by Doris Donnerman
(last updated August 17, 2009)
When a typical Papillon has his ears erect, they have the appearance of butterfly wings attached to the head. It is from this that the dog gets his name of Papillon, meaning butterfly. In France, however, the breed is sometimes called Le Chien Eeureuil, or Squirrel Dog, this having reference to the dog's beautiful tail.
The breed is supposed to have developed from a mutation in the Belgian Spaniel, called Epagneul Nain. The mutation brought about the outspread, or butterfly ears. The hanging ear is, however, common, and both types may appear in the same litter. There is no discrimination against the hanging ear in the judging ring.
The breed is believed to be quite old. One account states that a Bologna dog dealer, Giovani Filliponi, introduced the breed to France, by selling one to Louis XIV. Paintings dating from one in 1688 by Abraham Van Du Temple of Antwerp, show dogs presumably of this type.
Some writers have noted the similarity of the breed to the Chihuahua, and have suggested that the dog originated in Latin America. There is no real evidence to show any connection.
In general appearance the dog is a graceful little Toy Spaniel, slender and of lively and dainty action. There are two varieties one where the ears are carried upright and the other where the ears are drop. The latter is known as Epagneul Nain.
The average height of the Papillon is in between eight and eleven inches. Weight is dependent on size. The Papillon is a happy, alert and friendly dog, great for show or companionship.
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