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Papillon Dog Breed (Information)

The Papillon dog breed is one of the most responsive and obedient dogs in the toy group. They are gentle, playful, and get along well with other animals and children. They were also a favorite of the Court of Louis XIV and many other Royal Courts, so much so that they had them imported from Italy and Spain, which is where they originated.

At A Glance

  • Breed:  Papillon
  • Breed Group: Toy
  • Temperament: Friendly, Adventurous, Happy
  • Doghouse Time Outdoor Ranking 2/10 for Temperature Climates
  • Worldwide Popularity:  Low
  • Breed Origin: Italy/Spain 

General Information and Breed History

Although the Papillon has strong French connections, Italy and Spain were the first to breed them. They were breed for the purpose of companionship to noblewomen.  For hundreds of years, these cute little lapdogs were high favorites in royal courts of Europe. They even appeared in numerous portraits of early queens and princesses. Renowned artists Rubens, Rembrandt, Goya, and Toulouse – Lautrec were known to perfect the Papillons in their paintings.  

This breed first appeared in the Renaissance times.   They were breed by crossing toy spaniels with existing toy breeds in order to keep the nobles happy as they were obsessed with toy dogs of their favorite breeds.  The Papillon was first registered in 1915 with the American Kennel Club

Papillons are one of the most active, obedient and responsive breeds in the toy group and have lots of energy to keep up with their active families. However, they can be calm and enjoy curling up on the couch.  Playful and affectionate, they make great companions. They can however if not socialized early in life be aggressive towards other animals and humans. Known to be great watchdogs, the papillon will warn their family if something is not right. 

This breed is small and dainty, but elegant. They have butterfly-like ears that have given them the right to be called the Papillon since it means butterfly.

General Appearance 

The Papillon is known for its butterfly-like ears, which make them an incredibly cute little dog. They have a sweet little face that is hard not to love. Their coats come in many different variations of Black, brown, red, and blond.


These beautiful little dogs are known for their glorious ears, which are well fringed, and very large that give them the look of a butterfly.   The neck is of medium length. Their backline is straight and level. Medium depth for their chest, and ribs well sprung. The belly is tucked up. Their tail is long with a beautiful flowing plume, arched high and well over the body of the dog.  


  • Eyes- Round
  • Head- Small and round with a small fine muzzle
  • Ears- Butterfly-like, erect or dropped


Amazing, fine, silky, flowing, long, straight hair that lies flat on the back and sides.  Frilly on the chest like a lion of the safari. They do not have an undercoat and good news for anyone who does not want to spend a lot of time grooming.  These cute little creatures to do need a lot of brushings, and only really need grooming every few months. Matting does tend to happen in the hind legs, behind the ears and thigh area.  Best to brush them every day for at least two minutes. See? Not much coat maintenance, and really what is two minutes a day really?


  • White & Black
  • White & LemonWhite
  • Red, White & Sable
  • White Black & Tan
  • White & Red

Legs and Feet

Forelegs are slender, straight, and fine-boned.  Front feet are elongated, thin, and straight.

General Statistics

  • Life Expectancy: 14-16 Years
  • Size:  8-11 Inches Female
  • Size:  8-11 Inches Female 
  • Weight: 7-9 Lbs Female, 8-10 Lbs Male

Recommended Doghouse Times Dimensions

These recommendations can be found on the doghouse dimensions chard for 440 recognized breeds which includes this dog breed.  But to save you time, here are the doghouse minimum size requirements.

  • Door Height: 12.1″
  • Door Width: 7.7″
  • Inside Ceiling Height: 14.9″
  • Interior House Length: 24.2″
  • Interior House Width: 15.4″

Expected Costs 

Breed Average Puppy Cost:  $1,000 – 2,500 USD.  If you plan on getting a high-quality pup for shows then you can expect to dish out close to $6,500

Starter Costs: $2,500-$3,000

This is our estimated costs that can include the cost of the dog, plus any medical shots or examinations, food, bedding, leash, things like that.  This will get you started, but costs will go up when the dog matures and needs to be neutered or spayed and regular check-ups. 

Anticipated Annual Care Cost: $500- $2000

How the Papillon Reacts To


Great with children, but not with small children.  Not that they are a threat to smaller children, they aren’t by any means, but because they are so small they could get injured during playtime unintentionally.  They are best with older children, this way there is no risk of the dog getting injured. Paps are amiable, playful and gentle. Perfect for older children.

