How to Groom the Papillon for the Show Ring

Paps are essentially a wash-and-wear dog.

Paps are essentially a wash-and-wear dog.

The papillon is a cheerful little breed. Members of the toy group, papillons are named after the French word for “butterfly” because of their large, rounded ears. Regulars on the show circuit, these friendly little dogs require specific grooming to take home a blue ribbon.

Brush the dog from nose to tail with a small pin brush. Papillons have very fine hair that’s prone to matting, and frequent brushing untangles the hair before it mats. Loosen mats with your fingers and pick them apart with the edge of a comb to prevent bald spots on your pooch.

Snip away long hairs between the dog’s pads. Push the toes apart with your fingers, and trim the hairs level with the pads. Trim the toenails with a pair of sharp clippers, cutting off a little bit of nail at a time to avoid injuring the quick. Imagine your Pap's foot as an inverted "V" with the point centered over her two middle toes. Trim away the hair that falls outside the lines of the imaginary "V" to give the foot the clean, harelike shape outlined in the standard. The hair should resemble the elongated, smooth edge of a rabbit’s foot and not the prickly spines of a cactus.

Bathe your dog in the sink: Papillons are small enough to feel overwhelmed in a large tub, so put yours in the sink to keep him calm. Squirt him with dog shampoo, and work it into his hair with your hands. Rinse away lather and spray him with a moisturizing coat conditioner. Paps are a wash and wear breed, so look for a lightweight, oil-free conditioner that make your dog look like a shaggy grease ball.

Pop the dog under a blow-dryer and brush her with a slicker as she dries. When the pap's in the ring, a judge will run her hands over the dog, and her coat should be smooth and free of tangles. According to American Kennel Club breed standards, the coat should be “flowing, straight with resilient quality, flat on back and sides of body” -- so brush the hair straight down as you dry. Brush the ear fringe forward toward the muzzle to give the head its characteristic butterfly silhouette.

Clean up the hair along the dog’s hocks. Brush the hair out away from the leg and trim it parallel with the pastern to give the leg a straight, even look. Paps should never be over-trimmed, so snip off just enough hair to make each back leg look straight.

Items you will need

  • Pin brush
  • Comb
  • Round-tipped shears
  • Toenail clippers
  • Dog shampoo
  • Moisturizing coat conditioner
  • Slicker brush
  • Blow-dryer

Tip

  • If your papillon isn’t as white as you’d like, use a bluing shampoo a couple of days before you show the dog. These special shampoos have lavender tones that neutralize yellows to make the coat appear as white as fresh snow.

Warning

  • Don't use foreign substances on a papillon's coat. Some show competitors may use chalk or powder before hitting the ring, but they are illegal in many organizations.
 

About the Author

Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.

Photo Credits

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