Coton de Tulear by Janice Jones |Updated 10-06-2022
The Coton de Tulear (pronounced coTAWN
day two-LEE are) is a rare and
ancient breed, originating in Madagascar.
Anyone looking for a small, white fluffy dog,
this has to be the breed for you. They
get their name from their fluffy cotton like hair and the city from which they
were thought to originate–Tulear, a port city in SW Madagascar.
Explanations for At a Glance Ratings
- Playfulness: Most=5 Less=1
- Affection: Most=5 Least=1
- Friendliness Towards Strangers: Most=5 Least=1
- Good with Children: Good=5 Not Good=1
- Good with Other Dogs: Good=5 Not Good=1
- Good for First Time Owners: Good=5 Not Good=1
- Amount of Exercise Required: Much=5 Minimal=1
- Ease of Training: Easy=5 Difficult=1
- Watch Dog Ability: Excellent=5 Poor=1
- Grooming Needs: Extensive=5 Minimal=1
- Shedding: Heavy Shedding=5 Minimal Shedding=1
- Cold Tolerance: Cold Well Tolerated=5 Poorly Tolerated=1
- Heat Tolerance: Heat Well Tolerated=5 Poorly Tolerated=1
Today Tulear is known as the port city of “Toliara”, Some describe them as a miniature Old English
Sheepdog and others think of them as cute stuffed animals.
Neither description depicts the true nature
of these puppy-like companion dogs. They
are intelligent, eager to please, easily trained and highly devoted to their
They do well with children and get along fine with other dogs and cats. In fact, they can adjust to just about any type of life style and maybe the ultimate “anti-stress dog.”
Most people think of the Coton as purely white, but they can come in three different color variations: White, White and Black, and Tri-color. The tri-color is mostly white with some champangne patches and a faint dusting of black hair. Many puppies are born with darker hair that eventually lightens.
The most prominent features of this
breed are their cottony coat, dark nose, expressive eyes, short legs and a tail
that curls over the back of the body.
Still rare in the USA, the standard for
this breed was first established in 1969 and recognized by the FCI, Fédération
Cynologique Internationale in 1971.
The First Cotons were brought to North America
in 1974. Since the early 1990s, they
have been gaining popularity in both the US and Canada.
In the US, there is some controversy and several
breed clubs have been formed each with a different standard. In 1996 the American Kennel Club recognized
the breed and placed it in their Foundation Stock Services in the Miscellaneous
This means that the Coton de Tulear can compete in AKC Companion Events
(Obedience, Rally, Tracking, and Agility). United States
of America Coton de Tulear Club is considered the official AKC parent club.
Quick Facts about the Coton de Tulear
Other Names Used“Royal
dog of Madagascar”
Toy Group, AKC: Miscellaneous
Height: 9 to 12 inches
Weight: 8 to 13 pounds
Coat Type: long, soft , dense, dry with the texture
Colors: white (sometimes with tan markings; all
white preferred by show breeders), black and white, and tricolor.
Country of Origin: Madagascar
Activity Level: Moderate
Life Expectancy: 16—19 years
Good with Children: Yes
Good with other pets:
The Coton de Tulear originated on the
island of Madagascar approximately 300 years ago. They were favorites of the Malagsy Kings and
noblemen for centuries and nobility were the only people permitted to own
The Coton was a favorite of the
Malagasy Kings and noblemen and for many years only royalty could own them.
Legend has it that the Coton’s arrival
in Madagascar coincided with a ship wreck in the proximity of Madagascar. The
name or nationality of the ship is not known, but it has been assumed that the ancestors
of the Coton breed were aboard that ship.
This infamous ship might well have been a pirate ship as Madagascar
was a haven for pirates, and pirate graveyards can still be seen there. The modern day Maltese, Bichon Frise, Havanese
as well as the Coton de Tulear is thought to have descended from these ancient
Since this breed has
very little prey drive, and is not a hunting dog, it is mostly likely been a
companion dog since its origins.
If you like fable, here is another
version of the origins of the
Coton de Tulear
Here is story from Madagascar about
Cotons who wanted to cross a river infested with crocodiles: There were a
number of large reptiles with wide open mouths waiting patiently for a feast
near a river.
Since swimming across was sheer suicide, our dogs needed a
diversion to reach the opposite bank, and that is exactly what they
did. The dogs looked first for the narrowest passage and left some of the
Then some ran to the widest part of the river and started barking
ferociously on the bank. The racket lured all the crocodiles to that spot where
they got out of the water and slowly made their way to where they heard the
Our sly dogs sprinted back to the narrowest passage, jumped in
the water and swam across!
