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Papillon - Appearance & Grooming

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015


The Papillon, a member of the toy group is a tiny, fine-boned spaniel with a friendly, alert, and intelligent expression. The ears are described as butterfly-like, and the name “Papillon” is French for butterfly. These distinctive ears are either erect or drooping. The droopy-eared Papillons are known as Phalene, and in Europe these dogs are considered a separate breed from the Papillon. The coat is shiny, silky, long and straight. The tail is plumed and the ears are covered in long fringe. The muzzle is fine, tapered and should be much thinner than the head. The eyes are round, medium sized and should always be alert. The neck is medium-length and the topline level. The gait is free and quick and should make the dog seem as though he is easy going. Papillons are parti-colored, with white being the dominant color and patches of any color adorning the body. The ears and eyes are always colored.

Size and Weight

Adult Papillons stand between 8 and 11 inches at the withers, and any show dog over 11 inches is faulted, and those over 12 are disqualified from the ring. The dog should be slightly longer than he is high. This tiny breed typically weighs between 5 and 11 pounds.

Coat and Color

The Papillon wears a long, flowing single coat that is straight, fine and silky to the touch, when properly groomed. The large ears are fringed with hair, and the inside is covered in medium-length hair, as well. There is feathering adorning the backs of the forelegs and the hind legs wear “breeches,” and the long hair on the thigh is known as “culottes.” The tail is also plumed.

Papillons are parti-colored, with white being the dominant color and patches of any color adorning the body. The ears and eyes are always colored. Ideally, the dog will have a well-defined white blaze and a nose band, though the absence of these markings does not count against a companion dog.

Grooming Needs

Papillons fairly are low maintenance when it comes to grooming, despite the high-maintenance look of their coat. They do not emit a dog odor, and when brushed two to three times per week, they only need to be bathed as needed. The coat is not prone to mats, but brushing helps to distribute the natural oils of the skin and keep the coat shiny and healthy. They need to be trimmed occasionally, but it can be done at home and hiring a professional groomer is not a necessity.

The Papillon's ears should be checked on a regular basis for signs of wax buildup, irritation or infection. Clean them with a cotton ball and a veterinarian-approved cleanser; never use a cotton swab in a dog's ear canal. Teeth should be brushed on a weekly basis to prevent tartar buildup, promote gum health and keep bad breath at bay. Trim nails monthly if the dog does not wear the toenails down naturally outdoors.

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