Throughout most of its history, Papillons had drop ears making their Spaniel ancestry apparent, and these dogs were named "phalène" (which means "night moth") to denote the dropped ear. Towards the end of the 19th century, however, erect eared Papillons were developed and these dogs were named for their resemblance to the wings of a butterfly. Both types can appear in the same litter, though we've read that while the Papillon variety has been more common in recent history, the Phalène is enjoying a resurgence in popularity.
The first Papillons arrived in America most probably in the last two decades of the 1800’s, and the novelist, Edith Wharton, was one of the first recorded owners of the breed. In 1915, the Papillon was officially recognized by the #AKC. World War II, however, hampered the breeding and importation of Paps, and the breed club suspended operations during those years. A few dedicated breeders maintained most of the original American lines, and finally in 1948, the breed club was reformed at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
Images of the breed as portrayed by assorted artists throughout history.