15 Papillon Colors & Markings (With Pictures)

Papillon colors and markings

Papillons are known for their striking beauty, which includes a variety of colors and markings, and are a popular breed among dog lovers. The distinct colors and markings can differ greatly between individual dogs.

The coat colors of Papillons are parti-color, which means that their fur has patches of different colors on a white base. This specific coloring is one of the characteristics that set them apart from other breeds of dogs.

In this article, we will dive deeper into the different colors and markings of a Papillon and explore what makes this breed so special.

How Many Papillon Colors Are There?

Three different colored Papillons sitting on a bench

The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes five standard colors for Papillons. These colors are white and black, white and lemon, white red, white sable, and white black and tan.

However, Papillons can also come in other colors and alterations, including parti-colors such as white and colored patches, brown, and even solid colors like black or red.

In total, there are fifteen identified Papillon coat colors and four coat markings.

Here we’ve compiled a list of all the Papillon colors for you to take a glance at each of them, starting from the five standard colors:

  • White and black
  • White and lemon
  • White and red
  • White and sable
  • White black and tan
  • Black brown and white
  • Black red and white
  • Brown and white
  • Fawn and white
  • Red
  • Red white and sable
  • Sable
  • White
  • White and liver
  • White and silver

Meanwhile, here is the list of different markings identified on a Papillon:

  • Tan
  • Black
  • Black mask
  • Sable
  • Red

It’s important to note that there can be diversity within these color categories. While some of these colors are more common than others, each Papillon is unique and can have a coat color and pattern all their own.

15 Papillon Colors

Below is a comprehensive list of all the coat colors of Papillons that you should be aware of. Additionally, there are some images included to help you visualize how Papillons look in each specific color.

1. White and Black

White and black Papillon

A white and black Papillon is one of the five colors that is recognized as a standard color by AKC.

The coat of the white and black Papillon is predominantly white, with black patches. These patches can vary in size, shape, and pattern and are usually located on the ears, head, back, and tail.

Some dogs may have large solid black patches that cover a significant portion of their body. Others may have smaller patches that are more evenly distributed throughout their coat.

2. White and Lemon

White and lemon Papillon

White and lemon Papillon is a rare variation of the Papillon breed. While white and black or white and red Papillons are more common, the white and lemon coat color is highly sought after by Papillon enthusiasts.

It is also one of the standard colors recognized by AKC. The lemon color in a white and lemon Papillon’s coat is a light, creamy shade of yellow. This color can appear more muted or more vibrant, depending on the individual dog.

3. White and Red

White and red Papillon

The white and red Papillon boasts a strikingly beautiful coat that is predominantly white, adorned with rich red or chestnut markings, and considered one of the standard colors of Papillon.

The red or chestnut color can appear on the ears, back, and tail, often in the form of spots or patches.

The intensity of red colors in Papillons can show different degrees. Some dogs may exhibit a more vivid and vibrant red coloration, while others may have a more subtle and muted tone.

4. White and Sable

White and sable Papillon

The white and sable in Papillons can range from a light to a rich, dark brown and can be found in varying shades and patterns on different dogs.

White and sable Papillons are also recognized as one of the standard colors by major kennel clubs and are highly sought after by dog lovers around the world.

5. White Black and Tan

White black and tan Papillon

White, black, and tan is the only recognized tri-color Papillon coat by the AKC.

The black and tan patches are usually well-defined and symmetrical, with the black coloration typically appearing on the ears and face and the tan color appearing on the legs and back.

In some cases, the black and tan patches may be more subtle, with the tan coloration appearing as a lighter brown or cream color.

If you want to see the five types of standard colored Papillons in action, watch this video:

5 Types of Papillon Coat Colors | Popular types of Papillon colors

6. White and Liver

White and liver Papillon

The white and liver-colored Papillon is a unique and distinctive feature that sets them apart from other breeds.

This Papillon has a striking appearance, with a white “butterfly” pattern on their face and ears and liver coloration on the rest of the body.

This coloration is caused by the D-locus gene that dilutes the black pigment in dogs, causing it to reflect the liver or brown color in the Papillon. 

The liver color can range from a pale brown to a darker, richer tone depending on the level of dilution.

7. Black Brown and White

Black brown and white Papillon

Black, brown, and white coat colors are not considered standard color variations by the AKC.

It is a tri-colored Papillon that has patches of black and brown on a predominantly white coat.

The black and brown patches should be clearly defined and not blended. The brown patches should be on the cheeks, above the eyes, and on the legs.

8. Black Red and White

Black red and white Papillon

Papillons that have black, red and white color variations have black patches that appear on the face, ears, and body.

The red patches, on the other hand, should be on the cheeks, above the eyes, and on the legs, adding a warm and vibrant tone to the coat.

