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Papillons Papillon

The Papillon is a small, friendly, elegant toy dog of fine-boned structure, light, dainty, and of lively action. They are distinguished from other breeds by their beautiful, butterfly-like ears. Papillons are very devoted to their masters, with a hearty spirit making them desirable for show or companionship. Papillons are hardy and usually long lived. They adapt to almost any climate and are comfortable in an apartment as well as the country. They are good travelers. They love to be with their family. They are friendly, happy, and eager to please. The Papillon ranks number one Toy Dog in obedience.

Other Names: Epagneul Nain (Phalene is also known as Continental Toy Spaniel)

Height: 8 - 11 inches.

Weight: 3 - 9 lbs.

Colors: From pale lemon and white to rich shades of red, chestnut, deep mahogany, tris, and black and white.

Coat: No undercoat. Long, abundant, flowing and silky in texture.

Temperament: Papillons are friendly and alert.

With Children: Yes, but not small children.

With Pets: Yes, cats and small dogs, may challenge bigger dogs.

Special Skills: Family pet.

Watch dog: Excellent

Guard dog: Very Low

Care and Training: Weekly brushing of the Papillon's coat is needed. Trimming of the pads of their feet to prevent splaying of the feet. Minimal bathing is required. The Papillons can obtain their exercise indoors, but love to take walks outside.

Learning Rate: Very high in obedience, high in problem solving.

Activity: Moderate

Living Environment: Apartments -- yes, but loves outdoors.

Health Issues: Usually very healthy. Some problems with inadequate tear production, progressive retinal atrophy, and patella's, loose knee caps, that in most cases can be corrected with surgery.

Life Span: 13 - 16 years

Litter Size: 2 - 4

Country of Origin: France

History: The Papillon is a very old breed that dates back to the 14th century where they were know as the Continental Toy Spaniel. The CTS had typical Spaniel ears, (hanging down on the sides of their head). Today the drop-eared Papillon is known as the Phalene (meaning night moth). Papillons appeared in the United States close to the 19th century, where the erect ear became more common.

New Papillon owners need to carefully review the security of their premises. No matter how snug fencing appears to be, there are often small spaces between the fencing and posts, gates and buildings, or under the fence, through which an active and curious pup may be tempted to seek adventure.

While they are indoor dogs without substantial exercise requirements, Paps enjoy the outdoors, and fancy themselves great hunters of birds, squirrels, spiders, even butterflies! Some are also mousers.

A Pap in motion may even appear as prey to some dogs and to flying predators, such as hawks, etc. Please do not leave your Papillon alone in a fenced area. Responsible owners will always remain alert to the problems inherent in such situations. Many Paps do not realize that their size make them vulnerable.

Some Paps like to bark, and as with other small breeds, house-training may take longer than for a larger dog. Obedience training is recommended for all pet Paps. It can be invaluable in overcoming any stubbornness and in counteracting the natural tendency to spoil such a charming family member. Papillons do shed and some people can be allergic.

Papillons are among the more anesthetic-sensitive breeds, and owners should always discuss this with their veterinarians before scheduling surgery or dental procedures. Use of the newer safer (albeit more expensive) anesthetics such as isoflurane is strongly recommended.

Grooming Your Papillon

Please read below for detailed information on Health Issues with Papillons


by Dr. Lucy Henney and Dr. Craig Riggs, Oakland Veterinary Referral Services, Bloomfield, Michigan


For additional information on this topic, please see the website of the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA):

Patella Luxations
Patellar luxations (dislocation of the knee-cap) occur frequently in dogs and rarely in cats. Patellar luxations can he grouped into two main categories. First, and most commonly, is medially luxating patellas (MLP) which are congenital (existing from birth) and commonly affect cats and smaller breed of dogs. The second type is laterally luxating patellas which are often the result of trauma and can affect any pet. Lameness occurs as the patella luxates and often resolves when it spontaneously reduces. Lameness is often intern-intermittent and animals will learn to reduce the patella themselves by extending the hip and the knee together behind them. Diagnosis is made on physical examination and may be confirmed with radiographs. Radiographs will demonstrate the patella luxation if the patella is dislocated -at the time the radiographs are taken. All animals with patellar luxation can develop some degree of arthritis.


