The Papillon: From Royal Courts to Modern Times

papillon history

The history of the Papillon breed is fascinating, with origins that can be traced back to the royal courts of Europe in the 16th century. The breed was highly favoured as a companion dog among the nobility and the elite due to its elegance and grace.

The Papillon’s name derives from the French word for butterfly, ‘papillon’, which references the breed’s distinctive butterfly-like ears. The breed’s ears are long, fringed, and erect, resembling the wings of a butterfly. These elegant ears are a distinguishing feature of the Papillon, and they make it one of the most recognisable breeds in the world.

While the Papillon is a French breed, it is believed to have originated in Italy or Spain. The breed’s exact origins are unknown, but it is thought to be descended from small spaniels that were popular pets among European aristocracy in the 16th century.

The earliest known depictions of the Papillon breed are in Italian paintings from the 16th century. In these paintings, the breed is shown with long hair on its ears and tail, but a smooth coat on its body. These paintings suggest that the breed’s appearance has been relatively consistent over the centuries.

By the 17th century, the Papillon was highly sought after among the French nobility, and it quickly became a fashionable pet. The breed’s popularity continued to grow throughout the 18th century, and it became one of the most popular breeds in Paris.

The Papillon’s popularity spread beyond France and became popular throughout Europe. The breed was highly favoured in Spain, where it was often depicted in paintings with Spanish royalty.

During the 19th century, the Papillon breed began to develop distinct variations. The most notable variation was the Phalène, which had the same body type and personality as the Papillon but had dropped ears instead of erect ones.

The Papillon was introduced to the United States in the early 20th century, and it quickly gained popularity. In 1915, the breed was officially recognised by the American Kennel Club, and it has been a beloved pet in the US ever since.

Despite its popularity, the Papillon remains a relatively rare breed. According to the American Kennel Club, it ranks 35th in popularity among registered breeds, although its popularity is steadily increasing.

In the UK today, the Papillon breed remains a popular choice among dog lovers, with many breeders and enthusiasts dedicated to preserving the breed’s unique characteristics. The breed is recognised by the Kennel Club in the UK, and there are numerous Papillon clubs and societies that promote the breed and provide support to owners.

In conclusion, the Papillon’s history is rich and fascinating, dating back to the royal courts of Europe in the 16th century. From its origins in Italy or Spain to its widespread popularity in France and beyond, the breed has a long and illustrious history. Today, the Papillon is a beloved pet among dog lovers worldwide, and its distinctive butterfly-like appearance continues to charm and delight.

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