Peppy and petite, the Papillon has perfected the art of people pleasing. He's been working at it for centuries.


The Papillon's ancestors were dwarf spaniels popular with Spanish and Italian nobility in the sixteenth century. Later, the court of France's Louis XIV became the breed's center, although they were still popular throughout Europe. Among the Papillon's admirers were Madame Pompadour, Marie Antoinette and King Henry II.

In the early days, most had hanging ears. Even today, some (called Phalenes, which means moth) still do. But most have erect ears, which gained them the name of Papillon, which means butterfly, describing the look of their face and ears.

Papillons are one of the best toy breeds at the sports of agility and obedience. They're devoted, friendly, playful and highly intelligent. Give a Pap plenty of toys and brain games to occupy his mind.


Feed your Papillon puppy a puppy food designed for small dogs. Very small puppies should be fed small amounts often–more than larger dogs–because they can't store glucose efficiently. They can easily develop hypoglycemia if they are active and have gone without food for too long. Puppy food for small dogs combats hypoglycemia because it is high in protein, fat and complex carbohydrates. If your puppy becomes sleepy to the point of being hard to rouse, or unresponsive, it's an emergency. Rub syrup on his gums and get him to the veterinarian immediately. Most Papillons outgrow the danger by only a few months of age, but you should be aware of the signs and prevention. Even as adults, a food designed for small dogs is the best choice.

Papillons are prone to knee problems. If you see your dog skipping for a step or two, he may have a condition your veterinarian needs to check. He may also eventually develop arthritic changes in his knees. To combat this, add a glucosamine-chondroitin supplement to his diet as soon as he shows any signs of hopping or lameness.

It's not easy to grow a beautiful coat. To do so you must feed a nutritious food with probiotics and fatty acid supplements. You must keep the coat free of parasites and dirt. Use a pin brush or metal comb every other day to keep the coat tangle-free. When brushing or combing, spritz the coat lightly with a combination of water and conditioner; this prevents static electricity and breakage.

Bathe often, using a gentle shampoo. You can choose a whitening shampoo to make the coat sparkle. If your dog tends to scratch, use an avocado oil or oatmeal based shampoo. Follow with a conditioner. You can also apply a leave-in conditioner that will help prevent tangling and matting.

Papillons have healthy ears, but check them weekly for debris or redness. Use an ear cleanser if you see debris in them.

Toy dogs are prone to dental problems and tooth loss, so brush the teeth daily.

Clip the nails every two weeks or so using a light-duty dog nail clipper.

Papillons hate to slow down for anything, but sometimes age-related physical changes, such as arthritis, make it tough to keep going at full intensity. Besides any intervention recommended by your veterinarian, a soft cushion to lie on and glucosamine chondroitin supplements added to the diet can help soothe aching joints, and keep him on his toes.