AKC Toy Group


Photo Copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo Copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

The Papillon is believed to be a descendant of the sixteenth-century Dwarf Spaniel. The Papillon was popular with royal courts and aristocrats; in fact, Marie Antoinette is said to have carried her pet Papillon with her to the guillotine. Madame de Pompadour had two, and many were sold to the court of Louis XIV. The Papillon appears in paintings of Watteau and Rubens. Today’s Papillon is primarily a companion dog, but also excels at obedience trials.


The Papillon is a dainty, fine-boned toy spaniel, usually strong and healthy, with an alert and intelligent expression. The name, French for butterfly, describes the ears that resemble butterfly wings. The ears may be either erect or drooping (Phalene). The abundant coat is silky and glossy with a frill on the chest. The plumed tail is arched over the back. The ears are well-fringed and the backs of legs feathered. The Papillon’s muzzle is short and a bit pointed. The dog should be white with patches of any other color. A color other than white should cover both eyes and both ears back to front.

Key Facts

  • Height:  8 to 11 in.
  • Size:  Very small
  • Weight:  5 to 11 lbs.
  • Availability:  Might take some effort to find
  • Talents:  Watchdog, agility, competitive obedience, and performing tricks


The Papillon is sometimes possessive of his owners, resents visitors, and might even get jealous. Daily grooming needed. Some bloodlines can be nervous, high strung, and timid. A fairly fragile little dog; some lines are prone to slipped stifle and fractures. Can be difficult to housebreak. Teeth should receive regular care to remove tartar deposits. Very clean and odorless.


A gentle and affectionate dog, trainable for competitive obedience. Lively, vivacious, and charming. Playful and amusing, but can also be calm, patient, gentle, and dignified. Steady and silent. Loves to be cuddled, but also likes to romp outdoors.


  • Children:  Best with older, considerate children
  • Friendliness:  Fairly friendly with strangers
  • Trainability:  Very easy to train
  • Independence:  Needs people a lot
  • Dominance:  Low
  • Other Pets:  Generally good with other pets
  • Combativeness:  Can be a bit dog-aggressive
  • Noise:  Not a barker
  • Indoors:  Fairly active indoors
  • Owner:  Good for novice owners


  • Grooming:  Daily grooming is best
  • Trimming and Stripping:  Some trimming or stripping (little skill required)
  • Coat:  Feathered coat
  • Shedding:  Average shedder
  • Exercise:  Little exercise needed
  • Jogging:  A poor jogging companion
  • Apartments:  Good for apartment living
  • Outdoor Space:  Does all right without a yard
  • Climate:  Does well in most climates
  • Longevity:  Moderately long lived (12 to 15 years)

Useful Links

AKC® Papillon Breed Standard

Papillon Breed Club

Search for a Breeder

Rescue Organizations

Books about the Papillon

Papillon Gifts