Papillon Information


The Papillon, pronounced (PAP ee yon) is a very small and dainty dog that is a member of the AKA Toy Dogs. They are also know as a Continental Toy Spaniel, Butterfly Dog, or they are simply called Pap for short. It often bears the name Butterfly Dog because the hair on the dog's ears is long and fringed, making them resemble butterflies. The Papillon is recognized by several kennel clubs. Their small size classifies them as Toy Dogs with males weighing eight to ten pounds and females weighing seven to nine pounds. The average height for both males and females is 10 inches. Its small stature makes it a good choice for having a dog where space is limited.

Basic Info
Other Name Phalène (drop ear type), Continental Toy Spaniel, Epagneul Nain Continental, Butterfly Dog, Squirrel Dog (due to tail carriage)
Size Type Small Dog Breeds
Breed Group Toy Dog Breeds
Life Span13 - 15 years
TemperamentFriendly, Happy, Hardy, Intelligent, Alert, Energetic
HeightMale: 8–11 inches; Female: 8–11 inches
WeightMale: 8–10 pounds; Female: 7–9 pounds
ColorsFawn & White, Black & White, White, Red & White, Brown & White, Sable
Puppy PriceAverage $300 - $500 USD


Physical description

Body Type

The Papillon is a small, fine-boned dog with a small head. The head rounds slightly between its ears and has a well defined stop. Its short, thin muzzle tapers to the nose. The ears can be either erect or drop ears with rounded tips. Drop-ear Papillons are known as Phalene Papillons (moths). Eyes are dark and rimmed in black. It has a high-set tail that is carried along the body.

This dog breed may have a fontanel, or soft spot on the top of the head. Similar to a baby's "soft spot," it usually corrects itself. If not, the dog will need surgery. Small dog breeds have longer life spans than larger dogs. The Papillon can live as long as 16 years. These dogs become prone to knee problems in the hind legs. The condition can usually be corrected with surgery.


The Papillon is covered with single-coat fur. It will be able to withstand heat better than cold. Ears and eyes are covered from back to front with a mask of color other than white. The tail is covered with fine, long hair and there is an extra frill of long hair along the chest and on the ears.


The Papillon's major coat color is white with patches of several other colors. They are grouped by types indicated as standard and alternative for show purposes. Standard color combinations are white and black, white and sable, white and red, white and lemon and hound, or tri-color. Alternative colors include black with brown and white, black with red and white, fawn and white, brown and white or red. Alternative colors can also be sable, white, white and liver, white and silver, and red with white and sable. Marking range from black markings to red, sable or tan markings. They may also have a black "mask.

Good with Kids
Cat Friendly
Dog Friendly
Hypoallergenic  No


The Papillon's long, silky hair is not prone to matting. They are easy to keep clean and are not prone to odor. It sheds about like the average dog. It needs to be brushed daily, preferably with a wire pen brush. The hair should be slightly damp when brushed. They can be bathed when necessary with a mild dog shampoo or a dry shampoo. Shampoo should be rinsed out thoroughly. Any conditioner used should also be rinsed out. Nails should be kept trimmed. Teeth should be cleaned regularly and professionally to remove tartar.


The breed has a recorded history in Europe dating back to almost 700 years. This makes it one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. Originally, the Papillon breed only had dropped ears and was called a Dwarf Spaniel. Most of the breed's development has been learned from depictions in Italian paintings from the Renaissance period of the 13th through 15th century. They were often depicted on the laps of Spanish and French noblewomen.

Later, the breed became known as Continental Toy Spaniel and this is still the official name the FCI standard uses. They are more commonly referred to as a Toy Spaniel. The Papillon with erect ears and fringed to resemble a butterfly developed over time.

The AKC refers to the drop-eared type of Papillon as Phalene. However, the FCI has two classifications for Continental Toy Spaniel, Phalene for the drop-eared variety and Papillon for erect-eared dogs.

AKC standards in the United States claim that both erect-eared and drop-eared can be born in the same litter. They are shown as one breed. The AKC allows the two types to mix mate, however the FCI has strictly prohibited mating, claiming that cross-breeding of the two types causes problems with the positioning of the ears.

The Papillon breed was first recognized by the AKC in 1935. The Papillon Club of America was consequently formed. It was dissolved after WWI and was reorganized in 1948. In 1999, a Papillon won the prestigious "Best in Show" competition at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.


The Papillon is a friendly and intelligent breed. Tougher than they look, they love to exercise and run outdoors. They are playful and amusing and at the same time patient and gentle. They are obedient but do require some patience when being house broken. They are a good choice for those who also have cats and children in the household. The Papillon gets along well with both.

Care must be taken not to let the Papillon be the pack leader over its human owner. This will cause behavior problems such as aggression toward people outside the home. The problem will manifest itself into excessive barking, growling and biting behaviors.

Interesting Papillon Facts


  • Papillon is the French word for "butterfly".
  • The Papillon's history has been traced through works of art
  • It is said that Marie Antoinette carried her Papillon with her to the guillotine