The Papillon (Butterfly dog) is yet another breed whose ancestry is lost. This is probably because those responsible for breeding it were illiterate or recording it was not considered important.


Belgium, France and Spain all claim the Papillon as theirs although a terra cotta statue of the breed was discovered in a second-century Roman tomb in Belgium. There was silence until a drop-eared breed, known as a Phalene (meaning "moth"), of similar bodily appearance was depicted in paintings and frescoes dating from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries in Italy. What led to the erect ears of the Papillion, the Butterfly dog, is not known, but they may have been the result of an outcross mating or a genetic mutation. After the fourteenth century it was only a short time before this pretty little dog became a great favourite in all the royal courts of Western Europe. Today Papillons are popular show dogs with more exhibits at Crufts than any other Toy breed.

The stylish Papillon is instantly recognizable with its long bat-like ears, resembling the wings of a butterfly – and hence its name.


This is a lively, adaptable breed, which is extremely affectionate and easy to train. Papillons thrive in the close contact of their owners and they make excellent house dogs, barking very loudly at the approach of any strangers. Totally unafraid, they will defend their home and family.

must know

Patella luxation and small eye problems are being investigated by The Kennel Club.


This is a dainty looking dog which belies the fact that it is strong and resilient. The ears are likened to butterflies, the distinctive feature which makes them different from all other breeds. They are large -almost bat-like - and facing forward with I0112 fringes of hair. The coat is abundant, flowing with long silky hair, the colour is always white with patches of any colour except liver. Dogs are 20-38cm (8-11in) high but they should appear slightly longer when they are properly furnished with a ruff and hind fringes.

Strangers 4/5

Barks but then friendly

Temperament 5/5

Very lively, affectionate, loves close contact with its owner

Exercise 4/5

Plenty of garden games and short daily walks; when fit will walk miles

Grooming 2/5

Light brush and comb daily. Care of ear and coat fringes important

Other dogs 4/5

No problems


Happy, amusing, faithful but likes to rule

General care

The breed may not look robust but these dogs are surprisingly normal and should be treated like any other small dog. Papillons like to play but children must be trained not to be rough with them because their bones are small. Food presents 110 problems, but care should be taken not to over-feed. The soft coat and fringes are a feature of the breed and should be groomed carefully every day to prevent tangles.

Gallery of Papillon