Papillon Breed Standard

Papillon Breed Standard

Last updated October 2009
Reproduced by kind permission of The Kennel Club

Papillon Breed Standard

A Breed Standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function. Absolute soundness is essential. Breeders and judges should at all times be careful to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed. From time to time certain conditions or exaggerations may be considered to have the potential to affect dogs in some breeds adversely, and judges and breeders are requested to refer to the Breed Watch section of the Kennel Club website for details of any such current issues. If a feature or quality is desirable it should only be present in the right measure. However if a dog possesses a feature, characteristic or colour described as undesirable or highly undesirable it is strongly recommended that it should not be rewarded in the show ring.

General Appearance

Dainty, well balanced little dog. An alert bearing and intelligent expression.


The name ‘Papillon’ is derived from the shape and position of the ears. When erect they are carried obliquely like the spread wings of a butterfly, hence the name. When the ears are completely dropped this type is known as the ‘Phalene’ (Moth). Head markings should be symmetrical, about a narrow white, clearly defined blaze which is desirable but not essential to represent the body of a butterfly.


Lively, intelligent, friendly, with no aggression; always alert.

Head and Skull

Skull slightly rounded between ears, muzzle finely pointed and abruptly finer than the skull, accentuating well defined stop. Length from tip of nose to stop approximately one-third of length of head. Nose black.


Medium size, rounded, never bulging, dark with dark rims, placed rather low in skull.


Very large, mobile with rounded tips, heavily fringed; set towards back of head far enough apart to show slightly rounded shape of skull. Leathers firm but fine. When erect each ear should form an angle of approximately 45 degrees to head.


Jaws strong, with perfect regular, and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws. Lips thin, tight and dark in colour.


Medium length.


Shoulders well developed and sloping. Chest rather deep. Forelegs straight, slender with strong, fine bone. Elbows close to chest.


Fairly long with level topline; well sprung ribs, loin strong, of good length, slightly arched belly.


Well developed, well turned stifle. Legs when viewed from behind parallel.


Fine, fairly long, hare-like. Tufts of hair between toes extending far beyond them.


Long, well fringed, set on high, arched over back with fringes falling to side to form plume.


Light, free-flowing, positive and free from any restriction. Viewed from in front or behind, legs and feet moving parallel to each other, with feet turning neither in nor out. Viewed from side, dog covering ground well with no hint of hackneyed action.


Abundant, flowing but without undercoat; long fine silky, falling flat on back and sides; profuse frill on chest; short and close on skull, muzzle and front parts of legs. Rear of forelegs to pasterns, tail and thighs covered with long hair.


White with patches, which may be any colour except liver. Tricolours, black and white with tan spots over eyes, tan inside ears, on cheeks, and under root of tail.


Height 20-28 cms (8-11 ins). Dog will appear slightly longer than high when properly furnished with ruff and hind fringes.


Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.


Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.