Alongside their unusually large ears from which they derive their name (the word papillon being French for butterfly), the most visually appealing quality of the Papillon is almost inarguably their general, all around fluffiness. Maintaining this fluffiness is requisite in preserving the breed's reputation as amongst the most cuddly, demands keeping their hair clean, brushed and evenly trimmed.
The breed is a favorite of many show trainers and a quick search on the internet or a look through a magazine on the breed will provide so many conflicting philosophies on exactly what the dog should look like that the reader's head will have no choice but to spontaneously combust for overflow of contradictive information. In order to prevent this potential danger, the following will attempt to boil all the available information down to just the important tasks in regards to grooming the Papillon, leaving all of the little details and inconsequential aesthetic choices up to the personal taste of the owner and their Papillon.
What a Papillon lover will find almost invariably recommended is a regular bathing and brushing schedule of no less than twice a week. To check whether a Papillon is getting the right amount of regular grooming, the owner is to run their hand against the fur. If the hair goes right back down, then the coat is considered healthy. If it just kind of stands on end, then it is considered to be lacking its natural bounce and another bath and brush or two each week is recommended.
Every month or month and a half, a more thorough grooming session is in order. This includes clipping the dog's nails so they don't go clicking against the kitchen floor and scratching visitors, as well as a trim of the hair to preserve the dog's appearance and prevent the coat from becoming unmanageable or easily tangled and matted.
It should go without saying, of course, that a person could search the world over and not find a single Papillon trainer or show judge who approves of clipping the breed's ears. Besides being very harmful to the dog's natural hearing ability, the dog's visual presence depends rather heavily on these ears to set it apart from other breeds and give it an air of dignity and the appearance alertness.
In show, judges are expected to be especially demanding in regards to the color of the dog. Just a brief list of what they will penalize heavily would read something like this: the ears being covered by any color besides white, any slight asymmetrical extension of the white color onto the base of the ears, an all white coat or a coat with no white or asymmetrical white spots on the 'butterfly' area of the dog (that being the ears to the shoulders). As the judges are so demanding of this breed, they are certainly not recommended for a first time show groomer.
However, disregarding what a demanding show judge will want of the dog, a house pet Papillon will require little more than the above mentioned regular bathing and brushing. The breed is not unusually prone to ticks or skin conditions or anything of the sort, so common sense and regular maintenance should keep the dog in peak, loveable condition.