The Papillon (the Butterfly Dog) is a dog of the Spaniel type that originated in Europe in the 16th century. He was created for the entertainment of aristocrats. The word ‘papillon’, meaning ‘butterfly’ in French, refers to the breed’s erect ears, that resemble widespread wings of the butterfly. However, not all Spaniels have erect ears, there is also a variety with drooping ears (Phalen). However, due to the fact that the Papillon is more popular and acknowledged among dog breeders, the title of this particular species can be applicable to the whole family.

Height: 8-11 inches  Weight: 7-10 pounds  Lifespan: 13-16 years


The Papillon is intelligent, alert, playful, friendly and elegant. Usually, this dog is very happy to be around people. Hence, Butterfly Dogs should not be aggressive nor shy. Comparable Breed: Chihuahua, Pomeranian.


Despite its small size, this breed is strong and enduring. The Papillon is athletic, energetic, but can be quiet and patient. This is a gentle and affectionate dog that loves to be in the limelight. Docile and balanced, the Papillon gets along great with teenagers. He has developed great guard instinct, and he will bark to alert the owners about strangers or suspicious sounds. Despite the fact that these dogs sometimes tend to bark excessively, Papillon is never nervous. As a matter of fact, they are perfect family companions.

Coat / Care:

Papillons have a long, elegant hair with a silky texture. The Papillon’s distinctive features are his large, well-fringed ears and neck collar, also adorned with fringes. The basic Papillon’s coat color is black and/ or white with red spots. The Butterfly Dogs usually has a characteristic mark the forehead, as if separating the dog’s head in two. This breed sheds moderately. It is necessary to comb your dog several times a week, paying special attention to fringed ears and stomach in order to avoid the hair from tangling. Bathe the dog only in case of emergency, using a dry shampoo.


This is a very obedient dog that can easily solve complex problems. The Papillon loves to perform various tricks, so he’s not difficult to train. However, Butterfly Dogs require early, intensive socialization, primarily because of their ‘special’ relationship with cats. The coach should be fair, kind and consistent. This breed excels at various dog sports, it can also be used in psychological therapy, or as a service dog.


The Papillon loves playing games and hiking in the fresh air. This dog requires a well-fenced yard, because he may try to escape. Papillons feel great indoors. However, these dogs are not recommended for living in a city apartment, because they are very loud barkers.

Photo credit: Andrea Arden/Flickr

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