21 May, 2016
- The Papillon was portrayed in portraits dating to the 16th century, a testament to the breed’s age and staying power. Rubens, Watteau, Boucher, Van Dyke, Rembrandt, and Fragonard all portrayed them in various artworks, usually accompanying their doting mistresses. The little spaniels were favorite companions of court ladies throughout Europe. Traders carried them in baskets on mules through France, Italy, and Spain.The early toy spaniels from which the Papillon descended had drop ears, but in the 17th century court of Louis XIV a small spaniel with upright ears was developed and given the name Papillon for its resemblance to a butterfly. Other names by which the breed has been known over the centuries include Epagneul Nain (dwarf spaniel), Dwarf Continental Spaniels, Little Squirrel Dogs (because their full, plumed tail resembled that of a squirrel) or Belgian Toy Spaniels.
- Besides the ears, the only other major change in the breed’s appearance was in color. Originally the little spaniels were solid-colored, but these days they’re white with patches of color. Otherwise, a Papillon today looks much the same as one you might see portrayed in a painting in the Louvre. The drop-eared variety, known as the Phalene, still exists although he’s not as commonly seen. The Papillon ranks 35th among the 155 breeds and varieties registered by the American Kennel Club.
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