Dwarf Continental Spaniel: dog breed appearance, character, training, care, health

This is one of the canine breeds conceived almost exclusively as a luxury dog ​​and companion for the family. It comes in two varieties: the papillon and the phaléne. Its character is affectionate, sensitive and sociable. It always shows a playful and cheerful demeanor. At Petlifey, we explain the character and characteristics of the Dwarf Continental Spaniel .

Character of the Dwarf Continental Spaniel breed

The behavior of this breed is active, dynamic, cheerful and playful. But in addition, the dwarf continental spaniel has an affectionate, sociable and very sensitive character, but something jealous and insightful .

The Dwarf Continental Spaniel is a friendly and intelligent dog. A playful and passionate companion, but with personality. Much tougher and stronger than his frail appearance might suggest, it is an active and passionate pet who loves spending time outdoors and exercising.

Both the papillon and the phaléne are dogs with a playful, affectionate temperament, very proud and with great insight. They love to work and collaborate with their master in any activity or work that it undertakes.

If it is well integrated into its family nucleus and receives the love and attention it demands, in general, this dog is characterized by being a very affectionate, friendly and sympathetic animal .

However, with strangers it can be somewhat withdrawn and shy if it is not used to its presence since it is a puppy of a few weeks.

  • Energy: High. Active, dynamic and energetic, you need to exercise very often.
  • Temperament: Cheerful, playful and affectionate, he is also very sensitive, proud and somewhat jealous and insightful. Intelligent and obedient, it is easy to train.
  • Adaptability: High. His ability to acclimatize to any circumstance or change is very high, but he does not tolerate being alone, far from his master.
  • Sociability: High. He adores his family and gets along very well both with strangers and with other animals.
  • Health: Good. Some specimens suffer knee dislocation.
  • Longevity: Very high. Live more than 15 years.
  • Utility: Company. Its original function is that of a companion dog, but it is also used as a therapy animal.

Is it a good family dog?

A dog of and for people, this dog develops a close relationship with its family . He loves spending time with her and participating in each and every activity that she does. He is affectionate both with children and with the elderly.

This dog that adapts to living almost anywhere , as long as it can be close to its family, that adapts well to changing circumstances and that can go from living in one house to another with very few problems of adaptation.

Can he be left alone?

The Dwarf Continental Spaniel, in both the prick-eared and lop-eared versions, is one of the few genuinely companion breeds – that is, it was selected and developed from scratch to do such a role.

For this reason, it is not a so-called “kennel” dog, that is, it cannot be left isolated in its kennel or alone at home for endless days .

If they do, one of the most obvious consequences is the development of separation anxiety disorders, an exaggerated guardian or possessive behavior about their master, their properties and their belongings, and an obsessive barking and even some indiscriminate aggressiveness.

How does it behave with other animals?

Regarding its relationship with other dogs and even with cats and animals of other species, it may be good as long as it has also been used to it since it was a child.

It is very important, therefore, to start a good work of socializing the animal when it is still a puppy , exposing it to the widest possible variety of situations, noises, people and animals.

This will leave a mark on the development of their temperament and later facilitate their development in any place and under any circumstance.

In any case, although the Dwarf Continental Spaniel is used to living or interacting with other conspecifics, you always have to be a bit cautious when meeting other dogs.

Especially in the case of individuals that show certain dominant tendencies since, as with other small dog breeds, neither the papillon nor the phalene are aware of their true size and they may fail to measure their strengths and not them. value adequately, to the point of seeking confrontation with specimens of races much larger and stronger than themselves.

Characteristics of the Dwarf Continental Spaniel

One of the physical characteristics of the continental dwarf spaniel is its ears, which in the phaléne variety are lowered and in the papillon variety they are held upright.

It is a small luxury spaniel, with a harmonious and rectangular structure. Delicate and elegant in appearance, it is a lively animal with agile movements and a haughty gait.

What is the Dwarf Continental Spaniel physically like?


It is small and has a fine but robust structure. The body of the Dwarf Continental Spaniel is slightly longer than it is tall, as the length of the trunk exceeds the height at the withers, which is about 28 cm. Harmonious, elegant and haughty, its appearance is that of an active, energetic and lively dog.

