Famous Papillon Owners:

King Henry II allegedly spent upwards of 100,000 crowns on
his papillons.
Marie Antoinette owned a Phalene, of many believed to be
Papillon. This can't be true since all portraits show dogs with
drop-ear. Madame de Pompadour and Henry III also had
Phalene, who had a very strong devotion to the breed.
Actress Autumn Reeser of The O.C. owns a Papillon named
Gatsby after the book The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Tech expert Leo Laporte owns a Papillon named Ozzie.
Christina Aguilera owns two Papillon dogs, Chewy and Stinky.
George Takei, Mr. Sulu from Star Trek and official announcer
of the Howard Stern Show on Sirius 100 owned a Papillon
John Carmer and Amanda Titus own two Papillons by the
names of Rocko and Spunky named after the characters in
Rocko's Modern Life.
Porn star Ron Jeremy has two Papillons, named Jenna and
Tiffany. They can be seen in background of some of his
TV character Edna Birch from Emmerdale has a Papillon
named Tootsie.


Over The Centuries

Over the centuries, the tiny Papillon has been far luckier
than many of the Royal Families that owned them!

In Europe the ruling families knew about  Papillons but
this breed was not introduced into Great Britain until 1905
and not recognized by the A.K.C. until 1915.

Despite how popular they were among the Royalty and
titled of Europe, they were very slow to be embraced by
the English speaking people.

The first English champion wasn’t born until 1922, and the
Papillon (Butterfly Dog) Club wasn’t formed until two
years later in 1924.

In 1935 the Papillon Club of America (PCA) was
founded, with the United States holding their first
specialty show in 1936. Interest in the breed faltered, and
then regenerated in 1948.  In 1954 the second specialty
show was held.

The Papillon has become a family favorite of men,
women and children who not only love them sitting on
their laps, but have a special place in their hearts for this
breed of dog.
Two small Dogs (1643) Nicasius Bernaerts, Flemish Painter (1620-1678)
Sofonisba Anguissola, Italien Painter 1532-1625
St. Valentine Baptizing St Lucilla (ca 1575)

The Papillon and Marie Antoinette

It is thought that both Marie Antoinette and Madame de Pompadour
helped the Papillon become fashionable and they both admired and
owned this breed.   

Madame de Pompadour was the mistress of King Louis XV, and
owned Inez and Mimi which were her two pet Papillons.  Marie
Antoinette had a Sevres porcelain model of a Phalene (Papillon with
drop ears) in her room that was only found after her death.  

She was beheaded at the guillotine and her two pet Papillons were
looked after by the inhabitants of the house until they died. Her house in
Paris, France is known today as ‘The House of the Papillon’.

In France, the City of Lyon in the late 16th century was known for
breeding these miniature dogs.

Until the French revolution, Papillon dogs were the most popular breed
of dog in the courts in France. In Italy, the Bologna region probably had
the largest trade in Papillons, as they sold many of the dogs to the court
of Louis XV.  It was said that they were transported on the back of
mules through Spain.
Marie Antoinette, wife of King Louis XIV, of France
Madame Pompadour, Member of the french Court,
Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de
Pompadour, also known as Madame de
Pompadour (29 December 1721 – 15 April 1764),
was a member of the French court, and was the
official maîtresse-en-titre of Louis XV from 1745 to

Excerpts from "Brief History of the Papillon" by Rachel D. Kemmerer
(as it appears in the 1963 Papillon Handbook.)
The origin of the Continental Toy Spaniel, of which the Papillon is the modern representative, can be
traced through the paintings of the Old Masters of every country in Western Europe as far back as the
earliest years of the 16th Century. Beginning about 1500, Vecellio, called Titian,
painted a number of tiny spaniels, rather similar to the hunting spaniels of the
day.  In this century and the next, dogs – so like the Titian spaniel that it is
safe to assume this was a pure breed – made their appearance in Spain,
France and the Low Countries.

The continued popularity of the little spaniel in court circles gave the breeders
a ready market for their dogs.  Evidently they conducted an intensive breeding
program for its refinement.  Over the years it developed finer bone, more
abundant coat and profuse feathering. The most characteristic change,
however, was in the shape of the head.  Titian’s spaniels had relatively flat
heads with little stop ; a type of toy spaniel painted shortly after by Veronese
and others had high-domed, sometimes bulging heads.

By the time of Louis XIV, French and Belgian breeders had perfected the type
they sought. Mignard, the official court painter, in his portraits of the child
Marie de Bourbon, the Dauphin and His Family, and several paintings of Henrietta d’Orleans, shows us a little
spaniel that could scarcely be improved upon today.
From Titian through Mignard and his contemporaries, all of the Contintenal Toy
Spaniels had drooping ears.  The ears were set high, although far enough apart
to show the curve of the skull.  They were of medium size, hanging, as one
writer has expressed it "lightly".  There may, however, have been an occasional dog with leathers of
sufficient strength for the ears to stand erect.  Two 18th Century paintings suggest this.

More on the actual Phalene / Papillon History
King Louis XVI (the Sun King) with Relatives
Titan's Venus of Urbino
Titan's Venus of Urbino
Rehersing the Song (1634-35), Jacob Ochtervelt, dutch Painter (1634-1682)

The History of the Papillon is traced through works of art. The earliest toy spaniels resembling the Papillon are found in
Italy. Tiziano Vicelli (Titian) painted these small dogs in many famous paintings including the Venus of Urbino (1542).
Other well known artists who included them in paintings are Watteau, Gonzalez Coques, Fragonard and Mignard. In a
painting after Largillierre in the Wallace Collection in London, a Papillon is clearly shown in a family portrait of Louis XIV.
Papillons are also in paintings of royal families around Europe and paintings of merchant class families. The breed was
popular in England, France, and Belgium which are considered counties of origin by the FCI.

The Papillon is a highly athletic breed. This Papillon is demonstrating the breed's great speed in dog agility.There are
many stories about the Papillon. Marie Antoinette was said to have walked to the guillotine clutching her small dog under
her arm. Tradition has it that her dog was a small spaniel that had been brought to the French court from Spain on the back
of pack mules. According to the story, her pup was spared and cared for in a building in Paris still called the Papillon
House. Marie's small spaniel was said to have descended from a very old drop-eared breed known as the Epagneul Nain
Continental, or Continental Dwarf/Toy Spaniel that appeared in church frescos and paintings as early as the 13th century.

The Papillon is still officially referred to as the Epagneul Nain Continental (ENC) in non-English-speaking countries. The
name Squirrel Spaniel also has been used, most likely referring to an earlier standard in which the tail set is described as
"curling over the back as a squirrel's." One version of the history of the two varieties of ear shape in the ENC ("Papillon" to
denote the erect ear and "Phalène" to denote the dropped ear) is that toward the end of the 19th century, breed fanciers
bred a version of the spaniel whose ears stood up. This dog was said to have been nicknamed papillon based on the
impressively large, erect ears that resembled the wings of a butterfly. The drop-eared variety of the breed came to be
called the Phalène (which means "night moth"). Both types are still bred today and appear in the same litter. The Papillon
variety is much more common, although recently the Phalène has undergone a resurgence in popularity.

The Papillon's large, butterfly-like ears and
symmetrical face gave the breed its name.

Alternative names
  • Phalène (drop ear type)
  • Continental Toy Spaniel
  • Epagneul Nain Continental
  • Butterfly Dog
  • Dwarf Spaniel
  • Squirrel dog or Squirrel Spaniel (due to its tail
  • Belgian Toy Spaniels
Still Life, Jacob Bogdani, Hungarian Painter (1660-1724
History of the Papillon/Phalene Dog
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