papillon_from_1915What canine breed was inadvertently named by Marie Antoinette when she loving described her pup as a little butterfly?

Currently known in Europe as the Continental Toy Spaniel the previously known dwarf spaniel took it’s new moniker from french term for butterfly ‘Papillon’. One of the oldest of toy spaniels the history of this noble breed can be traced through paintings beginning around 1500.

Breed Characteristics & Disposition

pap-ears-150x150The Papillon is a small breed generally weighing less than an adult house cat. A characteristic white muzzle and blaze running between two long and fringed ears distinguish this little butterfly breed. They sport long silky coats and plumed tails. These coats will be predominately white with patches of a variety of colors except liver. This coat requires little maintenance, needing only a weekly brushing.

There are two ear types in this breed, the erect eared Papillon and the dropped eared Phalene. The term phalene comes from the french word for moth. Both types can be born in the same litter.

This playful, intelligent dog is tougher than it looks! They have great focus and a playful spirit to keep up with an energetic family but would also be happy indoors cuddling with an warmhearted owner. Papillons are often described as affectionate, loyal, sensitive, patient and proud.


The papillon is a relatively healthy breed that can live up to 16 years. They can be sensitive to anesthesia and typical of small dogs may be prone to problems with the kneecaps (patella) in the hind legs.


The same canine intelligent test that rated the Border Collie breed as smartest known dog breed puts the Papillon at number 9 in the same list.  Easily trainable and bright this breed is great at agility and even work as service dogs!

Photo from Healthy Paws Pet Insurance

Environment & Family

While a Papillon might seem like a perfect city dog and certainly can be, it’s important to know this is one little dog that needs daily activity! Because this is a fiercely loyal dog with a strong instinct to protect their owner and property, it’s also important to know they can be inclined to bark excessively if not trained.

The papillon is a highly sociable dog, great with children, strangers, and other pets, but they should not be handled by young children as they are small and fragile and could be seriously injured.


Anything but your typical lapdog, one look in this adoring bright face and it’s easy to see how you could fall in love with a papillon!

Do you have a Papillon? Tell us why you think it’s a great breed below.