The Papillon Information Center
        
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Papillon Size
Height, Weight and More

It is common for owners to be concerned about size, even with breed standards guidelines.  For that reason, this section will discuss the size of the Papillon dog including:

•    Hight and weight

•    Throwbacks

•    A comparison to other toy sized dog breeds - photo comparison

•    Issues of being under or overweight

•    Expected growth and development from puppy to adult dog

Height

Most owners are more concerned about weight than height, but let us begin here by stating that the height of the Papillon (per AKC breed standards) is from between 8 inches (20.32 cm) to 11 inches (27.94 cm).  The measurement is taken from floor to withers (the top of the shoulders) and is not from floor to top of the head. 

In general, females may weigh a bit less than males; yet in regard to height both genders will fall between the 8 to 11 inch guideline.

In show, it is considered a fault to be over 11 inches and standing over 12 inches (30.48 cm) would disqualify the dog.  With this being said, there are Papillons that reach 11 or 12 inches tall.

Owners that do not show their dog needn't be over concerned about this.  However, if a Pappy is much taller than the standard dictates, this should be a consideration in regard to breeding.   When pairing dogs, one would want the strength of one dog to balance a weakness of another; however the goal should be to remain consistent to breed standards.

It should be noted that European standards are slightly larger and that an imported Papillon may, in turn, be slightly larger than his American counterparts.


Weight

Per AKC breed standard, there is no set weight for the Papillon.  The only guideline given is that weight should be proportionate to height.  But this leaves many owners confused, since it can be difficult for an owner to judge exactly what that is supposed to mean.

In general, if a Papillon is of standard height, the adult weight will be between 6 pounds (2.72 kg) to 10 pounds (4.53 kg).   It is not uncommon for a female to be a bit smaller than a male in regard to weight.  Females tend to settle down near the 6 to 8 pound range and males generally are a bit larger and are closer to the 9 or 10 pound range.

We have seen some sources list the weight of the Papillon to be as tiny as 4 pounds (1.81 kg) however this is not common and a Pappy of this size would be considered undersized should he or she be the expected 8 to 11 inches tall (floor to withers).  We will discuss undersized (and over-sized) dogs ahead.


Due to his small size (and temperament) there may be problems with Papillon dogs and children.

Throwbacks

There are big Papillons that weigh 15, 18 and even close to 20 pounds (9.07 kg).  Does this mean that the dog is not a purebred?  Not necessarily.  The dog may be a Throwback.  What is a Throwback Papillon?  Normally, the genes of up to 5 generations back contribute to the appearance of any given puppy.  Therefore, not only do the traits (tail set, color, etc.), strengths and weaknesses of the sire and dam come into play, but the genes of 4 generations contribute to this as well.  Every now and then, a gene from far back can influence the appearance and size of a Papillon.   

If you look far back into the history of the Papillon, the dog is a descendant of much larger Spaniels.  Every so often, these genes can appear in today's Papillon, producing a dog much bigger than the standard and much closer in appearance to his ancestors.  This amazing occurrence also crops up occasionally with the Pomeranian breed, whose ancestors were large Spitz dogs.   

This is not to say that every oversized Papillon should be attributed to being a Throwback.  Other reasons do include being overweight (more details ahead), poor breeding practices (two Pappy's on the very high end of the size standard are bred together, producing large puppies) and the possibility that another breed's bloodline has been mixed in.  



Oversize, Large Papillon Dogs

The Papillon is a very elegant toy dog with fine bone structure.  This means that the dog does not look heavy, chunky or strong.  The Pappy is a small, fragile looking breed.   He is graceful and nimble.  As discussed above, a Papillon may be over-sized due to being a product of paring two larger Pappy's, being overweight or being a Throwback.

The #1 reason for a Pappy being larger than an owner expected is due to a poor judgment in breeding practices.  Normally, one will want to pair a larger female to a smaller male.  Since males are normally bigger than females, it can take time to find the right dogs.

Some breeders will rush to make a pairing and put together two larger Papillons.   Since the genes of sire and dam have the most influence on the appearance of the puppy (though genes from 5 generations back often come into play), the resulting litter may include larger pups.  Those puppies can be the same general weight as others; it is not until the growth process is complete and the Pappy is an adult that the true size of the dog is apparent.

