The Papillon and the Phalene are companion dogs native to Europe, although exactly which country in Europe remains uncertain as Spain, Italy, France, and Belgium all claim to be the original homeland of these dogs. There is little difference between the two breeds except for their ears; the Papillon has ears which stand straight up, and the Phalene has ears which droop down to the sides. In most of the world, the Papillon and the Phalene are considered to be two separate breeds, but in the United States both are treated as one breed, the Papillon. Papillon is the French word for butterfly, a description of the breed’s ears. In contrast, Phalene is French for “night moth.” Although some dog experts believe that the Papillon is actually a type of Spitz, these breeds have traditionally been considered members of the Spaniel family. The Papillon and Phalene are known collectively as the Continental Toy Spaniel, the Continental Spaniel, the Toy Spaniel, the Dwarf Spaniel, and the Epagnuel Nain. Papillons are also known as Butterfly Dogs and Paps. For the purposes of this article, the name Papillon will be used when describing both varieties, and the names Papillon-Type and Phalene-Type will be used when discussing each individual variety.
The Papillon is a very old breed, and is in fact one of the oldest known European breeds. It is generally believed that the Papillon is between 700 and 800 years old, this assertion being based upon paintings from the 13th Century that seem to depict dogs very similar in appearance to these toy spaniels. Whether or not the dogs immortalized upon the canvas are in fact an early version of the Papillon shall remain uncertain. What is certain; however, is that the breed was created in an era before written records were kept of dog breeding, or of almost anything for that matter. Therefore, little is known for sure about their origins and most of what is claimed about the ancestral Papillon is pure speculation.
The Papillon has traditionally been considered to be a type of Spaniel, although in recent years a small group of experts has instead concluded that the Papillon is actually a type of Spitz. One of the oldest native dog groups of Europe, Spaniels have long been distinguished by their long and feathery coats and long drooping ears. Spaniels were originally hunting dogs, specifically bird dogs, and although Spaniels were some of the first gundogs, many of the specific breed in this family actually predate the use of guns for hunting. Other examples of breeds generally considered to belong to the Spaniel family include the English Springer Spaniel, the American Cocker Spaniel, the Irish Water Spaniel, the Picardy Spaniel, and the Irish Setter. Almost nothing is known for sure about the origins of the Spaniel family, but several theories have developed.
The English word Spaniel originates from the French term, “Chiens des l’Epagnuel,” meaning, “Dogs of the Spaniard.” While most assume that this means that Spaniels were first developed in the modern nation of Spain, it is equally likely that it implies these dogs were created in the Roman province of Hispania, which included most of modern day Spain and Portugal. This is probably the most likely theory, but there is little or no evidence to prove this hypothesis other than linguistic. In fact, this name might be entirely inaccurate, and this family may have originated in a number of different places. Some believe that Spaniels were first bred by Celtic peoples, and that the Welsh Springer Spaniel or a similar breed was the ancestral type. While there is little historical or archaeological evidence to support this theory, it is true that almost all Spaniel breeds are native to lands once or currently inhabited by Celtic peoples, primarily France and the British Isles.
It is very possible to combine the Celtic and Spanish theories of Spaniel origin into one. Spain and Portugal were once inhabited by close relatives of the Celts, known as the Celtiberians. Perhaps the Celtiberians particularly favored Spaniels and that is how these dogs came by their name. Another major theory holds that Spaniels are the descendants of East Asian breeds such as the Tibetan Spaniel and Pekingese; breeds that were first introduced to Europe by Roman traders as early as the 5th century. Many Spaniels do superficially resemble these Oriental breeds; however, these two groups are actually very different, and likely completely unrelated. The final major theory and one that may hold some merit is that the ancestors of Spaniels were brought back to Europe by returning Crusaders. Arab rulers have long favored the Saluki, an ancient sighthound native to the Middle East. Many Salukis have coats that closely resemble those of Spaniels, especially around the ears. Europeans may have first encountered Salukis in Spain, as Islamic conquerors controlled that nation for most of the Middle Ages. It is possible that Spaniels earned their name as a result.
However and wherever Spaniels were first developed, these dogs were well-established across Western Europe by the Renaissance period. From a very early time, the European nobility and merchant classes developed a number of very small Spaniels, which were used primarily for companionship. Much like the Spaniel group as a whole, it is unclear exactly how, when, and where the first Toy Spaniels were developed. The earliest record of their existence comes from their depiction in Italian paintings of the late 1200s; because of this, many assume Toy Spaniels first developed in Italy. It is also generally believed that Toy Spaniels were developed by breeding larger Spaniels down in size, and possibly mixing them with the Maltese, Italian Greyhound, and other small companion dogs.
