Origin: FrancePapillon Breed

Type: Toy dog

Weight: Male – 3.6-4.5kg
Female – 3.2-4.1kg

Height: Male – 8-10in / 20-28cm
Female – 8-10in / 20-28cm

Appearance: Papillons are toy dogs of the Spaniel family. Their coat is mainly white with patches in different colours (black, brown, red, sable). They have long and fine fur, one single layer with an extra frill on the chest, the ears, the back of the legs and the tail. These toy dogs have large ears that can be dropped or erect. Because of the long hair and the symmetrical face they have sometimes been likened to a butterfly, hence the name Butterfly dog. Their eyes rims, nose and lips are black.

Temperament: Papillons aren’t aggressive or shy, generally being friendly and adventurous dogs. They’re highly energetic, so need lots of exercise and regular walks. For the most part they don’t have problems with heat, but because of their single­-coated fur they are more sensitive to cold temperatures than many breeds.

Skills: Despite their small size, butterfly dogs are regarded as great watchdogs, they’re very vocal and will signal any change in their environment. They’re extremely active, relish a challenge and appreciate lots of interaction and attention so breeders recommend dog agility and rally obedience.

Behaviour Toward Other Animals and Children: The breed is sociable with both strangers and children and well-known as excellent companion dogs. Although not aggressive Papillions are very territorial. If not trained well, Papillons may have problems with other animals or strangers in their home. Careful socialisation is important to produce a well­-behaved adult dog.

Common Health Problems: Health issues may include patellar luxation, seizures, dental problems, PRA, intervertebral disk disease and allergies.

Lifespan: Papillons can live up to 17 years, the average is closer to 11­-14years.

Housebreaking a Papillon Puppy

Your Papillon puppy is like a child in many ways – it needs love and attention but it also needs a good dose of discipline early on to prevent destructive behaviours. Few can resist picking up and cuddling the adorable Papillon. Showering this charming and affectionate dog with love and attention is perfectly normal but it needs to be accompanied with proper obedience training. If you don’t show your Papillon who the leader is, he will eventually assume the Alpha dog position, and develop the Small Dog Syndrome, displaying destructive behaviours such as aggression, growling, and excessive barking. Proper obedience training will ensure this won’t happen.


Papillon pups grow up to be loyal companions for over a dozen years, so training your dog is an incentive that will pay off in years to come. Intelligent, active and enthusiastic, Papillon dogs respond brilliantly to positive reinforcement and obedience training but there is one vital area of training that Papillons struggle with: housebreaking. For successful housebreaking, you need to establish where exactly the relieving area is going to be and a follow a schedule. A puppy needs to relive:

  • First thing in the morning
  • After naps
  • 20 minutes after feeding
  • 30 minutes before bedtime
  • Every 2 hours for a 2 month old, every 3 hours for a 3 month old, every 4 hours for a 4 month old

Papillon Training

When you take the puppy to the designated relieving area, allow enough time and be patient: it can take 15-20 minutes. It is also a good idea to have him on a leash, keeping him focused on the task at hand and stopping him from sniffing and running around, chasing birds, and becoming side-tracked. Praise verbally when he relieves in the designated area and if he has an accident inside, make sure to clean in a way that will not cause more accidents – don’t use cleaners with strong smells, but a canine urine cleaning solution that will break down the enzymes in the urine. Before going on a walk, stop at the relieving area and wait for the pup to go if needed; it is wrong to think he will simply go somewhere along the way. He may indeed stop during the walk but if he doesn’t, visit the area once again before entering the house. Choose a word for the action such as “bathroom” so that over time the dog will understand that what he’s doing has a word and will respond to it if you ask him.

Papillon Leash Training

Leash Training

After the arduous housebreaking, leash training will be a waltz for the intelligent Papillon. Use a soft harness at first and if your Pap starts pulling or running away, don’t follow – you need to act as leader, simply walk in another direction without yanking him on the leash. When you change directions and he follows your lead, praise and reward with a treat. Leash training has to be carried out daily, gradually becoming natural and habitual.

Papillon Dog Training

Verbal Commands

After the housebreaking, your Pap will be already accustomed to a verbal command and that will make teaching the basic commands easy. Start with the key “sit”, “stay” and “down” and always reward generously with cuddles and/or treats when the dog complies with a command.

