The Papillon dog is a small, longhaired toy dog breed that is petite, delicate and very cute, and popular with all sorts of owners from all walks of life! They tend to be quite lively, energetic little dogs that need a lot of love and attention, and they make excellent companions for people who have plenty of time to spend with them and that can’t resist their undeniable charms!
They are actually a type of toy spaniel, despite not appearing to have very many spaniel-like traits compared to better known breeds like the cocker and springer spaniels, and they are one of the oldest and longest-established toy dog breeds in the world.
If you own a Papillon or are interested in finding out more about these cute, friendly little characters, read on to learn eight top facts about the breed that you might not already know about.
The name of the breed, “Papillon,” is the French word for butterfly, and the breed was given this name due to their long, luxuriously fringed ears, which resemble butterflies in their shape.
This holds true for dogs of the breed whose ears are pointed or stand erect; dogs of the breed whose ears are drooping are known as “Phalene” dogs, with phalene being the French word for moth! Phalene-type dogs have a more traditionally spaniel-like appearance than Papillon dogs!
They also go by a range of other names too, and are known in some countries as simply the toy spaniel, dwarf spaniel, or continental toy spaniel.
As mentioned earlier, the Papillon is one of the longest established of toy dog breeds, and they have a known history going back for hundreds of years. As a toy dog breed, they were popular with the aristocracy and can actually be seen in paintings dating back as far as the 1400’s, and in a very similar form to the appearance that the breed has today.
One glance at the Papillon will possibly give you the impression that they are too delicate and small to be very active, but nothing could be further from the truth! The Papillon is a very lively, energetic and outgoing dog breed, and they love to play and exercise and have something to do.
This makes them a good choice for canine sports of all sorts, and they can be seen competing across all sorts of disciplines that have classes for small dogs, such as agility and heelwork among others!
Once more, something else that commonly gets overlooked due to the small, delicate build of the Papillon is their high intelligence-in the Coren ranking of canine intelligence, the little Papillon comes in at number eight, beating out a huge number of other breeds that we usually associate with high intelligence, like the Rottweiler, Springer spaniel and Belgian malinois.
This intelligence combined with high energy and a strong desire to please makes the Papillon very versatile, observant and quick to learn, often running rings around larger dog breeds!
Combining the traits of high intelligence and high energy levels can lead to a dog that is rather highly strung, and this can certainly be true of the Papillon. Without enough physical and mental stimulation they will soon become unruly and hard to handle, as well as sometimes timid with new people or in new situations.
Channelling the breed’s natural intelligence and high energy levels into the appropriate outlets such as games, exercise sports and puzzle toys, can help to bring out the best in dogs of the breed and prevent any problems from arising.
The long, trailing ear hair of the Papillon dog is their most defining feature, and whether you own a Papillon or a Phalene dog, you will need to take special care of this hair! Gently combing the hair on the outside of the ears and clearing any obstructions from the inside of the ear flaps is important, and you should try to keep the hair around the outside of the inner ear clean and tangle-free, which may require plucking and trimming on occasion.
The Papillon is sometimes rather shy and timid with people that they don’t know, and while they love socialising with other dogs, they probably won’t get involved in too much rough and tumble-bit without appropriate training and ongoing management, they can turn into tiny terrors, much like any other small dog breed that is often given a pass because of their small, cute faces!
Finally, the Papillon forms strong bonds with their families and they don’t take well to being left to their own devices for long periods of time, and they need plenty of attention, love and care from their people.