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The Papillon Information Center       
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Papillon Hair Growth

Coat and Fringes

Hair growth for the Papillon breed is a slow, gradual process - with a small hiccup around the 6 month mark - and it can take up to 2 years for a Pappy to have his or her final look, with the entire adult coat grown in.

In this section, we are going to talk about:

•    The stages of hair growth
•    The hiccup of hair loss that can occur during this process
•    What to expect as your Pappy grows
•    Ways that you can encourage hair growth, for a nice, long and healthy coat
•    Growing fringes and what to expect for your Papillon
Stages of Hair Growth for the Papillon

Day 1 to 2 Months

Papillon puppies are born with very short, smooth coats that lie flat and very close to the body.  The hair will be very soft and silky.  Do not expect to see any signs of what is to come; the Pappy newborn will show no indication of the long coat that is to grow in.

2 Months to 4 Months

Many Pappy owners obtain their Papillon when the puppy is just about 2 months old.  At this young age, the coat is still very short and lies flat against the body.  A healthy coat will be shiny and soft with no patches of missing hair at this time.

While you will give your Pappy baths, as part of a proper grooming routine, there is little to actually brush in terms of coat.  However, it is suggested to gently go over the coat with a soft pin brush so that a Papillon can become used to the feeling.  You will not want an older, long haired dog to have no sense of what is expected once that long coat needs brushing, combing and maintenance each day.

5 Months to 7 Months

You may see some very noticeable changes during this time.  During the 5 to 7 month mark, there can be some fluctuations in the coat that worry some owners if they do not know what to expect.   For the Papillon breed, the changeover from puppy coat to adult coat can cause varying degrees of hair loss and shedding as the puppy coat thins out and makes way for the longer, more resilient adult coat. 

Each dog varies in regard to the extent of this 'hiccup', however there can be some thinning and some patchy grow during this time of great change.   Some refer to this as the 'puppy ugly stage' and black and white Papillon puppies tend to have a more dramatic stage than pups of other colors. Some Pappy dogs will go through this and some will not

Hair loss can also be attributed to skin problems (most often allergies), so do bring this to the attention of your veterinarian if you notice other issues as well such as dry, itchy skin, stomach upset or any eating disturbances.  However, there is no cause for concern if there is only a thinning that is due to the changeover to the adult coat.

For some Papillon dogs, this stage can cause a loss of hair that is most noticeable around the eyes and on the legs.  A puppy can look quite funny during this time, however it is very temporary (and for some dogs necessary) as those very fine and short puppy hairs fall out to make way for the luxurious and long adult coat that the Papillon is famous for.

It should be noted that some Papillon puppies are late bloomers; this stage can develop later at the 8, 9 or even 10 month mark and last for several months.

If your Pappy puppy experiences this, there are some things that you can do to keep both skin and coat healthy:

  • Give your Papillon an Omega supplement. Omega 3 or a combination of Omega 3, 6 and 9, work to keep the skin healthy and the coat soft and healthy, which encourages hair growth.  It is suggested to use the soft gels, which can be broken open and sprinkled over food.  It will not affect the taste of the food and supplements such as this do not have any negative side effects. DO please choose a reputable brand, however, such as Vetri Science or Nordic Naturals.
  • Use high quality shampoo, conditioner and leave-in spray, which will keep the coat clean and healthy, and help to keep split ends from developing
  • After bathing, do not rub the coat.  Use a patting method with an absorbent, soft towel.
  • If your Papillon's elbows are thinning out, place a soft baby blanket on the floor so that your Pappy has a soft, cushiony layer that will prevent sores from developing.

8 Months to 10 Months

If a Pappy did experience a slight to moderate hair loss due to the changeover from puppy to adult coat, it is just about done at this time, although as mentioned above some Pappy dogs will experience the loss and then growth at an older age.

For most Papillon dogs, this is the age that the adult coat is coming in enough that there will be a noticeable difference.   Finally, the Pappy is beginning to have the true, 'Papillon look'.  As this growth continues, take care to keep it clean and tangle free, as doing so will encourage hair growth.  We will discuss the method of removing tangles, up ahead.