Many paintings of the Italian nobility and wealthy merchant classes contained these Toy Spaniels. In the early 1500’s, the Italian painter Titian began to depict a slightly different variety of Toy Spaniel, one that was typically red and white. This variety was very similar in appearance to the modern day Phalene-Type, the original form of the Papillon, and has been remembered by history as the Titian Spaniel. For the next two centuries, painters working in Italy, France, Spain, and Belgium would continue to depict Titian Spaniels. Their paintings would show remarkably similar dogs, implying that the breed had achieved uniformity of type by that point, and that the breed or type had spread through a relatively large geographic area. Depending on the opinion of the researcher, the origin of the Papillon is generally placed in either the 1200’s, when paintings began to depict the first Toy Spaniels, or the 1500’s, when the Titian Spaniel makes its first appearance.
Many observers, both at the time and in modern day, have commented that these dogs served no purpose other than to meet the fancies of the rich and powerful. However, this is not necessarily the case. While these dogs were surely greatly enjoyed and cherished by their owners, they actually did serve their masters in other ways. These small dogs were used to draw fleas and other external parasites away from their masters and onto themselves. While the effectiveness of this would be questionable at best at the time it was believed that it helped to reduce the spread of disease. These small lap dogs were also used to keep their owners warm, a very important task in an age of drafty castles and manors. Ancient physicians actually believed these small dogs had healing properties, and would prescribe the use of “Spaniell Gentles” or “Comforters” for a variety of maladies. An idea that has been confirmed by modern medicine in a number of studies, all of which show dog ownership reduces stress, increases production of pleasure hormones, and even significantly increases life expectancy.
By the reign of Louis XIV in 1636 to 1715, breeders had successfully created a dog almost identical to the modern Phalene. Credit for the refinement of Toy Spaniels is largely given to fanciers in France and Belgium. Although credit should also be given to painters such as Mignard who helped make fashionable dogs with the domed head, heavy feathering, and the refined type of the modern breed. In order to distinguish it from the English Toy Spaniel, by the end of the 1700’s, the Titian Spaniel had become known as the Continental Toy Spaniel. Although not as popular a companion as it had been in Renaissance Italy, the Continental Toy Spaniel did manage to retain a large number of followers in the Western European upper classes. Although the breed was probably never especially fashionable, it would always maintain a favorable following. While often connected to the nobility, the Continental Toy Spaniel was also associated with wealthy merchants and other non-noble upper class members. The breed would primarily remain a drop-eared (Phalene-Type) breed until the 19th Century, although a few earlier paintings suggest that erect-eared (Papillon-Type) dogs were occasionally born as early as the 1600’s. It is unclear whether the Papillon-Type was a natural mutation of the Phalene or the result of a cross with a different breed, most likely a small Spitz or possibly a Chihuahua-type dog from the Americas.
During the 1800’s, the Papillon-Type dogs became extremely popular throughout France and Belgium. They became known as Papillons due to the fact that their ears resembled those of butterflies. By 1900, this variety was far more popular than the older Phalene-Type, and the name Papillon was used to describe the entire breed, especially in English-speaking countries. It is also around this time that the color of the Papillon began to change away from the simple red and white as painted by Titian and other artists. Gradually, these dogs were found in more and more colors, likely a result of crossing Toy Spaniels with other breeds. Throughout the 1800’s, solid colored dogs were by far the most popular, although dogs with white feet and/or white chests were also quite common. During the mid to late 1800’s, dog shows became very popular with European upper-classes, and in the 1890’s Belgian dog organizations became interested in this breed. By 1902, both Schipperke and Brussels Griffon clubs offered classes for Papillons and Continental Toy Spaniels (Phalenes). Registrations which are specifically Papillons go back as far as 1908. World War I interfered with Papillon breeding and registration efforts, but beginning in 1922 a group of European show dogs appeared which formed the foundation for the modern breed. One year later, the Kennel Club of the United Kingdom officially recognized the Papillon, and the first breed specific club was organized in England. Beginning in the 1920’s, solid-colored Papillons began to fall into disfavor and parti-colored dogs became the most popular.
