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Papillon Breed

Sara Ochoa

By Dr. Sara Ochoa

So, you are looking for the perfect breed for your family.

Consider the Papillon (pronounced ‘pap-ee-yon’)!

This breed was once prized by European royalty but won’t turn up his nose at anyone!

A small but distinguished looking gentleman, the papillon is a loyal and intelligent addition to any family.

He’s exceptionally good with kids and new people.

And while the papillon’s coat looks intense, he actually doesn’t require a lot of grooming!

You will have a steadfast companion by your side when you adopt a papillon.


So, what do you need to know when considering a papillon puppy?

What does the breed look like and what can you expect from his personality?

Does this pup need a lot of exercise?

What challenges can you expect when training your papillon?

How will your pup react when meeting new animals and people out in public?

What does a daily grooming session look like for this breed?

All of these questions and more will be covered below.

We will even dive into this breed’s illustrious history!

So, are you ready to learn more about the papillon and his adorably perky personality?

Let’s get to know the Papillon breed!



The word ‘papillon’ means ‘butterfly’ in French.

As soon as you see one of these adorable pups, you will know why their name is so apt.

The papillon is a toy dog, weighing approximately 5-10 pounds and standing between 8-11 inches tall.

Dominating his small head are two large ears which stand up and have long, feathered hair hanging from them.

Hence the name of ‘butterfly’!

Occasionally a papillon is born with drop ears, which is known as a ‘phalene’.

‘Phalene’ is French for ‘moth’!

Despite its disparate nickname, the phalene is born in the same litter as traditional papillon pups and is not considered a separate breed.


The papillon comes in a variety of colors.

Each pup has a base of white, with accent colors including but not limited to black, lemon, red, sable, silver, tan, and liver.

His coat is medium length and is silky in texture.

This breed sheds a moderate amount but does not require a lot of grooming.

We will discuss grooming in more detail below.

While the papillon is small, he is no less hardy than his larger cousins.

This pup will hold up well with a lot of activity, just happy to be with you!



He may be a toy breed, but the papillon has a giant personality!

Loved worldwide as a companion dog, this pup is incredibly friendly and outgoing.

He especially loves playing with little humans, so don’t be shy if you have kids!

Just keep an eye on playtime to make sure your pup is handled appropriately for his size.

Despite his delicate build, the papillon is all about spending time outdoors.

Do not hesitate to take your pup on hikes and walks.

He will be most happy just being with you and your family outdoors!


Don’t worry, though!

The papillon does love some downtime on the couch!

This energetic dog can appreciate the easy companionship of chilling together after a long day.

Papillons are known for being well-adjusted.

While each puppy has an individual personality, they generally don’t experience the anxiety and timidity that other toy breeds do.


Taking time to bond with your pup will be very imperative.

Both activities and down time are an important part of this.

Your goal should be to build a love and trust between you and your papillon.

This will help with obedience and socialization training.

Both are important for your pup to be well-behaved around new people and animals.

Papillon’s are famously good at obedience training.

More on that below!



The papillon is a highly active and intelligent dog.

He needs daily exercise in order to stay fulfilled and entertained.

Because this breed is so small, a lot of his exercise can take place indoors.

Having a ball or small toy that he can fetch will give your papillon plenty of movement.

This is why he makes a wonderful apartment pet!


However, the papillon’s spaniel nature does need time outdoors.

He may look like a show-dog, but your pup wants nothing more than to chase small prey such as chipmunks and squirrels.

Keep a weather eye if your papillon decides to go after larger animals, such as cats or groundhogs.

These animals are large enough to hurt your pup and may stand and fight.


Overall, the papillon doesn’t need more than a daily walk for exercise.

But he will be more than happy to engage with you in any play you desire.

His larger-than-life personality is always ready for a romp with you and your family.

You will find a happy and cheerful companion in the papillon for all your adventures!



Don’t let the papillon’s medium-length silky hair scare you off.

This handsome gent needs a surprisingly small amount of grooming.

On a daily basis, you only need to worry about brushing through your pup’s coat once to ensure no tangles have built up.

Because he doesn’t have an undercoat, the papillon doesn’t need a lot of brushing.

You can pay extra attention to the hair on his ears and inside his back legs because that is where mats tend to build the most.

This breed is known for not really having a ‘dog’ smell.

Bathe him as needed with a vet approved doggy shampoo.

Other than that, your papillon doesn’t really need any special grooming!


As with any breed keep an eye on his nails.

Anytime you can hear his nails clicking when walking on a hard floor, they are too long.

Either learn to trim his nails yourself or have a local groomer do it for you.

If you spend significant time outdoors walking on pavement, this will help your pup’s nails to wear down naturally.

Finally, check with your local vet for puppy toothpaste recommendations.

Keeping your pup’s teeth nice and clean will help him live a happy and healthy life.




As stated above, this toy breed is well-known for his intelligence and eagerness to learn.

Particularly in the realm of obedience training, the papillon mops the floor with his competitors.

Your pup loves the challenge of training and wants to do everything you ask of him.

