Papillon (and Phalene) Dogs

Papillons are happy, lively and sprightly pals. Extremely loyal to their masters, they are the perfect cuddle companions, soaking up the affection and giving it right back. They have steady temperaments, clean habits and bright shiny faces. Because of this, and also because they don’t need lots of food or exercise, they make the ideal apartment companion.

Papillon (and Phalene)

Papillon (and Phalene) Pictures

  • Papillon (and Phalene) dog named Sierra
  • Papillon (and Phalene) dog named Chevy
  • Papillon (and Phalene) dog named Ella
  • Papillon (and Phalene) dog named Alba
  • Papillon (and Phalene) dog named Isabelle
  • Papillon (and Phalene) dog named Lola J. Robinson
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Quick Facts

  • 7 - 10 pounds
  • 8 - 11 inches

Ideal Human Companions

    • Singles
    • Seniors
    • Families with older children
    • City dwellers

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Trademark Traits

    • Lively
    • Energetic
    • Loyal
    • Cuddly
    • Intelligent
    • Sturdy

What They Are Like to Live With

But they are far from lazy. Papillons love to romp and play, and they are a lot tougher than they look. Energetic and athletic, most Papillons can be amazingly fast in agility trials. They are also intelligent, easy to train and quick to obey.

While some Papillons form strong attachments to their masters, they are not particularly suspicious of strangers. In fact, when you have guests over your Papillon may even play the role of consummate host, making sure that everyone gets ample amounts of “face time” and entertainment—they have a great sense of humor. Though welcoming and openhearted, Papillons will be sure to raise the alarm if someone approaches the house suspiciously.

Things You Should Know

Even though they don’t need lots of space, Papillons do need daily exercise. A roll on the living room floor will tide them over, but a daily walk is essential, even if it’s just around the block. And don’t forget: Papillons crave human companionship. Shower them with attention regularly (or every hour, if possible). Without it, they will get very peeved.

A healthy Papillon can live as long as 16 years. Common health issues include kneecap and joint problems and difficulty under anesthesia. Fairly low maintenance, Papillons just need regular brushing. They shed twice a year. Also, their nails should be clipped and teeth cleaned now and then to prevent tartar buildup.

Papillon (and Phalene) History

Originally called “dwarf spaniels,” these charming little dogs were faithful companions to European nobles and royals for hundreds of years. As the breed developed erect ears that resembled butterfly wings, they became known as the Papillon, which is the French word for butterfly. The drop-eared version of the Papillon is called a Phalène. Though considered a separate breed, both Papillons and Phalènes are judged by the same standards (and can even appear in the same litter). Registered by the AKC in 1935, Papillons continue to be popular show dogs, beloved companions and effective ratters.

The Look of a Papillon (and Phalene)

Papillons are small dogs with wide, pointy ears and silky, feathered coats. Their small heads have slightly rounded skulls, pointed muzzles, black noses and dark, alert eyes. They have somewhat long necks, well-sprung ribs, straight backs, tucked-up bellies and long, plumed tails that curl over their backs. Their long, feathered coats are normally white with patches of color, including a white noseband. Overall, Papillons have an elegant, poised and alert look.

Talk About Papillon (and Phalene)s 

Not the prissy, delicate dogs they're made out to be

Nacho, our Papillon, draws attention wherever he goes! Papillons are great little dogs that are perfect for apartment living as they don't require a ton of exercise, but if you do want to take them out for a daily run they will gladly tag along.

Paps have a bit of a reputation of being prissy and delicate but once you get to know one you will find they are anything but! They love to roughhouse and play.

They are companion dogs and get very lonely without their human companions, so if you work long hours and will have to leave a dog home alone for extended periods of time I would avoid this breed.

Paps are also known for getting along well with other animals and children. They are one of the smartest toy breeds and can learn amazingly fast. The most difficult part about owning this breed is that they can (and in our case was) hard to potty train. It takes a lot of patience and dedication.

~Raychel A, owner of a Papillon

A sweet but spoiled little doggie

Pepsie is very laid-back, unlike most Papillons. She just sleeps all day and likes to watch TV with our family and hang out and sleep in the middle of the room. She follows me everywhere (even the bathroom) and loves being petted. She is just a spoiled little doggie, but it is so hard not to spoil these adorable little dogs!

We like to go to places like the pet store, special pet events, and the dog park. But, also, unlike most Papillons (I hate to admit), Pepsie is very territorial and when someone comes over to our house she just barks and barks and barks and tries to protect the home. She is just our little watchdog.

They aren't very good with little kids because these dogs are breakable. They are usually a one-person dog (this dog actually can get jealous!), very active (unlike mine), very smart (number 8 on top 10 smartest dog breeds), and super affectionate (number 5 on top most affectionate dog breeds).

~Malia, owner of a Papillon

Intelligent, fun and loving

I love our Papillon, Corky. From the moment we saw him as a little puppy there was no doubt he would be going home with us.

He is so intelligent and fun and loving. I told my husband I should strap him to my leg because he never leaves my side. If we have to leave him he just curls up and waits for us to come back. Of course we get the 'guilt' look when he drops his ears and tail to make us feel bad about going.

Their legs are tiny and they have a problem with the tendon slipping off the joint so he did have to have leg surgery but it hasn't slowed him down. He will be 11 this year and its been the best 11 years of our lives. They really do understand everything you say to them. And he is a great watchdog and companion. Love, love, love him.

~Bev Loop, owner of a Papillon

A low-maintenance companion

I think I love my papillon, Yoda, more than anything in my life. He is the best thing that ever happened to me.

Papillons are very intelligent and easy to train. They are quiet and hardly bark. As Bev Loop said, Yoda understands every word we say. They are very low-maintenance because they don't smell or drool, and there's no hair tangling or shedding. I have Yoda for four years now. He has been bathed less than 10 times and I brush him once a month the most. But when people see him they always praise his shiny coat.

They are social butterflies who love to meet people and other pets. If I were to have another dog, it'd be a Papillon too, but I don't want to have another one because I want to be 100 percent devoted to Yoda!

~katie n., owner of a Papillon