Dog Breeds: Papillon dog, characteristics and personality

Dog Breeds: Papillon dog characteristics and personality

The Papillon dog

The Papillon dog is perky and energetic little fella descended from the toy spaniels seen in paintings from the 16th century. So, this little fella has been around for quite a while. His personality is loved by those who meet him.


The little Papillons were favorites of many court ladies throughout Europe. Traders would carry them in mules through Italy, Spain and France. The early Spaniels from wich the Papillons dogs descend had drop ears, but in the 17th century, a small spaniel with upright ears was developed during the reign of Louis XIV. This dog was named Papillon, which means “butterfly” in French.

The Papillon dog ranks 53rd in AKC´s popularity. The AKC officially recognized it a breed in 1915.

Physical characteristics

The most striking physical feature of the Papillon dog is the ears. They are upright and fringed, which gives them a butterfly appearance. There are two types of ear variations for the breed: the more common Papillon has upright ears and the Phàlene has dropped spaniel-like ears.

These toy dogs are usually 8 to 11 inches tall and weigh between 4 and 9 pounds.


This energetic and active dog is friendly, happy, and alert. They are neither shy nor aggressive. A Papillon should never be left alone with a child as he may hurt the dog.

Caring for a Papillon dog

These house dogs were not designed to stay outside in a backyard. However, they do enjoy a large yard where they can run around. If a yard is not available, they will do well in running around the house and climbing shelves and tables as they are considered mountain goats.

They need a 20- to 30-min walk daily, although a bit more of it would be appreciated.  The Papillon dog will let you know when he´s tired if he sits or stops.


These dogs are very intelligent, which makes training fairly easy. They are willing to learn and respond very well to commands.

Fun facts

  • This is one bossy little fella who will try to manage even larger dogs.
  • Marie Antoinette was a big fan of Papillons.
  • Previously, the Papillon was known as “Dwarf Spaniel”.

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