The patella normally moves up and down in a groove in the lower femur bone called the trochlear groove. In patella luxation the groove is often shallow. This shallow groove prevents the patella from seating deeply and predisposes it to dislocation. This results in the luxation of the patella as the leg is used. The quadriceps or extensor muscles of the leg are associated with the patella. In patellar luxation, the extensor muscles are often maligned to the inside or outside of the leg, The degree of patella luxation is graded from I to IV depending on the relative ease with which the patella luxates. Grade I is the mildest and grade IV the most severe. Grade I and II patellar luxations may be completely asymptomatic and may be incidental findings is mature dogs and cats who have never been lame. Grade III and IV MLP patients are usually lame. Severe cases may develop abnormal growth of the long bones of the leg or a nonfunctional knee.

Medially Luxating Patellas
In media] patella luxation, the patella (knee-cap) dislocates to the inside of the knee. This is the most common form of patella luxation and it is often congenital and affects both knees. one knee may be more severely affected than the other. MLP generally affects smaller breeds of dogs and cats.

Laterally Luxating Patellas
Lateral patellar luxation can be congenital or the result of trauma to the knee. This condition often affects larger breeds of dogs and can cause problems similar to MLP. In some cases the patella can luxate both medially and laterally. Grading and recommendations for surgery follow the same guidelines as for MLP.

Surgical Correction
The decision to perform surgery on animals with patellar luxations is based on many factors including the degree of lameness, the grade of patellar luxation, the age of the animal, and the presence of concurrent problems with the knee.

As previously discussed, some animals with lameness. often low grade MLP, which has been present all of the animal's life, is noted on routine physical examination without any history of lameness. in these cases, surgery is not indicated. Arthritis will develop, whether or not surgery is performed. Additionally, there is no increased incidence of ligament injuries in these knees, contrary to what was previously believed. Surgery is performed to improve function of the leg, therefore, if the animal is not lame, surgery is not indicated.

Grade of patellar luxation may dictate the need for surgery. In growing animals, severe patellar luxation may result in crippling deformity of the leg. if the grade of patellar luxation is high (some II and all of fit and IV), your veterinarian will likely suggest surgery as soon as your pet can tolerate the procedure. In older animals with higher grade patellar luxations, lameness if often present and surgery should improve function of the leg.

Patellar luxation may also be found in conjunction with other injuries to the knee which require surgery, most commonly, rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament. Often the surgeon will discuss correction of the patellar luxation at the same time the other injury is repaired.

Surgical Techniques

Shallow Trochlear Groove

Excisional Trochlearplasty

Trochlear Chondroplasty

Recession Trochleoplasty

Most surgical corrections of patellar luxations consist of deepening the groove in which the patella rides, removal of redundant (excess) tissues and possibly, movement of the bone on which the patellar ligament inserts.

Deepening the groove (trochleoplasty) can be accomplished in several ways, depending on the age and size of the patient (see diagram 2). By deepening the groove, the patella is less likely to move into an abnormal position. This is usually combined with other techniques to maximize stability of the knee.

When the patella is returned to its normal position, the soft tissues around it will be loose on one side and tight on the other. The surgeon will therefore tighten the soft tissues on the one side to hold the patella in place and release or loosen the tissues on the opposite side.

The insertion of the patellar ligament on the tibia or shin bone may require repositioning. Because bone heals better than ligament, the bone is cut, with the ligament attached, and move to a more normal location. It is secured with two small pins. This is usually necessary for grade III and IV MLP.

Not all cases require use of all these techniques. Each case is individually assessed and the appropriate combination of techniques utilized. Often, the final decision is made at the time of surgery.

