If you were to take just a glance at a dog of the Papillon persuasion, their delicate features, the large, butterfly shaped ears, the fluffy coat, and the large eyes, you might assume that the Papillon is something of a dainty breed of dog. While this is certainly understandable, nothing could be further from the truth. The appearance may suggest a dog afraid of getting their paws dirty or putting much effort into anything, but nothing could be further from the truth. As anyone might expect, the breed are amongst the most intelligent and agile, but some people might be surprised to find the Papillon to also be incredibly resilient, confident, relatively strong and, should the occasion call for such an attitude, willful and stubborn in dealing with larger dogs.
These traits contribute to the dog being amongst the most capable and versatile amongst toy breeds. In recent years, the Papillon have become amongst the most popular breed for games pitting dogs against one another to determine which has the best agility. These games usually consist of obstacle courses laden with treacherous traps and hurdles, including the A frame (those triangular hills made of wood and carpet which dogs are expected to climb over), tunnels, jumps and narrow bridges. The Papillon participating in such an event will be expected to run through the course at top speed with minimal mistakes or missteps and with no assistance from the owner beyond a few commands. While toy breeds tend to have lower top speeds than larger dogs, it's the Papillon's tiny turning radius that grants them that edge over larger breeds. No slouch in the speed department, either, some Papillons have been shown to run these courses faster than even the Border Collie.
The Papillon have also been shown to, perhaps less surprisingly, win in contests evaluating a dog's value as a companion animal. Some breeders consider these Companionship Sweepstakes less relevant than other dog shows, but the plus side is that, thanks to their being less likely to attract full time professionals and elitists, a Papillon can attend one of these without worrying about an overly competitive crowd.
Prior to these games of skill, the breed have also been employed as able hunting dogs. Historically, the breed has been scavengers and this has made them a natural fit for the retrieval of small game. Their thick coat makes the breed as resilient as any to harsher weather a hunting party might encounter in the field, their speed and maneuverability make retrieval a simple task, their intelligence make them relatively easy to train and, above all, their attitude towards humans makes them an ideal partner out in the lonely woods when a hunter is spending days on end waiting and searching for prey.