Intelligent, athletic, playful, and energetic dogs that seem to be quick learners. Their tendency to bark makes them good watchdogs. Enjoy reward-based training and as such enjoy dog sports such as agility, tracking, herding, musical canine freestyle, rally and competitive obedience. They can be wary or shy around strangers and may require careful socialization to prevent or reduce defensive aggressive tendencies.
One of the oldest Toy breeds, the Papillon can be traced back almost 700 years when Marco Polo opened up a trading route between Asia and Europe, providing a path by which the small breed was transported from China to Italy. Italians brought the drop-eared variety of the breed to countries such as France and Spain, where the nobility became enamored of the tiny, personable dogs for their friendliness, trainability and light weight. The breed became most popular in French courts, where they were named Papillon (French for "butterfly"). They were frequently featured in artworks alongside their owners. Until 1923, the Papillon still predominantly consisted of the drop-eared variety, but around this time, crossbreeding with the Pomeranian resulted in an erect-eared Papillon. Because of the dominance of the trait of erect ears, breeders were successful in creating the hybrid, and the popularity of the erect-eared Papillon skyrocketed. The Papillon was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1935.