Other Dogs and Animals 

One of the most obedient and responsive dog breeds, the papillon is affectionate and gentle. The breed is very friendly towards strangers and other animals. So, if you have a cat, a rabbit, or another dog your papillon will get along with them just fine, and most likely become great friends.


If you have a cat, have no fear, the papillon gets along great with other animals especially cats.

Care Requirements 


Highly energetic, active and smart. The papillon craves physical activity and mental stimulation. They enjoy games like retrieving balls or small toys. They will be eager to bring the item back to you and start again. Daily walks are required.

Grooming and Coat Info 

Paps have beautiful long and shiny hair. Very little grooming is needed with this breed as they do not have an undercoat. Once a month to the groomers will do. Daily brushing is needed in the following areas to avoid mats – inside the hind legs, behind the butterfly-like ears, and on the thigh hairs. They are seasonal shedders, so you’ll have to do some extra cleaning once in a while to keep hair off your furniture.

Health & Nutrition 


These butterfly-like eared cuties are generally healthy, but there are a few health issues to look out for. A reputable breeder will scan their stock for these health issues.


This condition is located on the top of the skull and is the equivalent to the soft spot on a newborn’s head. A good breeder will scan their stock for this condition.

Luxating Patella AKA “Trick Knee”

A trick knee is when the knee cap or patella moves out of its regular location. Luxating patella is common in small and miniature breeds, and even found in cats. If your puppy has this health condition you will notice it at around the 4-6 month mark. Seek out a reputable breeder as they will screen their stock for this condition.

Dental Issues

Issues with teeth can be a problem for this breed. It starts with tartar build-up and can lead to infections of the gums and roots if not cared for. Other issues can and will arise like, damage to kidneys, heart, joints, and liver. This can also take 1 – 3 years off your dog’s life! Wow, that is scary! To avoid this, you must clean your papillon’s teeth every day and get regular vet checkups.


The Papillon will do well on a high-quality diet of dry food. Visit your vet to discuss the best brand to put your Pap on.

How much your dog will eat depends on a few things like age, build, size, energy level, and metabolism.    Not all dogs need the same amount of food. For example, a high energy dog will need more food than a dog that is not so energetic.   Make sure you buy high-quality food for your dog as it makes a difference, the better the food, the better and healthier your dog will be.

Do not overfeed your Papillon. They are a breed that is prone to weight gain, which leads to other health issues like, heart and liver.


Eager to please and highly intelligent, the Papillon can be easy to train if they have had early socialization. Obedient classes never hurt anyone. This dog will do quite well with obedient classes. The Papillon is a companion dog and may become unhappy if left alone for long periods of time, and get themselves into trouble at home when left alone. If you have other pets in the house this is a bonus as they get along great with others and if left alone at least they have another companion while you are away at work or whatnot.


Is the Papillon Hypoallergenic?

No, Papillons are not hypoallergenic. However, they are on the light side of shedding and do not produce a lot of dander. This breed is great for those that do not want to deal with tons of fur everywhere and are okay with seasonal shedding.

Can a Papillon Dog Stay Outside For Long In The Cold?

No. This breed is definitely not a cold-weather dog. They are small and frail and should be kept indoors from the cold. Do not leave pets outside for a long period of time in the cold.

Can They Tolerate The Heat?

Yes, these dogs can tolerate moderate heat. So if you live somewhere that is warm all year round, or summers are quite warm, then this dog will do just fine. But always remember to never leave your dog or any other animal out in the heat for a long period of time, and make sure there is always water available nearby.

Do Papillons Have butterfly-like ears?

The papillon does have butterfly-like ears. This is where they got their nickname of “butterfly eared dog breed” from. Their ears stand erect and hair flowing around them giving the look of a butterfly.


This trivia section is here to give you a few fun facts on the Papillon. Check out the Old English Sheepdog for some trivia on that breed!

  • In French, the Paillon means “butterfly” in French.
  • Marie Antoinette loved Papillons and had one named Thisbe who stood by her faithfully while she was beheaded.
  • Only breed to have butterfly-like ears


  • Wikipedia:
  • American Kennel Club:
  • Canadian Kennel Club:
  • The Kennel Club UK:
  • Papillon Club of America:
  • Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds: D. Caroline Coile, Ph.D.

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