Papillion Breeder Round-Up

Papillion Breeder Round-Up

In creating the book The Complete Guide to Papillons” (written by Tarah Schwartz and available on Amazon) we interviewed 12 of the top Papillion breeders in the country.  We used their advice and expertise to help make the book the best possible guide book for a new Papillion owner.

But… there was so much good advice in those interviews that we couldn’t fit it all into the book.  So we decided we’d compile the best answers to each question and present them here.  If you are thinking of getting a Papillion, or are a current owner, the advice that follows will be invaluable to you as you proceed on your ownership journey.  Enjoy:

Question #1:  What are your tips for choosing the right Papillion from either a breeder or rescue?

Papillon puppy picking Consensus:
Although your new Papillion’s appearance may come into play somewhat, most breeders recommend basing your choice on the dog or puppy’s individual temperament instead. Some Papillions are active and energetic little dogs, full of vim and vigor, while others are more serene, with many variations in between. Before setting out to find a new dog, determine what you are looking for in a dog and what temperament would best fit into your home and lifestyle.

Best Quotes:

Know what you want first. Some Papillions are very active while others are happy to just sit in your lap. Health testing and certifications from the breeder are also important to make sure your new Papillon will live a long healthy life.”
Karen Lawrence-  MCK Papillions

Personality. Dogs have personalities just like people do. Find the right dog that appeals to your personality. Beauty is second to personality. You should love the way the dog your dog looks; it is part of the dog’s appeal.”
Amanda Vidrine-  Earth Angels’ Chihuahuas & Papillions

Meet the Papillons that are available at the breeder or rescue without restricting your considerations by sex, color, or markings. Find a dog that is a good match for your lifestyle based on their individual temperament.”
Elyse Vandermolen-  Clearlake Papillions

Do not get wrapped up with color or markings, look at temperament instead. Meet the parents, if you can, and evaluate their temperaments.”
Cynthia Springer-  Rocyn Papillions

Question #2:  What are some of the most unique characteristics of the breed?

Papillon tempermentConsensus:
 While they are exceptionally small canines, Papillions are often described as particularly dog-like, or a complete dog. They have a happy-go-lucky attitude with a zest for life, but they much prefer the company of their own people to the company of strangers or even family friends. When living with a Papillion, it is important to remember how smart this breed is. Papillions are clever and very tuned into their housemates, and they are known for using these aptitudes in an attempt to train their owners. They are frequently successful.

Best Quotes:

The Butterfly’s personality. They love life. They are a curious breed that flutters along from one thing to the next, but they are also nosey and get into things. Papillions love their family but don’t care as much about friends or visitors. When visitors come over the papillon will likely be on your lap— not theirs. They are very smart and learn things quickly. Unwary pet parents are often the ones being trained by their Papillon rather than the other way around.”
Cherish DeWitt-  Playtime Papillions

Papillions are a complete dog in a small lovely form. This breed is everything a dog is supposed to be, yet small enough to wash in the sink and carry in my bag. Men often grow to love this breed even though they initially do not think they will. That is what is unique— an actual dog with dog-like behaviors that is also portable and adorable.”
Rebecca-  Family Treasured Papillions

They are so intelligent that they seem to read your mind. I would swear that my Papillions understand when I speak to them. They love the mental toys made for dogs. Watching them try to solve those toys can be fun. They are also playful. It relieves the stress of the day to see a beautiful Papillon running and playing with their beautiful coat flowing all around them.”
Amanda Vidrine-  Earth Angels’ Chihuahuas & Papillions

Question #3:  What do most people not know about Papillions that would surprise them?

Papillons are energetic dogsConsensus:
 People are often surprised by the versatility of these tiny little dogs. Papillions are known to excel at several dog sports and are well suited for therapy work. New pet parents are finding that their Papillion is much more energetic than they would have expected, requiring a great deal of interaction and activity. These dogs should be restrained by a leash when outdoors as these delicate-looking little dogs also have an unexpectedly high prey drive, and they may try to chase and catch cats, birds, and other small animals.

