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Papillon dog breed profile

Papillons are compared to butterflies because of their ears.

Whether your dog is a purebred Papillon or a Papillon mix, learning about the breed can explain a lot about your pet's personality, habits and overall health. Or maybe you're looking to adopt a Papillon and want to do a bit of research first — we can help with that.

The Papillon is a proper toy breed and, for many pet parents, a tiny bundle of joy. Sociable, smart and friendly, these small-but-mighty dogs can make a great addition to the right home.

What do Papillons look like?

Standing between 8 and 11 inches tall, Papillons make great lap dogs and usually weigh no more than a gallon of paint (between 6 and 12 pounds). They’re recognizable by their long, silky single-layer coat — primarily white with patches of other colors on the face and ears — and by the unique shape of said ears.

“'Papillon’ means butterfly in French, a name that comes from the appearance of their ears,” Dr. Emily Singler, VMD, Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian, says. Their large wing-shaped ears will stand erect on their head (giving the famous butterfly look) with long hairs sprouting around them or they may be floppy.

Papillons’ personalities

These pups are a great match for many families; they’re very content to snuggle with their favorite people and prefer downtime over exercise. This doesn’t mean they’re lazy, though — considered very smart, Papillons respond well to training and are happy to show off their skills. 

“They have become sought after to work as therapy dogs,” Dr. Singler shares. 

Because they tend to grow attached to their parents, Papillons can sometimes become possessive of their family, and if not properly socialized and trained, this can lead to conflict with other pets. And since they’re so small and fragile, it’s important to practice spatial awareness so as not to injure them accidentally.

“If young children are in the home, they should be supervised to make sure they’re gentle to prevent injury to the dog,” Dr. Singler explains.

RELATED: Bichon Frise dog breed profile

What health issues do Papillons face?

Papillons are predisposed to certain conditions, but knowing about them in advance can help you to have an informed conversation with your pet’s veterinarian about prevention. 

“Common health conditions include patellar luxation, von Willebrand's Disease (which is a bleeding disorder), elbow and hip dysplasia, Legg-Calve-Perthe Disease (a hip disease), and progressive retinal atrophy (an eye disease),” Dr. Singler says. Schedule regular vet checkups for your aging Papillon to help them live their best life.

Papillon adoption

Are you interested in adopting a Papillon, Papillon mix, or any pet at all? Check out our shelter partners to find your new best friend. 

The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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