The tail is set quite high, it is long and is covered with abundant long fringes that form a beautiful plume. When the dog is alert, it is raised to the height of the back and curved, so that the tip touches the back, but without actually curling it or laying it stretched out on the back.

It has the so-called “hare’s feet” , long and well poised. They have sinewy fingers, sturdy pads, and strong, black nails, or lighter in brown or white dogs. Fine and abundant hair appears between the toes that extends beyond the end of the foot and forms a point.


The head is well proportioned to the size of the body, it has a very pronounced stop, a short and fine snout, finished in point, and a small and very black nose.

His eyes are quite large, almond-shaped and dark , set low and very expressive and lively. They are framed by well-pigmented black eyelids.

The ears are set high on the back of the head and slightly apart, so that the slightly rounded shape of the skull is easy to appreciate. Thin and resistant, they can go down (variety phaléne) or upright (variety papillon).

In the first case, when the dog is at rest, the ears appear well above the line of the eyes, and, although drooping, they are quite mobile. Also, the presence of wavy hairs, which can be very long, gives the dog a beautiful appearance.

In the second case, the ears are well deployed and turned to the side, not up. They have fine, wavy hairs inside the cartilage and a longer coat in the form of hanging fringes at the back.


The hair of this breed does not have an undercoat, but it does have an abundant and resistant outer coat, with a fine, shiny texture and silky reflections. It is wavy and because of this it sometimes kinks a bit, but does not become curly.

On the face, the muzzle, the front part of the limbs and the lower part of the hock it is short, but on the body it is of medium length, and it lengthens even more in the area of ​​the neck, where it forms a collar and a collar. wavy that descends on the chest.

It also forms long fringes on the ears and on the back of the forelimbs. Likewise, on the back of the thighs a wide «pants» of loose strands are spread, and many times there are small strands of hair that exceed the fingers


The coat can be of any color on a white background. On the body and extremities, white predominates over color, and the head also tends to show a clearly visible white list. The lips, eyelids and especially the nose are always pigmented.

Breed standard of the Dwarf Continental Spaniel breed

  • Origin: France and Belgium.
  • Varieties: Papillon and phaléne.
  • Size and size: Small.
  • Height at the withers: 28 cm for both males and females.
  • Weight: there are two categories, that of dogs that weigh between 1.5 and 2.5 kg, and that of dogs whose weight is between 2.5 and 4.5 kg.
  • General appearance: With a rather long, harmonious and small body, its bearing is elegant and haughty.
  • Use: Companion dog.
  • Other name : Continental Toy Spaniel / Épagneul nain continental / Kontinentaler Zwergspaniel.
  • Head: It is light and well proportioned to the body.
  • Skull: Not very round.
  • Nose-frontal depression (stop) : It is quite accentuated, especially in the smaller specimens , without being abrupt.
  • Muzzle: Shorter than the skull, it is thin and pointed, with a straight nasal bridge and thin, firm and black pigmented lips.
  • Nose: It is black, small and rounded, although slightly flat on the upper part.
  • Jaws: They have quite strong teeth.
  • Eye : Rather large and broad, almond-shaped and very expressive. They have highly pigmented eyelids.
  • Ears: Fine and resistant, they are triangular and have a slightly rounded tip. On the outside they are covered with long, fine hairs that form showy hanging fringes.
  • Neck: It is of moderate length and slightly arched at the nape.
  • Body: The upper line of the body is not flat but also not arched.
  • Back: It is strong and has a slight curve.
  • Chest: It is broad and quite deep, with well sprung ribs and slightly tucked belly.
  • Tail: Set quite high, it is long and forms an abundant and beautiful tuft of hair. When the dog is alert, it is raised above the back, but not curled up.
  • Forelimbs: They are straight, firm, quite thin and parallel when viewed from the front. Shoulders: Well developed, they are attached to the trunk.
  • Forearms and arms: The arms are the same as the shoulder blades and are joined at a normal angle. They are well attached to the chest.
  • Hind limbs: They are thin and vertical.
  • Legs: They are straight, firm and thin Hocks: Normally they are bent.
  • Feet: Long and firm, they are known as “hare’s” feet. Nails are strong and can be pigmented black or light. Between the fingers there is a fine and abundant hair.
  • Movement: The step of the dwarf continental spaniel is haughty and free, with ease and elegance.
  • Hair: Fine in texture, the coat is abundant, wavy, resistant and very shiny. It is white and has spots of any color. It has long fringes on the ears and a showy collar and bib.
  • FCI classification : FCI nº 77. Group 9 – Companion dogs. Section 9 – Dwarf Continental Companion Spaniel and Small Russian Dog.

