Many theories have been put forward as to the origin of the Papillon, however it is generally accepted that it is descended from the European Toy Spaniels which feature in many of the Court Paintings from the 15th Century onwards. These Toy Spaniels were firm favourites with ladies of the Court and indeed it is rumoured that Marie Antoinette's own Toy Spaniel accompanied her to the guillotine. The Breed has two countries listed as its home, France and Belgium, and in both of these countries it is known as the Continental Toy Spaniel. The original Papillon was 'drop-eared' and whilst today the 'erect eared' Papillon (meaning 'butterfly') is by far the more popular, the drop-eared variety remains and are known as Phalenes (meaning 'moth'). Whilst the Phalene variety enjoys more popularity in Europe, in recent years more interest in this variety has been seen in the UK and the USA.
The Papillon is a happy lively little dog, extremely intelligent and quite certain in its own mind that it is really a large dog in a small body. It has a lively and outgoing temperament and should show no signs at all of aggressiveness. It is quite happy enjoying long walks with its owner and equally content curling up in front of the fireplace at home, or more usually on its favourite chair. It comes in a variety of colours, the most common being black and white, red (or sable) and white and tri-colour. Its long coat, the texture of which should be silky and fine, needs little attention, a few minutes a day should suffice, ensuring no tangles have developed especially under forearms, ear fringes and trousers. And like most dogs Papillons will from time to time shed their coats, however regular grooming will ensure this collects on the brush rather than on your carpet!!
The Papillon is one of the Toy Breeds and should be between 8" to 11" inches to the shoulders, with fine bone it is not suited to particularly young children nor, in the opinion of the writer, is it suited to mix with larger dogs, not because of any fear on the part of the Papillon but because, in the rough and tumble of play, accidents can happen. The Papillon is a relatively healthy breed and whilst Patella Luxation and more recently P R A have appeared in the breed as a general rule the breed is sound.
Generally the Papillon is not, or at least should not be, a finicky eater (although as with humans there are always exceptions) and these days there are many suitable scientifically balanced diets on the market. Often the main reason dogs become finicky is that they are allowed to be by their owners who worry that they are not eating enough, the answer with a Papillon is obvious, have two. They will eat out of competition and two Papillons playing in the garden give twice the joy!! Because these diets are scientifically balanced, it is not necessary for additional foods or additives to be given and of course fresh water should always be available. Some Papillons will react to milk. Like all dogs and in particular the Toy Breeds, attention should always be given to teeth. There are on the market these days plenty of canine products for ensuring teeth are kept clean.
Buying a Papillon
If you have decided the Papillon is the dog for you and that you have the time to give - no dog especially one as lively and intelligent as a Papillon, should be left alone for hours on end on a regular basis - always go to a reputable breeder. When you visit to purchase your puppy the breeder should be quite happy to let you see all their dogs not just the mother of your puppy. If the breeder only shows you the puppy then ask yourself why. You may find yourself given the third degree by a breeder, do not be embarrassed and annoyed, a reputable breeder guards their puppies well and will want to take the time to ensure that the puppy and you are well suited. A reputable breeder will always take the puppy back if it does not settle, indeed a responsible breeder will insist that should circumstances change at any time throughout the puppies life (which can be up to 20 years and beyond) they should be informed. Most breeders will provide a suggested diet sheet, always remember that if you do want to change the dogs diet do so slowly and only after your puppy has settled in properly to his new home. Rapid changes can often cause stomach upsets, apart from the inconvenience to the owner (and dog) this can lead to other problems.
The Breed is fortunate in that it has four Breed Clubs spread throughout the UK whose Officers and Committee Members are always willing to help if possible with any queries or problems that owners of Papillons may have. Pet owners are encouraged to join the Parent Club, the Papillon (Butterfly Dog) Club, the benefits of which include a regular Newsletter often with helpful advice for the pet owner.
About the author : The author, with his partner, owns the Nouveau affix and has been breeding and showing Papillons for almost 30 years. He is a Championship Show Judge for the Breed and has judged the breed at Champioship SHow level both in the UK and on the continent on a number of occassions. He is currently Chairman of the parent Breed Club in the UK, the Papillon (Butterfly Dog) Club and has for the last 10 years or so been Breed Correspondent for Dog World.