Papillon Dog Train

Obedience Training

After you’ve taught the core of the obedience training – verbal commands, you can add structured walking and activities that will establish you as the leader. And as a leader, you should always go first; eat your food first, then feed the Pap, and don’t let him enter rooms before you – this is dominant behaviour that should be discouraged. Make training sessions short – about five to ten minutes a couple of times a day will keep the dog interested and responsive. Long sessions can have an adverse effect on training. Remember to be patient with your Pap – he won’t become an expert right away – and have fun. Use the training time as a bonding opportunity and enjoy it. Don’t let frustration get in the way, don’t reprimand or lash out on your Papillon if he misbehaves or won’t comply with commands. You can say “No” in a calm but firm voice tone but never yell at or hit your dog. This will put him off and jeopardise all your training and hard work.

The origin of the Papillon can be traced through works of art as far back as the early years of the 16th century. Although it owes its name and much of its development to France, the breed gained popularity thanks to the Italian and Spanish. Many of the tiny dogs were sold to the court of Louis XIV and transported from the Bologna region through Spain on the backs of mules. Originally, the breed had only dropped ears and was called the “epagneul nain” or “dwarf spaniel”.

Comtesse d'Egmont Pignatelli and Queen Sophie Dorothea Paintings

Dogs of the breed can be seen depicted in Italian paintings of the Renaissance period – painted on the laps of royals and noblemen. With the little spaniel’s growing popularity among court circles, breeders started an intensive breeding programme for its refinement. At the time, the breed was called Continental Toy Spaniel or simply Toy Spaniel. As it developed the distinctive erect-ear type, fringed and resembling a butterfly, the breed was referred to as Papillon – French for butterfly. Over the centuries the breed has also been called Dwarf Continental Spaniels, Little Squirrel Dogs (because their full, plumed tail resembled that of a squirrel) or Belgian Toy Spaniels.

Papillon Dog

Both drop-eared and erect-eared puppies appear in the same litter. The AKC calls the breed Papillon, and the drop-eared variety Phalene, while the official name the FCI standard goes by is Continental Toy Spaniel with two varieties: Papillon for the erect-eared dogs and Phalene for the drop-eared dogs. Mix mating between the two varieties of the breed is strictly prohibited by the FCI due to problems with the position of the ears – most of the time the result are incorrect ears on both varieties, with one ear erect and the other dropped or both bended on top. The Papillon was first recognised by the AKC in 1935 followed by the founding of the Papillon Club of America.


If you have decided to buy a Papillon puppy, ask the breeder to show you certificates for screening tests including inbreeding coefficient, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and von Willebrand’s disease type 1. Ask the breeder about the medical history of the parents and grandparents. Consider buying the puppy if any of these or other diseases, such as deafness, cataract, Neuroaxonal dystrophy (NAD) are present. Ask about the breeder’s policy in cases of serious genetic diseases occurring to your puppy in later life. Good breeders will request to be informed of such events in order to improve future breeding decisions. Some breeders will also agree to contribute towards medical costs or refund purchase price.

Papillon Puppy


If you’re grooming your Papillon without bathing him first, spray the coat with warm water to make it damp, but not wet. Use a rubber tipped pin brush and section by section, brush down and pull up and out. Cover all areas of the body, including legs, neck and tail. Baths should be given every 3 weeks and any time that requires it, if the dog has got dirty, for example, but be careful – too many baths can make the hair dry and interfere with hair growth. Bathe in warm water, carefully rinsing all products (pre-shampoo, shampoo and conditioner) and use a leave-in conditioner. Pat the coat, don’t rub it and avoid blow-drying, as the heat can dry out the skin. Comb and brush, using a cool blow-dry if desired.

Papillon Pup


Papillons are prone to hypoglycaemia as they burn calories quickly due to their high metabolic rate and high activity level. If you notice weakness, difficulty walking, dizziness or difficulty breathing, these may be all signs of a rapid drop of sugar levels.

If you’re raising a Papillon pup aged 2-6 months, feed three scheduled meals a day and add healthy snacks. When it reaches 6-12 months, you can cut to two meals – one in the morning and one in early evening. You can give snacks as rewards for reinforcing good behaviour. Adult Paps over a year will be fine with one meal a day as it usually takes approximately 24 hours for a dog to digest a meal. Feeding an adult Papillon twice or more a day can lead to intestinal distress. Papillons with health problems, stomach issues and pregnant dogs should have their diet adjusted under the guidance of a vet.

Papillon Playing

Balance your Papillon’s diet on:

40% protein from meat – white, deboned chicken breasts, lamb and fish, and organs, such as liver and kidney. Reduce the amount of protein to 30-35% for senior dogs.

40% vegetables – including starchy vegetables such as potatoes, and greens – carrots, spinach, sweet peas, broccoli, zucchini.

Add also white rice, pasta and even some wholesome bread; it is a good source of energy and offers fiber, calcium, iron and B vitamins.