The white color should still be the dominant color of the coat, with the black and red patches accenting the white areas.

9. Brown and White

Brown and white Papillon
Image credit: reina_papillon / Instagram

In a brown and white Papillon, the solid brown patches on a bright white coat create a distinct contrast that emphasizes the butterfly-like shape of the breed’s ears.

This color variation is highly sought after by Papillon enthusiasts, and breeders work diligently to produce healthy dogs with consistent and vibrant coat colors. Such is the case with a breeder colleague of mine whose attention was caught by this cute and fluffy breed during a dog show.

Since then, she has focused on breeding Papillons, with a beautiful brown and white coated one as her very first. However, as she became convinced to join conformation shows, she shifted to breeding only standard-colored ones.

10. Fawn and White

Fawn and white Papillons are characterized by a combination of fawn, a light yellowish-tan color, and white markings.

The fawn color is caused by a modification of the default black pigment called eumelanin, which is controlled by genes that result in variations of color.

The shade of the fawn can vary from a light beige to a deeper tan, depending on the amount of pigment modification.

The white markings on a fawn and white Papillon can range from just a few patches to covering a significant portion of the body.

11. Red

A solid red Papillon has a deep, rich red coat without any white markings, which may make it slightly more challenging to identify breed characteristics and may require additional care to protect against sunburn and skin irritation.

While red coat Papillons are not recognized as standard coat colors, they still possess a regal and sophisticated appearance due to their dense, solid fur.

12. Red White and Sable

Red white and sable Papillon
Image credit: call_me_tiki / Instagram

Identifying a red white and sable Papillon requires a closer examination of the coat, as it can sometimes be mistaken for a white and red Papillion or a white and sable Papillon.

The red patches can range in color from a bright, vibrant red to a deeper, darker hue, while the sable patches may appear as a mix of black and brown hairs in a reddish-brown color.

13. Sable

Sable Papillon
Image credit: molly_smalls_papillion / Instagram

Sable in dogs is where the tips of the hair are black mixed with other colors such as grey, tan, gold, or silver.

Sable Papillons have a base color that ranges from a light sandy or creamy color to a deep rich red or mahogany color. The long hair on the back is usually darker than the hair on the belly, giving the coat a shaded appearance.

The sable coat of a Papillon is not uniform in color, and it may have black tips, which create a contrasting effect against the base color. 

14. White

White Papillon

The solid white Papillon color is created by a lack of pigmentation in the hair, which results in a complete absence of any other color or pattern on the coat.

This is a result of a genetic mutation in the MITF gene. MITF gene is a regulatory gene that controls the development of melanocytes, the cells responsible for producing the pigment that gives color to the hair.

One of the potential health concerns associated with white Papillons is deafness. Studies have shown that white-colored dogs are more likely to suffer from deafness than dogs with pigmented coats.

15. White and Silver

White and silver Papillon
Image credit: mylo_2003 / Instagram

The coat of a white and silver Papillon is predominantly white with patches of silver or gray coloration on its body and ears. The white areas of the coat are typically more extensive than the silver or gray patches.

The silver coloring can range from a light, almost silvery-white shade to darker, more muted gray. The silver or gray patches are often located on the back, ears, and tail.

Papillon Markings

The markings of a Papillon refer to the distinctive coloration patterns that can appear on the dog’s coat. These colors may include black, tan, red, or sable.

Papillon coat markings are usually found on the dog’s face, ears, legs, and tail.

Here are some of the markings found on a Papillon:

Tan Markings

Papillon with tan markings
Image credit: papillon_fans / Instagram

The tan markings of a Papillon are a pale tone of brown, which contrasts sharply with the dog’s white or black base coat.

The tan markings are usually present in a few key areas on the dog’s body and are often used to highlight the dog’s most prominent features.

Black Markings

Papillon puppy with black markings

The black markings of a Papillon are a rich, deep black color. These markings are found on the ears, around the eyes on the back, and tail.

The dense, thick fur on the ears and around the eyes helps protect the Papillon from the elements, while the black fur on the back and tail provide extra warmth and insulation.

Black Mask

Papillon with black mask

The black mask is characterized by a black coloring that covers the dog’s eyes and ears, creating a striking contrast with the white fur on the rest of the face.


Papillon with sable markings
Image credit: papillon_lover_ / Instagram

Sable is a term used to describe a coat color that is characterized by black-tipped hairs on a lighter-colored base, often giving the coat a slightly shaded appearance.

Red Markings

Papillon with red markings
Image credit: papillon.dog.community / Instagram

These red markings are typically a rich reddish-brown color and can be found on several parts of the dog’s body, including the ears, face, legs, and tail.

Papillon Breed Standards & Disqualifications

The AKC breed standard for the Papillon’s coat color is mostly parti-color, which means white with patches of any other colors.

