- The papillon's ancestors were spaniels that were developed at least by the 1300s to flush birds into nets or to waiting falcons.
- Some smaller spaniels were probably bred with Oriental toy dogs such as the Japanese chin to create a lapdog version of the spaniel.
- These dwarf spaniels were used to serve as lap and foot warmers, surrogate hot water bottles, and for companionship. They became extremely popular throughout Europe by the 1500s.
- The Court of Louis XIV of France was especially fond of dwarf spaniels, and played a role in developing the French version.
- Most of these dogs had drop ears, but the erect ears appeared soon after. Even today, both types can be found in the same litter.
- Papillon means butterfly in French, referring to the general outline of the face and ears. The drop-eared type is known as the phalene, which means moth, again referring to the look of its face and ears.
- In Europe the phalene is known as a separate breed, the continental toy spaniel.
- By 1900, papillons were popular show dogs in Europe and had made their way to America.
- The AKC recognized the papillon in 1915.
Papillon Behavior Concerns
- Makes a loving and entertaining companion.
- Extremely good with children. Children must be careful around such a small dog, however.
- Very affectionate.
- Makes a good lapdog as well as fun playmate.
- Sensitive; some can be timid.
- Eager to please and quick to learn.
- Does best with reward-based training involving food and games.
- Outgoing toward strangers.
- Gets along well with other pets and dogs.
- Enjoys retrieving.
- One of the best toy dogs in the sports of obedience and agility. Also excel as therapy dogs.
Papillon Suggested Exercises
- Makes a calm but alert housedog.
- Requires daily exercise in the form of a short walk or energetic games.
- Its exercise needs can be met by indoor games, but it needs the chance to get outside and sniff new smells and see new sights every day.
- Many papillons have been trained to use indoor potty systems.
- A good candidate for dog parks, but should be kept separate from larger dogs.
- Obedience training provides mental exercise.
- Coat is long, silky, and straight.
- The coat needs brushing and combing twice a week.
- Shedding is average.
Suggested Papillon Nutritional Needs
- Papillons tend to stay in good weight.
- Adult dogs should be fed a balanced diet, with restricted calories if the dog starts to gain too much weight. Remember, it does not take much food to feed such a small dog, and small snacks can easily add too many calories.
- Papillon puppies should be fed often to prevent hypoglycemia, a serious condition to which very small puppies are prone. Frequent small meals of high protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates may help guard against this condition.