Click Here To Sign Up!
BaxterBoo Blog
September 5, 2012

Meet the Breed: Papillon

main image

The Papillon is an adorable little dog that sometimes gets mixed up with a long-haired chihuahua. Meet this little pup that is aptly named after a butterfly both for its ears and potentially for its lively personality!

Puppy photo courtesy of Richie Diesterheft.


  • Height: 8-11"
  • Weight: Male 8-10 lbs., Female 7-9 lbs.
  • Historical function: Companion to royal and merchant families.
  • Modern function: Companion
  • AKC classification: Toy

Physical Characteristics:

Papillon means "butterfly" in French, which is an apt designation for the butterfly-like appearance of this breed's upright fringed ears. There is a drop-eared version within the breed called "Phalene" after the French word for moth. The AKC recognizes these two variations as being the same breed. These are fine-boned, active, elegant toy dogs with a mask of color that covers the ears and eyes of the dog. A white blaze between the eyes and covering the small, tapered muzzle is particularly desirable as is symmetry of the mask to enhance the butterfly appearance. All colors are acceptable except for liver or an all-white dog. The tail is long and curved over the back with long hair. This is a single-coated dog without an undercoat. The drop-eared Phalene Papillon. Photo courtesy of mank0702.

History of the breed:

The Papillon can be traced through European art originally depicting only the drop-eared Phalene toy spaniel version. Eventually a version with erect ears developed and became so popular in the 19th century that the butterfly version eclipsed the drop-eared types with the whole breed being called Papillon after the butterfly nickname. The Phalene has had a recent resurgence in popularity, however. Both versions are often still present in a single litter and accepted in the show ring.


  • Best suited for: Families with older children since a small, fine-boned dog could be inadvertently injured. These friendly, active dogs prefer a yard and require a daily walk.
  • Prefered Living Conditions: Although Papillons are a nice size for apartment living, they can be barkers, and have higher exercise requirements than most toy breeds. Firm yet kind human leadership will ensure a happy, well-adjusted Papillon that is confident and friendly. Enjoys other pet companions, including cats, if socialized from a young age.

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: Average shedding, non-matting fur only needs combing and brushing a couple of times a week. Papillons are clean and odorless, requiring baths only as needed.
  • Exercise needs: The Papillon is an active dog that requires a daily walk.
  • Life expectancy: 12-15 years. Up to 16 years with a great diet and exercise program.
  • Health concerns: Occasional knee problems in the rear legs that may require surgery.

Breed Club Links:

BaxterBoo Perfect Pairings:

Featured image courtesy of Andrea Arden.

Have any great Papillon stories? Please share!

exiledprospero on October 10 at 3:29 PM said:

These are wonderful, highly intelligent dogs.
fernando on October 4 at 4:33 PM said:

funny cats and dogs

What do you think?

You are not logged in.
This entry was posted by Mary.

Recent Articles

article image

October 25, 2016

What to Do to Prevent Feline Weight Gain

Fat cats are cute, but they aren’t always healthy. Some breeds are built to be larger than others, but in any case, indoor cats still have a tendency to exceed expectations. When they do, it’s just like when humans have extreme weight tha

article image

October 25, 2016

Watch This: One Guilty Pup

Love how the other two give him up!  How can you be mad at such a cutie?!

article image

October 24, 2016

Top Tips to Get the Best Photo Op With Your Pup

It’s fall, and that means Halloween! It’s not hard to figure out why this is so many people’s favorite time of year. Between apple cider, pumpkin spice, and the costumes, every day of the month is a treat, and the opportunity to dre

Subscribe to

Baxter's Backyard!