Sometimes called the "butterfly dog" because of its unusual ear shape—"papillon" means butterfly in French—the Papillon is one of the oldest toy breeds. Originally called the Dwarf Spaniel or Continental Toy Spaniel, the Papillon was depicted in artwork as early as the 16th century. Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette were known fans of the breed. Because of all of its sterling qualities, the Papillon is as popular today, as ever. If your checklist for the perfect pet includes beauty, brains, versatility, and constant loving companionship, BUT you want that all in a small package, the Papillon is for you.
Beauty: Ears that resemble the outspread wings of a butterfly, a long flowing coat, and plumed tail all contribute to the Papillon’s elegant grace. Lovers of the breed refer to it as "sensible glamour" because Papillons are relatively easy to groom. In fact the phrase, “I woke up like this” may have been coined with the Papillon in mind.
Brains: Papillons can be trained to do almost anything. They thrive on mental stimulation and work. Far from being just ornamental, the Papillon’s trainability and eagerness to please help him excel in everything from dog sports to tricks to the show ring. Papillons also tend to learn from every experience, whether good or bad, so consistent, positive training is a must. With all that brainpower, there’s no end to what you can teach him.
Versatility: These lively, alert little dogs are good at everything they try. In fact, they’re one of the most popular toy breed in obedience trials. They do well in agility, too, and seem to fly over the obstacle course. They’re also natural retrievers; try one out with a miniature Frisbee and see who gets tired first.
Papillons are stand-outs at dog shows; they seem to have an innate ability to show themselves, with their plumed tail waving, butterfly ears erect, and an attention-getting, happy, dancing movement on the leash. As if all that weren’t enough, Papillons are often used as therapy dogs and even have excellent tracking abilities.
Companionship: The Papillon has been a companion dog for centuries, and it’s really what he does best. Whether curled up in your lap, joining you on errands, "helping" you with chores, training for the show ring, taking car rides, or even joining you in the bathroom, he needs to be with you. If you’re not home, another pet, even a cat, is his second choice. What he does not want is to be alone. Luckily, you can take your Papillon almost anywhere, since he stands a diminutive eight-to-eleven inches tall and weighs somewhere between three and ten pounds.
Anyone who claims not to like toy breeds has never met a Papillon. Their beauty, elegance, talents, and attachment to humans make them a breed that’s virtually impossible not to love.
Want more on the Papillon? Watch our video on this breed below!