The Papillon, Papillion or Pap is one of the oldest European toy dog breeds. The French word for butterfly was used to describe this lively toy breed with the erect butterfly ears. The Pap’s body is longer than tall and has a straight back.
Its head is small and fairly wide with a rounded skull. The Pap has heavily-fringed ears that look like butterfly wings and a heavily plumed tail that is curled over the back. The Pap’s coat is abundant, long, fine and silky with a ruff or frill on the chest.
The hair is short on the skull, muzzle, and lower legs. The Papillon’s color is white with patches of any color with a well-defined non-white blaze and nose band. Paps stand about 8 to 11 inches at shoulder height and weigh from 9 to 10 pounds.
This breed is a member of the American Kennel Club (AKC) Toy Dog Group.
History The Papillon Dog Breed
The Papillon can be seen in numerous works of art – some dating back almost 700 years. One of the ancestors of the breed may have been a Chinese Dwarf Spaniel. The earliest examples of the Pap had folded ears and were called Phalene (the French word for ‘moth’).
By the 16th century the Pap was established as the favorite lap dog of the Spanish and French nobility and was Marie Antoinette’s favorite dog. The erect eared version of the Pap was first shown in England in 1923 and was recognized in the U.S. in 1935.
The Papillon was ranked 35th out of 154 dog breeds in 2004 AKC registrations.
Temperament of The Papillon Dog Breed
The Papillon is a friendly, affectionate and intelligent dog that is much more robust than it appears. The Pap is definitely not a lap dog and is high spirited, active and loves to play outside and go for walks. This breed is very smart and can be trained to be a good agility and obedience dog for competitions.
If the Pap is socialized early and trained properly, and not pampered and spoiled, it becomes a confident and outgoing companion who gets along well with older children and pets. Paps are somewhat wary of strangers and make good watch dogs. Paps are suitable for novice or first-time dog owners.
Papillons are very adaptable and make great apartment dogs but also make good traveling companions. Paps love to go on long walks with their owners in all sorts of weather conditions. However they don’t need a lot of regular exercise beyond what they get playing inside.
The Paps grooming requirements are minimal and they only need a regular brushing and occasional bath.
The Papillon should live for 14 to 16 years and has no common serious health problems. Other less common diseases include: luxating patella, heart disease (mitral valve disease), eye diseases (cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy) and deafness.
If you are buying a Pap puppy from a breeder, you should ask to see the parent’s OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) certificate screening for luxating patella and the recent CERF (Canine Eye Registry) results for eye diseases.