Papillon Dog Breed

8 to 11 inches at the withers
5 to 12 lbs.
Multicolored or white with patches of any color(s)
Agility, Conformation, Obedience, Rally Obedience

A dainty, fine-boned toy breed distinguished by his beautiful, butterfly-like ears, the Papillon was popular in France and Spain during the 16th and 17th centuries.


Papillons are alert and affectionate and thrive in families where they are showered with attention. This friendly breed can be happy in any climate, in any home where he is loved.

The Papillon may appear delicate, but these little dogs are actually quite hardy and athletic, and love to play.


A member of the Toy group, the tiny Papillon makes a big impression—in part because of his large, wing-like ears. In fact, these ears give the breed its name: “papillon” is the French word for “butterfly.”

Some Papillons have erect ears, while the Phalene type of this breed have ears that are down. All Paps have a plumed tail and a long, silky coat.


14 to 16 years


Papillons have white coats with markings in black, lemon, red, sable, or black and tan.


The Papillon’s silky, long hair requires less care than you might think. This breed sheds occasionally, but does not have an undercoat, so monthly (or so) grooming, and a bath every few months, is all that he needs.

Between grooming appointments, running a comb or soft brush through the long hair around his legs and behind his ears will help keep mats from forming.


The Papillon is a healthy breed overall. Responsible breeders will screen for fontanels (like a human baby’s soft spot) in the skull, and patellar luxation (kneecaps that can dislocate).

While this breed is certainly hardy, it is still very small. So, owners need to be careful about Papillons interacting with active children, or larger animals who might play too roughly.

Best Dog Food for Papillon Dogs & Puppies

As a toy breed, Papillons may find the specialized nutrition and smaller kibble of a small breed dog food beneficial. For Paps who need help with weight management, consider a healthy weight formula.

Papillon puppies should eat small breed puppy food for their first year of life to aid in their growth and development.


Papillons have a history of living in the lap of luxury, and no wonder. They were originally developed as delightful little lap dogs for noblewomen.

The Papillon made its debut during the Renaissance, when miniaturized versions of larger breeds were all the rage. A cross between existing toy breeds and spaniels, the tiny Papillon breed also embodies the bloodline of a ready and athletic sporting dog.

The Papillon breed was refined in Italy and Spain, and became popular in royal courts throughout Europe, especially France. It is said that Marie Antoinette’s faithful Pap, Thisbe, waited for his queen outside the prison where she was held prior to her beheading.

The first Papillon was registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1915, but the breed was not fully represented by its own breed club until 1935.


  • Papillon means “butterfly” in French.
  • Among the Papillon’s admirers were Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette.
  • The Papillon breed was once known as the “dwarf spaniel.”