How to Care for Papillons

A papillon will shed his puppy coat out before getting his adult coat.
papillon image by muro from

The papillon, also called the continental toy spaniel, is a old dog breed that goes as far back as the 13th century courts of Europe. The breed's name comes from the French word for “butterfly,” and describes the dog’s large, upright ears. Papillons have beautiful coats, delicate bone structure and elegant carriage, but they are also hardy dogs that love to run and play. Adult papillons stand 8 to 11 inches at the withers and weigh 3 to 9 pounds. They are friendly dogs if they are properly handled and socialized. If you know the fine points of how to care for this breed, you will have a good companion for as long as 16 years.

Step 1

Protect your papillon puppy from accidental injuries. Papillons are small and delicate as puppies. Ensure that heavy objects do not fall on them. They are inclined to jump from high places, and this can cause broken limbs. Monitor the puppy around larger dogs in the household. Papillons will leap from your arms, so take care to prevent falls.

Step 2

Feed your papillon a high-quality dry dog food. Some papillon puppies are picky eaters, and you may have to try a number of brands and flavors of food to get them to eat properly. Feed three times daily up to 3 months old, then reduce the feedings to twice a day until the pup is 6 months old. After 6 months of age, one feeding per day is sufficient, but it is always better to divide the daily ration into two or three feedings per day to avoid overloading the digestive system and to prevent possible problems

Step 3

Walk your papillon daily. Papillons make good dogs for apartments and city life, but they still require daily walks. Indoor play may not be sufficient exercise for your dog. Lack of exercise can cause behavioral problems.

Step 4

House-train your papillon consistently. Some papillons take longer to housebreak than other breeds. If necessary, confine your papillon to a crate or behind a gate in a room with easily washable flooring during the house-training period. Dogs do not like to soil their living areas, so a confined area such as a crate is a great help in house-breaking as long as you are attentive to the young dog's needs. Take him outside on a leash frequently, especially immediately after he wakes from a nap and after meals, praise him for good behavior, and bring him back inside, so he will begin to know the purpose of going outside. Keep an eye on his behavior indoors, and you will soon learn to notice the signs that he needs to go outside. If housebreaking efforts seem to be failing, continue active training with more patience and praise. He will get the idea in the end.

Step 5

Brush your papillon’s coat daily. Though papillons do not require monthly sessions at the groomer like some breeds, they do benefit from a professional grooming during hot weather to make them more comfortable and to keep nails trimmed.

Step 6

Administer monthly spot-on flea and tick treatments. A spot-on treatment is insect repellent that is applied to a small area between the animal's shoulder blades once each month. It spreads through the skin, protecting against fleas and ticks throughout the 30-day period. The Papillon’s coat is long and thick, which makes it a good hiding place for fleas. Monthly flea-repellent products will help to keep the dog and your home free of pests.


  • Papillons are fragile in bone structure and dislike rough handling. They can become snappy if they are not treated gently. Always supervise young children around a papillon, and teach the children to handle the dog with care.

  • Some papillons do not tolerate anesthesia well. Before any type of surgery, discuss your concerns with the veterinarian to determine the best type of anesthesia for your dog.


  • A papillon puppy will shed his puppy coat before growing in the full adult coat. They will have a spindly appearance in the interim, but will soon fill out.

  • Papillons tend to accumulate tartar on their teeth. Limit the amount of moistened food, which causes buildup of tartar. See your veterinarian regularly for teeth cleaning.

Items You Will Need

  • Puppy food
  • Brush
  • Dog shampoo
  • Leash
  • Spot-on flea and tick repellent


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