P a p i l l o n h i s t o r y
The papillon breed of dog takes its name from the French word for butterfly - papillon. An apt
description of its widely set and erect but angled ears. It also has a thin white blaze between
the ears, bisecting the face, that suggests the insect's body. The older variety of papillon called phalčne, which has
dropped ears, has been known since at least the 16th century. The phalčne takes its name from the butterfly's cousin, the
moth, another winged beauty that folds its wings when at rest. Phalčnes and papillons can be born in
the same litter, but phalčnes are not as popular as their brethren with the upright ears.
The first papillon, i.e. with angled ears, is said to have been born in 1896. It has never been proven
if it was a mutation or just a freak of nature - in that case a very nice whim. For sure is
that it was not caused by mixing breeds.
The two varieties, papillon and phalčne, were accepted at the Belgian shows in 1902, and name
papillon was given to dogs with oblique ears. On the continent generally the dropped ear dogs were referred to as
the continental dwarf spaniels; it was not until 1955 that the name phalčne was finally approved.
Throughout Europe, the dainty little papillon was a favorite of ladies of the court, especially in France.
The royal families were the only ones who could afford to buy and breed dogs solely as companions.
It is written that Queen Marie Antoinette carried her pet papillon with her to the guillotine. Also Madame Pompadour,
mistress of King Louis XV, cherished a papillon called Inez. The papillon also appeared regularly in paintings featuring the 17th and 18th century
royal children and ladies at court done by such old masters as Rubens, Titian and Van
The papillon is a hardy little dog descending from the continental toy spaniel. It is however difficult to ascertain
when it became a separate breed. These early specimens were also known as dwarf spaniels or epagneuls nain.
The fact that they were called epagneuls could indicate Spanish origin because the name "spaniel" means "dog of Spain", and for that reason
it has often been inferred that the spaniel breeds originated in that country. The papillon is not nearly as delicate as its appearance might suggest, and in fact, it greatly enjoys
chasing vermin if given the opportunity. As a pet it is delightful, being lively, irrepressible and affectionate,
and liking nothing better than being in the company of those to whom it becomes firmly attached.
The Papillon Club of Sweden, called "Papillon-Ringen", was established in 1965, and works for the soundness and development
of the breed. As a serious breeder of papillon in Sweden, one should be a member of this club and follow its ethical recommendations when it
comes to breeding.
Kennel Caratoots is a member of the Papillon Club of Swedish as well as the Swedish Kennel Club.