Coton De Tulear

Coton De Tulear: Understanding Your Fluffy Companion The Coton de Tulear is a small, captivating dog breed known for its …

Coton De Tulear: Understanding Your Fluffy Companion

The Coton de Tulear is a small, captivating dog breed known for its profuse, cotton-like coat and charming personality. Hailing from the city of Tulear, Madagascar, this breed is believed to have originated from a group of small white dogs that swam across the Malagasy channel following a shipwreck. As a non-sporting breed, Cotons were primarily bred to be friendly companion dogs.

Typically, the Coton de Tulear stands between 9 and 11 inches high and weighs anywhere from 8 to 13 pounds. Boasting a dense, abundant coat that extends to approximately 4 inches in length, the Coton’s texture is soft and akin to cotton. The breed is characterized by a strong bond with its family, a friendly demeanor towards strangers and other pets, and an ability to adapt well to varied environments.

History and Origin


The Coton de Tulear is believed to have originated from a group of small white dogs that survived a shipwreck and swam to the shores of Madagascar. These resilient canines later bred with local dogs, eventually leading to the creation of the Coton de Tulear breed.

Geographic Origins

The Coton de Tulear gets its name from the port city of Tulear in Madagascar, where it first gained recognition. Madagascar, the world’s fourth-largest island, is situated off the southeast coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. As a result of their ancestry and geographic origins, Cotons have developed unique traits and a distinctive personality, allowing them to thrive in Madagascar’s diverse climate.

Recognition by Kennel Clubs

In 1974, a breed standard was established for the Coton de Tulear. Shortly after, in 1976, Dr. Russell formed the Coton de Tulear Club of America (CTCA) to maintain the breed standard, pedigrees, stud book, history, and registrations for all Cotons in the Western Hemisphere. Today, the Coton de Tulear is considered one of the world’s rarest and most desirable dog breeds.


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Size and Weight

The Coton de Tulear is a small, charming dog breed. Males typically stand between 10 to 11 inches in height and weigh around 9 to 15 pounds. Females are slightly smaller, with heights ranging from 9 to 10 inches and weights between 8 to 13 pounds.

Coat and Colors

Cotons possess a unique, long double coat. It is characterized by its waxy texture and a cotton-like softness. The name “Coton de Tulear” is indeed derived from the French word “coton,” meaning cotton, which perfectly describes the breed’s fluffy appearance.

Their coat is predominantly white. However, it is not uncommon to find gray or yellow markings on some individuals.

Physical Features

Coton de Tulear dogs have several distinctive features that contribute to their charming appearance. They possess a prominent black nose and large, expressive eyes that are often covered by bangs. With their somewhat short legs and small stature, they are sturdy and well-balanced, providing a delightful, cuddly appearance.

Personality and Temperament


The Coton de Tulear is a charming dog breed known for its lively, playful, and sociable demeanor. These dogs tend to form strong bonds with their human family members, making them great companions for people of all ages. They are typically friendly with other dogs and pets, making them an ideal addition to households with multiple animals. However, early socialization is essential to promote their well-balanced temperament.

Intelligence and Trainability

Coton de Tulear dogs are intelligent and eager to please, making them relatively easy to train. Their wit allows them to understand commands and adapt to their owner’s routines and habits. However, some stubbornness may be observed during training sessions. Providing consistent, positive reinforcement and keeping training sessions engaging is the key to maintaining their interest and progressing their learning abilities. Engaging in mentally stimulating activities such as puzzle toys and learn tricks will appeal to their curious nature.

Energy Levels

Coton de Tulear dogs have a moderate energy level, which means they require a fairly active lifestyle to maintain their health and happiness. Daily walks, interactive playtime, and moderate exercise such as fetch sessions or short hikes will help to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. Despite their energy, they are not excessive barkers, which makes them suitable companions for apartment living as well. As adaptable dogs, the Coton de Tulear can adjust to their living environment and are capable of accommodating the schedules and activities of their human companions.

