papillonExact origins of the Papillon are unclear. There are suggestions that the Spaniel, the miniature Bichon and Spitz-type dogs have all contributed to the breed as we know it today. However, it is certain the Papillon is one of the oldest types of Spaniel dogs, and it was once very popular in Europe. Paintings depicting these dogs and their owners date back as far as the 16th Century.

It is said that Marie Antoinette, the last Queen of France, had her cherished Papillons with her when she was led to the guillotine during the French Revolution. The dogs were spared and cared for in a building that is still known today as ‘Papillon House’. ‘Papillon’ is the French word for butterfly and it was given to these dogs because of the butterfly look of the breed’s long fringed ears. Another less common variety is the ‘Phalene’ (French for moth) which have drooped ears.

Papillons came to Australia in 1949 and are today popular in agility, fly ball, dancing, obedience, tracking and showing.

Papillons are dainty little dogs, full of energy and spirit


Playful, affectionate, friendly and a little bit adventurous, the Papillon is a highly intelligent dog which learns new tricks very easily and loves a good game. With their tiny size and fragile frames, you’d be forgiven for thinking the Papillon is an ornamental dog, but they are actually very agile and enjoy being active.

They are not aggressive animals, and while devoted, are not particularly possessive of their owners. Alert and clever, they make good watch dogs and they excel at agility.


With a silky single coat, the Papillon is relatively easy to maintain with regular brushing and bathing. While the Papillon likes to be indoors, and is small enough for apartment living, it does love a long walk. Papillons can be mentally stimulated with training and games, but a long walk satisfies different instincts in a dog and a daily walk can avoid boredom and destructive behavior.

Like all dogs, Papillons need regular tick & flea treatments.


The Papillon makes a great companion for singles, active families and the elderly. They are also good with children of all ages. The breed is only tiny though, so rough play should be avoided. They are suitable for apartment living, as long as they get daily exercise.

Fact file

Breed classification Toy Dog
Size Small
Origin Europe
Lifespan 12-15 years
Colors A range of colors, including black and white, red and white sable and white tri-color and lemon
Cost $800+. Common hereditary problem Neuroaxonal dystrophy disease (NAD), progressive retinal atrophy, luxating patella and dental problems.