The Papillon can trace his ancestry as far back as 700 years. No one seems to know just where this breed initially came from, but the most likely place is China. Marco Polo on his travels probably brought some back to Italy, where Italian merchants took these little dogs on their travels where they were sold and traded. When the European nobility saw this little dainty, but dignified dog, they immediately became very popular and as a result can be seen in many paintings of the old masters of the 1500s. Marie Antoinette is said to have carried her little Papillon to the guillotine with her. Madame de Pompadour had 2 Papillons and many were sold to King Louis XIV.
All dogs are bred for a purpose, and the Papillon was probably bred as a hunting dog to flush out birds and hunting mice. Although very popular across Europe, they didn’t reach England until many years later. Two different varieties appeared in the 18th century, the prick eared and the drop eared, with the prick eared becoming the most popular in the 19th century. The Papillon name came from a nickname, because of its ears similarity to butterfly wings the name stuck and so it known today.
During the 20th century this wonderful little dog became popular to people of all walks of life. In 1905 they were introduced to England and a few years later the US. In 1915 the AKC recognized it.
The Papillon is a small, dainty breed with a huge amount of energy and affection and loves human companionship. He has a white coat but should have a color other than white covering his eyes and ears, both front and back.
By: Linda Eastabrooks
Former AKC Breeder
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