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3 Papillon Grooming Styles – How to Groom a Papillon With Ease

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The Papillon, French for butterfly, is easily recognized by its butterfly wing-like ears. This small toy dog is generally low maintenance and easy to groom. Its fun and playful disposition, along with its long strands of hair, may cause it to get small tangles, but these are usually easy to comb out. But what exactly is involved in Papillon grooming?

The Papillon Nature


The typical Papillon is usually described by her owner as having a cheery disposition. And I would add to that description the word ‘robust’.

Owners usually find that their Papillon puppy is relatively easy to train. It should be mentioned, however, that their lively nature would be in contrast to the placid nature of many lap dog breeds. What else is similar or different?

How Does the Papillon Compare to Other Breeds

So how does the Papillon compare to other dog breeds?

Click on the graphic below to access a unique interactive app that can show you how the Papillon is related to other breeds.

Papillon Breed Comparison

We are used to seeing those distinctive butterfly-like ears standing straight up. However, we occasionally see the ears tending to point downwards in some Papillon types.

The Low Maintenance Papillon Coat Type

The Papillon’s coat is long and silky. When properly groomed, its single coat will bounce when it walks or runs.

This breed does not have an undercoat like huskies or Pomeranians, a fact that can make grooming more manageable.

Coat colors can vary but the black, brown and white combination is a readily recognized standard. Some throw more to black and white while others a reddish brown and white. You can read in detail the color standards that are required in show Papillons.

One of the biggest grooming benefits of the Papillon is that it keeps the shape of its coat just the way it is. While an owner might want to trim the coat a little shorter, groomers do not recommend shaving a Papillon because its skin is sensitive to the sun.

For most Papillons, a weekly brush and a monthly bath is all that it needs to maintain that beautiful, healthy appearance.

A YouTube Video Demonstrating Papillon Grooming

Papillon Grooming Styles

So what are the various styles that we can expect to see in the cute little Papillon?

1. The Long Haircut

This cut really shows off the Papillon coat type beautifully. The hair is allowed to flow naturally. This applies to the ears and tail area just as it does to the body.

However, the longer the style, the more in-between grooming care is needed as a rule.

2. The Shorter Cut

Note the description of this hairstyle: shorter rather than short. There is still quite a lot of hair left on the body. This means that the Pap’s hair can still have an insulating affect against any extremes in temperatures.

It is certainly easier to keep this coat length clean. And it is equally certain that this hairstyle provides a cooling affect in summer.

3. The Body Trim

With this hairstyle, you don’t see the same length of hair all over the dog. Instead, the body is trimmed shorter but the ears and face retain the longer, full coat look.

This haircut still serves to showcase the trademark butterfly-like ears of the Papillon.

Useful Tools for Papillon Grooming

Dog Brushes

When it comes to grooming a Papillon, a slicker brush (affiliate link) works great on its coat. You will need to avoid pressing down too hard with the brush to prevent scratching the dog’s skin. After brushing, a metal comb (affiliate link) can be used to remove any fine knots you may have missed with the brush.

Dog Shampoo

For bath time, use a mild shampoo. If possible, use a shampoo containing mostly natural ingredients to prevent skin irritation.

Some example here would be (affiliate links):

In between bath time, a waterless shampoo is useful for keeping the Papillon’s paws clean. The white, long fur is prone to picking up dirt when the Papillon goes outside.

Scissors for Clipping Dogs

Sharp scissors, such as professional hair cutting shears for dogs, and thinning shears will also be necessary for keeping the Papillon’s coat in shape.

Schedule for Papillon Grooming

Brushing – How Often

Papillon’s do not require as much grooming as some of the other toy dog breeds. The Papillon should be brushed about once a week to keep the coat healthy and free of tangles. Special focus should be given to the ears, tail, inside the hind legs, and the back of the thighs where tangles easily form.

During the spring, when shedding is at its worst, it may be necessary to brush the Papillon every other day to prevent shedding and tangles.

A Dog Bathing Routine

As a low-odor dog, the Papillon should be bathed anywhere from once a week to once a month, depending on the dog’s activities and lifestyle.

For a thorough cleaning, first bath the Papillon with a mild soap. Make sure to get down to the skin to remove dirt and oil buildup. If necessary, use a conditioner to hydrate the fur and prevent tangles. For the final rinse, use cool water to avoid drying out the skin, and make sure to get all of the shampoo and conditioner out to avoid irritated skin.

Towel dry and, if the Papillon does not mind, blow-dry on a warm setting.

Bath Tubs for Small Dogs (affiliate link)

Which Parts of a Papillon to Trim

Because the ears are the Papillon’s main feature, they should not be trimmed. Also, avoid trimming the hair around the face unless there are a few stragglers. All other trimmings should be kept to the feet, back of the legs, and pads.

The feet should be trimmed to a taper, with the longer strip at the toes. Trim the hair under the tail and around the anus to help keep the area clean when she needs to do her business. Hair around the genitals can also be trimmed to keep the area clean.

Stray, scraggly hairs can be trimmed, but keep the Papillon looking as natural as possible.

Thinning shears are used after a trim to give the trimmed coat a more natural appearance.

Books on Papillon Care, Grooming & Training (affiliate link)

Papillon Grooming & Breed FAQ

Perhaps the Papillon breed is less widely known than some of the other breeds. Therefore we do receive a number of questions from interested owners. Here are just 3 of those questions, mostly relating to either Papillon grooming or characteristics of the breed.

When Do Papillon Ears Stand Up?

Don’t you just love the cute floppy ears that little puppies have? Well the Papillon puppy is no exception.

The jury seems to be out on just exactly when you can expect to see those cute little ears beginning to stand up. Some experts suggest after 3 or 4 months but some have observed this happening much earlier, as soon as a few weeks. In fact, the puppy featured in the video below looks quite young, at least at the beginning of the video, and the ears are certainly standing up already.

Do Papillons Need Haircuts?

When you first look at a Papillon, you could be excused for jumping to the conclusion that this breed requires lots and lots of grooming, not to mention clipping. However, this is one dog coat that is easier to look after than you might expect.

Some people even decide just to trim the tail area, leaving the face, ears and body hair to grow naturally. Talk about low maintenance!

So ‘need’ is the operative word in this question. It is more a question of which hairstyle do you prefer. Show dogs will of course be clipped according to the breed requirements. Otherwise, he/she can be clipped according to one of the 3 Papillon grooming styles mentioned above, anywhere from Short to Long.

There is, however, no question about the need to brush on a regular basis.

What Does a Papillon Puppy Look Like?

I could show you a dozen cute photos to answer this question but to get a much better idea of their appearance, let’s look at a video. In this video you can see the changes in appearance that the Pap goes through over the course of a year.

Wow, I didn’t realise myself just how cute the Papillon puppy is. All puppies are cute, but the one in this video is super cute. And oh my, what energy he has. He certainly keeps the adult dog on guard.

If you are an owner of a new little Papillon puppy, enjoy. I know you will!!

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