On the head, colors other than white must cover both ears, back and front, and extend without interruption from the ears over both eyes.

The nose and mouth should be black, and a white blaze and noseband are preferred over a solidly marked head.

On the other hand, one fault is if the color on the dog’s head does not cover the back and front of both ears or if it does not extend from the ears over both eyes.

However, a slight extension of the white collar onto the base of the ears or a few white hairs mixed in with the color will not be penalized if it does not ruin its butterfly appearance.

One disqualification for the breed is if it is all white, meaning it has no color patches, or if the dog has no white coat at all. This means that it cannot compete in shows or events.

Do Papillon Colors Affect Behavior and Health?

Two Papillons side by side

The color of a Papillon’s coat does not affect its behavior. But some health problems can affect the coat colors that appear in white-colored dogs. 

Dogs with little or no pigmentation on their skin are at risk of developing diseases like skin cancer, eye problems, and allergies because their skin is not protected from harmful UV radiation.

Another health issue associated with color in Papillons is dilution alopecia, a skin disorder that is more common in dogs with a dilute coat color, such as liver and silver Papillons.

Symptoms include hair loss, dry and scaly skin, and skin irritation, which can progress to bacterial skin infections. 

Treatment involves managing symptoms with topical and oral medications, fatty acid supplements, and proper nutrition and grooming.

Dilution alopecia can be prevented by avoiding breeding dogs with dilute coat color and providing regular check-ups with a veterinarian.

Do Papillon Puppies Change Colors as They Grow?

Papillon puppies can change colors as they grow and mature. It is common for many dog breeds to experience changes in their coat color and pattern as they age.

Papillon puppies are typically born with a white coat and may have patches of color that become more prominent as they grow older.

The intensity of the color can also change over time, becoming darker or lighter depending on the individual dog.

As Papillons mature, their coat color and pattern can also be affected by factors such as exposure to sunlight, nutrition, and genetics.

For example, a dog that is genetically predisposed to having a darker coat may develop a more intense color if they are exposed to a lot of sunlight.

What Color Will My Papillon Puppy Be?

Papillon in different colors standing on two feet

It’s difficult to predict the exact color of your Papillon puppy since there is a lot of variability in the breed’s coat color and pattern.

The color and pattern of a Papillon’s coat are determined by genetics, and the genes responsible for coat color and pattern can be passed down from the breed’s lineage.

If you’re getting a Papillon puppy from a reputable breeder, they may be able to give you an idea of what color your puppy is likely to be based on the color and patterns of their genetics.

In short, while it’s good to know the exact color of your Papillon puppy, you can expect to have a coat that is either parti-color or solid white with patches of any color.

Frequently Asked Questions

Cute Papillon walking on the sidewalk

What Is the Rarest Papillon Color?

The white and lemon color combination is one of the rarer Papillon coat colors. This is because the lemon coloring in Papillon is typically recessive, which means that both parents must carry the gene.

Lemon is typically more muted than other Papillon colors, which may make it more difficult to identify or appreciate.

These factors may contribute to the perception as to why the color white and lemon combination is rare.

What Is the Most Common Papillon Color?

The Papillon breed can display a range of coat colors, with some being more common than others.

These colors include white black and tan, white and sable, white and red, black brown and white, black red and white, sable, and brown and white.

While these colors may vary in frequency depending on the individual dogs and breeding population, they are all stunning in their own way and contribute to the unique and diverse appearance of the Papillon breed.

What Color Eyes Do Papillons Have?

According to the AKC’s Papillon breed standard, the eyes of a Papillon must be dark in color.

It states that the eyes should be “dark, round, and alert in expression,” with dark being defined as “as dark as possible, consistent with a bright and lively expression.”

This means that while some individual Papillons may have lighter-colored eyes, these variations are not considered desirable or typical of the breed standard.

What Coat Type Does a Papillon Have?

Papillons have a long, flowing, parti-colored coat that is silky in texture. Their coat is typically straight or slightly wavy, and it features hair on their ears, chest, legs, and tail.

The fur on their ears is particularly distinctive, as it is long and feathered, resembling the wings of a butterfly.

The Papillon’s coat is single-layered, which means they do not have an undercoat. This makes their coat more prone to shedding than other breeds. Hence, regular grooming is needed for the coat’s health and appearance.

Final Thoughts

The Papillon’s colors and markings are an integral part of its unique and charming personality. Each color and marking adds to the breed’s beauty and elegance.

Whether it’s the black and white markings, the red sable coat, or the black mask, each Papillon has a distinctive appearance that sets it apart from other breeds.

While the colors and markings of Papillons do not affect their behavior, certain coat colors can be associated with various health issues. Hence, this is something to consider when selecting their colors and markings. 

Please share your insights and personal encounters with the Papillon’s distinct colors and markings in the comments section below!

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