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The Papillon is what is known to dog fanciers as a minority breed; there are not all that many of them around and they are not well known to the public at large.  This is a pity because they are a charming dog to own, full of life and intelligence and a marvellous companion.  The dog is dainty and quick moving with its curled, plumed tail set on high, long silky coat and feathered legs.  A true little butterfly, flitting about, always busy and on the move.


Years ago they were pets of European aristocracy and were known as the Continental Toy Spaniel.  They numbered amongst their owners and admirers such well known names as Louis XIV of France and Marie Antoinette.


What do they look like?
The Papillon is a small dog - the breed standard in New Zealand states the dog should be between 20cm and 28cm.  The body should be white and may have patches of colour, usually black or tan markings, or even both - tricolour.  Other colours including various shades of sable are acceptable.  The head is marked with colour on the face and the ears with a white blaze up the middle of the nose giving the head, with its huge fringed ears, the true likeness of a butterfly with its wings spread.

In the early days as the Continental Toy Spaniel the dog's ears hung down.  They were later bred with erect ears and the two types became known as the Papillon (or butterfly) with ears erect like a butterfly's wings, and the Phalčne (or moth) with ears drooping like a moth's wings.

Very few true Phalčnes are to be found in New Zealand.  Some floppy-eared Papillons occasionally appear but the ears are just floppy, and not set low enough on the head to be the really dropped ears of the Phalčne.  There are still some breeders of true Phalčnes overseas however.

Please visit our Phalčnes page for some more information about them.

What care do they require?
They make delightful pets and their coats are very easy care.  If they get dirty, leaving the coat to dry and then a quick brushing brings it up clean and beautiful again.  No trimming is needed, just a brush two or three times a week taking particular care with the fringing on the ears.  They don't need to be bathed too often, but be sure to rinse all the shampoo from their coat and dry them properly so they don't catch cold.

They are equally well suited to a person who leads a sedentary life or an active one.  A Papillon will exercise itself quite happily in the garden especially if a ball is thrown, or will go for long walks and come back still fresh and ready for more games.

They become very possessive of their owners and tend to take over the family they live with as their personal property, either singly or collectively and because of this make excellent little guard dogs which give the alarm very clearly.

They are good travellers and if taught at an early age will stay quietly in the car with you for even long journeys.  Please remember, though, that they should never be left in a car on their own.

What sort of food do they eat?
What you feed your dog is often an emotive subject.  Many people swear by the natural diet which you prepare yourself; whilst others prefer the proprietary brands of complete foods.  Whichever you decide, it will be your personal preference.  You need to take advice from your breeder and vet, but it must be remembered that the puppy needs the best food whilst he is growing to prevent problems later in life.  Careful observation of the puppy will indicate whether he is getting the right amount of the right food.

Because the Papillon is a small dog and eats small meals he needs plenty of protein as this is the main ingredient a dog needs in its diet.  A normal sized saucer filled is sufficient food per day for an adult dog, but individuals do vary and you should always go by the condition of your dog.  Bear in mind that dogs which have been desexed may have a tendency to put on weight and have different dietary requirements.  Many dogs are not tolerant to beef and wheat, so try chicken and lamb instead.

Young Papillon puppies should be fed frequently and allowed to eat as much as they can at one sitting.  They won't overeat but don't leave food lying around.  Offer it, let them eat and then remove the dish.  Start with feeding four times per day and gradually decrease until they are fed once a day after they are about 6 months old.  Your breeder will give you a dietary sheet when you get your puppy.

A fresh bowl of water should always be available, and if you are feeding your Papillon a dry food they will need more water.

How do you train and socialise a puppy?
A Papillon puppy is no different from any other breed to train and feed.  The old maxim "more can be done with sugar than vinegar" is very true when toilet or lead training your puppy.  Kind, but firm, should be the order of the day with lots of praise for the right thing.  Papillons try very hard to please their owners and to be in the boss' bad books is usually all the incentive he needs to make him do the right thing next time.

When lead training use a very light lead and allow the puppy to drag it around for a while and get used to it under supervision before you pick up the other end of it.

A crate is a very useful way to train your puppy.  In a crate your puppy is protected from the dangers of the home - power cords, sharp objects, etc.  He can have some toys in there and sleep in the crate at night.  In time he will make it his own space and he will choose to stay there and he can give a message to children to leave him alone.

Toilet training a Papillon is quite easy as they are very clean by nature.  When the puppy has finished eating or woken up he should be taken outside to do his business.  With encouragement and praise he will soon learn what he needs to do.

Socialising with other puppies is necessary once he has received his vaccinations and has clearance from your vet.  Puppy classes introduce him to many different breeds of all shapes and sizes.  You and he will learn skills which will make his training easier.

If the puppy is destined for the show ring, then he should go along with you to a few shows before he is thrown in at the deep end.  He can become used to the sights, sounds and smells of lots of dogs and won't be too nervous when his time comes.

What sort of medical care do they need?
Despite their small size and fragile looks, Papillons are strong healthy little dogs and with proper care and attention suffer few ailments and live to a ripe old age.  Many of them have stayed happy and active well into their teens.

As with everything, prevention is better than cure.  Make sure your Papillon has an annual check up by the vet and all his vaccinations are up to date.  When you are grooming it's a good time to check his teeth, ears and eyes too.

Puppies should be wormed every couple of months while they're young and then continue the worming under your vet's direction.

If you live in an area prone to fleas you should also take advice from your vet as to the most appropriate treatment.  There are several different brands on the market.

Vet bills can be expensive and are often unexpected.  It is possible to get pet insurance in New Zealand to cover for both surgical and medical treatment.  Costs can start as little as 50c per day.  Click here for more details.

How much will a puppy cost?
Actually it's not just the purchase cost of a puppy you have to consider.  There are all the accessories you will need:

A bowl for food
A bowl for water
Bed and/or crate
Some toys
A lead

You also need to pay a Council registration fee for your dog.
($80 per year in Manukau City.)
Vet bills, including annual check-ups, de-sexing if you are not going to show or breed from your dog, and other medical incidentals which will crop up.
You may wish to purchase insurance for your dog's medical bills.
Your property needs to be fenced securely to protect your puppy.

Papillons make ideal pets.
They are neither too big, nor  too small.  They're intelligent and easy to train.  Their coats stay well groomed with a minimum of effort and they are loyal, affectionate, elegant and beautiful.

What more could one ask of a dog?


The New Zealand Papillon Club (Inc)
Established 1984