Also, known as the Continental Toy Spaniel the Papillon is a small breed of dog which despite its French name, is thought to have originated from Italy.
One of the oldest of the Toy Spaniels, its name is derived from the characteristic butterfly look of the long fringed hair on the ears, Papillon means butterfly in French.
Papillons are very intelligent, self-assured dogs who will have no problems picking up tricks, they will get along with people, children and other pets if they are properly socialised, though they may still be wary of strangers. A great companion dog, the Papillon can be very playful and affectionate, they have the energy and spirit to keep up with an active family, but can be just as happy sleeping in the arms of a caring owner.
Due to their high energy levels they do need regular exercise, they don’t mind the hot weather but due to their single coated fur they are not suited to the cold and should not be left outside alone in cold weather. Papillons have relatively good health, with dentistry and eye problems being the main concerns.
The Papillon has a thick, long, fine single coat which as extra frill on the chest, ears, the back of the legs, and the tail, the long tail is set high and is carried over the body. The head of the Papillon is small and slightly rounded with a well-defined stop, the muzzle is short and thin, tapering to the nose. The dark, medium size round eyes have thin black rims, often extending at the junction of the eyelids towards the ears, a mask of colour, other than white covers both ears and eyes from back to front.
The history of the Papillon can be traced through works of art, the earliest Toy Spaniels resembling the Papillon were found in Italy, Tiziano Vicelli painted these small dogs in several paintings around 1500, including the Venus of Urbino. The breed was also popular in England, France and Belgium and appeared in paintings of the Royal families, including Louis XIV. With its links to royalty, it is often said that Marianne Antoinette had her Papillon under her arm when she was led to the guillotine, though this as not been confirmed.
In 1935 the Papillon was recognised by the American Kennel club for the first time, which also saw the formation of the Papillon Club of America. In 1999, Ch. Loteki Supernatural Being (call name Kirby) owned and handled by John Oulten from Norwalk, Connecticut became the first Papillon to win the prestigious best in show at the annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show. Kirby also gained international success, winning the World Dog show in Helsinki, Finland and the Royal Invitational in Canada, becoming the first dog to win all three.
In 2019, Planet Waves Forever Young Daydream Believers (call name Dylan) became the first Papillon to win Best in show at Crufts. The Papillon has a lifespan of 11 to 17 years, which is about normal for dogs of its size.