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Norwich Bulletin - 3/27/2005

The Butterfly Dog

Somewhere in one of each of the Old Masters paintings depicts a little dog then known as a Continental Toy Spaniel. In the 1500's, Vecelli painted a number of tiny spaniels called Titians that is assumed to have been a pure breed of hunting spaniels. This breed made their way to France and Spain.

Although Spain is often credited for the spaniels in general (Spaniel meaning dog of Spain), France and Belgium fell in love with the little red and white Titian dogs. They quickly became the preferred breed in court circles. An intensive breeding program refined the coat and overall appearance of the little dog and by the reign of Louis XIV, paintings showed a perfect little spaniel.

Through the 18th century it is believed that the little dog we know today as the Papillion, actuall had drooping ears. Suddenly this little dog with huge erect ears appeared and the public welcomed the modern day Papillion with great gusto. The development of this little butterfly dog, especially the erect eared type, is given to France and Belgium.

The Papillion is said to have sensible glamour because the owner does not have to spend all its time making their pet beautiful. This little dog has no natural "doggy" odor, and its silky coat is not prone to matting. There is no trimming or cutting necessary and they love to be bathed. This little dog weighs less than most of my cats (typically between 3 and 9 pounds) and they make delightful companions to people of all ages and all types of households.

Senior citizens and active families with well-behaved children, can all enjoy the breed's naturally outgoing and friendly personality. They do well with other animals, but you need to be careful, as they tend to think they are much bigger than they are and will play with a large dog, which could have disastrous results.

I would strongly suggest that you not add a Papillion to your household if you presently have larger dogs unless you are able to provide strict and careful supervision whenever the dogs would be together. On the other hand, Papillions and cats generally share households quite well and have been known to become great friends and playmates.

Papillions and kids are also another consideration. This breed is probably not right for households with small children or older kids who want a dog to play rough with. The Papillion is a toy dog with a big heart and good self esteem and will assert itself, if it feels threatened or mistreated by a child. Either the dog or the child may be hurt in the shuffle. I think Papillions do best when they are the kids!

The Papillion has been bred to be a companion to humans. They cannot live in a home where they will be ignored. They want to be with their human as much as possible and they aim to please their owners. Obedience work, agility and therapy are all challenges that a Papillion will willingly meet. They are not couch potatoes and will not do well in a home that is looking more for a less active companion animal.

This little dog is a relatively healthy breed that boasts no serious genetic problems. They are not normally nervous or yappy. They enjoy traveling with their people and love to be the center of attention. Alert, lively, intelligent and friendly, this adorable little dog rates among my favorites in the canine world.

Please remember that puppies should only be bought from reputable breeders and buying a Papillion from a pet store can result in a puppy mill puppy that may not live up to the general standard that I have portrayed concerning the breed.

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