The Papillon is quite simply a beautiful dog. Light, dainty, and graceful-looking, the Papillon dog breed is a crowd favorite among toy breed enthusiasts. They’re a special favorite at dog shows for their long silky coat, elegantly plumed tail, and ability to enthral audiences with their graceful movements. But this breed has a lot more to offer than just plain good looks. Here’s what you need to know about caring for Papillons if you’re thinking about becoming a parent to one.
Papillons are #8 on the top 10 smartest dogs list, based on Scientific testing and are the ONLY small breed to make it into the top 10. Expect a dog with acute intelligence and high energy who will take charge of your household and tell you what to do if you aren’t keeping up. Papillons learn new tricks very quickly and excel in agility competitions due to their high IQ, small size and above average alertness. Papillons were bred to be laps dogs for palace royalty and as a result are highly people focused and a little standoffish with strangers. A well-known papillon trait is the “kiss the ring” paw, where a Papillon offers their paw slowly and elegantly when introduced to new strangers, many Papillons offer their paw in this way instinctively. Papillons need to be around their people more than other pets and this breed does not do well left alone. If you work a full-time job which keeps you away from home, the Papillon may not be the right dog for you. Only adopt a Papillon only if you’re prepared to spend the majority of the time with it and able to provide consistent care and attention. While Papillons are high-energy when its time to go, their are also content to lay quietly with you, the happiest Papillons are ones that receive a balance of rest and activity.
Coat & Shedding
Papillons are known for their long silky, soft coats which are prone to matting and require daily brushing to keep their fur tangle free. Papillons are excellent dogs for refined and mature young girls as the daily grooming requirement can be likened to grooming a doll. If neglected or left to roam un-groomed, matting will become severe and need to be cut out impacting the visual aesthetic of the breed. While the papillon has no undercoat and is not considered a shedding breed, the papillon will occasionally blow out their coat entirely resulting in sickly looking puppy and heavy shedding for a short and specific period of time. After a papillon has blown their coat, it may take several months, possibly up to a year from them to grow it back again. A regular inverted V sanitary trim to keep their backsides clean is all the trimming that is needed and like all long hair breeds, you must expect to administer a few emergency poopy bum baths on the fly. However, our Papillons have particularly long hair and you may also want to regularly trim just a little bit of hair off the top of their heads to keep them looking smart. Papillons, if raised properly, have no fear of water and will jump in the water at the beach without prompting and will accept a shower and blowdry with decorum.
Papillons have unusually sensitive stomachs and you may struggle to find a dog food which keeps their stool firm. Many Papillons are also allergic to chicken which makes the variety of foods which are safe to feed them somewhat limited. We have noticed that Cesar’s brand dog food produces firm stools everytime, we are not brand affiliated and can not comment on the quality of the product except to note that it does produce firm stools everytime and is widely available in almost every country. All dogs are, of course, allergic to onions, garlic and chocolate. Due to their small size the impact of these toxic foods tends to be immediate in Papillons so be very careful what you feed them. In addition, because they are smart high energy dogs with an excellent sense of smell, Papillons will forage and have been known to eat grass, grubs, dirt and to have a particular affinity for cat poo, so be very alert when walking them outdoors in new places. If your dog has an upset stomach it will actually help to assist them in eating the softest, freshest green grass you can find. Your dog may vomit the grass up after or poop it out within a day, but its worth it, you will notice the grass has done its work when their stools will firm up. Note that we are not veterinarians and this advice is based solely on our own observations, consult a veterinarian before feeding your dog anything.
Papillons are particularly prone to dental disease and it is not uncommon for these dogs to start having teeth removed by the age of 5 or 6 years old! Therefore it is very important to start a regular teeth cleaning program with your dog as young as possible. A reputable dog groomer may be able to include teeth cleaning in their grooming regiment, so make sure to ask if you are regularly taking your pup for grooming. If your dog is particularly nervous and won’t allow teeth cleaning you may need to schedule regular visits with your vet so that your papillon can be sedated to have their teeth cleaned.
Papillon Genetic Diseases
Every dog breed has a subset of genetic diseases that can be inherited by their puppies. Knowing what genetic diseases the Dam & Sire may carry allows a breeder to choose a mate which reduces or eliminates the genetic disease from passing down the line to the puppies. The genetic diseases which are possible in Papillons include:
- Luxating Patellas – kneecaps slipping temporarily out of place.
- Neuroaxonal Dystrophy Disease(NAD) – brain cell degeneration.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy – gradual deterioration of the retina of the eye.
- Von Willebrand’s disease – deficiency in blood platelet function resulting in excessive bleeding.
There are DNA Tests which allow breeders to screen for a range of inherited diseases, and Olympic Lemonade is proud to have these tests on our breeding dogs. We also track the medical history our puppy’s parents, siblings and grandparents, and will not breed with a dog with any of the health conditions evident in the family line. Note that we do not consider mismarked coat colors a health condition. You can view Hera’s DNA Test (our primary breeding female) here.
Other Papillon Health Issues
- Reverse Sneezing – Reverse sneezing, or huffing, is when the trachea goes into a spasm and is often mistaken for choking or kennel cough but is in fact, more of a panic attack. This seems to occur when a Pap becomes over excited, sniffed up dust or inhaled water when drinking too fast. There is no cure for this and no preventative. When this occurs, the owner should stay calm because this is mostly just the dog being a drama queen. We find bouncing the dog up and down quickly several times to force air to come OUT the nose instead of in stops the huffing immediately. Because this is a nasal problem rather than a throat problem, rubbing the throat does not seem to help. Anything you can do to make them calm down should return their breathing to normal. Reverse sneezing is NOT related to soft palette or soft trachea.
- Portosystemic Shunt (PSS) – Abnormal blood vessel (or vessels) that connects the “portal” system draining the digestive tract to the “systemic” circulatory system feeding the rest of the body, thereby bypassing the liver. Usually, the condition is congenital, which means it’s present at birth. Sometimes, a dog can develop it because of a liver disease called cirrhosis.