Fine-boned, dainty, elegant, happy, alert, and friendly. These key words from the standard should be in the forefront as you walk into your ring to judge Papillons. These words, along with a good understanding of the fine points of the breed, will result in recognizing proper breed type—which is most important when judging this wonderful breed.
Several points can be evaluated on your first look at the dogs in a class. Step well away from the class to check for proper proportion, size, and outline. The height standard is wide at 8-11 inches at the withers, and disqualifies at 12 inches. All Papillons within the size range are to be judged equally. An 8 inch dog and an 11 inch dog should both be fine-boned in substance. Should you have any question on any exhibit being over 12 inches, please call for the wicket. The proportion should be slightly longer than tall. There is nothing dainty or elegant about a long and low or a cobby Papillon. The topline is level, with a neck that is of medium length. The tail is set high and should be well-arched over the back. The best description is that of a “teacup tail.” The outline of a Papillon is lost with a flat tail or a flag tail. The neck, tail, and topline all come together to complete the unmistakably elegant outline of the Papillon.
The large, round, well-fringed ears are the hallmark of the breed and should be evaluated carefully, both on the ground and on the table.
After the look from afar, a check down the line will help to start your evaluation on ear set, expression, and temperament. You should see an alert expression, with ears at 45 degrees on a Papillon, and ears completely down on a Phalene. The Phalene is judged by the same standard except for the ears. The large, round, well-fringed ears are the hallmark of the breed and should be evaluated carefully, both on the ground and on the table. They should never be pointed, high set or small, which are faults. You should never think of a Chihuahua, Pomeranian or a rabbit when looking at a Papillon! Papillons should never shy away from a judge or have their tail down. You will find them to be a bit naughty and extremely happy instead of being reserved. They are not statues and should not be penalized for being a bit over zealous. Papillons should be able to stand on their own and be free-baited. Hand-stacking a Papillon on the ground gives the appearance of hiding a structural fault or a temperament fault. Make it a “save the handlers’ knees” ring for Papillons!
Now, it’s time to take the class around. The standard calls for “shoulders well developed and laid back” and the rear is to be “well developed & well angulated.” The standard goes on to state that the gait should be “free, quick, easy, graceful” to further emphasize no restriction in movement. With proper construction, they should have balanced, effortless movement with reach and drive. The topline should remain level, with the tail over the back. A Papillon with fluid movement is breathtaking!
Please approach a Papillon on the table as you would any other dog, with a straightforward approach. Don’t try to slowly sneak up on them or “baby talk” to them. They are very intelligent and will wonder what you are up to. Never try to bait them yourself while they are on the table to check ear set. (You will end up having to catch them as they will think you have bait or want to play!) Ear set must be evaluated on the ground.
Above all else, our hope is that you enjoy judging the Papillon. They are delightful dogs that should make you smile as you share the ring with them.
There are important points to the exam on the table. However, always examine on the table, but judge them on the ground. Look for a small head with a 1/3 muzzle to 2/3 backskull. You should not see the look of a heavy or coarse headpiece. The standard calls for a fine and tapering muzzle. Even though those little square muzzles look “cute,” they are not correct. Look for dark, round eyes and a black nose with black pigment on all colors. Coat color has no bearing on pigment or eye color. You don’t want to see light eyes (that look like headlights) or a self-pigmented Papillon. The standard is clear that a scissors bite is required. Pointed or small ears can be hidden by grooming or fringe, so check on the table for a correct, large, round, well-fringed ear. A Phalene ear should never be lifted to erect to check the set. Go down the front legs to check for fine bone and look for hare feet. Also, check for the correct proportion of slightly longer than tall, as the frill on the chest and abundant culottes could make them look longer than they actually are. If you are questioning the length of leg, simply push the belly coat back to properly see the length of leg in proportion to length of body. Look for a medium length of neck, a level topline, and a high tail set. While on the table, the coat texture will need to be examined. The coat should be fine, silky, and straight. Too often, we see Papillons with cottony or fluffy coats. More coat does not mean better coat when it is incorrect. Papillons are parti-colored, and the absence or presence of color is not important. Ticking is allowed, as they originated from the Continental
Toy Spaniel. Eyes and ears must be covered in color. Blaze and noseband are preferred, with symmetry of facial markings desired—but not required. With two dogs of equal quality, the one with the blaze and noseband should be rewarded.