18 Months to 2 Years

It is during this time that the adult coat will have fully grown in.  This also means that the ear fringe will have grown in as well.  Up ahead we will further discuss ear fringe and what you can expect.  The coat will now be rather long and this does vary from dog to dog.  Genes play a role; if both dam and sire had very long coat, with proper care, the resulting litter would have very long coats as well.  However, if a Pappy with naturally shorter hair was paired with a longer haired Pappy, the resulting puppy may take after the shorter haired parent. 

Since the standard calls out for an abundant, long, fine, silky, flowing, straight coat with resilient quality, breeders should pair dogs for the 'betterment of the breed' and work toward maintain this standard.  It is considered bad breeding policy to breed a Papillon with a shorter coat than the AKC standard calls out for.  

Hair Length for the Papillon Dog

This breed, as mentioned above, should have a very long, flowing coat.  With good breeding practices to produce dogs that fit the breed standard and with proper care from owners, a Papillon should have a nice, healthy, long coat.   The final length of a Pappy's coat will be contingent on the genes that are passed down from both sire and dam and also 4 generations back.

Genes from both parents are passed down, however a puppy may also have traits from 5 generations back.  This includes all traits… size, weight, bone structure, coloring and coat length.  This means that not only must good breeding practices be set in place in regard to paring 2 dogs, but also one should be looking back 4 more generations in order to produce puppies that meet the breed standard set in place by the AKC. (CKC in Canada).

Let's look at some of the things that an owner can do to encourage hair growth and importantly to maintain a healthy coat:

Food - What a Papillon eats will affect the coat.  Foods with high levels of additives, preservatives and coloring can led to a dry, unhealthy coat.   Many dog owners purchase supplies and food at the supermarket and unfortunately those stores do not carry the high quality brands that are recommended for excellent health.  Meals that contain at least 75% meats and 20% fruits and vegetables, with a limited amount of carbohydrates are recommended.  Since the Papillon breed can have a sensitivity to high grain levels, a no-grain or low grain formula is suggested.  In addition, you will want to choose a filler, coloring and additive free food.  Pre and Probiotics added to the mix can only be beneficial. 

Be wary of snacks that are dense in color. Bright red or orange snacks can affect the coat.

Water -
Many owners simply run the kitchen tap and fill their dog's bowl with cool, tap water.  However, many municipal water supplies contain high levels of impurities. In many areas, tap water can legally contain pesticides, runoff from orchards and harsh chemicals that are formed by erosion of natural deposits.   The elements that can be found in water can greatly affect the health of a Papillon coat and it can affect hair growth.  For this reason, it is highly recommended to obtain a filtering device (most are inexpensive and are easily attached) so that a Papillon is not ingesting these elements that not only can affect the coat, hair growth and hair health but may also lead to stomach distress and/or affect the nervous system.

Health -
If a dog is experiencing any medical issues, this can show in the coat.  There may be stunted hair growth or a thinning.  Most commonly it is allergies that will affect both skin and coat.  Please bring your Papillon for regular 'healthy checkups' since catching any issues early offer the best chance for fast recovery.

If you are not planning on breeding your Pappy, it is suggested to spay/neuter your dog.  This has many benefits.  Spayed and neutered Papillon dogs do tend to have healthy coats, however there are lifesaving benefits as well.  It greatly reduces or completely eliminates several forms of cancer. 

For females, it spares the dog from enduring heat cycles which can be taxing on the body.  And of course, it prevents unplanned pregnancies which can put a strain on the female.

Grooming -
There are several elements that combine to keep the coat healthy and to promote hair growth with the Papillon dog.

Some sources will recommend a weekly bath, however we recommend a bath every 3 weeks and for good reason.  Even with top quality shampoo and conditioner, too many baths dry out the skin and coat since any shampoo will contain cleansing substances that strip the hair of natural oils (even if to a small degree).  Keeping the coat clean is very important; however there is no reason to clean a clean coat!  Unless your Papillon has gotten him or herself into quite a mess, a bath every 3 weeks should do just fine.

Use a high quality shampoo and conditioner that will be gentle on the coat and leave hairs soft but strong. Cheap products dry the hairs and will lead to split ends, which lead to shorter hairs and stunted hair growth.
Do not brush a dry coat.  A light spray mist of leave-in conditioner.  A spritzer will keep split ends from forming as you brush the coat and this is paramount to hair growth.  A split end, if formed, will work its way up the hair shaft and hairs will eventually break off.  Using a quality leave-in mist or spritzer will save you from having to trim unhealthy hairs.  Additionally, this will help keep tangles at bay and help you to de-tangle a knot or matt that may have formed.  More ahead.

