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The Phalène Temperament, Behaviors And What Owners Need to Know

The playful, affectionate Phalène temperament is suitable for families, whether they live in the country or an apartment in the city.

This Adorable “Moth-eared” dog is a member of the AKC group Toy Breeds and suitable as a tiny, engaging companion dog.

They are loyal and affectionate toward their family but maybe distrustful or even aggressive toward other dogs. Early socialization will help the Phalène learn to get along with other pets and eliminate any contentious propensities.

An energetic little friend, the Phalène enjoys an active family but can easily adapt to a quiet life in an apartment so long as he has enough attention and at least a daily walk.

Like many other toy dogs, the Phalène temperament includes a predilection toward barking, especially if left alone for too long, but because they are easily trained, barking does not have to be annoying.

History and Development

Phalène vs Papillon

If you were thinking this is a new breed, you would be entirely mistaken.

Its well-known “butterfly-eared” variety, called the Pappilon actually evolved from the much older Phalène, which is often depicted in the paintings of the Old Masters with members of royalty holding their drop-eared Papillon.

In the 16th century, the Papillon became more popular and breeders aimed at producing the prick-eared variety over the down-eared. By the 20th century, the Phalène had nearly died out. The twenty-first century has seen a revival of interest in the Phalène, whose name translates from the French to “night moth.”

This sweet-faced dog with the beautiful flowing coat can manage heat, but cold temperatures are not well-tolerated at all.

The single-coated, silky hair is mostly white with spots of other colors splashed gaily over the flashy little dog. Both the varieties have identical features except that the Pappilon has erect ears and the Phalène has floppy ears. The Phalène temperament is also identical to that of the Papillon.

Developed exclusively for royalty, the Phalène also was an excellent ratter. Doing double duty by catching rats, the little dog was carried inside the royal robes to keep the master warm.

The Phalène Temperament Makes Him An Ideal Performer


The Phalène dog has above-average intelligence, which makes him perfect for training tricks. His playful, curious personality is what keeps him alert and eager to learn new things.

Not nervous or high-strung, the Phalène loves nothing more than keeping you entertained. He’s a tiny clown with a bag full of tricks and the ability to learn just about anything you want to teach him.


The Phalène takes to doing tricks for treats like a duck takes to the water, with its little paws dangling as it “dances” to music or sits up and begs.

His temperament leans toward boredom and separation anxiety, so he’s not a dog to leave alone for long periods of time. Some people find it hard to housebreak a Phalène, yet others report how easy it was.

Early socialization is very important to curb the aggressiveness toward other dogs that can manifest later on. These little lap dogs excel at obedience and in agility, but their spotlight performance comes in doing tricks. It is very easy to train this little charmer.

He lives to learn, and his high intelligence makes it fairly easy to teach him hundreds of words and commands.

Helpful Dog Training Resource:

For help with training your Phalène dog take a look at The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan. Doggy Dan is an expert Dog Trainer based in New Zealand. His online resource contains Hundreds of Excellent Dog Training Videos that will take you step-by-step through the process of developing a healthy, happy well-behaved dog.


The Phalène was bred for one purpose: to sit daintily in a lady’s lap.

The qualities that make him perfect for that job include a happy disposition, an ability to get along with other pets, and most of all, his affection for human companionship.

Although he will choose his favorite person himself, he loves his whole family with fervor and makes a good little watchdog to alert his people to anything unusual (like someone walking by in the street). The Phalène temperament is ideal for snuggling in your lap and watching the world go by.

Activity Needs

The Phalène has regular activity needs just like any other breed. The difference is that a lot of that can be channeled into playing, which positively delights this little character. A good walk and lots of playtime with his family will be suitable.

If you are at all interested in competing or simply participating in dog sports—like agility, obedience, parkour, rally—a Phalène is the ideal choice.

Even though he’s small, he’s incredibly agile and fast, so competing is fun and the Phalène often brings home the honors. (Avoid flying disk, though, because a frisbee thrown at a dog this size could do some real damage.)

Phalènes are wonderful parkour companions. In parkour, the object is to move through the environment and interact with obstacles.

The dog climbs, balances, vaults, runs, jumps, and creatively conquers obstacles. It is non-competitive but offers titles for doing the exercises correctly. It’s also an excellent way to overcome fear in dogs.

Body Type

Phalène height and weight

The Phalène size is perfect for a lap dog. The toy dog looks like a miniature spaniel, standing from 8 to 11 inches tall at the shoulder.

His weight is an easy-to-carry 8 to 10 pounds and he has a small body with short legs.

His ears are not altered, nor is the happy, constantly wagging tail, which is carried over his back.

The Phalène adorable face has intelligent, attentive, button-eyes. With the exception of the ears, both the Papillon and the Phalène are identical. In fact, both can be born in the same litter.

Phalène colors

The single coat should be long and silky, particularly on the tail. Predominantly white, there must be colored markings on the head, face and over the eyes. Color splashes can also be anywhere else on the body, so long as it is less than half of the overall coat. The colors can be white with black, sable (red sable, lemon sable, or red sable), tri-color, or red.

Health Issues

The Phalène comes with a propensity to inherit numerous health issues, but purchasing a Phalène puppy from a reputable breeder may ameliorate most if not all of these problems.

