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Papillon (Continental Toy Spaniel)

Other names: Papillon, Phalene

Papillon (Continental Toy Spaniel)

The Papillon is a gentle, docile companion dog who can be a little 'invasive' sometimes in his constant search for attention and hugs. The quietest subjects can be suitable for the elderly, while the most active ones will get along beautifully with children they can play with. There are two varieties of Continental Toy Spaniel which are distinguished by the ears: one variety has straight ears (called "Papillon/butterfly") and the other has hanging ears (called "Phalène/moth").

Key facts about the Papillon (Continental Toy Spaniel)

Life expectancy :





Temperament :

Affectionate Playful Calm Intelligent

Size :

Origins and history

The Papillon is an ancient dog represented on many paintings of the Renaissance, next to the great ladies of the time. It is therefore believed that his origin is European (Western Europe). His most recent history is recorded in France and Belgium where, in the last century, the Continental Toy Spaniel was divided into the two current varieties, depending on the shape of their ears (butterfly or moth). The official recognition of the breed is fairly recent since the CFI approved the standard in 1937.

FCI breed nomenclature

FCI Group

Group 9 - Companion and Toy Dogs


Section 9 : Continental Toy Spaniel and Russian Toy

Physical characteristics of the Papillon (Continental Toy Spaniel)

    Adult size

    Female : Between 10 and 12 in

    Male : Between 10 and 12 in


    Female : Between 2 and 11 lb

    Male : Between 2 and 9 lb

    Coat colour

    Type of coat

    Eye colour



    The Continental Toy Spaniel is a small dog with a great structure and a lively appearance. Its head is light, and the nose is small and black, but slightly flattened. The eyes are wide, almond-shaped and expressive. The ears are thin: in the Papillon, they are straight, adorned with fringes (they resemble the wings of a butterfly) and the pinna (ear flap) well open. In the Phalène, they are hanging and mobile, garnished with long wavy hair (their layout recalls the wings of a moth which are not raised but extended). The tail is curved on the back and forms a graceful plume.

    Good to know

    You should never cross a Papillon with a Phalène because it can lead to the birth of puppies with mixed ears meaning semi-upright and this constitutes a very serious defect and does not correspond to the standard of the breed.


    The Papillon (with straight ears)

    the Phalène (with floppy ears)


    • 100%


      Very close to his social group, the Continental Toy Spaniel is a dog that constantly needs affection and can therefore be somewhat intrusive when he demands caresses and attention from his masters.

    • 100%


      Very dynamic and playful in nature, this dog is always up for a playing session and, thanks to this, he is a perfect companion for children.

    • 100%


      Although he is active, some subjects are calmer than others. In general, the Papillon or Moth adapts remarkably to different situations and moods. Thus, if his masters are dynamic, he will follow them, but if they are calm, he shall be as well.

    • 100%


      He has a great ability to adapt, so he acclimates without difficulty to all situations. In addition, he quickly understands what is expected of him and cooperates enthusiastically. This puppy of this breed is clever and expresses his potential with joy.

    • 33%


      He is a poor hunter, but he can eventually catch mice.

    • 66%

      Fearful / wary of strangers

      He is not aggressive towards strangers but he is not very friendly. Unless proper introductions are made, he tends to stay distant.

    • 33%


      Like many companion dogs, the Papillon is dependent on his master and constantly works to please him or gain his attention.

      Behaviour of the Papillon (Continental Toy Spaniel)

      • 33%

        Tolerates solitude

        What is important to him is to stay with his master, therefore he does not like to be alone. However, he can accept it if he is accustomed to it from an early age and if the absences are not too long.

      • 100%

        Easy to train / obedience

        The Continental Toy Spaniel is very easy to educate because he cooperates with his master if the latter has a consistent and gentle attitude. Brutality is not suitable for this dog as he tends to be quite sensitive.

        Since he is keen, he quickly understands what is expected of him and so he learns enthusiastically if the relationship with his master is based on trust and respect.

        Pay attention all the same because his beautiful natural abilities should not imply a relaxed education. It must be started as soon as the Papillon puppy arrives at home so that he does not learn any bad habits.

      • 100%


        Unlike many of his peers, this pet dog is not the loudest but he will be able to make everyone aware of the presence of someone behind the door.

        This characteristic needs to be controlled, especially for those who live in apartments.

      • 33%