The #2 reason for a Pappy weighing more than average is the issue of being overweight.  Since this breed does have a fine bone structure, even 1 or 2 extra pounds can wear on the body.  Excess weight can contribute to back, hip and knee issues.  If a Papillon is found carry extra pounds, weight reduction should be a slow, gradual process. (See also: Feeding)

10 or 15 minutes of exercise can be added to daily walks (as long as the vet approves and there are no knee or hip issues that would flare up due to increased exercise) and food can be cut back just a tad.   A good guideline and goal would be a 1/2 pound each month until the dog reaches a healthy weight.

Undersized

A Pappy that is much smaller than the breed standard is considered an undersized dog and this can cause health issues.  Some of the issues that undersized dogs face are vulnerability to hypoglycemia, a weakened immune system, problems with maintaining body temperature and a susceptibility to injuries such as hip dysplasia, collapsed trachea and luxated patella. (See also: Health and Care)

Sadly, some breeders aim to produce smaller than standard sized Papillon.  Years ago, the idea of obtaining a 'teacup' dog was all the rage.  Fortunately, more and more people are becoming aware of these disingenuous marketing strategies and are not looking to obtain a dog that is smaller than nature intended.  For the record, there is no such breed as a teacup Papillon, a toy Papillon or any other term that implies the Pappy is smaller than the standard.

Some Pappy's may be tiny due to medical issues.  Dogs that have food allergies can suffer the effects of vomiting and diarrhea, in addition to a reluctance to eat which can cause weight loss.  Other health problems may cause a Pappy to be underweight as well.  Owners are encouraged to keep yearly veterinary appointments and to take their dog to the vet any time that a problem is suspected so that the weight can be recorded and steps can be taken to treat any issues.


Growth and Development

A newborn Papillon puppy will weigh between 2 (56 grams) and 4 ounces (113 grams).  They are very tiny!  Eyes will be closed and hearing is not developed.  However, this is a time of rapid growth.  The size of the Papillon, both height and weight, will increase each day.  Breeders normally weigh newborns every day and chart the pup's progress since daily growth is one sign of a healthy puppy.

An 8 week old Papillon will weigh between 1 (.45 kg) and 3 pounds (1.36 kg).  They will continue to grow quickly.  Most (but not all) of the growth will be done from the age of 8 weeks to 6 months.  During this time, a Papillon puppy's weight and height may increase in spurts.  There may be a week with no discernible difference and then a rapid growth spurt that is quite noticeable.  

From 6 months to 1 year, the weight will even out.  Normally by the age of the 1 year mark, the Papillon will be at his or her adult weight.  With many Pappy dogs, there will still be a bit of more growth in regard to height.  By the age of 18 months, a Papillon will be at his or her adult height.

Due to this growth and development, it is common (and expected) for a puppy to have a rounded appearance and then for the dog to slim down and become a bit leaner as the weight settles while the dog still grows a tad.


Comparison

To give owners an idea of how big their Papillon will be, let's compare the Pappy to some other popular toy breed dogs.

Each dog breed has its own unique body structure; some have cobby, squared bodies and others have a longer back and leaner neck.  Some dogs have a very thick double coat (the Pappy has a single coat).  These factors and other come into play in regard to how big a dog looks.  

For this size comparison, we will look at the Pomeranian, the Shih Tzu, the Maltese and the Chihuahua alongside the Papillon.

Per breed standards,  both the Pom  and the Shih Tzu stand at 8 to 11 inches 20.32 cm) to 11 inches (27.94 cm) just like the Papillon.   The Pom is a fine boned breed, similar to the Papillon and normally weighs between 3 - 7 lbs ( 1.36 - 3.175 kg).  The breed has a very thick double coat, which causes him to look very fluffy and full (but if you were to see one soaking wet after a bath, you would see how tiny he really is).   The Tzu is a larger, more sturdy dog that weighs between 9-16 lbs (4.08-7.26 kg).

Note: The Pom, Tzu and Papillon are all 8 to 11 inches tall, so why does the Papillon appear taller?  The Pappy has a longer, leaner neck.  In addition, the wonderful erect, stand-up ears lend to the overall height of this breed.

The Maltese and the Chihuahua are smaller than the Papillon.

The Chi has a height of 6-9 inches (15.2-22.9 cm) and a weight of 2-6 lbs. (.9 kg-2.7 kg).  

The Maltese has a height of 8 - 10 inches (20.32 - 25.4 cm) and a weight of 4 -7 lbs (1.81 - 3.18 kg)

So,  let's look below to see how the size of the Papillon compares to these other toy breeds.