Papillon Adoption & Rescues, Plus Quick Tips to Skip the Queue

Adopting a papillon from a shelter or rescue can be difficult, but if this breed is a good match for you, it's definitely worth the wait.

Updated January 20, 2024
running papillon dog

If you're searching for an intelligent and energetic dog to become a part of your family, consider adopting a papillon. The papillon is a small, adorable dog with a lot of personality. Papillon dogs are put up for adoption for many reasons, but mostly because their owners are not able to make a long-term commitment to their care. Check out these papillon rescues, but make sure to research more about the breed before diving into adoption. You want it to be a fur-ever match!

Should You Adopt a Papillon?

Papillon dogs, known for their distinctive butterfly-like ears and elegant demeanor, come with a unique set of physical and emotional traits that potential owners should carefully consider before bringing one into their home. In terms of grooming, their long, flowing coats require regular brushing to avoid tangles and matting, and they may need professional grooming services occasionally to maintain their striking appearance.

When it comes to house training, papillons are intelligent and can be trained relatively easily, but like many small breeds, they may require consistent and patient potty training. As for their lifestyle needs, these dogs are active and playful, thriving in environments where they can get plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.

They also form strong bonds with their owners and can be quite sensitive, making them more suited to households where they can receive ample attention and affection.

Related: Fascinating & Important Facts About Papillon Dogs

Papillon Rescues

Small dogs like the papillon are more difficult to find at shelters and rescue organizations, especially in the Northern states and urban areas. Since they make a good apartment dog, this makes them particularly difficult to find. But don't give up. 

Helpful Hack

The easiest way to find a papillon for adoption is by volunteering, agreeing to foster a dog for a papillon-specific rescue, or agreeing to foster small dogs for a local shelter. This way, you'll be first to be notified of an available papillon for adoption and be able to bring them into your home to see if they're a good fit for you both.

Papillion Haven Rescue

Papillon Dog Looking Up

Papillon Haven Rescue is a dedicated network of volunteers spread across the United States, united by the mission to protect and save both purebred and non-purebred papillon dogs. The organization places these dogs in foster homes throughout the country, ensuring they receive care and love while waiting for their forever homes.

Prospective adopters are required to complete an application process, and applicants must be over 21 years old. Additionally, the organization has a policy that homes with children under the age of six are not eligible for adoption. A crucial requirement for adoption is a fenced yard, and in cases where there are large dogs already in the home, extra consideration is given to ensure a suitable match. The adoption process also involves thorough checks, including veterinary and personal references and a home visit, to ensure the best possible placement for their rescue pups.

Papillon Pals Rescue

Papillon Pals Rescue, based in Jacksonville, Florida, focuses its adoption efforts within a 250-mile radius of the city to ensure they can effectively support their dogs and adopters. Those interested in adopting must complete an application process, which includes providing personal and veterinary references and undergoing a home visit to ensure a suitable and safe environment for the dogs.

The adoption application can be conveniently found on their website. However, for the most current information and listings of dogs available for adoption, potential adopters are encouraged to visit the group's Facebook page, where regular updates and profiles of their papillons are actively posted.

PapAdopters & Placement Service

Headquartered in Michigan, PapAdopters is a multi-state rescue group with 100% of their dogs in foster homes. A phone interview, application, veterinary and personal reference check, and home visit are required prior to adoption. You will be interviewed to determine if any papillons they have available match your specific lifestyle and preferences.

Need to Know

You are not permitted to use family members as your personal references.

Papillons and Playmates

Two Papillon dogs

Papillons and Playmates, located in Vista, California, requires the completion of an in-depth adoption application, followed by a phone interview and home visit. They do not allow rescue dogs to be placed with children under six or in homes where the dog will be left alone for long periods of time. 

This organization does not work on a first-come, first-served basis. Each individual dog must be matched to a home that is a good fit for their individual needs and personality. This helps reduce the risk of them being surrendered again in the future.

Papillon Adoption Websites

If you don't have a specific papillon rescue in close vicinity, look at national rescue websites:


This website boasts the largest database of shelters and rescues in the U.S. You can enter your zip code and your breed of choice to find papillons at shelters near you or in specific states. You can also set up new pet alerts to notify you if a papillon becomes available near you.


This adoption site will help you search for adoptable pets nationwide by entering the breed and your zip code in their search function. You can also set an alert to be emailed if a papillon is available in a shelter near you.

Rescue Me

This national website lists papillons available in shelters nationwide. You can pull up a visual map of the country and see the number of dogs in each state, along with contact information for the shelter or rescue group.

Adopt a Papillon From Local Animal Shelters

Portrait Of Dog On Field

Papillons do become available in local city and county animal shelters as well as in private rescue groups that work with all breeds of dogs. The best way to find papillons in these shelters is to inquire with them directly and let them know you are interested, if a papillon becomes available. 

You can find these groups using the Petfinder and Adopt-a-Pet websites, which list local groups based on your zip code. You can also contact your local city or county animal control office to find out about public shelters in your area.

Papillon Puppy Mill Problem

This adorable small-breed dog is very common in puppy mills, and although you're more likely to find them window shopping at the pet store in the mall, it's not a good place to bring one home from. Many of them are not in the best of health, and it's not uncommon for them to have genetic or behavioral issues due to poor breeding practices. As a result, the cost of owning one of these dogs can far exceed their already high purchase price, as they may require extensive veterinary care and treatment for their health issues.

Related: Facts & Statistics About Puppy Mills

The Benefits of Adopting Instead of Buying

Running Papillon Dog

Many private adoption organizations specialize in dog breeds, and the mission of these breed-specific groups is to educate, train, and assist in placing dogs in the homes of qualified pet owners. A papillon rescue group will be made up of experts on the papillon breed. They will understand the dogs' inborn traits and know what to look for in the mental and physical health of the animal. If you're a new papillon owner, they can be an incredible wealth of information and support. Plus, most will provide advice and problem-solving free of charge through the life of the pet you adopt.

Adopting an Adult Papillon

The majority of dogs up for adoption tend to be adults, and this comes with several benefits.

Many Have Some Training Experience

Adult dogs often come with training and may already be housebroken, which can make the transition into a new home smoother.

Lower Exercise Needs

In the case of an adult papillon, it's likely that they have moved past the highly energetic phase of their puppyhood.

You'll See Their "Real" Personalities

With adult dogs, their personalities are fully formed, giving you a clear picture of whether they are timid, noisy, shy, friendly, or playful. This can be hard to discern in puppyhood.

You'll Have Experts Available to Help

When considering adoption, you have the advantage of inquiring about the dog's health, temperament, and level of training from the adoption center, which helps you understand exactly what to expect and ensures a good match for your home and lifestyle.

What If I Can't Wait?

If you're absolutely set on bringing home a papillon as soon as possible and don't want to wait for a shelter or rescue, finding a reputable breeder is a more responsible and safer alternative, especially in comparison to the pet store puppy mill dogs. Reputable breeders conduct health screenings and genetic testing to ensure the health and well-being of their dogs, and they are often passionate about the breed, striving to maintain high breeding standards.

Related: How to Find a Reputable Dog Breeder

Is the Papillon Breed What You're Looking For?

Adopting a Papillon requires a lot of thought. It can turn out to be a wonderful experience if you understand the breed and are truly committed to providing all the care, training, and love these dogs need to become good companions. But make sure you're ready for the commitment of being a responsible pet parent, and even though it's hard to be patient, make sure you find the perfect match for your household.

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Papillon Adoption & Rescues, Plus Quick Tips to Skip the Queue