The Phalène is a beautiful small dog breed that is the drop-eared variety of the Papillon. In every other way, the Phalène is exactly like the Papillon. Fondly known as the squirrel dog, this beautiful breed has a sweet temperament and he enjoys being with people. Originally a lap dog for high-class Europeans, he is a faithful companion and a best friend to many. 


Once called the night moth, this breed was developed centuries ago in mainland western Europe and is the earliest known form of the Papillon. The breed was not as popular as the Papillon and became endangered. Breed fanciers worked to keep the Phalène from extinction. 

The Phalène was depicted in many paintings in the 16th century, the most famous being the Venus of Urbino oil painting by Titan. A nude woman lies on a bed and a red and white Phalène is curled up at the end of the bed.

Upper-class Europeans in France, Belgium and Italy primarily used this dog for companionship. 

Some believe that the Phalène is a product of conscious breeding of Spitz dogs. Today, Phalènes continue to be born in the litters of Papillon. 

The Phalène is registered as a variant of Papillon in the American Kennel Club and is considered a separate breed by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI). 

Physical Characteristics

The Phalène is similar in appearance to the Papillon with the exception of the ears. He has a small round head and ears that flop downwards, like a Spaniel. The ears are covered in long silky fur.

His eyes are dark brown and he has a slim muzzle that abruptly bulges from the skull. The tail is well plumed and is carried upright over his back. 

He has a single coat that is long, smooth and straight but is shorter on the head and legs. 

Common coat colors include:

  • White and brown
  • White and red
  • White and black
  • Tri-colour


Fully grown, this toy breed stands at 8 to 11 inches (20 to 27cm) at the shoulder and weighs less than 9 pounds (5kg).

Character & abilities

The Phalène is friendly with his family but reserved among new people. He is affectionate and makes a wonderful lap dog. He is content to wind down his day and take a nap on his owner’s lap.

Despite his personable nature, this dog can be aggressive towards other dogs and people. Proper socialization is necessary for the Phalène to get along well with other pets in the home and children. 

Alert in nature, this small pup makes a good watchdog and will alert his owners when he realizes something is amiss. The bark is usually high pitch and sounds more like yapping. 

The Phalène is tiny and can be easily injured. Care should be taken to avoid being mishandled by small children or other dogs. 

Trainability & Intelligence

This small dog breed is intelligent and loves to learn. He can be taught to perform a variety of tricks. He can easily outperform other breeds in dog sports like agility and obedience. 

It is essential to train the Phalène and not treat him like a baby. If he is allowed to badly behave, he will be a difficult dog to live with, especially when he resorts to aggression for not getting his way. 

Housetraining can take a long time. Crate training can be used to limit toilet training to a section of the house. 

Exercise Needs & Nutrition

This companion is energetic enough for an active household. He is curious and loves to play. He can burn off energy running around in the house, but he still needs a 30-minute walk every day.

The Phalène is an adorable house dog and some owners can easily succumb to giving extra treats and table food to make him happy. This can easily lead to excess weight gain which can cause joint problems, back pain, digestive disorders and heart disease. 

Meals should constitute a high-quality diet that is formulated especially for the Phalène’s life stage and level of activity. 


Despite the long coat, this dog needs minimal fur care. Regular brushing removes dead hair, dander and dirt. For a show dog, a visit to a professional groomer can keep the coat looking fabulous.

When cleaning the Phalène’s ears, be sure to check the ears for signs of infection. These include bad odor, redness or inflammation. 

Dental disease can shorten the dog’s lifespan. To avoid this disease which affects most dogs by age two, adopt a daily routine to brush the Phalène’s teeth. This will prevent the build-up of tartar and promote healthy gums. 

Living Conditions & Adaptability

Though the Phalène can be noisy, he can be calm enough to live in an apartment. He is not meant for outdoor living as he is sensitive to cold temperatures. 

Investing in dog clothing for this pooch is best during the winter season. He however can withstand heat but should always have access to clean drinking water to prevent dehydration. 

This dog craves human companionship and suffers from separation anxiety and boredom when left alone for periods. 


The Phalène is generally healthy but it might develop some health concerns within his lifetime. Some of these conditions are genetically inherited: 

  • Patella luxation 
  • Ear infections
  • Ocular disorders
  • Epilepsy
  • Liver disorder – Portosystemic Shunt
  • Cushing’s disease (Hyperadrenocorticism)
  • Addison’s disease (Hypoadrenocorticism)
  • Von Willebrand’s disease
  • Heart disease
  • Retained puppy teeth
  • Allergies 
  • Bladder or kidney stones
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Deafness
  • Follicular Dysplasia (baldness)
  • Hernia 

The lifespan of the Phalène is 13 to 15 years. 


The Phalène is full of personality and makes a charming and playful companion. Well suited for apartment living, this miniature dog is sturdy despite his delicate appearance. This outgoing lapdog is adaptable to cozy apartment living and thrives in any home where he gets the love and attention that he craves. 

Before bringing a dog home it is essential to spend time learning about the dog’s personality and characteristics. Here at All The Small Dog Breeds, we have provided detailed small dog breed descriptions to help narrow the search. Every canine pal deserves a happy home and it is every dog parent’s responsibility to make sure their breed matches with their lifestyle.  


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Energy Level

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Good with kids

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