Types of Papillons

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i papillon - exhibition image by muro from Fotolia.com

Papillon is the French word for butterfly. These little dogs received their name because of their ears' resemblance to the butterfly. However, not all Papillons have the distinctive upright ears. The other type of Papillon, the Phalene, has dropped ears. Both types of Paps can appear in the same litter.

Standard Papillon

These adorable, fine-boned companion dogs only reach 8 to 11 inches in height at maturity, weighing nine pound or less. A friendly, bright, energetic little dog, Paps don't require a great deal of exercise. Although the hair of their multi-colored coats is profuse, Paps don't shed a lot or require excessive grooming. One caveat: Pap rhymes with yap. These alert little guys are good watchdogs, but they can yap -uh, bark - a lot. However, they also respond well to training, doing well in canine sports like agility.


While its relatives have ears resembling the butterfly, the Phalene's dropped ears looks like a moth. Hence, its name - phalene is French for moth and is nicknamed "the night moth." Other than its ear set, this type of Papillon must meet the same standards set by the American Kennel Club for registration purposes. In American breed shows, the Pap and Phalene types show together in the same classes, but in separate classes in Europe.


Both Papillon types are always bi- or tri-colored, with white as one of the shades. The other colors may be black, brown or red. Solid-colored dogs, even white ones, are not purebred Paps. The Pap's head coloring must be a color other than white from the back of the ears to underneath the eyes. Most Paps have a white blaze on the head, although solidly marked heads are permitted in the registry. The skin on the dog's nose, lips and eye rims are black.


Also known as the continental toy spaniel, the Papillon is one of Europe's oldest known canine breeds. When visiting an art museum, look through paintings of European nobility from the 1400s onward and play "Spot the Papillon." The breed was the special favorite of royalty -- think of all those dauphins, infantas and princesses and their Pap playmates. Since Paps can be difficult to housebreak, there may have been some unsightly stains on those royal carpets ...

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