Spotlight on the Papillon: Best in Show at Crufts 2019
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Spotlight on the Papillon: Best in Show at Crufts 2019

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Whether you’re involved in the world of dog showing and pedigree dog breeding or not, few dog owners in the UK can fail to ignore the annual Crufts dog show, which takes place every March at Birmingham’s NEC arena.

Crufts’ live TV coverage, news updates and social media commentary mean that the highlights of the show reach most dog lovers in the UK and in many other parts of the world too, and even those who are not huge fans of the show itself usually find something interesting or notable to see within the annual coverage of the event.

Naturally, the most widely televised part of the four-day show and the one that gets the most attention in the press is the highly prestigious Best in Show event that takes place on the final evening of the competition – and the winning dog each year takes the spotlight.

This tends to increase interest in and even demand for the winning breed itself over the following year – which at Crufts 2019, was a Papillon called Dylan.

In this article we will shine the spotlight on the Papillon dog breed, discuss their core traits, and examine their popularity in the UK.

Read on to find out more about the Papillon dog breed – Best in Show championship winner at Crufts 2019.

The winning dog

Let’s start off by talking about the star of the show itself – a Papillon named Dylan, owned and handled by Kathleen Roosens.

Dylan had won the Kennel Club’s toy group championship earlier on in the show, before going head-to-head against six other dog breeds in the ring at the finals. Dylan and his owner live in Belgium, and like many dogs and owners, travelled a long way to compete this year, and Dylan is just two years old, which makes his win even more impressive.

Dylan is also the first ever dog of the Papillon breed to win Best in Show at Crufts.

What is a Papillon?

A Papillon is a small dog breed that falls within the Kennel Club’s toy group, and this is a very small and finely-built dog breed that can weigh up to 4.5kg and that stands between 20-28cm tall.

Papillons are dainty, delicate little dogs with a very pretty appearance, topped off with tall, pointed ears that have lots of fine feathering in and around them. It is this feathering that actually gives the Papillon dog breed its name – Papillon means “butterfly” in French, and the dog’s feathered ears are often said by breed enthusiasts to look like butterflies.

Interestingly, dogs bred from Papillons that have dropped ears rather than pointed ears are known as Phalenes – and Phalene is the French word for “moth.”

The Papillon coat is usually comprised of white with coloured patches, and their fur is long, very silky and fine in texture, but also quite dense. This means that Papillons need quite a lot of brushing and grooming to keep them in good condition, and they also shed a moderate amount of fur.

Papillons are present in the UK in reasonable numbers, but they are not one of the most common dog breeds around, being in 102nd place out of a total of over 240 different dog breeds and types based on Pets4Homes advert statistics from the last year.

The Papillon personality

Whilst the Papillon isn’t usually one of the first breeds people bring to mind when thinking about different toy dog breeds, there is a lot to recommend them to people seeking a new toy dog type to join their families.

Papillons are highly affectionate and very personable little dogs that love their families and remain very loyal to them, and their small size makes them a good fit for owners from all walks of life, including those with smaller homes.

However, despite their toy dog status, Papillons are actually very lively and high-energy dogs, which need quite a lot of exercise each day to keep them happy. They don’t thrive or settle well into a very sedentary lifestyle, and need interesting, varied walks with plenty of off-lead play every day. That said, the dog’s small size and playfulness means that tiring your dog out doesn’t necessarily mean tiring yourself out too.

Papillons are also smart, forward-thinking little dogs that can learn new skills quickly, and they actively enjoy training that is fun, varied and interesting. Harnessing the dog’s core traits by teaching them tricks and skills can be very rewarding for Papillon owners, and the breed was in fact one that was often used historically as a performing circus dog in some areas of Europe.

Another advantage of Papillons is that when they are properly exercised and all of their needs are met, they will be quite happy left alone at home for a few hours at a time, and so may be a viable choice of pet for working people.

However, no dog thrives if left alone for too long, and so ideally, they should have an owner that can spend the majority of the day with them.

Buying a Papillon

Papillons are around the middle of the road in terms of their average sale prices, which falls around the £686 mark for Kennel Club registered pedigrees, and about £509 for non-pedigree or unregistered dogs of the breed. They are also reasonably economical to own.

However, because this isn’t one of the most common dog breeds in the UK, you might have to travel some way to find a breeder, and potentially join a waiting list for a pup of your own.

Before you choose a Papillon breeder or an individual dog, it is important to learn as much as possible about the breed first, including its general health and potential health issues.

Papillons live for an average of 13-15 years, but there are a number of hereditary health issues that prospective Papillon buyers should be aware of, some of which can be tested for in parent dogs prior to breeding.

Talk to any Papillon breeder you are considering buying a dog from and ask them about the health tests performed on their parent stock, and make sure you see a copy of the results before you commit to a purchase.

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