Health and Longevity

Common Health Issues

Coton de Tulear dogs are known to be generally healthy, but, like all breeds, they can be prone to certain health issues. Some of the common concerns include:

  • Hip Dysplasia: A genetic condition where the hip joint doesn’t fit properly, potentially leading to arthritis.
  • Patellar Luxation: A condition in which the kneecap slips out of place, causing pain and potentially leading to arthritis.
  • Eye issues: The breed may face some eye-related issues such as progressive retinal atrophy or cataracts.
  • Allergies: Coton de Tulears can also suffer from allergies, leading to skin irritation and itching.

Preventive Measures

Regular veterinary check-ups and proper care can help maintain the health of your Coton de Tulear. Some preventive measures include:

  • Regular exercise: Keeping your dog active can help prevent obesity and maintain joint health.
  • Proper nutrition: Feeding your Coton de Tulear a balanced diet can contribute to its overall well-being and help maintain a healthy weight.
  • Grooming: Regular grooming can help identify any skin issues or potential health concerns at an early stage. Pay particular attention to the dog’s eyes and ears.
  • Vaccinations and flea/tick prevention: Following a proper vaccination schedule and administering flea and tick preventatives can protect your dog from various diseases.

Life Expectancy

Coton de Tulear dogs have a relatively long life expectancy, ranging from 14 to 16 years. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, regular veterinary care, and preventive measures can help ensure that your Coton de Tulear lives a long and happy life.

Grooming and Maintenance

Brushing and Bathing

Grooming a Coton De Tulear requires regular brushing to prevent tangles and matting in their luxurious coat. To make brushing easier, it is advised to use a pin brush and a spray conditioner specifically designed for dogs. This will make grooming more comfortable for your dog and help maintain their coat’s health.

When it comes to bathing, Coton De Tulears should be bathed as needed, depending on their level of outdoor activity and their coat’s cleanliness. Make sure to use a mild dog shampoo to prevent skin irritation, and always towel-dry them gently before air-drying or using a dog-specific hairdryer on the lowest heat setting.

Nail and Dental Care

Nail care is essential for keeping your Coton De Tulear comfortable and preventing accidental scratches. Trim their nails regularly, approximately every 2 to 4 weeks, using nail clippers specifically designed for dogs. Regularly examine their nails for any signs of splitting or overgrowth, and consult your vet if you have concerns.

Dental care is also crucial to maintain for your Coton De Tulear’s overall health. Brush their teeth at least 2 to 3 times per week using a dog-specific toothpaste and toothbrush. Regular dental checkups with your veterinarian will help prevent and address any potential oral issues.

Ear and Eye Care

To keep your Coton De Tulear’s ears clean and healthy, check for any debris, wax buildup, or signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or unusual odor, during the weekly grooming routine. Use cotton balls or a soft cloth dampened with a pet-specific ear cleaning solution to gently clean the outer part of their ears, avoiding inserting anything into the ear canal.

Eye care is also essential to ensure your dog’s eyes remain healthy. Check for any redness, excessive tearing, or discharge regularly, and use a soft, damp cloth to clean the area around the eyes gently. If you notice any persistent issues or signs of infection, consult your veterinarian for further guidance.

Living Conditions

Indoor and Outdoor Requirements

The Coton de Tulear is a small companion dog that thrives in both indoor and outdoor living environments. They generally have a height of 9-11 inches and weigh between 8-13 pounds, making them well-suited for apartment living. These dogs enjoy spending time outdoors, but they are not exclusively outdoor pets and should not be left outside for long periods.

It is essential to create a safe and comfortable indoor space for your Coton de Tulear, as they can suffer from separation anxiety when left alone for long durations. Make sure to provide them with a cozy sleeping area, toys for mental stimulation, and opportunities for socialization with humans and other pets.

Exercise Needs

Cotons de Tulear have moderate exercise needs that can be met through daily walks and play sessions. A brisk 30-minute walk or a fun game of fetch in the yard will help keep your dog physically and mentally stimulated. Additionally, these dogs benefit from engaging in interactive play and puzzle toys that challenge their minds.

Remember that while Cotons love outdoor activities, they are also sensitive to extreme weather conditions, so it’s crucial to monitor them during excessive heat or cold and adjust exercise routines accordingly.


One of the advantages of the Coton de Tulear breed is its adaptability to a variety of living situations. They can adjust to different family dynamics, making them excellent companions for single owners, families with children, and seniors alike.

