The Papillon was popular in England, France, and Belgium which are considered countries of origin by the FCI. This dog was said to have been nicknamed Papillon, meaning “butterfly” in French, based on its impressively large, erect ears with flowing hair that resembles the wings of a butterfly.
The Papillon has the appearance of a dainty toy breed, but many owners will claim that their Papillons are “big dogs in little dog suits.” One aspect of the Papillon that has led many to believe the “big dog” assertion is this breed’s surprising athletic ability. The Papillon is highly energetic and intelligent, ranking eighth in Stanley Coren’s The Intelligence of Dogs. Papillons are built for movement, and most do not need any encouragement to apply their energy to athletic activities.