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The Papillon Information Center       
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Papillon Care


Each breed requires particular care and this section will discuss what the Papillon requires in terms of care to keep him or her healthy and happy.  We will talk about puppy care, which is the time that the most attention will need to be given and one must stay on top of issues such as immunization… However we are also going to discuss caring for your Pap as he or she ages… And then ultimately, proper care and changes that will occur as this breed reaches adulthood and then the senior years.

Here we will go into the details of:

  • Introduction to Home
  • Offering the Right Environment
  • Exercise
  • Weather
  • Vaccinations
  • Grooming
  • Training
  • Feeding
  • Harness/leash
  • A Good Night’s Sleep
Bringing Your Papillon Home

It certainly quite an exciting time when a person brings home a new puppy…. And one must keep in mind that while this is a fun day, the situation may be very overwhelming for a tiny pup.

8-week-old puppies have led rather isolated lives so far… Staying close to dam and littermates, he or she has been kept warm and has been protected from elements that can be harmful to a small puppy. For those who are bringing home an older dog, things may be overwhelming as well, since everything is new.

This toy breed is very intelligent and very alert.  A sudden rush into a new environment can overload the senses and wear a little puppy out rather quickly. 

It is best to have a new puppy only be introduced to those that live in the household. 

This limits stress; once all puppy shots have been given and a Pap is accustomed to his humans, a gradual introduction to others (extended family, friends, neighbors, etc.) is just fine.

For skittish puppies, the best way to pick up a Papillon puppy is to approach from the side. The using two hands, place one under the rump , while the other hand gently yet firmly holds the stomach/chest area. Avoid running or making quick motions.   

For the first few weeks, a puppy should be reminded where important items are: bring your Papillon over to his/her food and water dishes. When a puppy seems to be tiring, it can help to encourage him to rest in his doggie bed.

Companion dogs such as the Papillon like to be near their humans, while at the same time having a quiet resting area to retreat to, for naps or just to take a break. Many owners find that placing a soft baby blanket or putting down a small dog bed in a quiet corner of the living room is a good spot. This way, a Pap can see what is happening yet be able to rest… This breed likes to know what the family is doing (just in case anything interesting is going on) but does not do well when isolated (for example, in a crate in a closed off room would be just terrible).

Since you will want to be focusing on your new canine family member, it is best to obtain most of your needed pet supplies ahead of time.  This way, you can be caring for your Papillon and not rushing out to the store. Some of the things that you will want are:

Chew toys – A wide variety of toys should be on hand. It is best to encourage healthy chewing habits from Day One.

Water and food bowls –
Please avoid plastic bowls. The dye that is used in manufacturing these often slowly leaks out; which over time can lead to staining of the fur around the mouth and face.  Stainless steel or ceramic bowls, with no-skid bottoms are best. You will want to have a good supply of food. With brand new puppy, breeders give a sample bag of the food that he or she had been eating... It will be important to continue to offer this exact same food; if you wish to make a switch, this should be done gradually- This is discussed in more detail in our feeding section.

Crate – As discussed further in our house training section, crates can serve well at night; however one will not want to keep a puppy crated all day; this is meant to be a temporary element that is used only when you cannot keep an eye on your Papillon puppy.

Doggie Bed –
You may want to have your Papillon become accustomed to sleeping in his or her crate, however once fully housebroken you will be able to switch over to a bed…Or, if you have good hearing and a sharp eye, you can start right off with a soft, comfortable canine bed.

Grooming Supplies – This of course includes brushes, combs, shampoo and conditioner for the coat, but also items for dental care of the teeth and nail trimmers (if you will be doing this at home). See also: Papillon Grooming.

A leash, harness, ID - 
For tiny toy breeds, care is a bit different in regard to leash and collar.  The Papillon, along with other toys such as the Chihuahua and Pomeranian, are fragile, particularly in the neck area.  When on leash and collar, quite a bit of pressure can be put on the neck, which can cause injury.  This is why a harness is recommended for any time that the leash is connected.  A collar can be put on for holding an ID tag. Be sure to add your name and phone number to the dog tag.

Environment, Exercise

This is an indoor dog that cannot do well outside alone for very long. Any outside time should be supervised.  Even in an enclosed outdoor yard, a little dog can get into a lot of trouble.  

Eating grass (sometimes with chemicals on it), ingesting toxic plants/flowers, insects and other wild animals are just a few of the hazards a Papillon can get into when left to his own devices.  Another issue that surprises some owners after the fact is just how tiny this breed is… The coat can be deceiving…

Due to his small size, a Pappy can squeeze through very small spaces, such as a small opening in a fence that was never noticed before. And for all of these reasons, supervision is highly recommended.