Don’t be put off by the list of health issues that can affect the Phalène. It is highly unusual for one dog to be subject to many problems. Even so, your best bet for buying a healthy Phalène is to make sure your pup comes from a breeder with a good reputation.

An initial health check with your vet within a few days of purchase can pinpoint anything suspicious and the breeder should exchange the puppy or refund your money if there are problems.

Knee Issues

You may have seen small dogs “skipping” or hopping on one back leg. It means that the patella (kneecap) is slipping out of place. Unless symptoms are severe, your little friend might not require treatment. (When he is older, you may need to put him on arthritis medication.)

Liver Problems

The Phalène is prone to a liver disorder called portosystemic shunt (PSS). This causes some of the blood that should be circulating through the liver to go around it instead.

Bleeding Disorders

Von Willebrand’s disease is a blood clotting disorder sometimes found in Phalènes.

Heart Disease

Heart failure is a leading cause of death among older Phalènes.

Eye Problems

Phalenes may inherit genetic eye conditions, some of which may cause blindness if not treated right away

Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s)

Cushing’s Disease usually develops slowly, and the early signs are easily missed. Regular veterinary care will notice the symptoms early and set up a simple regimen of medication.

Hypoadrenocorticism (Addison’s)

Addison’s Disease is kind of the opposite of Cushing’s Disease, and it occurs more frequently in Phalènes than in other dogs. It causes an imbalance in hormones in the affected dog.

Retained Puppy Teeth

Infection or damage to the adult teeth may develop when they come in while puppy teeth are extant. Retained teeth are common in small breeds like Phalènes.


Dry, itchy skin is to the Phalène dog what sneezing and itchy eyes are to the human. The Phalène is genetically predisposed to allergies, but they are easily treated.

Bladder or Kidney Stones

Phalènes are prone to developing bladder or kidney stones more than other dog breeds. Stones are painful and may make it difficult or impossible to urinate.

Thyroid Problems

Phalènes can have thyroid problems where the body does not produce enough thyroid hormone. A simple pill can correct this.


Some Phalène bloodlines seem to have more deafness than the general population of dogs.

Pattern Baldness

Follicular Dysplasia is a heritable condition. The fur on your Phalène’s neck or rear legs can become weakened, easily broken, or fall out. There is no treatment for this condition.


Phalènes are often born with an inguinal hernia or may develop one later. If the intestine that pokes through the wall becomes trapped, emergency surgery is required.

Note: Don't let the many issues above scare you. The best way to approach health problems is to prevent them in the first place. The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health is a great place to start. Get a copy to keep at home. It will help you prevent the painful health issues that can plague your lovely Canaan pet from expressing his winning personality and maximizing his life expentancy.

How to groom a Phalène

Grooming a Phalène is not much of a chore.

The long, silky hair requires brushing once or twice a week to distribute the natural skin oils.

This toy lapdog doesn’t have that “doggy odor,” so baths can be relatively rare.

The most important aspect of Phalène grooming is paying attention to the ears. Since the ears hang down, it is easy to develop an infection.

f you smell a foul odor near his ears, chances are they just need to be cleaned. If you see pus, definitely get him to a vet.

Finding a Phalène puppy

Phalène puppies are happy, alert, friendly and very active. They are an adorable ball of fluff that will capture your heart.

Most Phalène breeders will be found under Pappilon breeders, as the Phalène is a Pappilon with droopy ears.

Phalènes and Pappilons can both be born in a single litter. You may also find breeders listed under Continental Toy Spaniel breeders. Try searching for Phalène for sale on the internet.

As you search for Phalène puppies for sale, remember to ask the breeder for proof that the parents don’t carry the genes for inheritable health problems.

If you simply cannot find a breeder near you, try finding a Pappilon or Phalène rescue organization.

Becoming a foster home for a rescue organization can allow you to live with a dog for a while and see if the Phalène temperament is truly for you.

If you are amenable to a Phalène mix, try searching for Phalène for adoption or Pappilon for adoption.

The price of a purebred, registered Phalène is about $300 – $500, much less than other lapdogs cost. Since their lifespan is 13-15 years, it really doesn’t cost much, relatively speaking.


This energetic, engaging streak of silk is impossible not to love.

The Phalène, from puppyhood all the way to retirement, is a force for good in all he does.

He is quick and amazingly smart, so give him plenty of exercise so he doesn’t make up his own games that could involve things you’d rather he didn’t play with.

Whether you’re a novice dog owner or have never spent a day without a dog at your heels, this breed is just right.

He wants to be the boss but once he knows that you actually are, he is so easy to live with you’ll wonder why you waited so long to get one. Or maybe two?

If a cat or other dog shares your domain, the Phalène will make him part of the inner circle of joy, and small children are as delightful to the miniature spaniel as anyone else. (Be sure to teach your children to handle him gently, because he is, after all, quite small!)

Wherever you go throughout your home, you’ll have a silky shadow that thinks the mere act of walking from one room to another with you is a reason for celebration.

And celebrate he does! Joie de vivre is his mark in trade as he continually entertains you with his exquisite expression that always seems to be hiding a joke. In fact, if you want to sum it up, the Phalène goes through life with his tongue in cheek!