If you’re on a quest for a new furry family member, the petite yet tough Papillon dog may be the one for you. Originally bred in France as a descendent of toy spaniels, Papillons have quickly gained popularity all around Europe, and it’s no wonder why — they are cute, fun-sized, smart, playful, but loyal enough to stay by your side as a true friend.
Whether you’re adopting or want to find out more about Papillons, we’ve prepared some facts, care tips, and useful info to cover everything you wanted to know about this amazing breed.
Breed facts and characteristics
Did you know that “Papillon” is French for “butterfly”? The name was not an accident, as the Papillon’s head and ear silhouette resemble a butterfly with spread wings. Although they are recognizable for their butterfly-shaped erect ears, there is also a drop-eared variety called Phalene.
Papillons are toy-sized dogs, usually not bigger than 8-11 inches, weighing around 6 to 10 pounds.
Purebred Papillons are typically white with irregular brownish or black patches all over the body, especially around the ear and head area. When first discovered, this breed was used as a status symbol thanks to its graceful look and elegant posture. With their fluffy plumed tail, small pointy nose, and majestic long fur, Papillon is an epitome of a perfect competition dog. Although a toy breed, Papillons live around 10 to 14 years, and they can live a great long life over their teens if healthy and well cared for.
Papillion temperament and training
These highly energetic creatures are a perfect breed for active families. While they enjoy quiet indoor time and cuddles, Papillons thrive best when outside, exploring and making friends. They are exceptionally protective and watchful when it comes to their owners and can easily forget how small they are.
Papillons are natural pack leaders, so it is crucial to start obedience training from their earliest age to avoid the Napoleon complex or small dog syndrome and harmful growling or jumping on humans.
Papillons are social dogs, which is why they are perfect for multi-pet households, even with cats! Like their ancestor spaniels, Papillons enjoy attention and constant stimulation. When left without company for too long, they can suffer from separation anxiety and depression, so make sure to devote your time and love to these affectionate pooches.
Papillons are one of the best family dog breeds; they get along well with children, being playful, alert, and protective at the same time. Due to their high energy levels, it’s best to keep them in an ample backyard with lots of space for running and zoomies. As fun as they can be, keep in mind that Papillons are sometimes a handful, so make sure your kids know how to properly discipline and handle their dog when necessary.
Apart from being playful, Papillons are also smart and very focused on challenging activities and training. To channel your Papillon’s energetic spirit properly, try out agility training with obstacle courses. You can also teach them basic obedience training or even advanced commands because Papillions love challenges.
One would think that Papillon’s long silky coat needs a lot of attention and care. Given that they don’t have an undercoat, Papillons actually don’t shed much and are easy to groom.
A good grooming session once a month with regular daily brushing is enough for a healthy and detangled coat. When brushing, concentrate on the rear area and fluff behind the ears, the areas most likely to get matted. Bathing, once every few months, is just enough if the dog is not particularly muddy or dirty.
Regular nail trimming and dental care are also important for good health, just like any other dog breed.
Diet and nutrition
Papillons are energy bombs always ready for action. They need calorie-packed kibble, specifically made for smaller dogs.
Focus on their daily activity and make sure they get enough nutrients to adhere to their exercise levels.
That said, watch out not to overfeed your Papillon, as too much weight gain may put pressure on their fragile knees. If you don’t neuter your dog, be sure to keep an eye on your dog in the heat and ensure you’re feeding them correctly.
One-half cup of food divided into small meals a day is just enough for your Papillon to thrive. Avoid table scraps, and too many treats a day.
Purebred Papillons may suffer from genetic disorders or develop health issues during their lifetime. Remember that each dog is unique and may not suffer from any of the possible conditions. Here are some common health problems and sensitive health areas to keep in mind about Papillons:
- Neuroaxonal Dystrophy Disease (NAD) — This is a severe but rare genetic disorder that affects the spinal cord and brain, causing irreversible swelling. Papillons may develop NAD in the earliest days of puppyhood, usually around 7 to 8 weeks of age.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) — a degenerative eye disease causing partial or complete blindness over time
- Patellar Luxation — a common orthopedic disorder caused by the dislocation of the kneecap. It can either be genetic or inflicted by trauma to the limbs.
- Frequent bone fractures and injuries
- Collapsing Trachea
Papillons are a perfect balance between playfulness and grace. If you like to take your dog on adventures, spend a lot of time outdoors and socialize, a Papillon will be a perfect companion for you.
With proper care, grooming, and stimulating activities, Papillons make great family dogs, affectionate friends, and just beautiful pups to show them off. In any case, this dog can adapt to your needs and become a valuable family member to anyone ready to devote their time and love.