Postoperative Care
Following surgery, the affected leg may be placed in a soft padded bandage. This is to reduce discomfort and discourage excessive use of the leg in the early post-operative period. The usually hospitalized for one night after surgery. The bandage and sutures are removed approximately 10 to 14 days after discharge. Additional rechecks will be scheduled as needed and usually include reassessment at 4 to 6 weeks post-operatively. Most animals begin using the leg soon after bandage removal, but may not reach full function for several weeks. Physical therapy may be suggested to facilitate early use of the leg. Exercise restriction should be enforced for 10 to 12 weeks after surgery.

As previously mentioned, some arthritis is expected even after surgical correction of the patellar luxation. The arthritis generally does not result in lameness. Prognosis is favorable in cases without excessive arthritis or growth deformities. After surgery in small breeds of dogs and cats, use of the leg is often normal or close to it. The prognosis for your pet will be discussed prior to surgery.

If your pet requires surgical correction of both knees, they will generally be operated approximately 6 weeks apart. This is allow the one leg to recover from surgery and strengthen prior to performing surgery on the second side. In some cases, on small dogs and cats, both knees may be operated at the same time.

What is progressive retinal atrophy?

The cells of the retina receive light stimuli from the external environment and transmit the information to the brain where it is interpreted to become vision. In progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), deterioration of the retinal cells causes blindness.

The retina lines the back of the eye. The inner layer is the neural retina (called simply the retina) which has 9 layers, the outermost of which consists of the photoreceptor cells - the rods and cones. The outer layer of the retina is the retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE). In dogs the retina is not mature until 6 or 7 weeks of age.

The term progressive retinal atrophy covers several types of inherited degeneration (deterioration) of the retina. Sub-classifications of PRA are based on the age at which dogs show signs of the disease and the type of retinal cell which is affected.

Generalized PRA:These diseases affect primarily the photoreceptor cells. Both eyes are similarly affected and dogs eventually become totally blind.

i) Early onset photoreceptor dysplasias: In these conditions, the photoreceptor cells develop abnormally in the first few weeks after birth, and then degenerate along with the inner layers of the retina.

ii) Later onset photoreceptor degeneration (progressive rod-cone degeneration): Here the retina matures and functions apparently normally for varying periods of time before degenerating. Dogs are not usually clinically affected until 1 year of age or more, although abnormalities can be seen in the eye and on the electroretinogram (ERG) long before owners notice signs of visually impairment.

Progressive rod-cone degeneration has similarities to retinitis pigmentosa in people.

Central PRA:(also called RPE dystrophy) The abnormality is in the retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE). The photoreceptor cells will also degenerate eventually. The rate of vision loss is much slower than with generalized PRA, and not all dogs become totally blind.

How is progressive retinal atrophy inherited?

In the Siberian husky, PRA is an X-linked trait. In most breeds studied to date, PRA is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait.

What breeds are affected by progressive retinal atrophy?

Many breeds are affected by one or sometimes more than one form of PRA.

Generalized PRA - early onset: Cardigan Welsh corgi, collie (rod-cone dysplasia type II), Cairn terrier, Gordon setter, Great Dane, Irish setter (rod-cone dysplasia type I), miniature schnauzer (photoreceptor dysplasia), Norwegian elkhound (rod dysplasia, also early retinal degeneration), Tibetan terrier (progressive rod degeneration causing night blindness only)

Alaskan malamute - progressive cone degeneration causing hemeralopia (day blindness) - this condition occurs rarely.

Generalized PRA (progressive rod-cone degeneration) - later onset (usually older than 1 year): Akita, Australian cattle dog, Australian shepherd, American and English cocker spaniel, Basenji, beagle, Belgian sheepdog, Briard, Brittany spaniel, Chesapeake Bay retriever, collie (rough and smooth), dachshund, English springer spaniel, German shepherd, German short-haired pointer, golden retriever, greyhound (without typical initial night blindness), Irish setter, Labrador retriever, mastiff, Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever, old English sheepdog, papillon, pekingese, poodle (miniature and toy), Portuguese water dog, Rottweiler, samoyed, Shetland sheepdog, Shih tzu, Siberian husky, Tibetan spaniel, Tibetan terrier, Welsh springer spaniel, Yorkshire terrier

Central PRA - retinal pigment epithelial dystrophy (RPED): This disease occurs mostly in dogs in the United Kingdom, of the following breeds: border collie, Cardigan Welsh corgi, English cocker spaniel, English springer spaniel, golden retriever, Labrador retriever, rough and smooth collie, Shetland sheepdog

Retinal degeneration in the Borzoi: Unlike other forms of PRA, the eyes are affected asymmetrically and the retinal lesions appear inflammatory. Males are affected more often than females. Ultimately, the ophthalmoscopic lesions are similar to those of PRA.