It is unknown exactly when the first Papillons arrived in America, but it was most likely in the last two decades of the 1800’s. During those years, the novelist Edith Wharton and Mrs. Peter Cooper Hewitt became the first recorded owners of Papillons in America, although James Gordon Bennet had owned some in Paris at an earlier date. In 1907, Mrs. William Storr Wells returned from Paris with a pair of Papillons. In 1908, she gave these dogs to Mrs. Danielson of Medfield, Massachusetts. Mrs. Danielson became a tremendous fancier of the breed, and began to import more from France in 1911. She bred the first American Papillon champion, Joujou, from her original male, Gighi, and a female she acquired in Paris. The American Kennel Club (AKC) first officially recognized the Papillon in 1915, the same year that Joujou first became a champion. The AKC only granted the Papillion partial recognition at this time. After World War I ended, Mrs. Danielson began to import Papillons from England, where they were experiencing a surge in popularity in the 1920’s.
During these years a small number of other Americans began to import these dogs from Europe, as well as breeding their own. In 1927, Mrs. W.H. Reagle acquired her first Papillon from a Mrs. Johnson. Mrs. Reagle began to breed her dogs and attempted to show them, but found that few people were aware of this breed at that time. Mrs. Reagle began to spearhead efforts to get the Papillon more recognition. In 1930, a small number of Papillon fanciers met in New Jersey to form the Papillon Club of America (PCA). The first President and Vice-President were Mrs. Danielson and Mrs. Reagle respectively. Other founding officers included Secretary Ruth Von Hoegen, Treasurer Ellie Buckley, and Delegate to the American Kennel Club Mr. Herman Fleitman. This group began to work tirelessly to promote the Papillon, overcoming many obstacles in the process. Their hard work was rewarded in 1935 when the Papillon was given full recognition by the AKC as a member of the Toy Group. The AKC treated both the Papillon-Type and Phalene-Type dogs as one breed, the Papillon.
World War II curtailed breeding and importation of Papillons, and the PCA ceased operation during those years. A few dedicated breeders did manage to maintain most of the original American Papillon lines, and the PCA was reformed at the Westminster Kennel Club Show in 1948. Two years later, the United Kennel Club (UKC) first granted official recognition to the Papillon. Throughout the 1950’s, American breeders worked to breed an increasing number of Papillons as well as import more of the finest specimens from across Europe. In 1955, the name Phalene was decided upon by European fancier to denote the drop-eared variety of Continental Toy Spaniel. By giving the breed a name which means, “Night Moth,” they attempted to definitely distinguish it from, “The Butterfly.” American fanciers did adopt the name Phalene, but not its separation as a different breed. The Papillon continued to grow in popularity, and regional Papillon clubs were established across the country. By the end of the 1980’s, the PCA was beginning to become concerned that the Papillon may have been becoming too popular, and unscrupulous breeders were damaging the breed’s quality. In the early 1990’s, the PCA became one of the first breed clubs to begin to study the genetic origins of diseases in their breed in an attempt to eliminate them from bloodlines. The 1990’s also saw an increasing number of Papillons end up in pet stores and animal shelters, although the breed continued to slowly increase in popularity.
The Papillon’s gradual rise in popularity has come at a cost. A number of breeders have begun to breed Papillons solely for commercial purposes. These breeders care little to nothing for the health, temperament, or conformation of the dogs they produce, only for the money they can get for them. Such breeders create dogs with unpredictable temperaments, poor health, and which do not conform to breed standards. The Papillon's small size and perceived high value make it an attractive choice for such breeders. Luckily for the Papillon, it has not been victimized by such practices to anywhere near the extent of some other breeds such as the Chihuahua and Yorkshire Terrier. However, prospective Papillon owners are still advised to carefully select a reputable breeder or rescue organization. In recent years, there has also been a trend to create “designer dogs” which are actually nothing more than a cross between two purebred dogs. While most toy breeds are commonly used in this practice, the Papillon is used only rarely and few Papillon mixes are popular or well-known.
The Papillon continues to grow in popularity in America, although this growth remains more gradual than meteoric. The Papillon is now well-established and popular in America, although it has not yet reached the status and numbers of America’s most popular breeds. It is likely that Papillon numbers will continue to grow, as this breed is both well-adapted to urban and suburban environments and less damaged by commercial breeding than some other dogs. In 2010, the Papillon ranked 35th out of 167 total breeds according to AKC registration numbers. This breed’s primary purpose has long been companionship, and it remains so. The vast majority of Papillons in America and across the world are companion animals or show dogs, although an increasing number are experiencing immense success in agility and obedience trials as well. In Continental Europe, the Papillon and Phalene are treated as distinct breeds of Continental Toy Spaniels, because it is claimed that mixing dogs of different ear types results in offspring with incorrect ears of both varieties. However, there has been little or not desire to formally separate the breeds in the United States.
