The papillon gets its name from the French word for butterfly, a reference to the breed's distinctive ears that look like butterfly wings. This breed has a long history associated with royalty, and today's Papillon is a descendant bred to be the ultimate companion. Papillons are a toy breed, measuring between 8 and 11 inches at the shoulder and weighing between four and nine pounds.
Papillons are small but should not be underestimated. This is not a breed that is content to sit on your lap and is much more likely to be found chasing small rodents exploring every nook and cranny in your home. They have the attitude of a big dog and take their role as companion and protector very seriously, completely oblivious to the fact that they are so small.
Obedience class is a must with this breed, and the owner benefits as much as the dog. Papillons are easy to spoil, and they can be quite stubborn unless they know that kind of behavior is not acceptable. They're smart, fast learners, have a drive to succeed, and a will to please their owner.
Papillons do not like being separated from their owner and need a lot of attention. If socialized properly, they do well with other dogs, but they are very likely to be the one in charge. Papillons can live with cats, too, if they're raised together. While papillons love kids, they're not a good fit for families with small children as their small size makes them easy to injure.
Papillons can live as long as 16 years and are a healthy breed, though they are prone to some health issues. These include dislocated kneecaps, hypoglycemia, collapsed trachea, and an open fontanel. As puppies, they have a small soft spot on the top of their head, called the fontanel. Sometimes, fontanel doesn't close properly, and a knock on the head in this spot can cause a deadly injury.
Papillons are house dogs. They are very active, and these needs can often be met with vigorous play and running around indoors. Papillons enjoy time outdoors, though, and they do well when they have a small yard to run around in. They also like to climb, so you may find them on your kitchen table or counter.
Papillons have a tendency to gain weight, so keep an eye on their diet and make sure they're getting enough exercise. This breed is prone to knee problems, and excess weight will only make them worse. Papillons only need between 1/4 and 1/2 cup of food a day, split between two meals.
Papillons have a straight, silky long coat with long fringe around the ears, hind legs, and thighs with a long, plumed tail. Their coats are never a solid color. They usually have patches of multiple colors with a white face and nose band and darker for over the ears and around the face.
With such a glamorous coat, you might think papillons have high grooming needs, but they're pretty simple to care for. The coat is silky and not prone to matting, so a quick brush once or twice a week is usually adequate. They don't need to be bathed often, either, but they are prone to losing their teeth, so good oral hygiene is important.
Papillons are energetic dogs that are easily trainable, which makes them a good fit for dog sports. This is a great way to bond with the dog and keep them busy and entertained. Papillons excel at rally and agility competitions and are commonly come out on top in obedience competitions for toy breeds.
Papillons are pretty sturdy as adults, but they are extremely delicate as puppies. Jumping off of furniture can lead to broken legs, so teach them to wait for you or consider getting doggy steps for them to use. Exercise puppies carefully, too. Walks should be no longer than 10 to 15 minutes long at first, and they usually let you know when they're too tired to continue.
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