Obedience training is always a good option for any dog, but your papillon will especially enjoy it.


In addition, start socializing your pup as early as possible.

The papillon is a naturally social dog, but socialization training will help prepare your pup for any situation he might find himself in.

Find a local puppy class you can enroll in.

This also serves as extra bonding time for you and your pup.

Build a relationship and trust while training your papillon.

This will set him up for successful social encounters for the rest of his life!


While the papillon isn’t as anxious and timid as other toy breeds, he can still get lonely.

This is a very social breed!

If you leave him alone for long periods of time, you may find your pup engaging in destructive behavior.

This is often due to a lack of interaction and or activity.

Dedicating time to going over training and exercise everyday will not only satisfy your papillon’s energetic personality, but also his social needs as well.




Just like many breeds, the Papillon is generally a very healthy dog.

However, there are a few medical issues that your pup may have a genetic proclivity towards.

One such condition Patellar Luxation.

This happens when the kneecap slides out of joint and causes temporary lameness.

Other medical issues to be aware of are Collapsing Trachea and Progressive Retinal Atrophy.

A responsible breeder will not use breeding stock that exhibits signs of or has tested positive for these conditions.

However, that is not a 100% guarantee that your puppy will never develop said conditions.

Your best course of action is to find a responsible breeder and take your pup to regular checkups at your local veterinarian.

This way you can catch any issues as soon as possible when they pop up.


The other thing to be aware of with the papillon is his size.

This is a toy dog, so he is very small!

Controlling his diet is important for your pup’s health.

Excessive weight gain will exacerbate any joint issues he has, as well as shortening his overall lifespan.

In addition, keep an eye on him when your pup is playing with children.

The papillon loves children, but sometimes little humans forget to be gentle with such a small dog.

Common sense and watchfulness will go a long way in keeping your papillon happy and healthy!



Originally called ‘Dwarf Spaniels’, the Papillon was developed as a breed in the medieval era.

In a time when having a toy version of your favorite dog was all the rage, the papillon quickly became very popular.

For hundreds of years, this little ball of energy was considered a premier companion dog for noblewomen and royalty.

Some historic fans of the breed include Madame de Pompadour, Louis XIV, and Marie Antoinette.

As you may have guessed from the names above, the papillon especially gained popularity in France.

This is where it finally received the nickname of ‘butterfly’ we recognize it by today.


In modern history, the papillon has made a name for himself as a companion and competitor.

His toy size combined with his eagerness in obedience training make him the perfect pet for many people.

The AKC officially recognized the papillon as a distinct breed in 1915.

Since then, the breed has only grown in popularity, and now sits in the top 100 most sought after breeds in the U.S.



Where Can I Find Papillon puppies?

As with any breed, the most important step to finding your puppy is dealing with a reputable and reliable breeder.

This not only helps you avoid puppy mills, but also internet scams.

A reliable breeder will be happy to answer any questions you have regarding their breeding practices, medical documentation, and possible risks.

One thing to focus on is whether your breeder is in the business for money or if they do it for love of the breed.

A breeder who is passionate about the breed is always going to be more ethical and conscientious in their breeding practices.


Don’t forget that each puppy is not only a product of his parents, but also has his own individual personality.

Sometimes it can be hard to decide which puppy will be the right fit for your family.

Breeders will often have a personality breakdown of each puppy.

When in doubt, ask the breeder for advice!

They know their puppies and can provide insight into their personalities, and which one might be the best match for you and your family.

When at all possible, spend time with your puppy over several days before taking him home.

This will help him acclimate to his new home and family.

You won’t regret adding a Papillon to your family!



Q: Is the Papillon a good apartment dog?
A: Yes! His toy size makes this pup an excellent pet for small living circumstances. He still needs exercise every day though, so don’t forget to make time for that!

Q: Does this breed interact well with kids?
A: Yes! The Papillon loves children and spending time with them! Just keep an eye out to make sure the little ones are being gentle with him!

Q: Is the Papillon easy to train?
A: While each puppy has an individual personality, this breed is generally very easy to train. The papillon is intelligent and wants to do what you ask!


In Closing

We have covered a lot of information about the Papillon breed.

From his personality to grooming, exercise requirements to training, hopefully this article was helpful to you!

So, what do you think?

Is the Papillon a good match for you and your lifestyle?

If the answer is ‘yes’, take a look a these Papillon puppies today!

Thank you for learning about this adorable breed with me!

Until next time!



American Kennel Club. (2022, 6 7). Papillon. Retrieved from American Kennel Club:

Daily Paws. (2022, 6 7). Papillon. Retrieved from Daily Paws:

Dog Breed Info. (2022, 6 7). Papillon. Retrieved from Dog Breed Info:

Dogtime. (2022, 6 7). Papillon. Retrieved from Dogtime:

Hillspet. (2022, 6 7). Papillon. Retrieved from Hillspet:

The Spruce Pets. (2022, 6 7). Papillon. Retrieved from The Spruce Pets:

Vetstreet. (2022, 6 7). Papillon. Retrieved from Vetstreet:


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