HISTORY OF THE PAPILLONS
The name Papillon is the French word for butterfly, which the face and
ears of this little dog should resemble.
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The Papillon has its roots in the dwarf spaniels that were very
popular throughout Europe from at least the 16th century. These little dogs were extremely popular with the
As time went
on Spain and Italy became the centers of dwarf-spaniel breeding and
The court of King Louis XIV of France and his wife Queen Marie
Antoinette was particularly fond of Papillons and imported many of them. It is said that Marie Antoinette gave them the name
At one time the Papillon was known as the Squirrel Spaniel because it
carries its tail over its back in the same way a squirrel does.
These early dogs had drooping ears called Phalenes which is French for
moth, but through some unknown event, some dogs now have erect ears. Some say
they bred them with the Chihuahua.
Now days both dropped eared Phalenes and erect eared Papillons can be
found in the same litter. Even today both ear types are equally correct, but the erect-eared dog is
much more popular in America.
In Europe the Papillon is sometimes called
the Epagneul Nain or the Continental Toy Spaniel.
By the early 1900's the Papillon was well represented at French dog
shows. The Papillon was being shown in England and America around the 1920's. These earlier exhibits tended to be larger than those seen today, and
featured mostly solid-colored dogs, usually of some shade of red.
Selective breeding has resulted in a smaller dog that is distinguished
by its striking colors broken by patches of white. A symmetrically marked
face with white blaze adds to the butterfly appearance.
The Papillon has become one of the more popular toy dogs, functioning
equally well as a loving and caring dog making great pets.