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  • Papillon in Great Britain
  • Papillon
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Toy Group

Exercise Level:
Barking Level:
Good with Children:
Good with other pets:
Height: 20 - 28cm M | 20 - 28cm F
Weight: 4 - 5kg M | 3 - 4kg F
Life Expectancy: 13 - 16 Years

Searching for a Papillon?

The Papillon, also known as "Continental Toy Spaniel," is one of the oldest toy spaniels. Its name is a French word that means butterfly because of its butterfly-looking ears. It is a highly active dog that excels in agility and obedience trials. Its sparkling personality makes the Papillon a favourite family companion, especially for first-time dog owners.

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

book icon History

The Papillon dates back 700 years ago, but its history is somewhat a mystery with France, England and Belgium claiming its origins. The earliest records of the Papillon can be traced through 1500 artworks depicting a toy spaniel that resembles the Papillon found in Italy. However, Papillons are also shown in paintings of royal families around Europe such as the family portrait of Louis XIV.

The early versions of the Papillon then called the Phalene, 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 it was called Papillon, 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.

The Papillon was bred to be an excellent ratter due to its small size. Today, this toy dog breed became a favourite show ring and canine sports contender, at the same time excellent family companion due to its affectionate and loyal natures. The Papillon was recognised byThe Kennel Club in 1923.

comb icon Appearance and Grooming

The defining feature of the Papillon is its butterfly (pricked) ears. The breed is identical to its sibling breed Phalene in all respects, except for the drop ears. In fact, the breed description here is suitable for both varieties of breeds. The Papillon is a toy dog breed, petite and delicate, weighing 4 to 9 pounds. It stands 20 to 28 centimetres and is longer than it is tall. Papillons should maintain its lightweight, fine-boned appearance that translates to its graceful, free and quick gait, with its ears spread out like butterfly wings. Its tail is arched over the back and ends in a large, full curl.

The Papillon sports a dense single coat that lies on its back and the sides but with an abundant frill on the chest. There is also a short hair present on the muzzle and skull. The coat is long and very silky to the touch. Papillons are parti-coloured with white as its base. The head, ears and around the eyes are always coloured save for white. The Papillon is usually a clean dog but will still require daily brushing of its long and silky coat. Since this dog breed does not have a doggie odour, bathing can be done when necessary using dry shampoo.

Other dog grooming aspects include brushing of the Papillon's teeth at least twice a week, especially since small dogs tend to develop gum disease and bad breath. Keep the nails trimmed to avoid unnecessary overgrowth that can lead to painful splitting or cracking. Ears should be cleaned regularly as well to prevent excess wax build-up that may become infected.

bulb icon Temperament and Intelligence

The Papillon is an active dog breed that takes pleasure in both play and exercise. Belying its small stature, this toy spaniel is not a lapdog. It is entirely capable of long-distance walks and is apparently not aware of its size, not backing down from fights with larger dogs. Highly confident and calm, Papillons are outgoing dogs. They are affectionate and friendly but will not think twice to bark an alarm to their owners when strangers are nearby. They are excellent watchdogs but poor guard dogs because of their small size.

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, but they still need to understand their place in the "pack" with you, the owner as the alpha figure. Nevertheless, the Papillon is known to be among the most obedient and responsive toy dogs.

Supervision is required when it comes to interaction with both the children and the Papillon. Although it is a gentle and playful dog, they can easily get hurt during rough play with boisterous or overly active children. It is also friendly with other dogs especially when socialised from a young age. However, it may not get on well with small pets such as mice, guinea pigs, even cats. Papillons were once bred as ratters, so chasing small animals are instinctively wired to their personality.

food icon Nutrition and Feeding

A typical serving for an adult Papillon is 1/4 to 1/2 cups of excellent quality dry dog food per day, but don't just take our word for it. Food servings 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 an adult Papillon that weighs 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 Papillons are small in size, it is best to feed them with a diet that is high in animal protein and is formulated for toy breeds. Always follow a feeding schedule and definitely avoid free-feeding as this can cause your Papillon to develop gastric torsion or bloat.

stethoscope icon Health and Exercise

The Papillon has a lifespan of 12 to 16 years if properly cared for and loved. However, this dog breed is still prone to suffer from health issues, whether acquired or genetic. These include Patellar Luxation, Hypoglycaemia, Collapsed Trachea, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and Open Fontanel. To help you identify the signs and symptoms of these health conditions, consult a veterinarian.

Papillons are highly energetic dogs and will require a minimum of 20 minutes of daily exercises to be happy and healthy. They also need mental stimulation, daily walks, some tasks and obedience training. Also, let the Papillon enjoy a good romp within a safe, open area off-leash such as a securely fenced-in yard.

pound icon Cost of Ownership

Cost is often the last thing people think about when buying a dog – which is a mistake. It is essential to know if you can afford to raise it for the rest of its lifespan if you want to become a responsible dog owner. Be ready to pay anything from £600 to £800 if you plan to buy a Papillon puppy. Then you should also start to consider getting a pet insurance to protect both you and the dog. There are affordable pet insurance premiums available, which may cost around £22 to £44 a month.

Whether you buy commercial dog food or prepare a home-cooked meal, feeding a Papillon may likely cost you about £20 to £30 a month. On top of this are regular veterinary care costs, which include initial vaccinations, boosters and spaying/sterilisation. Veterinary care can quickly add up to at least £600 a year. Overall, you may have to spend anywhere from £50 to £80 a month when you buy a Papillon dog.

Is a Papillon Right for You?

  • The Papillon is one of the oldest toy spaniels.
  • It is a highly active dog that excels in agility and obedience trials.
  • The Papillon is usually a clean dog but will still require daily brushing.
  • Highly confident and calm, Papillons are outgoing dog
  • It is an excellent watchdog but a poor guard dog because of its small size.
  • Papillons 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.

Dog Breed Selector Quiz

Are you ready to buy a Papillon? If you're having trouble deciding, take the Pet Finder to find other suitable dog breeds.

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