Best Quotes:

They are an extremely intelligent all-around competition dog that can excel in conformation, agility, obedience, rally, and barn hunt, as well as making great therapy dogs.”
Nicholas Forbes-  Dreampaps’ Papillions

Even though they have a long coat, there is very little shedding. Papillons are top obedience and performance dogs. They are super smart, lively, and great retrievers.”
Sally Howard-  Tiny T Papillions/K’s Klassic Ponies

They can be very active. Even though they are a toy breed and generally seen as an indoor dog, Papillons can be very active. For some people, this may be too much. They are also a very determined breed, and they use that determination to chase things like cats, birds, and small animals. It begins as a game, but it may end with a catastrophe if not controlled.”
Amanda Vidrine-  Earth Angels’ Chihuahuas & Papillions

That the Phalene (drop ear} was the original ear configuration— not the erect ears. The original breed name was the Continental Toy Spaniel.”
Sally Howard-  Tiny T Papillions/K’s Klassic Ponies

Question #4:  How would you recommend people prepare their home for the arrival of their new puppy?

preparing for a PapillonConsensus:
 Papillion pups are likely to be both excited and a little afraid when they are first brought to their new home and may need some reassurance. It’s best not to overwhelm them with too many visitors for a few days. These smart little pooches are also active and curious. When you aren’t actively playing with or training your new canine companion, make sure that they are properly contained in a smaller area that has been fully puppy-proofed. Be aware of possible dangers in your house such as electrical wires and toxic houseplants, and be sure that your pup stays far away from them.

Best Quotes:

Puppies are like babies; they will get into everything. Find a confined space near the household activities where you can place the pup when you are not playing with them. That way he can play with his toys and watch you. This will keep them out of trouble, and give them time to enjoy being with you. It also helps with potty training. They will tear things up so when letting the pup loose, be sure to pick up papers, books, and other items.”
Amanda Vidrine-  Earth Angels’ Chihuahuas & Papillions

Allow your puppy to adjust to their new home and family before you have everyone over to meet your new pet. Keep the puppy in a box or puppy bed with a blanket and toys on the floor next to you at night so they know they aren’t alone. The first night will be very scary for them.”
Sally Howard-  Tiny T Papillions/K’s Klassic Ponies

Make sure all small items are up off the floor. They may chew things like electrical cords. Make sure houseplants are out of reach and are non-toxic for dogs. Have a safe place for your puppy to rest and be safe from all activity.”
Nana Ridgeway-  Nanken Papillions

Set up a small, safe area like your kitchen to confine them while teaching house training. Don’t allow full access to the house; keep them in the same room with you so you are aware of what they are doing. When you aren’t playing with or training your pup, place them in their safe area. Dogs are always learning, both good and bad behaviors.”
Cherish DeWitt-  Playtime Papillions

Question #5:  What are some unexpected things a new Papillion owner might encounter in the first few weeks?

Papillon playing outsideConsensus:
 New Papillion owners may not expect the extra attention that goes along with sharing their home with a toy-sized dog. They can be difficult to housetrain, in large part because their smaller bladder means that they have to go out much more often than their larger counterpoints. They can also fit through very small spaces, making escape more likely, and their play must be supervised as this breed tends to be both active and somewhat fragile. In general, this breed is particularly people-oriented and lonely Papillions are known to howl in displeasure.