Bred only for companionship throughout the
centuries, these dogs are alert, happy, lively and slow to anger.
Cotons are not big into barking, but they can
act as a watchdog alerting you when someone is at your door. Their sweet temperament, cute appearance and clownish
antics charm anyone who has the opportunity to own one of these dogs.
Even with their soft endearing
appearance, they are still very hardy dogs, equally happy in the snow, rain or
mud and everything in between.
They love to play, romp around the yard
and snuggle close to you whether it is on your lap or keeping your feet warm as
They are very devoted to their
family and enjoy other pets as well as children. They tend to get very attached to their
person or family.
They are comical and
will keep you entertained whether it is standing on their back legs, dancing or
walking around like this or cocking their head when spoken to. It is even said that they have a large
vocabulary of sighs, whimpers, rumbles and other canine words to help their
owners know just what they want.
They are intelligent and easy to
train. They do well in obedience, agility,
tracking and even musical freestyle.
Housebreaking is not as easy with this breed. Firm, consistent, gentle training works well
with these dogs. Early training is best
because they are likely to think they are the boss and will be harder to train
as they age.
Grooming the Coton de Tulear
The Coton’s coat is long, soft, and
dense and feels like cotton. They need a
good brushing once or twice a week to keep their coat from matting. Daily
brushing is preferable.
They do not shed, but loose hair especially when
brushed just like with human hair. They
are a low dander breed making them especially good for those with
Many puppies are born with black
or brown markings on their faces and bodies. In most cases, these markings fade
to a grey or light-brown color by about the age of two years. Occasionally,
black or brown patches remain quite dark.
For the show ring, the coat is left long
with the exception of a little trimming around the paws and the pads of the
feet. Adult dogs require a deep brushing once or twice weekly to maintain a
long coat. Some people prefer to brush
daily. These coats should be misted with
conditioner before brushing.
brushing a dry coat will cause breakage.
This is especially important during the time when the puppy’s coat transforms
into the adult coat approximately 8 to 12 months of age. At this stage, the puppy will lose their
undercoat and matting happens quickly.
Many pet owners prefer to have
their companions trimmed in a puppy cut that tends to accentuate their already
cute appearance. Coton de Tulears should be bathed
about every couple of weeks and then dried with a blow dryer while brushing. Mats can be pulled apart with your fingers or
by using the end tooth of a metal comb. The coat should not be allowed to dry
naturally as this will cause matting.
The Coton du Tulear breed is healthy,
vigorous, and long-lived with an average life expectancy of about 16 years. Compared
to some breeds, they are exceptionally healthy.
According to the Coton de Tulear Club of America, the North American population
of Cotons has no known genetic defects.
There have been some recent diseases
that have occurred in individual dogs, but whether they have a genetic
component is yet to be determined in this breed.
identified disorders include
A condition that affects young puppies neurologically, leaving
them unable to walk due to a lack of coordination of movements.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
A cause of blindness which results from the progressive
loss of tissue of the retina. It is
caused by a de-generation and loss of retinal tissue.
A dislocation of the kneecap or stifle,
causing the knee to slip in and out of the socket as the dog walks or runs.
Dysplasia both Hip and Elbow dysplasia
Hip dysplasia is a painful malformation of the hip joint. It
is caused by poor position of the hip or insufficient muscle mass. Hip dysplasia is seen in the hind legs and
elbow dysplasia would cause problems in the elbow socket of the forelegs.
- Sweet, happy temperament
- Gets along well with children and other pets
- Very low dander, non shedding—good for allergy sufferers
- Easy to train
- Adapts well to all life styles and living arrangements
- Rare breeds mean expensive pups
- Hard to housebreak
- Extensive grooming required
Further Reading & Gifts for the Coton Lover
Does This Article Deserve Your Thumbs Up?
We always appreciate your support and encouragement. Your thumbs up means so much to us. Please like this article.
If you find this page or any page on Small Dog Place Helpful, or Useful in anyway, I’d love it if you would click the small heart found on the bottom right of each page.
You can also share or bookmark this page — just click on the:
Free Monthly Newsletter
Sign Up for Our Free Newsletter and get our Free Gift to You.
my E-book, The Top 10 Mistakes People Make When Choosing a Dog (and how to avoid them)