Expression and ear set are generally best seen while the dog is standing naturally on the floor. Gait is best seen on a loose leash. If it is necessary to re-check something on a particular exhibit, put it back on the table, don't attempt to examine it on the floor.
On the table, check the finer features of the breed. Here you should check the proportions of the muzzle to skull, and see that the stop is indeed pronounced. When you examine the mouth, all you need to see is the bite so just gently lift the lips. Papillons, like many other toy breeds, are not thrilled to have their mouths examined. Attention should be paid to pigment of eye rims, nose and lips. Pink pigment is to be faulted and liver pigment is to be severely faulted. Black is the only correct pigment color. You should also feel of the ear leather to ascertain that it is substantial and can hold the ear erect.
Going down the body, you should feel a neck that flows smoothly into the topline (which should be straight and level). Check for good angulation front and rear and good straight legs all around. Be sure to note the feet - they should be hare feet, not round, and not pancake feet. The hare foot is slender with the center toes slightly advanced. Toe fringes extending beyond the foot can be shaped to exaggerate the length of the foot.
Check the set of the tail - it should be high set (the croup therefore is rather flat) and the tail should arch up over the back, not be flat and tight. Neither should it be too loose like a Siberian, but the tail is more a teacup handle tail with some mobility in it.
Another important feature to check on the table is the coat. The proper coat is long, silky, straight and without undercoat. The coat should not be fluffy or woolly and it is not a standoff coat.
Some of the more common faults you will see in the ring are poor toplines, low tail set with the tail carried flat on the back, and bad bites, usually over or undershot or level. Occasionally you will see a wry mouth. Other common faults are short neck, short legs, lack of stop, and most importantly, ear faults. Since the breed is known for its ears the ear faults are very important. Common ear faults include small pointed ears, high set ears, ears without fringe, and soft ears.
This is a breed with many owner handlers so most of the dogs will be shown very naturally. However, some few do attempt to trim to shape the dog and this should be done in the way of neatening only. The Papillon should not be sculpted as some Pomeranians are. Over trimming is most apt to be seen on the rear around the anus and on the feet, where toe fringes may be eliminated and the foot trimmed like some other breed. Judges should be aware that breeders would like to preserve the naturalness and intrinsic beauty of the breed.
As the Papillon gaits, he should go as a sound little dog. Common faults on the move are poor toplines, hackney in front and sickle hocks. The Papillon is a fancy little toy dog, but it is a sound fancy little toy dog. Coming and going the gait is true with convergence to a single track as speed increases.