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A small, long-haired, black and white dog with tan markings, large, erect, triangular ears stands on autumn leaves.


14 July 2023

Let’s talk about… Papillons: what are they?

  • Papillons, named after the French word for butterfly, are small and elegant dogs known for their distinctive butterfly-like ears.
  • Originating in France, these charming and intelligent dogs have a lively and friendly personality.
  • They were popular among European nobility in the past and were often seen in paintings and tapestries.
  • Despite their small size, Papillons are often full of energy and confidence.
  • They have a dainty build with an average height of around 20 to 28 cm and weigh between 3 to 5 kg.
  • Their life expectancy is usually between 13 and 15 years.
Papillon  Exercise Needs 2/5 Grooming Ease 3/5 Trainability 5/5

What is the temperament of Papillons like?

  • Papillons have a delightful and outgoing temperament.
  • They are known for being affectionate, lively, and highly trainable.
  • They thrive on human companionship and enjoy being the centre of attention.
  • Despite their small size, Papillons have a bold and confident nature, making them great companions for families and individuals alike.
  • They are generally good with children and get along well with other pets when properly socialised.
  • Papillons have a keen intelligence and a strong desire to please their owners, which makes them highly trainable.
  • Positive reinforcement and reward-based training techniques work best with them.
Louie, the Papillon

How much exercise do Papillons need?

  • Papillons have low/moderate exercise needs and typically require around 30 to 45 minutes of exercise per day.
  • Despite their small size, they have a surprising amount of energy and enjoy staying active.
  • Daily walks, playtime in a securely fenced area, and interactive games are great ways to fulfil their exercise requirements.
  • Papillons also enjoy mental stimulation, so engaging them in activities such as puzzle toys, obedience training, or agility can keep them mentally sharp and satisfied.
  • It's important to note that overexertion or excessive exercise can be harmful to their delicate structure, so avoid high-impact activities or prolonged vigorous exercise sessions.
  • Always consider your Papillon's age, health, and individual energy levels when determining their exercise routine.
  • Papillon puppies have specific exercise needs tailored to their age and development.
  • Their growing bones and joints require caution to prevent injuries.
  • Puppies should have short and controlled exercise sessions that allow them to explore and play in a safe environment.
  • Avoid activities that put excessive strain on their joints, such as jumping from heights or running on hard surfaces.
  • Aim for several short play sessions throughout the day to keep them engaged and active.
  • As a general guideline, puppies can gradually increase their exercise duration and intensity as they mature.
  • Consult with your vet for specific exercise recommendations based on your Papillon puppy's age and physical condition.
Badger, the Papillon

Do Papillons need a lot of grooming?

  • Papillons have long, silky coats that require regular grooming to keep them looking their best.
  • Their fur is known for its butterfly-like appearance, with fringed hair on their ears, legs, and tail.
  • While they don't shed excessively, their coat is prone to tangles and mats, so daily brushing is recommended to keep their fur in good condition.
  • Use a soft-bristle brush or a comb designed for long-haired breeds to gently remove any knots or debris.
  • Pay extra attention to areas such as behind the ears, under the legs, and around the tail.
  • Additionally, regular bathing, usually once every four to six weeks, helps keep their coat clean and shiny.
  • Some owners also use a professional groomer to support their Pap’s grooming needs.
  • Like any dog, regular tooth brushing with a dog-specific toothpaste twice daily is ideal. If you can’t manage that often, just do it as often as you can.
Nabi, the Papillon

Are Papillons easy to train?

  • Yes, Papillons are generally easy to train due to their high intelligence and eagerness to please.
  • They excel in various dog sports, including obedience, agility, and rally.
  • Their trainable nature and quick learning abilities make them a good choice for owners looking to engage in activities that challenge their mental and physical abilities.
  • Positive reinforcement methods, such as reward-based training and praise, work best with Papillons.
  • They thrive on positive interactions and gentle guidance, so be patient, consistent, and provide plenty of mental stimulation to keep them engaged.
  • Early socialisation is also crucial to ensure they develop into well-rounded and confident dogs.
Nancy, the Papillon

What do Papillons eat?

  • Feeding your Papillon a well-balanced and nutritious small-breed diet is crucial for their overall health and vitality.
  • Choose a high-quality dog food that is appropriate for their age, size, and activity level.
  • It's best to feed them two small meals in a day.
  • Avoid overfeeding, as Papillons can be prone to weight gain, which can lead to health problems.
  • Puppies have different dietary needs than adults and should be fed a specially formulated puppy food until they reach around 12 months of age.
  • At this point, you can transition them to an adult dog food that suits their specific nutritional requirements.
  • Puppies should be fed 3-4 times a day until 6 months, when they can then be reduced to twice daily feeding.
  • Consult with your vet to determine the appropriate food and portion sizes for your Papillon.

Are Papillons healthy?

Papillons are generally healthy dogs, but like any breed, they may be prone to certain health conditions. Some health concerns that can affect Papillons include:

Bones and Joints

  • Luxating patella - this is when a dog’s kneecap moves out of where it should normally be


  • Periodontal Disease - a buildup of plaque and tartar on a dog’s teeth leading to  inflammation, infection and tooth loss


  • Cataracts - a common cause of blindness due to a clouding of the lens of the eye
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) - this is when the retina of the eye breaks down, leading to blindness


  • Tracheal Collapse - when a dog’s windpipe collapses due to the weakening of cartilage leading to a narrowing or closing off of their airway, often first noted as a honking cough

This list is by no means comprehensive, if you have any concerns about the health of your dog, or if you want to discuss further if a Pap is right for you, consult with your vet.

BorrowMyDoggy loves Papillons

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Information on this page should never replace advice given by your veterinarian. Potential health issues presented are given as a guide only and are not meant to be comprehensive. If you ever have any concerns about your dog’s health, contact your local vet.

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