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The dwarf spaniel of the 16th century, depicted in many paintings by the Masters of that era, is the dog that became known as the Papillon. Although the Papillon owes its name and much of its breed development to the French, it was Spain and Italy that gave rise to its popularity. The Bologna region of Italy probably developed the largest trade, selling many dogs to the court of Louis XIV, transporting the dogs through Spain on the backs of mules.

This little hardy dog acquired it name as the breed developed the distinctive erect-ear type, the ears being set obliquely on the head and so fringed as to resemble the wings of a butterfly. Papillon is the French word for butterfly. This breed-type is said to have developed during the days of Louis the Great but the cause of the change remains largely theoretical. It is noteworthy that both drop-eared and erect-ears occur in the same litter and are judged together in AKC shows.

First represented in the American Kennel Club in 1935, this delightful little dog enjoys great popularity in both conformation and performance competitions. As ratters, they are extremely useful. Too small to kill a rat outright, they will worry it until it is exhausted then dispatch it quickly.

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