papillon [key], breed of toy dog whose origins are obscure but whose widespread existence in Europe is attested to as early as the 17th cent. It stands from 8 to 11 in. (20.3–27.9 cm) high at the shoulder and weighs from 5 to 11 lb (2.3–5 kg). Its long, straight, abundant coat is fine and silky and forms a fringe of longer hair on the ears, chest, back of legs, and tail. Believed to have developed from a now extinct dwarf Belgian spaniel, the papillon derives its name, which means “butterfly” in French, from the unique appearance of its obliquely set, wing-shaped ears. The papillon was very fashionable as a lapdog in the courts of Europe. Today it is raised as a companion and house pet. See dog.
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