Best Quotes:

Plan to spend more time housetraining your Papillion. They are a small breed and need to go out more than larger breeds.”
DeAnna Snare-  DeAnna

When your pup is in the chewing stage they will chew on anything including furniture. The pup may also howl when he is not with his human companion. They are so people-oriented that they do not do well without their human companion. They will let you know. Also, give them something to play with or do because if you don’t, they will find something on their own.”
Amanda Vidrine-  Earth Angels’ Chihuahuas & Papillions

They are very good at escaping enclosures.”
Cynthia Springer-  Rocyn Papillions

Toy dogs are breakable, especially puppies. A three-pound puppy is not a sturdy dog. Keep that baby from falling off furniture, jumping wildly on slick surfaces, or playing too hard with bigger dogs and with kids. Teach children to sit on the floor to play with the baby and not to let the baby run up their body or fly off their shoulders. It’s much easier to prevent a broken leg than to deal with one. Also many are surprised at the small fence gap a puppy can get out of – secure the yard well.”
Elyse Vandermolen-  Clearlake Papillions

Question #6:  What house-training advice do you have for a new owner?

Consensus:
These little dogs, along with many other toy breeds, have a reputation for being difficult to housetrain. In the case of the Papillions, pet-parents who take their puppy outside frequently or provide them with an alternative will have greater success. Breeders recommended puppy pads and litter boxes as alternatives for when you are away for more than a few hours or when you otherwise can’t reliably keep an eye on your pup. When you do take your Papillion outside to relieve themselves, for your dog’s safety, never leave them alone.

Best Quotes:

Prevention of accidents is key. Take them out or to the potty pad every couple of hours, especially after they eat and nap. In my experience, a pup gets to about 5 months old and hits a growth stage where they might regress on the house training do be ready to start over with the training. This stage lasts about two weeks.”
Cynthia Springer-  Rocyn Papillions

We use a litter box to train our puppies starting at five weeks. I suggest to our new puppy owners to set up a large wire kennel or x-pen with a litter box, toys, food, and water. Anytime they have to leave the home or are busy doing house chores, to put the puppy in that area. Having the litter box available while the pup plays in the house many times helps with house training.”
Sally Howard-  Tiny T Papillions/K’s Klassic Ponies

Start as soon as you get your puppy home. Watch them all the time and take them out a lot. Some people think a small dog can’t go out in the cold, but this is not true. They can go out in cold weather long enough to go potty. Keep an eye on how cold it is and make sure their feet don’t freeze. You should always be with your puppy watching them when they go outside. This guarantees that you observe when they go potty and ensures that they are safe as well.”
Nana Ridgeway-  Nanken Papillions

Question #7:  What tips do you have for socializing your Papillion with other pets?

Socializing a PapillonConsensus:
Papillions are naturally friendly little canines who get along well with others, but their small stature puts them at extreme risk if an introduction goes wrong with a larger dog. Some owners of this breed avoid interactions with larger dogs altogether due to this risk. Introducing a new dog to your established canines is best done on neutral ground to prevent territorial aggression, and care should be taken to ensure the senior pet is not left feeling jealous. While Papillions have a high prey drive, they tend to get along remarkably well with cats that they live with.

Best Quotes:

Large animals should never be trusted alone together with a Papillon ever. It only takes a moment for something to happen. Typically papillons get along well with other dogs of their size. Meet on neutral ground. So don’t introduce the new puppy to an established dog in your home or yard the first time. Find a park and let them meet or bring the senior dog along to the breeders.”
Cherish DeWitt-  Playtime Papillions

We never let our Papillons, either puppies or adults, play with large dogs or prey dogs; they often view Papillons like bunnies. Other small breed dogs can be introduced on lead and only allowed to play off-lead after safety has been established. Any other new pet, like a cat, can be slowly introduced until kitty knows the Papillon means no harm.”
Sally Howard-  Tiny T Papillions/K’s Klassic Ponies

Be watchful with all other pets when they first come home. Let them interact only with your supervision. Usually, they will take care of it themselves. Take them everywhere you can and let them see everything you can. Be watchful with larger dogs while out. Keep your dog in your arms if needed. Paps and cats usually get along— some even play with each other.”
Nana Ridgeway-  Nanken Papillions

Question #8:  How much exercise does a Papillion need? What are some good exercise habits to develop?

