Papillon

This toy breed may not be your average lapdog, but people, including aristocratic women, just love them the Papillon. Paps for short, the French word “Papillon” means “Butterfly.” 

Indeed, Paps are light like a Butterfly, but are quite the versatile breed.  Additionally, there’s one more thing about the Paps— there’s a squabble to claim them. From Belgium to France, Spain to Italy, each nation would love to take credit for the breed’s development.

That aside, this sweet little dog has been a constant companion for centuries. So much, that historic figures made murals to honor the Paps.

What’s the story behind this breed? Could they be the next addition for your family?

Here is what you need to know about the Papillon.

History

The Papillon is an old breed. In fact, Braylor Papillons claims the breed is the oldest toy from Europe. There is some debate as to its origins. For starters, nobody truly knows how old the Paps bred is. Also, nobody truly knows, without speculation, the progenitor of this breed.

After a bit of sniffing around, the best and available information out there leads us to an approximation of 700 years. Many dog historians claim a dog resembling the Paps can be seen in murals and paintings dating back to the 14th century.

Early on in the breed’s career, the main function for the Papillon was companionship. Eventually, the breed would complete a small role as a ratter and hunter. Of course, the breed is so intelligent, that you could probably teach them to do anything you want and need.

Second, while enthusiasts can speculate the bloodline, most do agree that it is certainly a type of spaniel. There have been rumors of a Chihuahua as a possible cross, but without proof, then it’s just conjecture. 

One thing is for sure, the ladies love the Pap. Everyone from Marie Antoinette of France to Madame Pompadour had a fixation for this toy group breed. In fact, it is said that historians found a porcelain model of a Papillon with drop ears after her death. Moreover, like other breeds, the Pap had two types that owners would show as a Pap. The other type goes by the name Phalene. However, for a while, the American Kennel Club would show the Papillon as two ear types.

The first public appearance of record for this breed dates back to the 16th century. According to the Roads End Papillon, the breed began to appear in Titian paintings around the mid 1500’s. For hundreds of years., the ruling class and wealthy elite of France, Spain and Italy are said to be the only people who could afford the breed. In that time, it was a luxury and expensive one at that to own a Pap.

Eventually, the breed would make its way into the United States around 19th or 20th century. The American Kennel would give the breed full recognition in 1915. The United Kennel Club would follow suit in 1950.

Today, the breed is still a popular dog around the world. The American Kennel Club calls the Papillon the 53rd most popular breed in the U.S. Just as they did back in the 15th and 16th century, the Pap’s biggest role in human life is companionship.

Size

If you aren’t into huge dogs, then this small bugger will fit nicely into your plans. The Papillon, either male or female, can weigh between 5 to 10 pounds. Typically, a female will be slightly smaller than a male.

With regards to the height, both male and female Paps can stand between 8 to 11 inches.

Personality and Temperament

As said above, the Paps isn’t your typical toy breed, with respects to lapdogs. While they are sweet and friendly like a typical lapdog, they do have a bit of an active and athletic streak to them. Like other sporting dogs, they like to mix it up and play fetch or engage in other canine activities. This is no couch potato, and probably won’t work if you are.

The Papillon loves to learn and learn new tricks. They can pick up on commands easily and learn quickly. The Pap is eager to please, and training is a simple process due to their high intelligence. Paps are natural explorers, and are never shy or aggressive. They do bark when it is necessary. If you like a quiet dog, this little bugger may not be your cup of coffee. The Papillon is vocal and will vocalize their happiness or dismay when the need arises.

Charming, fun and easy going—you’ll find that the Pap is simple to get along with. They may carry a slight independent streak to them, but their alert senses and leader like personality makes living and training the Pap a breeze.

All in all, this breed is good with children due to their playful and fun personality. They love to be around their people and will follow room to room. This is a breed that loves learning new things, likes to be the center of attention and enjoys athletic romps in the backyard.

Health

The Pap is considerably a healthy breed. If you take good preventative care, the Papillon has a life expectancy of 14 to 16 years. When you buy a Pap from a breeder, you should do your research. Make sure you read reviews and ask around. A breeder should have a good reputation and be able to provide you with the proper paperwork and health clearances. Additionally, you should schedule regular veterinarian visits to maintain an excellent bill of health for your Papillon.

The big crusher for this breed is cardiac issues. Congestive Heart Failure appears to be the leading killer in this breed. Typically, according to the Papillon club, heart failure is more common among mature Paps. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals lists the Paps 57th worst breed as far as cardiac stats concern. This puts them in the company of the Labrador Retriever with a 99.4% normal rating.

This is why it is so important to maintain a good working relationship with your veterinarian but also to obtain any cautionary signs from the breeder. Other quick hit issues include a small concern of Liver Shunts and epilepsy. Furthermore, your Pap may have issues with certain anesthesia. Always consult with your veterinarian about the possibilities before surgery.

