Origins of the Papillon
As in many breeds, the origin of the Papillon is subject to many theories, however it is generally accepted that the breed is descended from the European Toy Spaniels that feature in many of the Court Paintings from the 15th Century onwards. These Toy Spaniels were firm favourites with the ladies of the Court and indeed it is rumoured that Marie Antoinette’s own Toy Spaniel accompanied her to the guillotine. It is also generally accepted that the breed evolved in France or Belgium. Known for its large erect ears, it is perhaps surprising to learn that the forerunner of the modern day Papillon was the drop eared Toy Spaniel and although a few examples of the erect eared Papillon can be found, the earliest known featuring in a portrait by Jacob Bogdani (1660-1724). It was not until perhaps the turn of the 20th Century that the erect eared Papillon came to prominence. There would appear to be no firm evidence to confirm how the erect ears came about however they became a dominant feature of the breed. Despite the dominance of these erect ears there remains a drop eared variety of the breed, the Phalène, and although still a rarity here in the UK the variety does have much support on the continent.
The Papillon and Phalene
The following comments of course apply equally to the Papillon and the Phalène , the term Papillon is used merely for convenience and because in the UK it is the more popular of the two varieties at the present time. The Papillon is a happy lively little dog, extremely intelligent and quite certain in its own mind that it is really a large dog in a small body. It has a lively and outgoing temperament and should show no signs at all of aggressiveness. It is quite happy enjoying long walks with its owner and is equally content curling up in front of the fireplace at home, or more usually on its favourite chair. Its coat, the texture of which should be silky and fine, needs little attention, a few minutes a day should suffice, ensuring no tangles have developed especially under forearms. ear fringes and trousers. A toy breed, the Papillon should be between 8″ to 11″ inches to the shoulders, with fine bone. The Papillon is a relatively healthy breed and whilst Patella Luxation and more recently P.R.A. have appeared in the breed as a general rule the breed is sound.
Buying a Papillon
Buying a dog is not something to be undertaken without giving it a great deal of thought.
Firstly is it the right breed for you and your family circumstances. In some circumstances Papillons are not an ideal breed to have with very young children or to mix with larger dogs, there are of course exceptions but accidents can and do happen and a small fine boned breed does not mix well with boisterous children or large dogs. Do you have the time to give to a dog, no dog should be left on its own for long periods of time, Papillons are generally lively intelligent dogs and need company and puppies of course need constant watching!
Always buy a dog from a reputable breeder, when you visit to purchase your puppy the breeder should be quite happy to let you see all their dogs not just the mother of your puppy. If the breeder only shows you the puppy then ask yourself why. You may find yourself being questioned closely by a breeder, do not be embarrassed or annoyed, a reputable breeder guards their puppies well and will want to take the time to ensure that the puppy and you are well suited.
A reputable breeder will always take the puppy back if it does not settle, indeed a responsible breeder will insist that should circumstances change at any time throughout the puppies life (which can be up to 20 years and beyond) they will always take the dog back. And of course a reputable breeder will be happy to answer the many questions you will have and give you advice on a whole range of topics, from grooming and bathing to care of teeth.
The Papillon (Butterfly Dog) Club operates a Puppy Register and contact details can be obtained from the page on this site listing details of the Officers and Committee, just follow the main menu to Club pages. Speak to the breeder of your puppy about joining the Papillon (Butterfly Dog) Club, you will be able to enjoy the many benefits of membership including the regular comprehensive newsletter that often contains many interesting and informative articles about the breed and its care and welfare.
Despite their reputation to the contrary, toy dogs are not finicky eaters and these days there are many scientifically balanced diets on the market suitable for toy dogs. Generally the main reason dogs become finicky is that they are allowed to by their owners who worry that they are not eating enough, the answer with a Papillon is obvious, have two. They will eat out of competition and two Papillons playing in the garden give twice the joy!! Because these diets are scientifically balanced, it is not necessary for additional foods or additives to be given and of course fresh water should always be available. Always ask the breeder from whom you have purchased your puppy for a diet sheet. Changing a Papillon’s diet rapidly can cause an upset stomach at any time, with the added stress of changing home you are more likely to find this to be the case.
Fortunately the Papillon is not a ‘popular’ breed, although its popularity is growing as the secret of its charm and beauty spreads, and it may not always be easy to find a puppy, especially if you have fixed ideas as to colour or sex, indeed to find a pet bitch can at times be nigh on impossible.
Many pet owners feel that a bitch may be cleaner at home than a dog, which is not necessarily the case, a pet male or even two together are just as likely to be quickly house trained as a pet female.
Sometimes prospective owners feel that having obtained a bitch they should let the bitch have a litter, sometimes because someone has said it would ‘be good for the bitch’ or that ‘it would be fun to have puppies’. Neither of these is true!! Breeding from your bitch is not something to be undertaken lightly, problems can and do happen even for the most experienced of breeders. Your bitch may have to have a caesarean (a risk to both bitch as well as puppies and an expensive exercise as well!!), you may be left with having to hand rear puppies every few hours day and night, a lot of time needs to be devoted to the rearing of puppies to ensure they are healthy and properly socialised.
Reputable breeders will sell pet bitches as pets, not to be bred from and the Registration Papers will be endorsed to the effect that any progeny cannot be registered with the Kennel Club. Breeders will also expect you to sign a written agreement to the effect that the bitch is not to be bred from.
If you decide you would like to breed and show Papillons, firstly do your research about the breed, visit some shows (details of forthcoming shows can be found in the weekly publication ‘Dog World’) and talk to breeders, see which lines you like and be prepared to wait for the right bitch.
Should you decide a Papillon is the breed for you, treat your Papillon with the love and respect it deserves, in return you will be rewarded with years of love and enjoyment.