Exercising a PapillonConsensus:
These small dogs have a lot of energy, but are usually quite capable of expending that energy with playtime in the home or yard. Breeders were quick to mention that this dog does need quite a bit more mental stimulation than other breeds if you don’t want them to invent their own way to keep busy. Not only do these little powerhouses excel at obedience and agility competitions, but they are also capable of doing well at several other dog sports, including flyball, herding sports, canine dancing, and even dock diving.

Best Quotes:

Many Papillions love a good game of ball chasing and retrieving. They do need exercise but they do not have the same space needs as a big dog. Running around inside the home can easily be enough.”
Elyse Vandermolen-  Clearlake Papillions

They don’t need a tremendous amount of exercise. They love playing in the yard, a nice walk on a leash, a game of fetch, etc. They are intelligent so if there are no activities planned, they will find something to do, and it usually gets them into trouble.”
Amanda Vidrine-  Earth Angels’ Chihuahuas & Papillions

Most Papillons will get enough exercise playing in your living room. They do well in any situation— house, apartment, or farm. Papillons typically need something more to exercise their minds, however. This is where performance events can be very helpful. At agility competitions, they are the leaders of the smaller breeds, and they excel at obedience. They can even be found herding sheep, lure coursing, dock diving, freestyle dancing, and more.”
Cherish DeWitt-  Playtime Papillions

Walking your Papillon to go potty and playing with them in the home is sufficient exercise.”
Nicholas Forbes-  Dreampaps’ Papillions

Question #9:  How easy or hard are they to train? What advice do you have for a new owner?

Papillon trainingConsensus:
Papillions are extremely clever little dogs and are likely to easily pick up any behaviors that you want them to. In fact, in some ways, they might be too easy to train. Several breeders mentioned that this particular breed often picks up bad habits just as easily as good ones and that the bad habits sometimes prove difficult to extinguish.

Best Quotes:

They learn very quickly so be sure that what you are teaching them are the lessons and manners you will want them to have for all of their lives. Decide before you bring the puppy home if they will be allowed on the furniture, if certain rooms will be off-limits, and where they will be fed and when. The new puppy will learn bad manners if they are not taught good manners.”
Cynthia Springer-  Rocyn Papillions

Papillons are very smart and are so easy to train. Being a very smart dog, they often try to outsmart their owners as well. It is best to make sure they don’t start any bad habits to begin with. Praise and treats are the best way to train, they love to please.”
Sally Howard-  Tiny T Papillions/K’s Klassic Ponies

They are very easy to train but they learn bad behaviors just as quickly as good ones.”
Karen Lawrence-  MCK Papillions

Question #10:  What are some of the unwanted behavior that a Papillion might display, and what advice do you have for dealing with them?

Papllion looking up at ownerConsensus:
Papillions can develop several unwanted behaviors, including excessive chewing behavior, nuisance barking, and difficulty with housetraining. While training your dog is simple if you start the training at a young age, extinguishing problem behaviors can be extremely challenging with this breed. It is best to establish guidelines and rules as early as possible, but a professional trainer may be needed if your dog does develop problems. Papillions should be provided with plenty of safe toys to chew on, especially when they are young, in order to protect your belongings.

Best Quotes:

Preventing unwanted behaviors is much easier than trying to extinguish an established one. Do your homework the first year by keeping that baby close. Prevent bad behaviors like poor house training, chewing, and nuisance barking, and you will get many good years of good behavior. If you adopt a rescue with issues you may need the assistance of a professional trainer – a real trainer— someone that has shown the ability to properly successfully train a dog. A trainer who has earned AKC obedience titles with different breeds gives you a good reference point.”
Elyse Vandermolen-  Clearlake Papillions

All new puppies can display bad behaviors, but thinking about the rules of the house before the puppy comes home will go a long way to helping them have good manners. Do not allow bad behavior to go unaddressed just because the puppy is cute. For instance, if the puppy drags a shoe out of the closet, that’s a prelude to chewing on it. Take the shoe away and tell the puppy “No”.”
Cynthia Springer-  Rocyn Papillions

Some Papillions can be chewers. Supply them with plenty of healthy chew. Others can be barkers; it is easiest to discourage that behavior during puppyhood.”
Sally Howard-  Tiny T Papillions/K’s Klassic Ponies

Question #11:  Do Papillions make good travel companions? Why or why not?

Papillon travelingConsensus:
Due to their generally plucky natures and overall friendliness, Papillions make excellent travel companions. As long as their human companions are nearby, these small dogs are up for just about any adventure and their compact size makes it easy to take them along on many different forms of transportation. Papillions who start traveling at an early age will be less anxious about traveling as adult dogs.

Best Quotes:

Excellent, because they generally like people. They are small and portable, they are not afraid, they like to explore, and people like to look at them because they are gorgeous. They are ready to go wherever you do.”
Rebecca-  Family Treasured Papillions

Papillons make excellent travel companions as they fit in a bag under the seat on an airplane. We take Papillons from the U.S. over to England for the big Crufts dog show. We travel first by plane, then train, then bus, then overnight ferry, then train again, then Uber— all of which the Papillon takes in stride. It helps that ours are litterbox trained. We go this way as the UK rules do not allow pets to fly into the country in-cabin and we do not want to put them in the cargo hold.”
Elyse Vandermolen-  Clearlake Papillions

They make wonderful travel companions as they are small enough to take anywhere. They learn to know when it is time to go and get very excited. Papillons want to be with their owners, they are like your shadow.”
Sally Howard-  Tiny T Papillions/K’s Klassic Ponies

Question #12:  Do they have any specific dietary needs or differences from other breeds?

Papillon nutritional needsConsensus:
Papillions do not have any breed-specific disorders or food allergies to worry about, but pet-parents should ensure that their pups have continual access to their food to prevent drops in blood sugar, as well as smaller sized kibble to prevent choking. This breed is known to be a little picky and may refuse to eat at first, but can be convinced fairly easily. They don’t eat a great deal, so what they do eat should be nutrient-dense. Check the ingredients when selecting your dog’s food to make sure that there aren’t a lot of fillers in the recipe.

Best Quotes:

They do have a great deal of energy, so a diet fit for small breeds is necessary. Watch for a blood sugar drop or hypoglycemia, especially with puppies. They will expend so much energy that it will deplete the sugar in their bloodstream. Watch the dog’s stools for stomach issues. If they are not eating enough, try changing their dog food. Please be aware of the contents of the dog food. The first five ingredients have the highest concentrations. Research dog food, and then select one that appeals to you and your dog.”
Amanda Vidrine-  Earth Angels’ Chihuahuas & Papillions            

I use a higher quality dry, very small kibble, and I have had no difficulties. I had no issues in seventeen years with allergy disorders. Poor eaters may need a little something special mixed in. They are grazers so do not put their food away just because they don’t gobble it up immediately. They do best when they take a bite or two here and there throughout the day.”
Rebecca-  Family Treasured Papillions

Make sure they have both water and small dog dry food available 24/7. Offer them a little wet food once a day, leave it down for one hour then throw away anything that they have left.”
DeAnna Snare-  DeAnna

Question #13:  What grooming tips do you have?

Grooming a papillonConsensus:
 Although Papillions look elegant, with their long, flowing fur, they are relatively easy to groom, and a weekly brushing session is generally effective at keeping mats out of their coat. They do not develop much in the way of doggie odor, so they only need bathing once a month or so. It is important to pay attention to your pooch’s foot health and dental hygiene as well. The dog’s nails and the hair on their paws should be trimmed regularly to prevent damage to the foot. Your dog’s teeth should be brushed daily to prevent tooth decay.

Best Quotes:

Make sure the feet have the toenails and hair trimmed at least once a month. A Papillon with a proper coat does not mat easily so a weekly brushing and a monthly bath will generally keep them looking great.”
Karen Lawrence-  MCK Papillions

All toy dogs need maintenance and a good hygiene program to keep their teeth in good shape. Prevention is so much better than the cure. Brushing their teeth every single day is the best way to keep their teeth healthy. Healthy teeth will help prevent tooth loss, bad breath, congestive heart failure from the bacteria in the mouth, and additional veterinary expenses. A lot of issues can be prevented with simply daily tooth brushing. I have Papillons well into their teens with great clean teeth from simply daily brushing.”
Elyse Vandermolen-  Clearlake Papillions

Use a shampoo and conditioner for silky coats. If the dog has lots of ear fringes they might need to be combed every couple of days rather than once a week. Do not cut mats of hair out of the Papillion’s coat as it will just make the coat mat again. Instead, use corn starch on the mat to make the hairs slippery, then use your fingers to pull individual hairs out of the mat and you will save more hair.”
Cynthia Springer-  Rocyn Papillions

Question #14:  What kind of shedding should an owner expect? Any advice?

How much do papillons shedConsensus:
These little dogs do shed a little bit, but it’s a relatively small amount of shedding due to their silky, single-layer coat. They tend to shed more heavily in the spring and in the fall, especially before they have spayed or neutered. Papillions who are brushed regularly, at least once a week, will have less problematic shedding. Pay special attention to the areas behind the ears and at the back of the legs to make sure you get all the tangles.

Best Quotes:

Moderate. It is worse in the spring when the dogs are getting rid of the thick winter coat. Brushing at this time helps a great deal. It does get bad again in the late summer early fall to prepare for the winter, but it is not as bad as in the spring. Females that are not spayed may have shedding after a heat cycle so I recommend spaying a female that is bought as a pet. Her coat will come in nicely and be more stable.”
Amanda Vidrine-  Earth Angels’ Chihuahuas & Papillions

We shed like any other long-coated breed but since we don’t have undercoat it’s not as much as most people think. The breed does blow out winter coat in the spring and some more (if they are not spayed or neutered)in the fall.”
Cynthia Springer-  Rocyn Papillions

Papillons have fur so there is some shedding. However, they have a single silky coat that when brushed regularly will have minimal shedding.”
Nicholas Forbes-  Dreampaps’ Papillions

Question #15:  Can you speak to some of the genetic health concerns associated with Papillions?

Genetic Health Concerns with PapillonsConsensus:
While this breed is generally fairly healthy, a few genetic problems may crop up. NAD, or Neuroaxonal Dystrophy, is a rare but potentially devastating neurological disorder that can affect this breed, but DNA tests can generally uncover the potential for this disorder before it occurs. Breeders should be providing health certifications for your new Papillion’s eye and heart health, and the cardiac health of the parents should have been ascertained before breeding as well. Like most toy breeds, the Papillion can be prone to developing luxating patellas as well.

Best Quotes:

The Papillon is generally a very healthy dog with few problems. When looking for a new puppy, always have it checked for heart and patellas. Both in the puppy and parents. There are DNA based health tests for PRA1 and NAD, with both of the parents should also be tested for.”
Sally Howard-  Tiny T Papillions/K’s Klassic Ponies

As with all toy breeds luxating patellas can be an issue. The breed CHIC (Parent Club recommended health tests) covers patellas, hearts, and eyes. The eyes should be checked by a veterinary ophthalmologist and certified free of eye disease. This test must be renewed every couple of years. Cataracts and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) can occasionally be seen in Papillons, but there is a genetic test for PRA1 and most reputable breeders have tested their breeding stock. The parent club has done a good job of limiting PRA, and the incidence of eye disease is typically low.”
Elyse Vandermolen-  Clearlake Papillions

PRA1&2 (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) can cause blindness. NAD (Neuroaxonal Dystrophy ) is a severely limiting neurological disease that typically ends with euthanasia. Luxating Patellas (loose kneecaps) can be a problem, depending on the severity of the luxation, surgery may be needed. Cardiac disease can sometimes be a problem as well.”
Diana Sayre-  Disyre Papillions