With fine, silky fur and ears that typically form the shape of a butterfly, the Papillon is certainly a unique breed. The Papillon descended from dwarf spaniels during the Renaissance Era, and they’re still commonly referred to as Continental Toy Spaniels today. Although their long coats give them an aristocratic air, Papillons are surprisingly easy to care for compared to similar breeds. Thanks to their single coat, Papillons only shed minimally. They aren’t considered hypoallergenic, however. Because they still shed some, they don’t require full haircuts like the hypoallergenic Maltese, which makes their coat even easier to maintain than hypoallergenic breeds.
The 10 Papillon Grooming Tips
1. Use a Comb or Slicker Brush
Choosing the correct grooming tools makes all the difference. You should use a comb or slicker brush to frequently detangle your Papillon. These little dogs need a full grooming session at least once a month, but you should periodically comb them in between sessions in order to keep a tangle-free coat. Since Papillons have a delicate single coat, you should never use a deshedding tool or rake on their hair. These types of tools can severely damage their fur.
Your Papillon’s ears, hind legs, and thighs are sneaky places where mats like to form. Even though you may only fully comb through their coat monthly, keep an eye on the places where mats are more likely to form. Comb or brush these areas more often, or as needed.
3. Trimming Is Optional
Most dogs need an occasional trim around their paws and private areas in order to keep clean. Outside of those places, your Papillon doesn’t necessarily need their hair cut. It’s your choice, but their fur won’t grow completely out of control like a Poodle’s would, since it sheds. You can leave it long or trim it up to accentuate their features. You should never shave a Papillon, however, since they need their fur to regulate their body heat.
4. Keep an Eye on Their Nails
Frequent nail trims are a regular part of grooming for any breed. Walking on nails that are too long can be painful for your Papillon and lead to injuries. Just make sure to avoid cutting their nails into the quick, which is the part of the nail containing the blood vessels, and have some styptic powder on hand to stop the bleeding just in case you do hit the quick. If you don’t feel comfortable with this aspect of grooming, a professional groomer can trim your Papillon’s nails for you.
5. Brush Out Their Coat Before and After Baths
Detangling your Papillon’s coat before bathing them is a good idea to avoid painful snags in the shower. You’ll want to brush them again after the bath, to remove any tangles that may have formed before the coat is dry.
6. Bathe Them Every Month or Two
Papillons aren’t typically smelly dogs. While giving them a bath is an essential part of grooming, be careful not to overdo it since your dog needs the naturally occurring oils on their coat. Over-bathing can strip these oils, which can make their coat look dull and stringy. Using a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner like this one from Hepper can help restore the moisture to your pet’s coat.
7. Set Up Your Bathing Station Before You Begin
You should gather the tools you might need, such as a comb and nail clippers, before you start the water. This is especially true if your dog feels anxious about bath time and they need more attention once you’re in the process. Since a Papillon is a toy breed, you might find it easier to bathe them in the sink or a small bucket as opposed to the bottom of the bathtub.
8. Blow Dry Their Hair on Low
Being careful not to burn your Papillon, turn the hair dryer on low and blow dry their coat after a bath. Brushing their coat while drying their hair can give it a little extra bounce.
9. Regularly Check the Insides of Their Ears
A dog’s ears should look clean and slightly pink, and feel cool or room temperature. Red, hot, or inflamed ears can be a sign of infection. Take your dog to the vet if you suspect an ear infection so they can diagnose the cause and find the right treatment. If you see tiny brown specks that look like coffee grounds, that means your dog has ear mites. Thankfully, they are easy to treat, but require a visit to your veterinarian for medicine and a thorough cleaning.
10. Develop a Habit of Checking Their Paws and Ears Daily
A quick ear inspection can help you spot inflammation or matting before it has a chance to progress. Cleaning your dog’s paws when they come inside from a walk extends the time between baths, and lets you spot any potential problems such as overgrown nails, hair between their paw pads, or foreign objects lodged in between their pads. If you do find something stuck between your dog’s toes, you can try to get it out with a pair of tweezers or take them to the vet to be safe.
Papillons are very easy to groom since they have a low-shedding, single coat. While they don’t require haircuts aside from paw and sanitary trims, you might opt to cut their hair depending on preferences, lifestyle, and health conditions. For example, if you regularly hike in the woods with your Papillon, you may opt to keep them shorter to avoid getting snagged on brush; just be sure not to shave them completely. And speaking of brush, using a comb or slicker brush is always best to groom your Papillon’s delicate hair. Consistency is key in every part of their grooming routine. A daily check of your dog’s paws and feet can help you catch any potential injuries or matted hair before they get the chance to become a serious problem.
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