The Papillon, (French pronunciation: [papijɔ̃], “butterfly[-eared]”) is a Spaniel type breed of dog, and is also referred to as the Continental Toy Spaniel. This is one of the oldest toy spaniels. The breed got its name from its characteristic butterfly- like look of the fringed and long hair on its ears. The history of the Papillon can be traced through many works of art, with the earliest toy spaniels resembling the Papillon are found in Italy. The Papillon can be found in works from many artists including Tiziano Vicelli, Watteau, Gonzales Coques, Paolo Veronese, Fragonard, and Mignard. Two variation of the ears with this breed include the completely upright ears (which are more common of the Papillon), and the dropped spaniel-like ears of the Phalène (a Papillon with dropped ears is called a Phalène). It was not until the end of the 19th century the the more erect ear appearance of the dog became popular. This led to the dog’s modern name, Papillon, or French for “butterfly”.
This breeds head is slightly rounded between its ears and has a well-defined stop. The muzzle of the dog is short, and is thin tapering to the nose. The eyes, are dark and medium-sized. They are round and have thin black rims that often extend at the junction of the eyelids towards the ears. The ears are either erect, or drooping with rounded tips. The Papillon’s tail is long, set high, covered with long, fine hair, and is carried over the body. This breed has single coat that is straight, fine and long. It has extra frill on its chest, ears. Tail, and back of the legs. The color of the coat is white with any colored patches; a mask of any color other than white will cover both ears and eyed from back to front.
This breed is a very intelligent, self-assured breed that can very easily learn new tricks. While the dog can be sociable with children and strangers, it is generally reserved around new individuals. The breed needs early socialization to get along with other pets, and if not properly socialized, they may be distrustful and can become aggressive towards other dogs and people.
While the dog is active, and very playful, they can also be calm enough to enjoy sleeping in the laps of their equally affectionate owners. This breed requires allot of exercise because of their high energy level. When there are changes within the environment, the Papillon will alert their owners making them good watchdogs. Due to the breed only having one coat, it is not recommended that the dog be left outside unattended in cold weather.
The average lifespan of the Papillon is up to 17 years of age. The Papillon is a relatively healthy breed and only have minor health concerns associated with them. These include patellar luxation, seizures, dental issues, and they can be at risk for PRA (progressive retinal atrophy), and allergies.