Due to their small size and moderate activity levels, they can comfortably live in both urban apartments and suburban houses. However, it is crucial to provide them with mental stimulation and socialization to prevent boredom, anxiety, and unwanted behaviors.

Finding a Coton De Tulear

Breeder Selection

When considering purchasing a Coton De Tulear puppy, it’s essential to research and select a reputable breeder. The American Kennel Club (AKC) Marketplace and the American Coton Club are valuable resources for locating breeders that emphasize breed information, education, and require mandatory health testing for breeding Cotons. Doing thorough research can help ensure that you find a healthy, well-bred puppy.

Adoption Options

If you’re interested in adopting a Coton De Tulear, there are several resources available for finding these dogs. Some organizations that help connect prospective owners with Cotons up for adoption include:

  • Petfinder
  • Adopt-a-Pet
  • American Coton Club
  • AKC Rescue Network
  • SaveaRescue
  • Petango
  • Best Friend Animal Society
  • Hearts United for Animals

Keep in mind that Cotons are a rare breed, and there may be fewer up for adoption compared to other breeds. Patience and persistence will be essential during your search.

Preparing for Your New Pet

Before bringing home your new Coton De Tulear, it is essential to prepare your home and gather all necessary supplies. This includes a comfortable bed, food and water dishes, toys, grooming tools, and a high-quality dog food tailored to their size and age. Be aware that Cotons are small dogs, with males typically measuring 10-11 inches tall and weighing 9-15 pounds, while females are slightly smaller at 9-10 inches tall and weighing 8-13 pounds.

Training and socializing your Coton De Tulear from a young age is crucial for their overall well-being. They are highly trainable and eager to please, making them a great fit for a variety of households, and they typically have a life expectancy of 15-19 years. With proper care, love, and attention, your new Coton De Tulear will become a cherished member of your family for many years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average price of a Coton de Tulear?

The average price of a Coton de Tulear pup can vary widely depending on the breeder’s location, reputation, and other factors. It is not uncommon for a Coton de Tulear puppy to cost between $2,000 and $4,000. Always choose a reputable breeder that prioritizes the health and temperament of their puppies.

What are the disadvantages of a Coton de Tulear?

Some potential disadvantages of owning a Coton de Tulear include their high grooming needs and potential for separation anxiety. They have a long, cotton-like coat that requires regular brushing to prevent mats and tangles. Furthermore, Coton de Tulears are known to be very attached to their owners and might suffer from separation anxiety when left alone for longer periods.

What are the differences between Havanese and Coton de Tulear?

While both breeds are small and have a similar appearance, there are key differences between the Havanese and Coton de Tulear. The Havanese typically has a longer and silkier coat, while the Coton de Tulear has a softer, cotton-like coat. Havanese dogs tend to be slightly more adaptable in terms of both exercise requirements and living spaces, whereas Coton de Tulears thrive with moderately active lifestyles and are known for their strong bond with their owners.

Are Coton de Tulear dogs high maintenance?

Coton de Tulear dogs can be considered moderately high maintenance, mainly due to their grooming requirements. Their coat needs to be brushed regularly to prevent matting and tangling. However, they are generally low-shedding and are often considered hypoallergenic. Apart from grooming, Coton de Tulears have moderate exercise needs and are relatively easy to train.

Which is better: Bichon Frise or Coton de Tulear?

Both Bichon Frise and Coton de Tulear dogs have their unique qualities, and what might be better for one person might not suit another. The Bichon Frise is a more energetic and outgoing breed, while the Coton de Tulear is generally calmer and more affectionate. Both breeds require similar levels of grooming, and both make excellent companions. Ultimately, the best breed for you will depend on your lifestyle, preferences, and individual needs.

Why are Coton de Tulears so expensive?

Coton de Tulears can be expensive due to their rarity and the breeders’ efforts in ensuring the health and quality of their puppies. A reputable breeder will conduct genetic tests, provide proper health care, and follow ethical breeding practices, all of which contribute to the cost of each puppy. When purchasing a Coton de Tulear, consider the lifelong investment in a healthy and well-bred companion.

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