The Papillon (also known as Continental Toy Spaniel or Phalene) is one of the oldest toy breeds that originated in China more than 700 years ago.

It is believed that Marco Polo opened a trading route which allowed these dogs to be transported from Asia to Europe.

These elegant, personable dogs become very popular in Europe with royal families. They were especially popular in France where they got the name Papillon which is French for butterfly.

The Papillon was first recognised as an official breed by the American Kennel Club.


  • Pretty
  • Friendly
  • Spritely
  • Petite
  • Vocal

Papillon Temperament & Size

The Papillon is a petite, elegant breed. Its most noticeable characteristic is its fringed erect ears giving them an appearance that resembles a butterfly.

Their glamorous coat is silky, flowing and smooth on the back and sides of the body. The coat’s colour is always white mixed with a variety of other colours.

These dogs make excellent companions but are not suitable for households with very young children. They also act as great guard dogs as they will bark at anything unfamiliar.

As with most toy breeds they require correct, firm training and early socialisation to avoid behavioral problems.

Papillon Life Span & Health Problems

Average lifespan is 12 – 15 years.

Common Illnesses include;

  • Patella Luxation – Partial to full dislocation of one or both kneecaps.
  • Legg Calves Perthes Disease – Altered blood supply to the head of the thigh bone causes disintegration of bone and lameness.
  • Periodontal Disease – Toy breeds are prone to bad breath, tartar accumulation, inflamed gums and tooth loss.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) – Progressive degeneration of the retina eventually causing blindness.
  • Hypothyroidism – Underactive thyroid gland causing obesity, lethargy, ear infections and skin problems.
  • Transient Juvenile Hypoglycaemia – If puppies are not fed every 3 to 4 hours their blood sugar goes dangerously low and they can become comatose and die.
  • Epilepsy – Recurrent seizures.
  • Neuroaxonal Dystrophy Disease – An inherited progressive disorder where brain and spinal cord swelling occurs.  First seen at approximately 8 weeks old, it is progressive and eventually warrants euthanasia.

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