This week we are looking at one of the oldest spaniel breeds, the Papillon. Also known as the Continental Toy Spaniel, this dog is most recognised by its fluffy ears that resemble butterfly wings. A friendly and energetic dog, the Papillon is a great companion in a tiny package.
The Papillon is one of the oldest known breeds in the world. This breed dates back to the 15th Century! Their exact origin is still unknown to this date, but suspected to likely be Belgium, France or Spain. As depicted in many old paintings, we have come to find that many famous historic figures loved this little spaniel. Marie Antoinette was known to carry her little Papillon around with her quite often. The breed originally had droopy ears, it wasn’t until the late 1800’s that Papillon breeders started breeding for erect ears. During this time that the erect ears became more popular, any Papillon’s that did not have erect ears came to be known as the Phalene (meaning night moth). Interestingly enough, even through years of breeding for either erect or drooped ears, when a Papillon gives birth, you can have pups with erect ears and ones with drooped ears within that same litter!
If you are looking for a dog that won’t leave fur all over your house, then do not get a Papillon. These guys shed a lot and need to be brushed at least every other day. If you want to maintain the classic Papillon haircut then you will be going to the groomer about once a month. If you are okay with him not looking absolutely perfect or if you prefer the puppy cut (short hair all over) then only need to visit the groomer about every 4 months. Be very gentle when you are brushing the Papillon as they do have a lot of fur, but it’s not thick. The Papillon doesn’t have a double coat like some other breeds, so be sure to have a soft touch when brushing to not accidentally hurt or scratch the dog’s skin.
The Papillion is a sweet and friendly little dog. When properly socialized, they are often very friendly with dogs, cats and new people. These little guys are high energy and very intelligent (imagine a tiny border collie). They need to have adequate physical and mental stimulation every day to not bored and get into trouble. Papillons are very light-footed and fast, meaning they can be great escape artists. It’s important to work on your Papillon’s recall early on (as well as teach them to stay within your property when off leash) to ensure that when you open the front door, they don’t run out.
When owning a toy breed such as the Papillon, safety is a big concern. Even a short fall down some stairs or accidentally stepping on your dog if he’s quietly running by your feet, can seriously injury their tiny bodies. So be sure to look around your house and ‘tiny dog proof’ it to make sure they aren’t at risk of getting hurt or getting stuck somewhere.
The Papillon can be a fantastic companion to an active owner. They do great in apartments and don’t take up much space! With that in mind, they will need time outside to run around daily and get out all of their energy. Be prepared for trips to the groomer and maintaining your dog’s coat in between grooms. The Papillon is a wonderful and happy little dog that can be a lot of joy to the right owner!