Another health concern affecting the breed is Patellar Luxation. This is when the kneecap slips out of place causing discomfort, pain and sometimes leading to osteoarthritis. Furthermore, the OFA ranks the breed 49th out of 1900 plus evaluations with a 3.2% dysplastic rating and a 96.8 normal rating. This puts them among the Affenpinscher.

A genetic condition that involves the systematic failure of the photorod cells in the retina, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, can be found in this breed. A good breeder can typically avoid breeding puppies with testing being available. Progressive Retinal Atrophy can lead to blindness and night vision loss.

Cryptorchidism, a strange condition, which involves a testicle or testicles not properly descending into the scrotum. If it is both testicles, then the term is Monorchidism. Either way, it has been found within this breed and can lead to testicular cancer if you ignore it. Surgery to remove the testicles from the abdomen is a possibility.

Finally, the good news with this breed is that they didn’t test high or at all for concerns like Hypothyroidism, Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia. That doesn’t mean they are out of the woods, but it is a welcoming sign.

Care

The Papillon is an indoor dog. Just because they aren’t your stereotypical lapdog doesn’t mean they should live outdoors. However, outdoor play is necessary to keep this breed happy. Fetch, hiking, swimming or camping should all suffice their energy requirements. Just know, this is a breed that is happiest with plenty of mental and physical stimulation. Again, they do enjoy new things and tricks, and won’t put up a fight against you if you introduce them to new adventures.

Paps need close contact with their people. They can do alone, but not for long periods of time consistently. Children will enjoy this breed because they are engaging and playful. You’ll find your Pap playing with other dogs if brought up with them. With that in mind, you’ll want to socialize them early on as puppies to get the most friendly nature out of your Pap. Training is another biggie if you want your Papillon to perform tricks and play by the rules. They do have an independent streak and that can become more difficult with age.

Trim their nails at the very least, monthly. You’ll want to check their ears for any kind of odor or bacteria build up. Bathe as you see necessary and brush their teeth two to three times per week.

In summary, this is a dog for either a novice or someone with experience. They do prefer the life in the country because they can run around. However, they will be okay in apartments, but you’ll need to watch their mouthiness. A fence or leash is necessary as some Paps have strong prey drive as former ratters.

Feeding

Breaking up your Papillon’s meals into two a day will help reduce the chances of Bloat or obesity. Keep treats or snacks to a minimum. Table feeding is typically met with resistance by owners with experience. You’ll want to get your Pap their own bowl and eating space as some dogs become very territorial with their food. Most owners seem content with feeding their Paps 1/4 of a cup to 1/2 cup per day.

The food should be of high quality and meat should be the first ingredient. Turkey, chicken, beef and fish should meet their desires for feeding. Mixing in fruits, veggies, fatty acids will help maintain a healthier coat, empower their joints as well as give them balance with their feeding regimen.

As a 5 to 10 pound dog, for a Pap with typical energy requirements, you’ll need to ensure a daily intake of 233 to 392 calories per day. For a more active and moderate energy dog, that number will jump up to 369 to 654 calories per day.

As always, you should provide your Papillon with fresh drinking.

Coat

Well there are some challenges to this breed’s coat, but for the most part, they are simple to care for. This is a seasonal shedder, that will require some grooming. You’ll want to get in the habit of brushing their coats two or more times per week.

As far as the coat concerns, the Papillon has a flat coat on the back and their side. The length is long, smooth, straight and fine texture. There is no undercoat. 

According to the American Kennel Club, the following five coat color options for the Pap are: White and black, white and lemon, white and red, white and sable, white, black and tan. There are no markings acceptable to standard.

Fun Papillon Facts

  • Historians believe Spain and Italy should get credit for the breed’s development. After all, the first time the breed did appear in any historic type of context was from an Italian painting.
  • According to the Intelligence of Dogs by Stanley Coren, the Papillon is the 8th most intelligent breed out of 100 plus. This means the breed is one of the brightest dogs out there and will obey commands 95 percent of the time.
  • Papillon and Phalene are two of the most common names you hear with regards to this breed. However, this breed has many references from the past– including: Dwarf Spaniel, Belgian Toy Spaniel, Continental Toy Spaniel and Squirrel Spaniel.
  • Queen Sophie and Austria’s Queen Ann both are said to have had their own Paps.
  • In 1999, Loteki Supernatural Being became the first Papillon to win a Best in Show from Westminster.

Closing Words

Papillons have been around for a very long time. They have been making their people happy for equally as long and will continue to do so as more and more dog lovers learn about the breed.

For someone with a family, you really can’t get a better deal when it comes to dogs. This is a breed that knows how to have fun, is quick and athletic and very good with kids. Intelligent and alert, if you aren’t a couch potato, this dog may be the breed you’ve searching for.