In America, the Papillon is commonly mistaken for the much more numerous Long-Haired Chihuahua, although most similarities between the breeds are superficial. While considered to be a member of the Spaniel family, many Papillons, especially those with erect ears, are more Spitz-like in appearance. As one would expect from a toy breed, the Papillon is a very small breed. Breed standards call for dogs which are between 8 and 11 inches in height at the shoulder, with dogs that are less than 8 inches being more acceptable than dogs which are over 11. These standards do not suggest an ideal weight for the Papillon, although most breed members in good health weigh between 7 and 10 pounds, with females weighing an average of a pound less than males. The Papillon is a well-proportioned breed, and is roughly square in terms of body proportion. This breed has longer legs relative to body size than most toys. The Papillon is considerably sturdier and more athletic than most toys, although it would never be described as thick or bulky. The Papillon has a very long tail, which is carried over the back, usually in a slight curl. Part of the tail hangs to one side of the body or the other.
The Papillon has a very distinctive face. The breed’s head is proportional to body size, and slightly rounded. The muzzle of a Papillon is substantially narrower than the head, with which it merges abruptly. This muzzle tapers rapidly towards the end, but is definitely not snipish. A Papillon’s nose should always be black. The eyes of a Papillon are medium-sized and dark in color. These eyes give off an alert and intelligent expression. The ears of both Papillon varieties are very large, have rounded tips, and are set towards the back of the head. Papillon-Type dogs have erect ears, which stand up and slightly to an angle. When the dog is alert, these ears should stand at a 45 degree angle to the head. Phalene-Type dogs have drop ears, which must hang close to the head.
Although most known for its ears, the Papillon is also renowned for its coat. The Papillon is a single-coated dog, with a long, silky coat. This coat is very thick, and should be relatively straight. The hair of a Papillon is longest on its chest, but long over most of its body. The Papillon’s hair is shortest on its head, face, the front of the front legs, and the lower portion of the hind legs. The ears and tail of a Papillon are well-fringed as well, sometimes creating an almost unruly appearance. The backs of a Papillon’s front legs are well-feathered, although this diminishes on the lower portions. The backs of the hind legs also have feathering, forming what is known as culottes.
At one time, Papillons came in a wide variety of colors, and until the 1920’s solidly colored dogs were the most favored. However, modern day breed members are exclusively parti-colored. Papillons are always white, with colored markings. Any color of marking is equally acceptable, as long as the nose, eye rims, and lips are black. The ears of a Papillon must be entirely colored, in a marking that extends unbroken over the eyes as well. It is most desirable for Papillons to have a white blaze which divides the markings of each ear, although breed standards do not demand this. It is greatly preferable for a Papillon to have symmetrical facial markings, but the placement, size, and shape of markings elsewhere on the body is of little importance. An extension of the white color to the bases of the ears, as well as a few white hairs interspersed on the ears is allowable, as long as it does not detract from the butterfly-like appearance of the breed’s face.
As is the case with all breeds, Papillons which come from commercial breeders (puppy mills and pet stores) are unpredictable in terms of temperament, as these breeders care only for profit not the quality of their dogs. Additionally, even carefully bred Papillons vary significantly from line to line. Some breed members are bold and daring, while others are dainty and timid. This breed is also impacted by training and socialization to a greater extent than most breeds, which accounts for the great range of reaction among Papillons when first encountering new people. However, a number of generalizations can be made about this breed.
The temperament of the average Papillon is markedly different from that of most other toy breeds. Most Papillons are active and energetic companions rather than calm lap dogs. While most Papillons certainly love to curl up in their owners’ laps in the evenings, they will certainly not stay there for hours at a time. Although most Papillons would prefer to go exploring the house than sit on laps, this is most certainly a companion breed. Papillons are incredibly affectionate with their favorite people, and most are jumpers and lickers. Papillons form incredibly close bonds with their owners, to whom they are intensely loyal. Some Papillons become one-person dogs, forming a very close bond with one person and lesser bonds with other family members. However, most breed members become equally close with all family members.
When well-trained, the average Papillon is polite with strangers, although somewhat standoffish. Papillons have their favorite people, and do not really need or want the presence of anyone else. However, most Papillons are willing to make new friends out of strangers if given enough time, and will bond with new family members such as spouses or roommates. Papillons which have not been properly socialized are often quite timid around strangers, and sometimes show mild aggression. Essentially all Papillons will bark repeatedly at the approach of a stranger, and this breed makes an excellent watchdog.