Tangles -
Once a tangle forms (a section of hairs that has twisted together and formed a knot, also referred to as a matt) it will grow larger and larger until it is removed and this of course, will affect the coat and overall hair growth if there are several present.  You will want to avoid clipping a tangle off and instead, work to untangle it.

This is best done by lathering your hands with a quality canine conditioner and using your finger to work the tangle free.  It also involves patience on both your part and your Papillon's part. 

Only as a last resort will you want to clip it off; but if you cannot untangle it, do snip it free so that it does not affect the rest of the coat; remember that if it is not removed, it will continue to pull in others hairs and grow in size.   Prevention is very important in this regard, so please refer to the grooming section above.

Brushing & Combing -  You may wish to refer to the Grooming section, however to summarize, you will not want to brush a dry coat  and combing through hairs should be done before brushing.  Use high quality products that do not stress or dry the coat, which can affect hair growth.  Go gently, since broken hairs (especially fringe) will either not grow back or it will grow very slowly.

Ear Fringe

No two Papillon dogs look alike and this means that the length of ear fringe will vary from dog to dog.  While the breed standard does call out for the ears to be well fringed, with the inside of the ears to be covered with medium length hairs, not all Papillon dogs will have the desired ear fringe.

There are several factors that affect this:

The Color of the Papillon - Certain colored Pappys tend to have more ear fringe than others.  Dark coated Papillon dogs tend to have more fringing than lighter colors. Reds and sables tend to have less fringing than others and also thinner fringing.

Genes - Not only is coloring passed down, ear fringing is as well.  As mentioned earlier, while the traits of both dam and sire will play a large role in this, traits from 5 generations affect the appearance of a Papillon, and therefore the ear fringing on grandparents, great-grandparents and so on, can play a role.

Breakage - Unfortunately, if the hairs of the ear fringe break, they may not grow back at all or if they do, it will be an excruciatingly slow growth.  The 2 top reasons for breakage are breakage due to split end and breakage due to other dogs nipping at the hairs during play time. 

In regard to split ends, the advice above in regard to proper grooming to promote hair growth with the Papillon dog will also pertain to the ear fringe.

The 2nd element of play nipping is something that owners will need to keep an eye on.  For some reason, Papillon puppies at play will tend to go for the ear fringes. When these hairs are tugged, mouthed and nipped upon, it can cause the breakage.  Even mouthing can cause a problem, since it is though that the acidity in a dog's saliva can cause a drying to the hair.

Some sources suggest limiting play however one must balance this with a dog's need to socialize with other dogs; socialization is best done at an early age.  Introduction to other dogs is an important part of learning about the world and all that it holds. If a puppy is not allowed to become accustomed to other dogs, this can lead to an older, adult dog that barks at and does not properly socialize with his or her counterparts.

You can protect the ears, however if you are not planning on showing your Pappy, you may wish to focus less on the ear fringes and more on socialization training so that you have a dog that can mix and mingle with other canines in a healthy way.  

The Answer: 
One great method of allowing a Papillon to play with other dogs and NOT have the fringes to be compromised is to place a snood on your Pappy.  A snood is a soft scarf and hood combination that slips around a dog's head.  It covers the ears and circles around the face and under the chin.  It does not cover the mouth or any part of the dog's face.  Longer hairs can be tucked in and under the fabric. Some dogs do not mind wearing these, others do.  If used on a regular basis (any time a Pappy is playing with another dog), most often a Pappy will become accustomed to this and learn to tolerate it.  It is not confining in any way and most are quite soft and comfortable (akin to a human wearing a scarf).

Static electricity can also cause breakage to the ear fringes and if your house tends to have dry air, it can help to use a Static Spray on your Papillon's coat.

How Long Should Papillon Ear Fringes Be?

As mentioned throughout this section, hair growth and length of hair will vary from dog to dog.

However, in general, with good genes and proper grooming, the length of fringes can range from 3 inches (7.6 cm) to 5 inches (12.7 cm) if you hold the hair out straight from the ear and measure.