon Breed
  • Papillon Dogs
  • Papillon in the UK
Exercise Level:
Barking Level:
Good with Children:
Good with other pets:
Height: 25 - 25cm M | 22 - 22cm F
Weight: 4 - 4kg M | 4 - 4kg F
Life Expectancy: 12 - 16 Years

Searching for a Papillon?


The Papillon dog breed, also known as the "Continental Toy Spaniel," is one of the oldest Toy Spaniels. This small dog’s name is French for butterfly because of his butterfly-looking ears. Before he became a beloved family companion, he was primarily used as a ratter.

Small but lively, the Papillon breed keeps everyone in his family in high spirits. He is friendly with children, but should be gently handled during playtime because of his diminutive stature.

This Papillon toy dog breed can get along well with other pets. However, he should be kept away from small animals because of his history as a ratter.

Papillons are easy to groom and only need brushing a few times a week. They are high-energy dogs but do not need a lot of exercise. The lifespan of the dog breed is 12–16 years.

Are you curious about this butterfly-eared dog breed? Find out more about the Papillon in a brief background below.

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The Papillon dog breed dates back 700 years ago. However, his history is somewhat a mystery, with France, England, and Belgium claiming his origins.

The earliest records of the Papillon breed can be traced through artworks. Toy Spaniels that resemble the Papillon dogs are depicted in some paintings in the 1500s. However, they are also shown in paintings of royal families around Europe such as the family portrait of Louis XIV.

The early versions of the Papillon dog breed, then called the Phalene which is the French word for moth, has drooping ears.

It was only in the 19th century that the pricked ears became fashionable, resembling that of a butterfly. Hence, he was called Papillon, which is the French word for butterfly.

Some believed that the Phalene was crossed with Miniature Spitz-type dogs to achieve the pricked ear variety, which is the Papillon.

Papillons were bred to be excellent ratters due to their small size. As years passed, their popularity as family pets grew amongst the royal blood.

The infamous Queen of France, Marie Antoinette, owned a Papillon dog named Coco. It was believed that the dog was descended from an old breed with dropped ears called Epagneul Nain or Continental Dwarf Spaniel.    

Madame de Pompadour, King Louis XV’s mistress, also had 2 Papillon dogs that she named Mimi and Inez. Both female dogs were responsible for the popularity of this adorable, small dog breed.

Today, these Toy Spaniels became favourites in dog shows and canine sports. A famous Papillon named Loteki Supernatural Being, or Kirby, was the only dog who won three major international competitions in a single year.  

The Papillon is also an excellent family companion due to his affectionate and loyal nature. The dog breed was recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1915. It was then followed by the Kennel Club in 1923. This tiny dog belongs to the Toy Group.

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Appearance and Grooming

The Papillon breed’s defining nature is his butterfly (pricked) ears. He is identical to his Phalene sibling breed in all respects, except for the drop ears. In fact, the Papillon breed description here is suitable for both breed varieties..

The Papillon is a toy dog breed that is petite and delicate. Both male and female Papillons weigh around 4 kilos (9–10 pounds).

However, there is a slight difference in their height, as male Papillons stand about 25 centimetres (10 inches) tall. On the other hand, female Papillons measure approximately 22 centimetres (8 inches) in height.

As the breed is a small dog, female Papillons can birth an average of 3 Papillon puppies. However, it is also not uncommon for some to conceive only 1 Papillon puppy.

Toy dog breeds such as the Papillon are quick to grow and mature compared to larger dogs. It takes around 9–12 months for Papillon puppies to reach their full size. And around 12–14 months for them to become mentally matured.

The Papillon dog breed is longer than he is tall. His lightweight, fine-boned appearance translates to his graceful, free, and quick gait, with his erect ears spread out like wings of a butterfly.

The Papillon has a plumed tail that arches over the back and ends in a large, full curl.

The Papillon breed sports a dense single coat that lies on his back and sides, but with an abundant frill on the chest. There is also short hair present on his muzzle and skull.

The coat of the Papillon toy dog breed is long and very silky to the touch. His coat is always white with patches of any colour. His head, ears, and around the eyes are always coloured.

The Papillon dog breed is a clean canine companion, but still requires regular grooming. Brush his teeth at least twice a week, especially since small dogs tend to develop gum disease and bad breath.

Keep the nails of the Papillon trimmed to avoid unnecessary overgrowth, which can lead to painful splitting or cracking. Ears should be cleaned regularly as well to prevent excess wax build-up that may become infected.

Do Papillon dogs shed a lot?

No, Papillons do not shed much. These small dogs shed moderately twice a year and lightly all-year round.

The Papillon dog breed’s shedding can be managed by brushing his coat once or twice a week with a metal comb or a slicker brush. Bathing can be done when necessary using dry shampoo, since this toy dog breed does not have a doggie odour.

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Temperament and Intelligence

The Papillon dog breed is an active family pet that takes pleasure in both play and exercise. Belying his small stature, this Toy Spaniel is not a lapdog. He is entirely capable of long-distance walks.

Papillons are eager to please, so they are a suitable choice for first-time owners. Because they are people-pleasing and intelligent dogs, training is really easy. However, they still need to understand their place in the "pack," with you as the alpha figure.

Nevertheless, the Papillon breed is known to be one of the most obedient and responsive toy dogs.

Supervision is required when the Papillon dog breed interacts with children. Although he is a gentle and playful family dog, he can easily get hurt during rough play with boisterous or overly active children.

Papillons are also friendly with other dogs especially when socialised from a young age. However, they may not get on well with small pets such as mice, guinea pigs, even cats. These toy dogs were once bred as ratters, so chasing small animals is instinctively wired to their personality.