This is not to say that outdoor activity is not important, as it is. Part of Papillon care is to offer proper exercise.  A daily walk (weather permitting) for approximately 30 minutes is best for this breed. Be careful to not over-exercise, as it can interfere with growth during the puppy phase. Most Papillon dogs also enjoy outdoor play such as playing fetch or running through a sprinkler.

New puppies do not do well in a chaotic household and what may seem normal to an owner may be too much for a Pap puppy that is trying to gain his footing in a new home. The most important time to offer a quiet, peaceful environment is during meal time. Bowls should be placed in a quiet corner with no foot traffic.


Care in regard to vaccinations will continue from where the previous owner/breeder left off.  Papers should be given to new owners that show what shots have been given already.  It is best to find a veterinarian who has experience with toy breeds to continue with professional health care.

Vaccinations to guard against hepatitis, parvo, parinfluenza, bordetlla and distemper are often given multiple times.  Depending on the location that one resides, a rabies inoculation may also be given.

Each veterinarian will have his/her own vaccination schedule; be sure to speak up if you have any questions.

For toy breeds such as the Papillon, reaction to a vaccination is a concern. For this reason, it is highly recommended that an owner choose an appointment time that allows them to be with their Pap for at least 3 hours afterward.  Signs would include facial swelling and/or difficult breathing.  Urgent care is needed if such a reaction occurs and fast treatment with epinephrine and/or antihistamines can usually resolve the issue.

Do follow your vet’s recommendation for heartworm prevention; a puppy should have been de-wormed 2 times before leaving for his/her new home; if this has only been done 1 time, check with your vet to see if a 2nd de-worming is recommended.


Can a dog’s coat of fur protect against all elements? Not as much as some would think. Puppies have short hairs and even adult Papillon dogs with long coats do have some protection; however in cases of severe cold weather or snow storms a sweater and/or booties can help protect against the elements.

While it is healthy to “get fresh air” and being outside is all part of housebreaking (unless you opt for the pee-pad method) time outside in temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 Celsius)  should be limited to no more than 20 minutes.

One of the most damaging elements during winter is the chemicals deposited onto snow and ice. Even when snow piles melt down, these compounds are then found in puddles. They can be harmful to paw pads; if shoes are not worn, please wash off the your Papillon’s paws after trekking through any snow, ice or puddles during the thawing season.

We discuss this in more detail in our grooming section. Dental care is part of this as well. While certain chews can help loosen plague and clean teeth to some degree, regular cleanings at home (as well as scraping- either at home or professionally) will keep the teeth and gums nice and healthy.  With this needed care, teeth can loosen over time, leading to loss and eventual eating problems and in many cases, infection which can be a serious issue.

While milk teeth will be replaced with adult teeth during the teething process, it can be very helpful to allow a Papillon puppy to become used to having his/her teeth touched and brushed.  This way, that older adult with a mind of his own will be much more prone to sitting still for this type of care.
  Keep reading about dental care and tooth problems.


The 2 types of training: housebreaking and command training really should go hand-in-hand, and training for both can start as young as 8-weeks-old.  Over the course of weeks that these lessons are learned, they reinforce each other. Teaching your Papillon puppy to “sit”, “stay” and “come” helps when teaching housebreaking rules.

Consistency and patience are the 2 main keys for all of this to come together. Having realistic goals helps an owner understand that small, incremental steps are successes. 
Read more about Housebreaking.


Dogs do best when they have structure and an owner can provide this by setting up a schedule.  Dogs are creatures of habit and they also have incredible internal time clocks.  By choosing certain times to: Go for walks, have some outdoor play, groom and have quiet family time can actually help a dog behave.  Walks in the morning are always nice (weather permitting), however a nice, brisk walk and/or outside time to play and run around can help greatly for a Papillon that’s been in the house all day… Pent up energy can either come out as destructive behavior or be released in a healthy way.

Grooming is essential, as regular combings and brushing keep the coat healthy and mats at bay; and having a set time for this can help a Pappy get accustomed to being handled.

Teaching a dog that night time equals sleep time is not always easy.  However, it can help to start about 1 hour before.  Here’s a quick tip schedule that should begin 1 hour before intended sleep for the night:

•    1 hour before – No more meals or snacks are fed
•    45 minutes before – Active play stops
•   30 minutes before – Last bathroom break – be sure to allow at least 15 minutes for your Papillon to relax bladder and bowel muscles enough to urinate or eliminate

•    15 minutes before- Lights are dimmed, TV or other devices are turned down, and everyone relaxes
•    5 minutes before- Care is taken to quietly led the Papillon to his or her sleeping area.


While care such as proper feeding, grooming and exercise are integral parts of keeping your Papillon healthy, the other side of this is emotional health. This is a companion dog with a high degree of loyalty and devotion to humans. The Pappy enjoys the company of others and thrives in a household that offers attention and lots of love.