How to Groom a Papillon: The Essential Guide

The following article discusses how to groom a papillon while keeping its fur, oral health, and ear hygiene in fantastic condition. While grooming a dog can be an intimidating task, if you have the necessary tools in terms of expertise and the equipment you’ll need, grooming a dog can be not only relatively simple but also an excellent way to bond with your dog. 

What is a Papillon breed?

The Papillon breed of dog is, more or less, a toy dog breed. It is also often referred to as the dwarf spaniel because of its size. The name ‘Papillon’ is an adaptation of the word ‘butterfly’ in the French language. This is a literal reference to the dog breed’s ear structure, similar to those of butterfly wings – erect and fringed.

how to groom a Papillon dog

Now, the thing is, the Papillon dog breed was created as a lap dog for royalty, i.e., kings, queens, and their families. But the behavior of the Papillon breed today does not seem ideal for those who want a quiet lapdog, as we will see further on in the article. 

Before we get into the meat of this essay, it should be noted that there appears to be a widespread misperception that the Papillon breed and the cocker spaniel breed are identical.

This is neither wholly true nor entirely untrue, but it is a compromise between the two. Both of these dog breeds were developed to be spaniels, which means they are tiny, energetic, and utterly loyal to their owners. However, it is the extent of their interaction with one another.

How to groom a Papillon

Here are the must-know grooming details to keep your Papillon puppy or adult dog clean and tidy.

The Papillon’s Fur

First, and most importantly, understanding a Papillon’s coat and its requirements is critical. The Papillon has a medium-length fur coat that is incredibly smooth and straight. The lack of an undercoat, which makes grooming a Papillon pet dog much more accessible, is the advantage a pet parent would notice when grooming his Papillon pet dog. 

A Papillon’s most distinguishing trait is its ears. As you may know, the breed’s name is a direct reference to a butterfly’s opened wings. The explanation behind this is as follows: Their erect ears are wrapped in straight frills of hair that curve downwards, resembling butterfly wings.

The dog’s chest is covered with thick, lush fur, with puffed-out fur on the extremities. Papillons have silky smooth and long straight hair covering their upper neck and back.

Veterinary professionals always state that the more bouncy a Papillon’s fur coat is, the more attention it receives in terms of health and grooming. Instead of having monochrome fur, the Papillon breed is generally covered in patches of color.

Maintaining the Papillon’s Fur

Because the Papillon dog breed does not have an undercoat, your job as a pet parent is already made much more manageable. To top it off, grooming the breed’s fur coat takes very little time and effort.

Papillon playing with toys

It would be best to simply brush him two to three times a week because he is a small dog with soft and silky hair. Even though its fur is not prone to matting, brushing it now and then keeps it clean and free of dirt and natural oils.

Bathing the Papillon Dog

The next obvious question is that of bathing the dog. Typically speaking, the Papillon dog breed is not a dog that gives out much odor. So bathing is rarely ever an urgency. Washing the Papillon every few weeks or once a month should be enough to keep its fur neat and clean.

Having said that, what kind of shampoo should you use for your hair? The 2-word mantra for a Papillon dog breed – go natural. Your Papillon is better off with very mild shampoos that are comprised of primarily natural ingredients.

Since their fur is silky and delicate, gentle and natural shampoos will do a great job cleaning the skin and fur while also nourishing it. You can follow the bath with a leave-in conditioner if you want, but again, it should be natural and mild. 

Drying the dog

Avoid blow-drying your Papillon’s fur coat. This dries out the skin and could lead to dehydrated fur, itchiness, and so on. Instead, you could dry it with a towel and then let nature do the rest of the job. Be sure to brush the fur coat when it’s still a little moist. This will allow you to get rid of any knots in the fur coat. 

Brushing Papillon

The ideal way to brush your Papillon’s fur is a simple process. Always begin brushing by lightly spraying your dog’s coat with a small amount of water or detangling conditioner to reduce hair breakage.

A pin-style brush is ideal for the Papillon because it is designed to reach the skin, which is where the majority of waste collects. Other grooming tools can be useful as well. Although slicker brushes are too abrasive for this breed’s delicate ears, you should have a soft-bristled brush on hand.

After you’ve finished with the brush, you might want to go over mat-prone areas with a fine-toothed comb. These include the culottes or the puffy fur on its legs, behind the Papillon’s ears, and inside the back legs.

If at all your dog is prone to knotting up of fur, you could simply use the line brushing method in which you brush sections of the dog’s fur part by part. Brush a little layer of hair upwards from your dog’s paw.

This will reveal a line of skin and mark a small area of fur. Brush this region thoroughly, starting from the top and working your way down. Brush one portion of your dog’s fur at a time, moving upwards until you’ve completed the entire leg.

A point to remember, however, is that brushing against your dog’s hair growth can cause your Papillon’s fur to puff up, which is not what you want for this breed. If you come across a small bit of matted or tangled hair, rather than tugging at it with the brush, use your fingers to separate the fur, bit by bit gradually.

Using cornstarch on small knots can be particularly useful in loosening the fur up, but for larger knots, you’d be better of with a matt splitting brush. 

How Do You Maintain its Nails and Oral Health?

Being a small dog, the Papillon has tiny nails. Therefore, you won’t need to trim nails very frequently. However, when you need to, you will need scissor-shaped clippers and anti-septic with you. Carefully clip off the overgrown portion of the nail one by one.

The anti-septic should be used just in case you cut too deep into the length of the nail and it starts bleeding. Dogs often experience discomfort with no alarming symptoms, but if your pet is suffering, you should immediately visit your primary veterinarian care provider.

Oral health is a relatively important aspect of your Papillon dog’s health. This breed is susceptible to severe dental problems, such as cavities, which can potentially turn into infections. Every once in a while, use veterinary toothpaste to clean your dog’s teeth. The easiest way to do so is to use your finger as a brush, squeeze a pea-sized amount onto it, and manually brush your dog’s teeth. 

Do You Need to Trim Your Papillon’s Fur Coat?

The Papillon does not really need its fur to be trimmed since its growth is quite neat and limited. However, if you wish to be enrolling your Pap for dog shows, you will probably have to trim some of its fur for purely aesthetic purposes. The way to trim your Pap’s fur is quite simple and can even be done at home. Mainly, you will have to trim its paws, tail, and buttocks.

Once you have dried and conditioned your pet’s hair, comb it out and use scissors to trim the hair around its paws. When finished, it should look tapered, with more hair toward the center than at the sides.

For the tail, you want to restrict yourself to cutting only stray ends and giving it a shape. It is best to trim fur in the direction of the hair development, not against it when it comes to the buttock area. In this area, the hair should be at least half an inch long.

If you own a Blue Heeler and would like to know more about its characteristics do check out this article.


A Papillon is a highly loving companion dog that is owing to its small size and easily maintainable hair, is an extremely convenient pet dog to have. Following these suggestions will ensure that your Papillon’s fur remains its most attractive! Be sure to consult your vet before trying new products such as shampoos and conditioners. For Papillon ears, it’s best to let your veterinarian perform the cleaning, as they require a gentle touch. And that’s about it! The following grooming session for your Papillon is bound to be as delightful for you as it is for you!

About the author

I'm Gulshan, a passionate pet enthusiast. Dive into my world where I share tips, stories, and snapshots of my animal adventures. Here, pets are more than just animals; they're heartbeats that enrich our lives. Join our journey!thing.