Are Papillon dogs good pets?

Yes, Papillons are good pets as they are easy to care for. They are loving and lively dogs who enjoy spending their time with their human companions.

Highly interactive and sociable, Papillons do not do well if left alone for many hours. Thus, they need a family that has enough time on their hands to interact with them every day.

Are Papillons aggressive?

No, Papillons are not aggressive dogs. However, they may suffer from small dog syndrome, which means they can be domineering towards larger dogs. They are not aware of their size and may not back down from fights against bigger pooches.

This small dog is affectionate and friendly towards people, but will not think twice to bark when strangers are nearby.

Do Papillon dogs like to cuddle?

Yes, some Papillons like to cuddle, but others are not cuddle bugs. These small dogs may be loving towards their families, but they are also quite active and cannot stay still for a long time. Thus, this makes it hard to spend cuddle time with some Papillons.

Are Papillons hard to potty-train?

Yes, Papillons are difficult to potty-train. This is a common problem in many toy breeds. Due to their diminutive size, they may not feel safe whilst taking outdoor for potty breaks.

Moreover, these small Papillon dogs are sensitive to cold temperatures, hindering them from doing their business properly.

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Nutrition and Feeding

The recommended serving for adult Papillons is 1/4–1/2 cups of excellent-quality dry dog food per day, but don't just take our word for it.

Food serving may vary depending on several factors such as the dog's age, size, build, metabolism, and activity level. The best course of action when in doubt is to ask for vet advice.

As a rough guide, here is a typical daily calorie for adult Papillons that weigh 3 kilos (7 pounds):

  • Senior and less active: up to 267 calories daily
  • Typical adults: up to 300 calories daily
  • Physically active/working dogs: up to 334 calories daily

Since the Papillon dog breed is small in size, it is best to feed him with a diet that is high in animal protein and formulated for toy dog breeds. Always follow a feeding schedule, and definitely avoid free-feeding as this can cause them to develop gastric torsion or bloat.

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Health and Exercise

The Papillon dog breed is healthy but prone to suffer from a few health issues, whether acquired or genetic. Below are health problems that are prevalent in Papillons:

Patellar Luxation

This condition is caused by the misalignment of a Papillon’s patella or kneecap. It may occur on one or both of the affected dog’s hind legs, which causes lameness. Treatment for this bone and joint issue may vary from weight management, surgery, medications, and exercise restriction.


It is a condition wherein a dog’s blood sugar suddenly drops at an alarming rate. This is often observed in small dog breeds such as the Papillon dog.

Avoid exercising your Papillon puppy if he is not yet fed as it can cause an onset of hypoglycaemia. Skipping meals is highly discouraged too for the same reason.

Collapsed Trachea

This respiratory problem is due to the weakening of the small cartilage rings found in the trachea. Middle-aged and geriatric dogs are the common sufferers of this disease. However, it can also afflict younger dogs.

Medications such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatory, and antitussive drugs are used to treat Papillons with collapsed trachea. Sometimes it may need to be coupled with surgery.

The Papillon dog breed is a small pooch that packs a lot of energy. He requires a minimum of 20 minutes of daily exercise to be happy and healthy. He also needs mental stimulation, daily walks, some tasks, and obedience training.

Also, let your Papillon enjoy a good romp within a safe, open area off-lead such as a securely fenced back garden. Dog sports such as agility and rally are good exercise activities that you should try with your dog as the breed excels in them.

What's the lifespan of a Papillon dog?

The Papillon dog breed has a lifespan of 12–16 years if properly cared for and loved. Do you want to prolong your Papillon puppy's life? The simplest way to do so is to provide for his every-day needs. Make sure that he has a healthy and balanced diet and sufficient exercise.

Your Papillon puppy's home life should be free from stress to prevent health and behavioural problems. Do not forget to regularly get him checked by the vet to ensure that he doesn't suffer from any diseases.

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Cost of Ownership

Prepare to spend around £1,200–£3,000 for a healthy and well-bred Papillon puppy. Buy a puppy from a reputable breeder to avoid acquiring a sickly and unstable-tempered pet.

The Papillon dog breed is small in size, thus his total food expenses are quite low, which is around £20–£30 a month.

In preparation for welcoming home your Papillon puppy, you will need to buy his day-to-day necessities such as dog toys, bed, lead, and food and water bowls. These can all amount to about £100–£400.

Veterinary care is a crucial aspect of your Papillon puppy's life, but it can be costly. Each vet check-up will cost you around £30–£60. First shots of vaccines will require you to pay £100–150 and £50–£60 for annual boosters.

If you plan to get your Papillon puppy spayed or neutered, you might need to spend around £110–£390.

Cut the costs of your Papillon puppy's veterinary bills by getting pet insurance. If you pick a time-limited package, its monthly fee is around £19. If you opt for lifetime pet insurance, it will have a higher cost, which is about £27 a month.

Papillon Breed Highlights

  • The Papillon dog breed is one of the oldest Toy Spaniels.
  • He is a highly active dog that excels in agility and obedience trials.
  • He is usually a clean dog that requires weekly brushing.
  • Highly confident and calm, Papillons are outgoing dogs that get along well with children and other pets.
  • They are excellent watchdogs, but poor guard dogs because of their small size.
  • They are eager to please, easy to train, and are suitable for novice owners.

Are you sure the Papillon is the best breed for you? Take the Pet Breed Selector Quiz to find your perfect breed match.

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The information, including measurements, prices and other estimates, on this page is provided for general reference purposes only.

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