Dwarf Continental Spaniel training

There is a noisy animal, but fast and obedient, two qualities that can greatly facilitate their adies-tramiento, so that you can teach a variety of tricks .

If its owner learns to treat it properly, based more on what it really is than what it appears, this is an easy-to-train dog that can be a good choice for even the most inexperienced owners .

The biggest problem of behavior arises when its master, guided by its external appearance, that of a small breed of companion, tends to overprotect him in excess and treats them as if it were a puppy throughout its life, allowing them whims and selfish attitudes that to a dog of greater dimensions or rusticity would never be indulged.

The immediate consequence of this attitude is the high rate in the breed of cases of the so-called small dog syndrome, which translates into specimens with an altered temperament, with tendencies to excessive dominance, greater demand for attention, louder behaviour, stubbornness and even sporadic attempts at aggression by trying to occupy a position in the hierarchical pyramid that does not correspond to them.

Therefore, it is best to treat them firmly and rigorously, making it very clear from the beginning what its position is within the family nucleus and without allowing him to break the rules or laugh at his antics.

If it is well socialized, it can share its affection with other people, something that especially qualifies them for the role of therapy dog.

Another of the occupations in which the breed has stood out in recent years is as an auxiliary dog ​​for deaf people, thanks to its liveliness and the expressiveness with which it warns of any sound that is produced.

Likewise, sports obedience and even dancing with dogs can also be very good activities.

Dwarf Continental Spaniel Breed Health

The continental dwarf spaniel is quite healthy, without many diseases that can be considered genetically linked to the breed.

Despite this, as in many other small dogs, cases of knee dislocation can occur, a condition that in most cases is solved surgically.

But, in general, it can be considered very healthy and usually far exceeds the average longevity of other breeds with similar characteristics, since it is normal for them to live more than 15 years perfectly well.

As always, the best health strategy for the owner of a papillon or a phaléne is to act preventively, going regularly to the veterinarian to complete the relevant vaccination and deworming programs (internal and external) , as well as to carry out to carry out examinations of the mouth, ears, eyes, skin and hair , and to control the evolution and weight of the animal in the different stages of its life.

Feeding the Dwarf Continental Spaniel

Regarding the diet and feeding of the Dwarf Continental Spaniel, it is necessary to watch that the dog does not get too fat, since by nature it is a voracious eater.

Thus, it is recommended to provide them with a diet rich in nutrients that keep their muscles in shape and with the level of fats necessary for their skin, hair, eyes, etc.

But without an extra contribution of calories that make you fat, because obesity implies a whole series of difficulties for daily life  as well as an increase in the incidence of joint, epidermal, cardiovascular diseases and a long etcetera that must be avoided at all costs.

Caring for a Dwarf Continental Spaniel

Although it is a race with abundant and semi – long hair, it does not require large it is-thetic care. Although it is something that should not be neglected.

A couple of good brushings per week with a longsoft bristle brush, a good comb and a natural bristle brush are enough to enhance the shine of the hair and its healthy appearance.

Regarding the bathroom of the animal, it should be bathed only when it is really dirty. A specific shampoo for dogs with a suitable pH should be used.

Beautiful, friendly, affectionate and energetic, the Dwarf Continental Spaniel is not considered a rare or endangered breed, but it is also not among the most popular in the world, especially the phaléne variety.

Even so, it is one of the dogs with the greatest impact in dog shows, where it has achieved remarkable results in the most important rings in the world.

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