The small Continental Toy Spaniel is known for its toy size and elegance. In the past it enjoyed popularity among the nobility and today it is a perfect companion dog, affectionate and loyal. There is another variant of the Continental Spaniel Nain with droopy ears, called the Falena Spaniel (Phalène) or Night Butterfly. Their only difference is the erect or drooping position of their ears.
- Weight: There are two categories:
- 3.3 lbs to 5.5 lbs.
- 5.5 lbs to 9.9 lbs for females and 5.5 lbs to 11 lbs for males.
- Height: Their height at the withers is approximately 11 Inches.
- Coat: The Continental Toy Spaniel has a long, slightly wavy, never curly, fine, resilient, and silky coat. The hair on the face, muzzle, and front legs is short. The back has medium-length hair, and the neck, rear, and hind legs have somewhat longer hair. They have fringes on their ears and tail, without an undercoat.
- Colors: The breed standard accepts all colors as long as they have a white background. You can find individuals with a dominant white color with small areas of earth tones, black, brown, gray, or fire.
- It’s specified that white should predominate on the head, body, and limbs. Eyelids, nose, and lips should be pigmented. The characteristic white butterfly stripe of the breed consists of a white stripe that runs from under the chin to the forehead. This pigmentation on the face resembles the shape of a butterfly, where the ears would be the wings.
- General Build: The Papillon has a balanced and robust structure. Their body is slightly longer than their height. They have a cascading long coat that gives them a winged appearance.
- They carry themselves proudly with elegance.
- Their gait is dignified, loose, and elegant.
- They have a strong, slightly arched back.
- Their chest is wide and arched, and they have a tucked belly. Their nose and lips are black, and their muzzle is slightly elongated. Their eyes are dark and almond-shaped. They have drop ears with wavy fur for Phalène variety and upright, slightly tilted ears for the Papillon variety. The fur falls in fringes.
- Their long tail is adorned with long, hanging fur resembling a plume, and when alert, it curves over their back.
The small luxury spaniel is an obedient and friendly dog that loves to please and be with its owners. It can be somewhat possessive but is loyal and affectionate with its family, making it a great companion dog.
The Continental Toy Spaniel is curious, playful, and lively. Its energetic and lively behavior may make it seem like a puppy even when it’s not in its early years. It’s extroverted and unafraid of strangers, enjoys sports, and loves playing with its family.
Guard Dog: It makes a good watchdog and will alert you to any unusual movements or noises with constant barking.
Barker: It can be quite vocal, but its obedient nature can help in moderating its barking.
Training and Obedience: It’s an obedient and easy-to-train breed. The Continental Toy Spanielcan even participate in canine sports.
With Children: The Continental Toy Spaniel is an excellent playmate for children. It tends to be gentle and affectionate with the little ones, but it’s important to ensure that children treat it kindly and respectfully.
In an Apartment: Thanks to its small size, the Papillon or Phalène variety adapts well to apartment living. It can also live in a house with a yard for playing and running.
With Other Pets: Its curious, playful, and sociable temperament makes it a good companion for other dogs and pets. However, due to its possessiveness, early socialization is recommended.
Adaptation to Solitude: This breed requires a lot of attention and doesn’t like being left alone for extended periods.
Daily Walks and Activity: Despite being a toy-sized dog, they have a lot of energy, so daily walks and playtime are necessary. They enjoy engaging in canine sports.
Coat Care: The Papillon’s coat requires frequent brushing to prevent knots and tangles, with particular attention to detangling the ear fringes. The coat reaches its final state at around 18 months.
Pros and Cons
Advantages of Continental Toy Spaniel:
- Affectionate, loyal, and fun – a perfect companion animal.
- Small size makes it suitable for apartments and smaller living spaces.
- Competes well in canine sports.
Disadvantages of Continental Toy Spaniel:
- Requires daily activity and exercise, which might not be suitable for all owners.
- Being very small, it requires careful handling.
- Needs attention and frequent coat brushing.
- Can be a fairly vocal dog.
The Continental Toy Spaniel is a robust and healthy breed, both for the Papillon and Phalène varieties.
However, like many other small breeds, it’s essential to pay attention to their kneecaps, which can often suffer from patellar luxation and affect their dental health. Regular teeth cleaning is recommended. Generally, there are no common health issues in this breed.
History and Origin
The Continental Toy Spaniel, also known as the Papillon or Phalène, is a downsized version of the spaniel. There are two varieties: the Papillon, with dropped ears, and the Phalène, with erect ears.
The Papillon has its origins in France and Belgium. A congress held in Lille in 1934, attended by the Belgian breed club, the Central Canine Society of France, and the Royal Society Saint-Hubert of Belgium, determined the Continental Toy Spaniel to be of Franco-Belgian origin.
This ancient breed is depicted in works by Giotto, Titian, Hans Memling, Van der Helst, and Rubens. It was highly appreciated by the bourgeoisie and royalty. King Henry III of France was a big fan of the breed, and King Francis I had a Papillon named Citron.
Their popularity increased during the Renaissance. The breed’s first portrait was created by Buffon in the 18th century, where he specified the different varieties of Continental Toy Spaniel based on coat color and length.
Over time, the Continental Toy Spaniel lost some of its prominence due to the rise of other small companion breeds like Bichons or Poodles. Crossbreeding occurred between these breeds, making it challenging to distinguish a Poodle, Papillon, or Bichon.
Around 1850, the Papillon lost popularity in France with the arrival of the Pug. Nevertheless, it was highly accepted in Belgium, and Belgian breeders transformed their drop ears into upright ears.
In the 1920s, Belgian specialists Houtard and De Bylandt drafted a breed standard, and in 1933, the Belgian Continental Spaniel Club was founded. In the 1920s, the English became interested in the breed, leading to the development of the British Continental Toy Spaniel, which was slightly larger with a slightly longer muzzle, black and white colors, and rounder eyes.
The Continental Spaniel eventually made its way to the United States and was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1935. The breed received its definitive recognition by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) in January 1954. The last official standard was published in September 1990, classifying it in Group 9: Companion and Toy Breeds, Section 9: Continental Toy Spaniels.