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Characteristics, History, and Health


The Papillon, also known as the Continental Toy Spaniel, is a small, friendly, and intelligent breed of dog that is named after its butterfly-like ears (Papillon is French for 'butterfly'). The Papillon has a long and noble history dating back centuries. The breed is one of the oldest of the toy spaniels and can be traced back to at least the 16th century. The breed was popular in the royal courts of Europe, with notable owners including Louis XIV of France and Marie Antoinette.

Main Info
Belgium, Spain, France
Alternate Names
Continental Toy Spaniel, Pap
Life Expectancy
14-16 years
Average Male Height
8-11 inches
Average Female Height
8-11 inches
Average Male Weight
5-10 pounds
Average Female Weight
5-10 pounds
Coat Length
Coat Type
Coat Colors
White & Black, White & Lemon, White & Red, White & Sable, White Black & Tan, Black Brown & White, Black Red & White, Brown & White, Fawn & White, Red, Red White & Sable, Sable, White, White & Liver, White & Silver
Coat Pattern
Black Mask, Black Markings, Red Markings, Tan Markings

Genetic Predispositions and Health

Papillons can be affected by a range of health conditions, including black hair follicular dysplasia, cleft palate, cryptorchidism, deafness, epilepsy, Factor VII deficiency, hydrocephalus, intervertebral disk disease, meningoencephalitis (necrotizing), heart conditions such as mitral valve disease, neuroaxonal dystrophy, patellar luxation, polydontia, polydontia (retained primary teeth), portosystemic shunts, syringomyelia, urolithiasis (calcium oxalate), von Willebrand disease (Type I). They may also be prone to eye disorders such as progressive retinal atrophy (crd4), progressive retinal atrophy (PAP1), cataracts, distichiasis, persistent pupillary membranes, and vitreous degeneration.

Personality and Behavior

Papillons are known for their friendly, alert, and intelligent nature. They are highly trainable and do well in obedience and agility competitions. Despite their small size, they are quite active and enjoy playtime and walks. They are also known for their loyalty and can be quite protective of their family. While they can be a bit reserved with strangers, they typically get along well with other pets and are known for their sociability. They love long walks in the park equally as when they're snuggled up on the couch.

Fun Facts

The Papillon's ears are one of its most distinctive features, with the erect version often being compared to butterfly wings. However, there is also a variety with drop ears, known as the Phalene (which means 'moth' in French).

The Papillon is an ancient breed, and paintings from as early as the 16th century depict dogs that closely resemble the modern Papillon.

Papillons are highly intelligent and rank among the top ten most trainable breeds.

They were previously known as the "dwarf spaniel".