Papillon Care

The toy-sized Papillon breed is lively, outgoing, and delicate--and fortunately, the typical Papillon doesn't require a great deal of care and maintenance. This page is dedicated to all things Papillon: puppy care, exercise needs, diet and nutrition, and much more are explained in great detail here. For all you need to know concerning Papillon care, keep reading!

Papillon Exercise Needs

Papillons are lively, energetic little dogs, so their exercise needs are fairly high--but since these dogs are toy-sized, "high" is a relative term. Paps are known to love running crazily in circles both indoors and out--and they're often called little "canine mountain goats" because of their fondness for climbing onto tables, furniture, and other high-standing objects. They're also known to be excellent competitors in a number of canine sports. This liveliness aside, adult Papillons will typically need about an hour of physical activity per day, ideally made up of two or three moderate (20-minute) walks along with a prolonged play period. Puppies can be exercised starting at three months of age by going on short (10- to 15-minute) walks.

Of course, Papillon exercise has a few precautions: for one thing, puppies may need some extra supervision--even when indoors. These dogs' affinity for climbing may be dangerous for young Paps, as they can either injure their still-growing bones and joints from jumping off a high perch, or they may get stuck there and become upset. Adult Paps, meanwhile, will need to be leashed when in public because of their love of running and chasing; if exercised in a yard, it'll need secure fencing, because Paps are excellent little escape artists (though they probably won't stay gone for long!).

And a well-exercised Papillon is a happy one. Though these dogs aren't too highly prone to obesity, they are quite intelligent, and if under-exercised or bored a Pap will be a misbehaving mess. It'll be destructive, disobedient...and as quite a yappy breed, a restless Pap will bark its no-longer-adorable little head off. So though small, Papillons will be happier if they're exercised every day--and so will you. Here are a few exercise ideas:

  • Walking: Two 20-minute walks per day is a good target
  • Hide and Seek: Good rainy-day activity; give your Pap a healthy treat when it finds you
  • Dog Park: Paps enjoy playing with other dogs
  • Canine Sports: Papillons excel in obedience/agility trials, flyball, and other competitions
  • Hiking: Great bonding activity; just make sure the trail isn't too strenuous

When indoors, it's a good idea to give your Pap access to one or more balls or chew toys to allow the dog to release some pent-up energy (of which it'll have plenty). It's also beneficial to have a consistent daily exercise schedule, such as walks after breakfast and dinner and a play period in the afternoon.

Papillon Maintenance

For the Papillon dog breed, shedding and drooling are relatively minor issues. These dogs shed some year-round, but not profusely, and they rarely drool at all.

Paps have long-haired, flowing coats--but they're single layered, with no undercoat that's largely responsible for profuse shedding. Pap owners may find stray hairs here and there that will necessitate some vacuuming and lint rolling, but it won't be a major problem. Frequent brushing and bathing will help minimize the amount of shed hairs even more.

And Paps may drool a bit in anticipation of food, but almost never otherwise. If your Papillon is drooling excessively it may be a sign of a medical issue, in which case you should consult a veterinarian.

Papillon Diet

Like all dog breeds, the Papillon diet is vital to the dog's health and well-being. As a toy-sized breed, Paps have higher metabolisms than larger dogs; this means that high-quality food is definitely best for your Pap. Yes, it's more expensive, but a Papillon will typically eat less of it per meal since it doesn't have the empty-calorie "filler" ingredients that cheap dog food does--and besides, these little dogs have tiny stomachs in the first place, so buying better Papillon dog food won't crunch your budget.

In regards to food type: opinions are mixed over whether dry, wet/canned, or fresh/home-cooked food is best for a Papillon. The most popular choice, though, seems to be premium dry dog food, particularly a brand that's formulated for toy or small-breed dogs, as this type has plenty of nutrients per ounce and is a good match for a Papillon's high metabolic rate. And these little dogs can't eat much food at once: adult Papillons need about half a cup (roughly 400 calories) of food per day, divided into two meals. Growing puppies only need a little less: about two-fifths of a cup (300 calories) per day, divided into three meals. See this feeding chart for more details:

Papillon Feeding Chart
Dog AgeDog WeightFood TypeAmountFrequency2 Months2 lbsDry1 oz3x/day3 Months3 lbsDry1.25 oz3x/day6 Months4 lbsDry1.5 oz3x/day9 Months6 lbsDry0.25 cups2x/day12 Months+7 lbsDry0.25 cups2x/day

Be warned, though: a Papillon can easily become obese if over-fed. Obesity in this breed can lead to breathing and digestive problems, not to mention a shortened lifespan; Paps are also known for having delicate knee joints, an issue that'll be worsened if the dog carries extra weight. And it's often through irresponsible diet choices, rather than the Pap simply overeating, that's the cause of a fat Papillon waddling around. Owners are urged to put food in the dog's bowl only at mealtimes instead of leaving food out all the time. When it comes to treats or snacks, owners are encouraged to give Paps healthy snacks (like baby carrots, for example) instead of commercial treats, which are super-high in calories; begin with the healthy snacks when the Pap is a puppy so it can learn to expect it.

If you're worried that your little Pap is overweight, simply give the dog the Ribs Test: run a hand along its side, and if you can't easily feel any ribs, it's diet time. Decrease your Pap's daily food intake by one-fourth, and add a walk or a play session to its daily exercise routine.

Living Environment

There's no question: the Papillon is an inside breed. Though these energetic little dogs will need some outdoor exercise on a daily basis, they'll be much happier living indoors with their human family members. And for the Papillon, apartments are ideal--just make sure you take the little dog out to stretch its legs every day!

Another consideration for owners of a Papillon: weather. These dogs will be okay in hot temps, but their small size and single-layered coats mean they'll get cold pretty easily. Overall, Papillon dogs are best suited to life in mild to warm climates.

Papillon Grooming

Read the grooming requirements for Papillons including coat care and other maintenance.

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About this Article

Authored by:Dog-Learn
Updated:December 23, 2019