Breed History / Description

The dainty butterfly dog of France and Belgium is another described as a dwarf spaniel in Europe. The breed comes in two varieties – the Papillon and the Phalene. The well- feathered alert ears of the Papillon resemble the spread wings of a butterfly, hence the name. The drop eared Phalene is named after the folded wings of a moth. One theory suggests that the Phalene was the original form of the breed and the erect ears of the Papillon were a product of crossing with spitz-like dogs. The Papillon and Phalene were hugely popular in the royal courts of Europe and were owned by many society ladies including Madame de Pompadour and Queen Marie Antoinette. 

This elegant, dainty, fine boned breed is highly intelligent and competes successfully in obedience and agility with great success.


The name ‘Papillon’ is derived from the shape and position of the ears. When erect they are carried obliquely like the spread wings of a butterfly, hence the name. When the ears are completely dropped this type is known as the ‘Phalene’ (Moth). Head markings should be symmetrical, about a narrow white, clearly defined blaze which is desirable but not essential to represent the body of a butterfly. 


Lively, intelligent, friendly, with no aggression; always alert.

Club, K., 2018. The Kennel Club's Breed Standards. 5th ed. London SW1V 2SA: Ebury Press.

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