As a breeder for the show ring, the look of a papillon is very important to Dr Jayne McEwan of Colac Dental Practice in Victoria—but it’s their personality that won her heart. Interview: Frank Leggett
“I was 10 years old when I saw a papillon on TV and absolutely fell in love with the breed. Something about these little dogs captured my imagination. I pestered my parents for two years and finally convinced them to get me a couple of dogs. Don and Crystal were the first papillons I owned. Since then, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have papillons in my life.
“At present I own five dogs and they are carefully bred for the show ring. I’m pretty selective about finding homes for the puppies and have it all planned out in advance. There is a couple I’ve known for years and their dog recently passed away. They will get one of my puppies from the next litter. I’m also a committee member of the Papillon Club of Victoria and that is a great assistance in finding suitable homes for any puppies I have available.
“The dogs I keep to show must meet precise standards for a papillon. There is a list of characteristics that make an ideal dog. This includes the size, the coat, the size of the eye, the size of the ear, and many other different attributes. As a breeder, I am trying to breed a dog as close to the standard as possible.
“There are certain things that a show dog can’t have. Papillons can not be a liver colour or have certain markings. When they are puppies, you simply don’t know how their teeth are going to look until their second teeth come through. As a dentist, I find that very frustrating!
“During a show, we go through a process called Confirmation Showing. I walk the dog around the ring and they’re judged to a written standard. The judges are also deciding which dog has the best personality and is best at handling.
“One of my dogs is a Grand Champion. He won Best in Show and a Best of Breed at the Melbourne Royal Show in 2015. I’ve wanted to win that since I was a young girl. I just had to wait until 2015!
“Even though I initially fell in love with their appearance, they also have a fantastic personality. There is something lovely about the way they carry themselves and their zest for life. Even now, after I’ve been exposed to hundreds of breeds, papillons are still my number one. And that will never change.”