The name papillon is French for butterfly, which the face and ears of this sprightly little dog should resemble. The papillon has its roots in the dwarf spaniels that were so popular throughout Europe from at least the 16th century. These little dogs were extremely popular with the nobility; as time went on, Spain and Italy became the centers of dwarf-spaniel breeding and trading. The court of Louis XIV of France was particularly fond of papillons and imported many of them. At one time the papillon was known as the squirrel spaniel because it carried its plumed tail over its back in the same way a squirrel does. These early dogs had drooping ears, but through some unknown event, some dogs sported erect ears. Both drop- and erect-eared papillons could be found in the same litter. Even today both ear types are equally correct, although the erect-eared dog is much more popular. In America, the drop-eared pap is known as the phalene, which is French for moth, whereas in Europe it is called the epagneul nain or Continental toy spaniel. By 1900, the papillon was well-represented at French dog shows and soon afterward was being shown in England and America. These earlier exhibits tended to be larger than those seen today, and featured mostly solid-colored dogs, usually of some shade of red. Selective breeding has resulted in a smaller dog that is distinguished by its striking colors broken by patches of white. A symmetrically marked face with white blaze adds to the butterfly appearance. The papillon has become one of the more popular toy dogs, functioning equally well as a loving pet, beautiful show dog and adept obedience competitor.
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