For many breeds and many disorders, the studies to determine the mode of inheritance or the frequency in the breed have not been carried out, or are inconclusive. We have listed breeds for which there is a consensus among those investigating in this field and among veterinary practitioners, that the condition is significant in this breed.

What does progressive retinal atrophy mean to your dog and you?

Generalized PRA - early onset: The first sign is generally failing night vision, as early as 6 weeks of age, and this progresses to complete loss of vision by about 1 - 2 years of age. Collies may retain some vision until the age of 2 - 3 years. In miniature schnauzers, poor night vision usually develops later (6 months to a year) and there is advanced loss of vision by 3 to 4 years. Affected Alaskan malamutes are day-blind (hemeralopia) at 8 to 10 weeks of age; night vision is never affected.

Generalized PRA (progressive rod-cone degeneration) - late onset: Generally night blindness is noticed between 2 and 5 years of age (depending on the breed) progressing to total blindness within a year or so. Peripheral vision is lost first.

Central PRA (CPRA) - retinal pigment epithelial dystrophy (RPED): Loss of vision occurs much more slowly than in generalized PRA, without initial night blindness. Affected dogs may not lose vision completely. Because the changes are in the centre of the retina, affected dogs initially have trouble locating still objects in bright light.

How is progressive retinal atrophy diagnosed?

There are no obvious external changes to the eyes. You may notice that your dog has difficulty getting around when the lights are turned off, or when outside at night. If you suspect that your dog has impaired vision, your veterinarian will look for abnormalities with an ophthalmoscope. PRA may also be detected by electroretinogram (ERG) before your dog has any apparent visual difficulties. Electroretinography, which measures electrical patterns in the retina, is usually only available in specialty veterinary centres. (See CERF website listed in references below.)

Genetic testing is quickly becoming available for different forms of PRA in different breeds. The advantage of such testing is that it can identify dogs whose sight is unaffected, but who are carriers of the disorder (heterozygotes).

For the Veterinarian:

Generalized PRA

1. Ophthalmoscopic exam: retinal thinning is seen as hyper-reflectivity of the tapetal fundus, attenuation of the retinal vessels, and shrinking and pallor of the optical disc; cataracts and/or retinal detachment may occur late in the disease.

2. Electroretinogram: Generalized PRA can be detected by ERG long before it is apparent clinically.

3. DNA testing: Rod-cone dysplasia or rcd1 can be detected in Irish Setters by polymerase chain reaction. DNA testing for PRA is also available for Chesapeake Bay retrievers, Labrador retrievers and Portuguese water dogs. For more information, see resources below.


1. Ophthalmoscopic exam: initially central multiple light to dark brown spots within tapetal fundus, varying in size, shape and density, due to accumulation of lipopigment within the photoreceptor layer. You will also see hyper-reflectivity and retinal vessel attenuation as the disease progresses.

2. Electroretinogram: The ERG has not been found useful in the early diagnosis of CPRA because the photoreceptor cells are only affected later in the course of the disease.

How is progressive retinal atrophy treated?

There is no treatment for PRA. The degree of visual impairment varies with the breed and specific type of retinal degeneration as described above, but most affected dogs will ultimately be completely blind. With their acute senses of smell and hearing, dogs can compensate very well, particularly in familiar surroundings, to the point where owners may be unaware of the extent of vision loss.

You can help your dog by developing regular routes for exercise, maintaining consistent surroundings, introducing any necessary changes gradually, and being patient.



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