Papillons do not have the negative reputation around children of many toy breeds. In fact, this playful and active breed very much enjoys slightly older children (around 8 or 9 and up) who are more gentle than their younger counterparts and capable of understanding appropriate play. However, the Papillon (especially Papillon puppies) is not well-suited to life with young children as this breed is fairly delicate and easily injured. Also, this breed does not tolerate rough play, hair-pulling, or sudden, jerky movements. Papillons which have not been properly trained may respond with growling or violence, but this breed is more likely to flea and become stressed. Papillons vary greatly in their dominance level towards people, but most are relatively submissive.
Many Papillons have issues with other animals, although they are typically not severe. In general, the Papillon is accepting of other dogs when properly socialized, but this is certainly a breed which gets along much better with dogs it knows well than strange dogs. Most Papillons enjoy the company of a canine friend, but they generally prefer to live in a home with one or two other dogs than a pack. Papillons are typically dominant with other dogs, although most are not outright aggressive. Many breed members quickly try to establish their place with strange dogs, leading to barking and posturing. This breed is not quick to back down, against dogs of any size. This can cause many problems as most dogs could seriously injure or kill a Papillon without even intending to. That being said, Papillons are certainly not terriers, and most will not get into serious and violent fights over the slightest provocation. It is best to introduce Papillons to other dogs slowly and carefully. This breed generally gets along best with breeds of similar sizes and energy levels. Papillons retain significantly more of their hunting instincts than most toy breeds. This is a dog which loves to chase whatever it sees, and is more than capable of and willing to kill a lizard, cockroach, or even the occasional mouse. As a result, the Papillon is definitely not the best choice to keep around small pets such as gerbils or hamsters. Most Papillons can be successfully socialized around cats so that they will not deliberately harm them. However, most breed members will occasionally harass the family cat in an attempt to play.
Papillons are among the most intelligent of all toy breeds, and some say of all dogs. Other than the Toy Poodle, there is probably no toy breed which is as capable of learning as the Papillon. This breed has excelled at obedience and agility competitions, where it is quickly earning a reputation as one of the most well-suited of all breeds. A Papillon is capable of learning incredibly complex tricks and tasks, and is likely capable of learning anything that any dog is, other than those tasks which require size, strength, and ferocity. Most breed members are highly responsive to their owners and train quite easily, especially when a training regimen involves a great deal of positive reinforcement and treats. However, Papillons certainly have minds of their own, and many train their owners just as much as their owners train them. This breed is so intelligent that it can be quite manipulative. Many Papillons figure out exactly what they can and cannot get away with and live their lives accordingly.
There are two areas where Papillons provide special training difficulties. One is with proper manners and socialization. This breed takes extra time and effort to learn how to appropriately behave with strangers, children, and strange animals. The other is with housebreaking. Although the intelligent and responsive Papillon is considerably easier to housebreak than most toy breeds, it will still present more challenges than larger breeds. The Papillon’s small bladder takes longer to develop, and this breed is small enough that its accidents often go unseen and uncorrected.
The Papillon is a very energetic dog, and is shockingly athletic. If a ranking was made on energy levels and athletic abilities listing only toy breeds, the Papillon would probably rank either first or second alongside the Miniature Pinscher. Papillons are not dogs that are satisfied with a short daily walk. This breed needs to explore and to exercise. At the very least, a Papillon needs a surprisingly rigorous daily walk, but what this breed really wants is to run freely in a secure area. Owners must be on the alert than any enclosure which houses a Papillon must be very secure. This breed is one of the few truly great escape artists among the toys, and is both intelligent and small enough to find its way out of almost anywhere are fast enough to run out a door from across the room if given a few seconds.
Most Papillons will be calmer when properly exercised, but this is a breed which is always alert, and most will wander the house for hours every day. This breed is small enough and active enough indoors that owners will not have to dedicate hours of every day exercising their Papillons, but most breed members would prefer it if they did. Papillons which are not sufficiently exercised are very likely to develop behavioral issues, including timidity, destructiveness, urinating in the home, aggression, and almost certainly excessive barking. Papillons are very playful, and most absolutely love games like fetch which they will play for hours on end. Many Papillons will bring you a toy to throw all day long. This breed is also one that absolutely loves having a task. These dogs thoroughly enjoy working out their minds as well as their bodies, and excel at running through obstacle courses or competing at flyball. Papillons are surprisingly physically capable, and many are quite willing hiking companions. Owners must be aware of the limitations of their dogs and should avoid putting them in extreme situations. If you want a couch potato who will watch television next to your for hours on end, a Papillon is most certainly not the right choice for you. If you are looking for a toy breed that will eagerly go on adventures with you or play for hours, the Papillon is one of the best available options.
