The Papillon is certainly one of the oldest dog breeds and has a recorded history in Europe that dates back nearly 700 years. In that time, this terrific little dog has been known by many names.
Because the artist, Titian, painted a number of these tiny spaniels, the dogs colloquially were known as “Titian Spaniels,” but were also referred to as the “Squirrel Spaniel” because of the tail’s long fringing tail and its carriage over the back. Other names included “Continental Toy Spaniel,” “dwarf spaniel,” “Epagneul Nain Continental,” and the drop ear type, the Phalène.
Toward the end of the 19th Century, the erect ear carriage with its butterfly appearance became highly fashionable. It caught the public fancy and the new term, “Papillon,” quickly became the name for the entire breed (from the Papillon Club of America).