In a special issue of the English Dog World published
in 1992, a number of prominent breeders were asked a forum question on
type and markings. I hesitate to say more than is necessary on markings
as I personally believe that one of the biggest differences in the US is
that we are not as
dedicated to the blaze as many English breeders. We find solid headed dogs attractive and I think there certainly is a need for them to keep down the numbers of mismarks that are apt to occur when the dog has too much white. I am including a few brief answers from that forum as I think you will find them instructive.
The question: What do you consider the essentials of breed type? Perhaps you could comment on the importance you place on head markings.
JENNY SCOVELL, Caswell: The essentials of breed type
for me are elegance, daintiness, correct silky coat, well fringed ears
giving the real butterfly effect. I think a correctly proportioned head
can be as attractive without a blaze as one with a clearly defined blaze
which I prefer, but do not
feel is essential.
NORMA STAFF, Ringlands: Essentials of the breed type
are its ears, from which it derives its name, its general appearance should
be of a lively, well balanced, elegant little toy dog. Our standard states
that the head markings should be symmetrical, above a narrow white clearly
defined blaze which is desirable but not essential to represent the body
of the butterfly. When judging, if I had two Papillons of equal merit but
one had a solid head, first would go to the
one with the good blaze, but this cosmetic point would not influence me to place it first if its ears were small, pointed out and set on top of its head like a spitz or if it had a plain head with over-long muzzle, lacing stop and flat skull, or its conformation, movement and showmanship was
poor. Belonging to the toy spaniel group its eyes should be medium sized, rounded, never bulging, dark with dark eye rims, placed rather low in the skull set at the intersection of the skull and muzzle with intelligent spaniel expression.
MARK AND NANCY HATCHING, Gerlil: The essentials of
breed type are those which distinguish it from other breeds and are as
Head and ears: The head must be of the correct shape with well set and correctly carried large ears. The contours of the head to be gently rounded to give the soft and gentle spaniel expression.
Markings: The markings must be even to give the desired impression of the body of the butterfly. If they are not they spoil the expression. Uneven markings are very difficult to breed out. However, a bitch with no blaze mated to a dog with an even blaze will usually produce the correct markings on puppies.
Coat: The correct long, fine, silky coat is essential. It should not be harsh, woolly or too profuse.
Tail: The tail must be set high and be well plumed to give a properly balanced outline. Too often a low set tail or one carried flat over the back spoils it.
PEARL PEACOCK, Alcala: The essentials of the breed
are physical and temperamental soundness. A very alert, lively and
happy disposition, outgoing and friendly temperament, no
evidence of timidity in any of life's normal day to day events. Good overall balance, elegance, fineness of bone but not so as to induce weakness. Proper set and carriage of tail is also very important.
Also essential the typical appearance of the butterfly
derived from large ears. The blaze is desirable but not essential; I would
give preference to a good head with a clear blaze over one
without if that was the only point of difference. I have admired many excellent dogs with 'solid' head which often goes with a very sweet expression.
CLARICE WAUD, Daffodilwoods: One of the most important characteristics is its daintiness, animation, grace and elegance. A soft silky coat falls straight, in no way fluffy. The present trend to breed dense coats almost touching the ground is entirely uncharacteristic. In early days the dogs were often referred to as "dancing butterflies."
The butterfly ears should be large and well fringed, but without undue exaggeration. Unfortunately one does not often see in the show ring the movement of fluttering ears like the wings of a butterfly, previously so much desired.
The third characteristic is the tail which must be set on high over the back with plenty of fringes falling to the sides. A tail lying almost flat on the back is too short.
The comment about head markings - these tend to be over valued. Symmetrical markings are desirable, but careful thought is needed before putting down a sound typical dog with other essentials because its head markings do not conform to present day detail.
ELLIS HULME, Tongemoor: I consider the essentials of
breed type to be a combination of characteristics that make the breed instantly
recognisable, in this case head properties, shape and position of the ear
from which the name Papillon is derived, form, quality and balance, alert
bearing and daintiness, plus the correct tail set and carriage. In pursuit
of breed type I believe head markings are important and the Kennel Club
breed Standard leaves no doubt that symmetrical markings about a narrow
clearly defined blaze are most desired. I personally feel a white nose
band as the American Standard requires, is also desirable and am of the
opinion that this was badly overlooked in our Standard. Solid heads, and
to a lesser extent wide blazes, are less
desirable and with the general standard of the breed as good as it is, there are few successes for solid headed exhibits.
Comment from CHARLOTTE MCGOWAN: First, as to markings, I think it is important to place markings in context of the whole dog. Markings are frosting on the cake, in my opinion, as long as the dog is not "mismarked." Mismarking results primarily when there is too much white. The dogs with beautiful symmetrical face markings and nearly solid white bodies are very glamorous indeed but they can be a minefield when bred to dogs of similar markings. Those with extremely wide face blazes need to be looked at carefully as some will not have both eyes completely surrounded by color. Dogs with white spotted ears are also mismarks. In the extreme, half faces can occur in litters and dogs with nearly solid white heads. Therefore, it is important to remember that when a beautiful solid headed dog comes in the ring or one with a lot of color on the body, these dogs have great merit. Solid headed dogs can certainly have the butterfly look as the butterfly shape is primarily created by the very large, round, obliquely set ears well fringed. The butterfly does not need a white body to be seen clearly as a butterfly.
Another question asked was whether mismarking was ever a disqualification. Of the standards I have, only solid white or solid color is disqualified. This refers to the entire dog, not the face markings.
The clearest statement I think is that while the symmetrical blaze and nose band is preferred, the solid head is not faulted in the U.S. The English standard states: "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." I think that is very clear. The blaze is NOT essential. Certainly in the mythical situation where all things are equal, go with the blaze, but seldom will all things be equal. Quality is certainly to be taken over perfection of markings.
I will relate here that while some (not all) English breeders are very keen on markings, I showed a bitch with a rather zig zagged blaze to a top English breeder in an entry close to 100 and came away with an award of merit. True, her BB had perfect markings but it also had more coat and maturity, so it is not possible to say only markings made the difference. I see a lot of judges doing Papillons who can easily quantify markings and make decisions based on this cosmetic point while ignoring serious faults like bad toplines, hackney gait etc. This does the breed a disservice. If you reread the comments of the English breeders I think you can see that for the most part, all prize quality, soundness and type ahead of cosmetic marking perfection.
Do remember too, that the solid headed exhibit of great quality is the antidote for the very glamorous primarily white dog. I love the white bodies and breeding them is a bit like playing with fire since when you slip, the mismarks can come in profusion. So I am one to prize a good solid head and one with a little to a lot of color on the body, as well as those with the preferred face markings.