Learn all about the Papillon, the fabulous social butterfly, in our complete guide.

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:

14 to 16 years


Extra Small

Maintenance Level:


Shed Level:



JoyfulLivelySocial Butterfly

Coat Color:

White & BlackWhite & LemonWhite & RedWhite & SableWhite & Black & Tan
Blue Ribbon

Best For

Papillons are best for active pup parents, either singles or families with older kids, and can do well in apartments.

Papillon Traits

Papillon Temperament

Papillons are energetic little dogs who love adventure. They are confident, outgoing and generally get along well with everyone when they’re properly socialized and trained. Without plenty of socialization, these tiny pups can grow up to be overly dependent on their pet parents, so it’s important when raising a Papillon puppy to introduce them to a wide variety of people, pets and situations to build their confidence. But once that confidence kicks in, watch out—Papillons don’t know their own size, and their spunky, fearless attitudes can get them into serious trouble with larger dogs who won’t put up with their tiny ‘tude.

This cheerful little breed loves to be the life of the party and does well with older children and cats. Their small size and fragility, combined with their overabundant confidence, makes them not so great with small, rambunctious children or larger dogs. Even sweet and tolerant large-breed dogs could accidentally injure a tiny Papillon while playing.

How to Care for a Papillon

Surprise! Papillons may look high maintenance, but their needs are a little more moderate than you might expect (especially when it comes to their grooming and daily exercise needs). They’re a breeze to train and happily light on grooming needs despite their long hair, and their happy attitudes make them a joy to care for no matter how much time and effort are involved.

Papillon Health

Papillons have a fairly long life expectancy of 14 to 16 years, but they are prone to some health issues. It’s good to know what those potential health problems are in advance, so you can keep your pup healthy for longer.

  • Patellar Luxation: This is a common hereditary condition in which the kneecap pops in and out of place. Sometimes, it’s not a big deal, but if it becomes painful for your dog or interferes with mobility, it can be corrected with surgery.
  • Hypoglycemia: Low blood sugar is a common problem with toy breeds. While it can be serious if not treated, feeding smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day can help avoid it altogether.
  • Dental Diseases: Dental diseases are another problem common in small breeds, thanks to smaller mouths that tend to crowd their teeth. Prevention is key! Frequent tooth brushing and annual dental cleanings can help keep their teeth healthy.
  • Open Fontanel: Papillons are born with a soft spot in the top of the skull, which usually closes, much like in a newborn human baby. Usually, this closes within the first few months, but sometimes it remains open, creating a dangerous situation. Though there’s no known treatment, puppies with open fontanels can still live normal lives; Papillons with this condition would need to be only dogs and handled with the utmost care to prevent serious brain injury.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): A hereditary condition that can cause blindness in dogs over time, it might be curable through gene therapy. Otherwise, you’ll need to manage your dog’s blindness by teaching them to navigate their environment and always keeping them on a leash outside of the home.

Papillon History

The Papillon breed traces its origin to the time of the Renaissance when it became trendy among the nobility class to breed miniaturized versions of popular breeds. Spaniels were bred with toy breeds to produce these “dwarf spaniels,” which quickly became favorite lap buddies of royals and nobles throughout Europe. Walk into an art museum today, and you’re likely to see these dogs looking out at you from paintings of princesses and noblewomen by famous artists like Rembrandt and Goya.

It wasn’t until the 17th century when a breeder in French King Louis XIV’s court developed a version of this breed with erect ears and gave it the name Papillon. These little dogs with the butterfly ears quickly became all the rage in France, where they were favorites of Madame de Pompadour and Marie Antoinette. They were further refined and popularized by breeders in Italy and Spain.

While not all varieties of this breed have erect ears, the perky-eared Papillon grew so popular that the entire breed eventually became known by that name and was registered as such by the American Kennel Club in 1915.

Wondering where you can get a Papillon today? You can find information about reputable breeders on the American Kennel Club website. Papillon puppy prices range from about $500 to $2,000. But for that, you’ll likely get a pup who’s been vaccinated and screened for temperament and health issues and may come with pedigree papers. You can also find Paps in need of good fur-ever homes at a Papillon rescue or at your local animal shelter.


Are Papillons hypoallergenic?

No, Papillons are not hypoallergenic. Even though their shedding is low, it’s still enough to aggravate the symptoms of those with allergies.

What are the most popular Papillon names?

The most popular Papillon names are Abercrombie, Adele, Angel, Armani, Ash, Bandit, Beauty, Belle, Brie, Camille, Chanel, Coco, Charlotte, Chloe, Clay, Comet, Copper, Dove, Elle, Eagle, Emperor, Falcon, Felix, Finch, Gypsy, Holly, Jade, Jordan, Juicy, Kimono, Kiwi, Lady, Lark, Layka, Louis, Lucky, Luna, Milly, Monarch, Noel, Orchid, Oriole, Paris, Pearl, Pippa, Posh, Queen, Raven, Ralph, Robin, Skipper, Sophie, Starling, Stella, Sugar, Tiffany, Versace, Willow and Wren. Get more dog names here.

What are the most common Papillon mixes?

The most common Papillon mixes are:

  • Papillon-Chihuahua mix (Chion)
  • Papillon-Pomeranian mix (Paperanian)
  • Papillon-Poodle mix (Papidoodle)
  • Papillon-Maltese mix (Papitese)
  • Papillon-Corgi mix (Corillon)
  • Papillon-Dachshund mix (Papshund)

How do you pronounce Papillon?

Bring out the baguettes and cheese! Papillon is a French word (meaning “butterfly”) that’s pronounced with the emphasis on the first and third syllables, and the double L makes a Y sound: pah-pee-yon.

Do Papillons bark a lot?

Yes, Papillons bark a lot. They make good alarm systems and will be sure to let you know when someone’s at the door. But they don’t generally sit around barking for no good reason.

Are Papillons cuddly?

Papillons are really cuddly when they’re all worn out. But if they’re not tired yet, they’ll be more interested in playing and exploring than in pets and cuddles.


Top Takeaways

Papillons are bright, cheerful and energetic dogs. As a pet, this breed is great for anyone with the time and energy to take them on a fun outing. The facts are that a Papillon needs an alert and attentive pet parent who can look out for their safety and reign them in when their confidence outmatches their size. Portable, curious and outgoing, these tiny sidekicks are always ready to tag along on your next adventure.

Expert input provided by Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM, veterinary consultant for DogLab, and certified canine behavior consultant and fearful dogs expert Rain Jordan, owner of Expert Canine and founder of The Fearful Dogs Project.

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Top Papillon Names

These are the top Papillon names as chosen by Chewy's pet parents!

Female Names

  • Lucy
  • Bella
  • Luna
  • Coco
  • Lily
  • Poppy
  • Daisy
  • Piper
  • Rosie
  • Sadie

Male Names

  • Gizmo
  • Louie
  • Milo
  • Bandit
  • Oliver
  • Finn
  • Charlie
  • Remy
  • Leo
  • Max