The Papillon may be the epitome of the toy breeds. One might easily carry around one of these attractive dogs in a purse, and dote on them completely. However, they are also feisty and energetic, always ready for a new game. This breed is perfect for a family that wants a portable, easy-care dog with a lot of personality. Read on to learn more about the Papillon.

Description of the Papillon

These dogs are not only small, but also fine boned. Their profuse, silky hair hides some of this. However, during bath time, you might notice that they shrink by half or more!

Papillons have a strong association with France, but their true roots lie in Spain and Italy. They became popular with royals as companions for women, in particular.

Today, these fun-loving dogs still charm their owners no matter the gender. Their large eyes and ears give the impression of constant alertness, which isn’t far from the truth! Some Paps have pointy ears that stand up on end, while others have ears that fold over. Their name means “butterfly,” and comes from their large ears.

This breed comes in a variety of colors. All have white as a base color, which may be mixed with black, lemon, black and tan, red, or sable.

Life Expectancy and Size

As small dogs, Papillons are expectedly long-lived. Their life expectancy is between 14 and 16 years.

These dogs are small, there’s no way around that. They are also particularly slight. Paps stand 8 to 11 inches tall, weighing anywhere from 5 to 10 pounds.

Protective Ability

A house cat is likely to outmatch this diminutive watch dog. They offer no real protective abilities, and rather sometimes need protection from their owners! Paps are known to be vocal, though. This means they may alert you to an intruder, or may just wake you up in the middle of the night to bark at the wind.


These dogs are agile and quick learning, particularly enjoying discovering new tricks. Paps feed off playing the comedian and will entertain the whole family. For those so inclined, they also catch on quickly to agility training and other dog sports.

Obedience classes early in life can be a great way to develop the Pap’s personality later in life. Use positive reinforcement to convince these spirited pups to listen. Never resort to physicality. Papillons are very small and can be fragile, especially while young.

Energy Level

Despite their size, the Papillon is bright and alert. They prefer to hang out with the family instead of sleeping the day away. This means they may be less cuddly than some toy breeds, but more inclined to engage in play.

During exercise, they can tucker themselves out. Their small legs have to work much harder than long human ones.

What Living with a Papillon is Like

This breed is a toy with attitude. Gorgeous and spirited, your Pap will never bore you. When well-bred and exercised, these dogs have fewer health problems than some other small breeds.

Papillon may have trouble living with all but the best-behaved children or even rowdy pets. They are sturdier than they appear, but still quite delicate.

These dogs do well in busy homes where they can be part of the action. Some Paps enjoy their family so much that they can suffer separation anxiety. However, most also bond strongly with other pets, which is a good alternative for owners that are gone during the workday.

This breed isn’t a good choice for homes that want an athletic companion to join on hikes or jogs.

Care of the Papillon

These dogs take some extra care because of their small size. However, their luxurious locks are surprisingly easy-care.

Environmental Needs

For their size, the Papillon is relatively adaptable to different weather conditions. They do well in both hot and cold climate, happy to expend their energy indoors in case of inclement weather. These dogs may struggle in freezing environments or areas where they have to step in snow. Their small bodies do not produce much heat.

Exercise Needs

The Papillon is happy to receive most of his exercise from playtime. This can occur inside or out; these dogs are a good choice for apartment dwellers. Many Paps enjoy chasing balls, but do so with caution. Many are distractible and get themselves in trouble quickly. Enclosed areas are the best way to ensure they don’t bite off more than they can chew.

Shedding and Grooming

Despite their good looks, Papillons are pretty easy to care for. They need a simple brushing once a week or so to ensure that they don’t mat. Every month or so, they’ll need a more thorough grooming and a bath if they’re smelly. Paps’ dewclaws can become an issue if they’re too long. Trim regularly.

Ideal Home Environment

This breed is perfect for owners that want a small dog with personality. They’re quite low maintenance, with little need for exercise or fussy hair routines. Plus, they’re portable and can live in the smallest of houses.

Paps do best with owners that can commit to spending time with these social creatures. They do well with other pets and often bond strongly.

Health Concerns

Papillons do not have many breed specific health concerns. Like many small dogs, they can suffer from slipping kneecaps. Some are also born with a disorder that leaves a soft spot in their skull.

These dogs can easily hurt themselves, especially as puppies. Be gentle with them and ensure that they don’t get into more trouble than they can handle.

Behavior Problems

Some individuals can be barky, which often becomes exacerbated by loneliness or boredom. Those may participate in other destructive behaviors as well. Separation anxiety may be in an issue. Mitigate this by teaching your new dog to be alone in short stretches, gradually increasing the time your dog spends alone.

Some people report that these dogs are difficult to housebreak. However, they’re generally not worse than any other small breed.