Papillon Grooming

Papillons have beautiful, silky fur--but unlike many similar breeds, their coats are single-layered. In one respect this is great, as their coats don't require a whole lot of upkeep; Papillons are often called "wash n' go dogs" for good reason! But their relatively thin coats aren't too protective, so many owners choose to leave the coats at full length. Find details below on how to care for a Papillon's coat, on miscellaneous grooming tips, and on optional grooming styles.

Papillon Coat Care

Though long-haired, a Papillon's silky coat is single-layered and sheds minimally; thus Papillon grooming (at least in regards to its coat) is not as time-consuming as with some other, similar toy breeds. Regular brushing is necessary because, while this breed's fur doesn't tangle or mat too much, brushing distributes the coat's natural oils, and keeps the coat clean and healthy-looking.

Odor is not much of an issue with these dogs, so they only need baths once every few months. Most owners don't clip their Papillon's coat, so any coat care can easily be done at home. And since their single coats don't shed much, they don't require extra care during "shedding season."


Since a Papillon's coat is a single-layered one, brushing will affect how the fur lays against the skin. It's best to use a pin brush with rubber tips on these dogs; using a slicker brush can actually damage the fur. Groomers also recommend wetting the dog's fur with water from a mist bottle before brushing begins.

Give your Papillon a brush at least twice a week. Pick a section and use the pin brush to brush downward, then pull the brush out. You'll want to brush deeply, as doing so removes dust/debris from the skin--but make sure not to press down too much, as the brush pins can damage the skin. Repeat until you've covered the entire body, paying close attention to the dense fur on the neck and tail; if needed, use a finer brush or comb on the ears.


Depending on your Papillon's activity level, dogs of this breed don't need bathing too often. In general, a Papillon bath will only need to happen every three months or so--unless, of course, the dog gets especially dirty or stinky and an "emergency bath" is called for.

It's important when bathing a Papillon to use canine shampoo and conditioner. The kind made for humans has a different pH, and will easily irritate your Papillon's skin. Some owners like to use a 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner combo. The best shampoo for Papillons includes brands like Earthbath, Pro Pet Works, and Paws & Pals, all of which have separate conditioners (or 2-in-1 combos).

How to bathe a Papillon: first give the dog a good brushing. Your Papillon is small enough to bathe in the kitchen sink; otherwise, a bathtub (hopefully with a spray nozzle attachment) or an outdoor plastic pool using a garden hose is fine. Wet the coat thoroughly, then apply a small amount of Papillon shampoo to the dog's back. Lather well, working downward and outward as you go. (And don't forget the legs, underbelly, and tail!) Clean the dog's face, head, and ears with a washcloth, then rinse the coat completely. (If using a separate conditioner, repeat the entire process with that.)

Towel-dry the coat, then continue with a hair dryer on its lowest heat setting, brushing the hair out with the pin brush as you dry. Finish with another quick brush-through to make the coat look clean and neat.

Papillon Styling & Haircuts

Papillons have long-haired coats--but the silky fur is single-layered, and thus is not as abundant as some other breeds. In reality, many breed owners prefer to leave their Papillons' coats at full length, as the single layer of fur protects the dog from the elements. (For this reason, not a lot of Papillon grooming styles exist.) Still, some owners choose to give their Papillon a haircut--two of which are described here:

  • Puppy Cut: The fur is clipped to about a third of its length over the entire body; individual owners can choose the precise length. (Professional groomers recommend, though, that the hair is not cut too short, as the dog could be easily sunburned in the summer and get too cold in wintertime.) This cut can be done at home--but it's best to have it done initially by a groomer, who can show you how to trim a Papillon dog in this style.
  • Teddy Bear Cut: The fur is clipped similar to a puppy cut, but more length is left on the legs and face, making the dog resemble a teddy bear. This cut is a bit more intricate, so it's best done by a professional groomer. Note that this cut will require grooming visits for touch-ups every 6-8 weeks.

Paw Care

In addition to Papillon nails (see Other Care below), these dogs need their paws maintained in the following areas:

  • Toe Hair: If the hair between your Papillon's toes gets too long, it'll collect dirt and debris, and even get infected. Use scissors to trim the hair short if needed.
  • Paw Pads: Your Papillon's paw pads, though very small, can become dry and cracked--especially if the dog walks or runs a lot on hot asphalt or snow and ice. Apply canine paw pad moisturizer (available at pet stores or online) to the dog's pads weekly to keep them soft, moist, and healthy.

Other Care

  • Teeth: A Papillon needs dental care just like us humans, so brush its teeth once a week to prevent tartar buildup and bad breath; using canine toothpaste (available at any pet store) is recommended.
  • Ears: Papillons have fairly large, erect ears which can easily trap dirt/debris. Clean your Papillon's ears every 4-6 weeks with a cotton ball and a gentle, vet-approved cleanser to prevent irritation or infection, and to minimize wax buildup.
  • Nails: Trim your Papillon's nails (but not too close!) every 6-8 weeks; a good signal that the dog is due for a nail trimming is if its nails click when it walks/runs on a hard surface.
Papillon Care

See the complete guide on how to care for Papillons.

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About this Article

Authored by:Dog-Learn
Updated:March 25, 2020