One aspect of the Papillon’s temperament that all potential owners must be aware of is the breed’s tendency towards excessive barking. Papillons bark, and most bark a great deal. Proper training and exercise can greatly reduce how much a Papillon barks. However, even the best trained and most exercised Papillon will still bark considerably more than most breeds. Papillons also have a tendency to bark repeatedly in swift succession. The bark of a Papillon is incredibly shrill, and it would not be especially unfair to describe this breed as being yappy. In close settings, Papillons can result in noise complaints, especially if their owners are gone for long hours.
Papillons are especially vulnerable to developing a behavioral condition known as Small Dog Syndrome. While Papillons are not inherently more likely to develop Small Dog Syndrome than any other toy, some of their natural proclivities (such as barking and dominance towards strange dogs) can make this condition much worse if they do develop it. Small Dog Syndrome is caused by owners who fail to discipline their small dogs in the same way that they would a larger dog. This is for a number of reasons, including negative behaviors being cute or funny when a small dog does them, small dogs being less capable of seriously injuring someone, and even owners fearing hurting the feelings of their pets. However, a small dog which is undisciplined does not learn how to behave properly in society. Dogs suffering from this condition think that they are in charge of the world, and they are frequently aggressive, dominant, excessively vocal, and generally out-of-control. Although a dog as tiny as a Papillon is unlikely to seriously injure a human being, they often can put themselves at risk of being euthanized for biting a human (especially a child) or being attacked by a larger dog which feels the need to react to a smaller dogs display or attack. Luckily, this condition is almost entirely preventable if owners remember to properly discipline their dogs.
The long coat of the Papillon requires a substantial amount of attention, but not an excessive amount. This breed should have its coat brushed on a daily basis, which needs to be done gently to avoid hurting this tiny dog. The coat of a Papillon will not cause excessive problems, and under normal circumstances owners will not have to spend more than an hour or so every week to keep it in good condition. Tangles and mats need to be gently worked out to prevent them from causing discomfort later. The Papillon needs to have its skin regularly checked, as the breed’s long fur can hide external parasites, injuries, and skin irritations. This breed also needs regular bathing and shampooing, although this breed is generally clean and odorless. Additionally, owners must regularly trim a Papillon’s nails. However, this breed should not require professional grooming, and getting its coat trimmed will not substantially reduce the amount of coat care owners need to provide.
Special care must be provided to a Papillon’s ears, particularly those of the Phalene-Type. Dirt, grime, food, water, and other foreign objects easily get stuck in a Papillon’s large, hairy ears, especially when those ears droop down. As a result, the ears of a Papillon must be checked and cleaned on a regular basis to avoid infection or irritation. It is best if this process is started at a young age, in order to avoid stressing out older dogs which have never had it done.
The Papillon is one of the longest lived of all dog breeds. The life-expectancy of a well-bred Papillon is at least 12 to 14 years, and this breed very frequently reaches ages of 16 and older. Well-bred Papillons are considered to be one of the healthiest of all toy breeds, and suffer most common genetic ailments at lower rates than other dogs. This does not mean that Papillons are immune from genetically inherited diseases, but it does mean that they lower percentages of Papillons suffer from them than is the case with most breeds. Papillons are also more tolerant of inclement weather and temperature extremes than most toy dogs. The health of the Papillon has very likely been positively impacted by a breed club which has been extremely proactive in identifying and attempting to eliminate health problems from the Papillon breed. However, a number of inheritable conditions of varying severity have been identified in the Papillon.
Perhaps the condition which should be of greatest concern to Papillon owners is known as luxating patellas. This condition is one of the most common serious health issues found in most toy breeds. Luxating patella is caused when one or more of a dog’s knee caps (patellas) moves out of place. This condition can be painful and almost always significantly impacts a dog’s movement. Luxating patella most frequently occurs in young dogs, particularly those from between 4 to 6 months of age. Luckily, most cases of luxating patellas are treatable, but this requires expensive surgery.
It is always advisable to get your pets tested by either the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and/or the Canine Eye Registration Foundation, particularly if you intend to breed. The OFA and CERF test for various genetically inherited disorders such as blindness and hip dysplasia that may impact either your dog or its descendants.
A full list of health problems identified in noticeable percentages of Papillons would have to include: