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This is a small elegant breed of European origin which, as evidenced by paintings of the Old Masters, has been breeding true to type for over 700 years. The breed is thought to have originated in Italy, a descendant of the dwarf spaniel. But today, it is generally thought of as a Franco Belgian breed.
The Papillon's most distinguishing feature is its erect, fringed ears which resemble the wings of a butterfly. The French word papillon means butterfly. Enhancing this appearance is a narrow blaze of white running up the forehead. While the erect ear is the most frequently seen variety today, this is a comparatively recent development which was standardized in the breed early this century by Belgian breeders. The older and original variety of the breed is the drop ear which is known as the Phalene, taken from the French word for "moth", because it is said that these ears are carried much like the folded wings of the moth.
Another characteristic is the Papillon's plumed tail which is carried in a graceful arc over the back and falls to one side or the other. For this reason the little dog is sometimes called chien ecureuil or squirrel dog. Throughout Europe the Papillon was a favorite pet of the ladies of the court, especially in France. It is written that Marie Antoinette carried her Papillon with her to the guillotine.
The Papillon is much more rugged than it looks. This toy spaniel is very intelligent and high-spirited; it is an expert catcher of rats and has the makings of a superb agility dog. It is as happy in the country as in the city. If treated as a regular dog, it is outgoing and self-confident; if pampered it becomes nervous, timid and unsure of itself. In spite of its elegant appearance, it loves long walks and adventures of all kinds, and therefore is a good traveling companion that adjusts to any climate and all circumstances. The Papillon is quiet and loving, learns tricks easily, and gets along well with other pets. It is affectionate, obeys members of the family readily, and is also a very good little watchdog.
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