The Papillon, also known in Europe as Epagneul Nain Continental (Continental Toy Spaniel), was developed from small toy spaniels prized by the upper classes in Europe from the late Middle Ages onward. These dogs served as companions and were prized for their beauty, grace intelligence and companion ability. Their development, traced through artworks, began in Italy and continued in France, Spain, Flanders and other parts of Europe.

The Papillon is dainty, fine boned, elegant, sound and athletic, and has exaggerated type points. The breed's most notable feature is the large, round obliquely set ears generously fringed, that give the breed its butterfly look. The tail, high set and arched up over the back is another important type point along with dainty hare feet, an attractive head and a straight, single, silky coat.


The Papillon is one of only a few breeds described as dainty and fine boned. This daintiness and refinement may be found in Papillons of various sizes. The US Standard calls for a wide range of sizes with the ideal between 8 and 11 inches and disqualification at 12 inches. This is a huge size range in any breed, and especially in a toy breed. Judges should be aware that breeders can make good use of correct Papillons anywhere within the acceptable limits. No preference should be given based on size as long as the dog stands in the preferred range. The Papillon is slightly longer than tall, not square or overly long. The Papillon may be thought of as long legged, fine boned and elegant.


The Papillon head is characteristic of the breed. The head is small. The muzzle is 1/3 the length of the head and the skull is 2/3. The muzzle is tapered and noticeably finer than the skull. The stop is well defined. Lack of stop is a common problem. The skull is just slightly rounded between the ears.

Both erect ear and drop ear (Phalene) varieties require large, round, obliquely set ears. The ears cannot be too large or too round as long as they are completely erect or completely dropped. Small, pointed, soft or too high set ears are to be faulted. Breeders prize the double fringed ears with fringe on the back and insides of the ear. Clear red and whites tend to be less heavily fringed than other colors. Correct ears giving the butterfly appearance give the breed its name. The ears are expressive and mobile. Eyes should be round, of medium size and dark, never bulging. The nose, eye rims and lips should all be pigmented black. Liver pigment occasionally is seen in the breed and should be severely faulted. The bite is scissors, any other bite is faulted.


The Papillon should have sufficient length of neck to be elegant. The neck should flow  smoothly into a level topline that ends with a high set tail arched up over the back. The tail should be long and the tail plume should fall over either side of the body. If the tail plume falls on the side away from the judge, it is helpful to view the other side to see the overall picture. A low set tail or one flat on the back detract from the overall picture. The Papillon should have a body with well sprung ribs and medium depth of chest. The belly is tucked up.


Shoulders should be well laid back. Legs should be fine-boned and straight. Feet are long and hare-like. Toe fringes grow beyond the toes, forming a point and exaggerating the length of the toes.


Hindquarters are well developed and well angulated with hocks neither in nor out. Dewclaws, if any are removed. Legs are slender and toes are hare-like with toe fringes.


The coat is characteristic of the breed. It should be fine, straight, silky and single, long and abundant. The Papillon should not have an undercoat. The coat should not stand off the body but should lie straight. The coat is never cottony or woolly. The single coat should flow as the dog moves.


Papillons come in a wide variety of colors but are always parti-colored - white with patches of any color. Common colors include white and black, white and red, white and sable (from bright to wolf), tri color (including hound tri and classic tri), and white and lemon. Color other than white must cover both ears, front and back, and surround both eyes with no interruption between the color on the ears and that around the eye. Dogs that are not so marked are considered mismarks by breeders. A slight extension of the white collar onto the base of the ears or a very few white hairs interspersed in the ear are not considered mismnarks as long as the butterfly look is preserved. Preferred is a symmetrical white nose band and clearly defined blaze. However, the solid head is not faulted, and in fact breeders can make good use of solid headed dogs. Patches of color or a lack of patches on the body are not important. Like other spaniels, Papillons can have ticking in the coat and this is not faulted. All colors must have black pigment.


The Papillon moves with a free, easy, graceful gait. As a miniature sporting dog, the Papillon should be sound. The standard does not greatly elaborate on gait but the request for good  angulation front and read implies a sound, balanced gait. As with most dogs, the gait can be most easily seen on a loose leash.


The Papillon has always been a companion dog and has been bred to be a people lover. Papillons should be happy, friendly dogs interested in receiving attention and interacting with people. The Papillon is not a shy or aggressive dog. Judges should not select dogs that drag their tails on the ground or act timidly. A Papillon may happily try to climb into a judge's hands or lick the judge. Or it may stand aristocratically and  with confidence. Papillons have high self esteem and with experience learn to show off. Dogs that are fearful are not typical.


* Dogs that are solid colored or all white.
* Dogs over 12 inches