Coton de Tulear

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coton de tulear portrait
Meet the Coton de Tulear, a fluffy bundle of joy that's guaranteed to steal your heart! This adorable dog breed is known for its cloud-like coat, lively personality, and irresistible charm. But what truly sets the Coton apart from other breeds? It's their endearing combination of intelligence, loyalty, and playfulness that makes them the perfect companion.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

Searching for a small, sociable sidekick with a dash of charm? The Coton de Tulear is your perfect match. Ideal for those who spend ample time at home, this breed thrives on companionship. They’re not only friendly towards humans but also get along well with other pets.

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMECoton de Tulear
OTHER NAMESCoton, Cotie
ORIGINMadagascar
BREED GROUPNon-Sporting Group
BREED SIZESmall
HEIGHT9-12 inches
WEIGHT8-13 lbs
LIFESPAN15-19 years
LIVING SPACESmall
SENSITIVITY TO COLD WEATHERModerate
SENSITIVITY TO WARM WEATHERModerate
GROOMING NEEDSHigh
EXERCISE NEEDSModerate
TRAINABILITYHigh
BARKING TENDENCYModerate
BITING TENDENCYLow
DROOLING TENDENCYLow
SHEDDING LEVELLow
POPULARITY RANK84th
coton de tulear playing outdoor
Photo: Bigandt_Photography/Getty Images

Appearance

The Coton de Tulear is a small yet sturdy dog breed that boasts a distinctive and charming appearance. They typically stand at a height of 9 to 12 inches at the shoulder, with males weighing between 9 and 13 pounds and females ranging from 8 to 11 pounds. Despite their petite size, Cotons possess a well-balanced and robust body, giving them an air of strength and agility.

One of the most notable features of the Coton de Tulear is their head, which is slightly rounded and covered with a profusion of soft, cotton-like hair. Their expressive, dark, round eyes are set wide apart and convey an intelligent and lively demeanor. The ears are triangular in shape, set high on the head, and hang down close to the cheeks, adorned with long, flowing hair.

The Coton’s muzzle is relatively short and tapers slightly towards the nose, with a well-defined stop. Their black or dark brown nose is prominent and adds a touch of contrast against their predominantly white coat. The breed has a scissors bite, where the upper teeth closely overlap the lower teeth.

The Coton de Tulear has a strong, level back that extends into a well-rounded, muscular rear. Their tail is another striking feature – it’s low-set, plume-like, and carried happily over the back when the dog is in motion or alert.

Undoubtedly, the Coton’s pièce de résistance is its luxurious coat. The hair is incredibly soft, fluffy, and cotton-like in texture (hence the name “Coton”), with a slight wave or curl. While the coat is predominantly white, some Cotons may have subtle touches of light grey or champagne color, particularly around the ears. This breed’s coat is considered hypoallergenic due to its minimal shedding.

The Coton de Tulear’s overall expression exudes an air of elegance and poise, coupled with a friendly and playful demeanor that is hard to resist. Their unique combination of physical characteristics sets them apart from other small breeds, making the Coton de Tulear a truly special and captivating canine companion.

coton de tulear playing with a ball in the backyard
Photo: Lunja/Getty Images

Temperament

The Coton de Tulear is a charming little companion with a personality as bright as the sun. Picture this: a furry ball of happiness, always ready to spread joy and laughter wherever they go. If this breed were a person, it would be the life of the party, the one with the infectious smile and the endless supply of positivity.

They’re like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day, radiating warmth and love to everyone they meet. The name “Coton de Tulear” translates to “Cotton of Tulear,” and indeed, their soft, fluffy white coat feels like a cloud you’d want to cuddle up with. Just looking at this little furball is enough to make you smile.

This breed is the epitome of a social butterfly, always eager to make new friends and never shying away from human interaction. Imagine a dog that loves to be the center of attention, delighting in any opportunity to show off their playful and affectionate nature. They crave companionship like humans crave their favorite dessert – an essential ingredient to their happiness.

Don’t be fooled by their small size, for the Coton de Tulear possesses a heart as big as the ocean. Their loyalty knows no bounds, forming unbreakable bonds with their human family. Like a devoted friend, they will stick by your side through thick and thin, offering unwavering support and unconditional love. Whether you’re happy or sad, this breed will be there to share in your joys and comfort you in your sorrows.

Imagine a dog that loves nothing more than being pampered like royalty. The Coton de Tulear thrives on the love and affection showered upon it by their adoring family. Like a true diva, they revel in the attention and will gladly lap up all the cuddles and belly rubs you’re willing to give.

But this breed is not all about relaxation and lounging around. The Coton de Tulear has a playful and spirited side that can light up any room. They love engaging in games and activities with their family, bringing joy and laughter to every moment.

One of the most endearing traits of the Coton de Tulear is their adaptability. Despite their small size, this breed is remarkably versatile and can thrive in various living situations. Whether it’s a bustling family home or a cozy apartment, the Coton de Tulear will make themselves right at home.

Overall, the Coton de Tulear is like a little bundle of joy, spreading love, laughter, and warmth wherever they go. Their loving and affectionate nature makes them an ideal companion for families of all sizes. With their infectious positivity and boundless loyalty, the Coton de Tulear is a true gem, shining bright in the hearts of its human family.

coton de tulear lying on a dog bed
Photo: pavelmidi/Getty Images

Ideal Environment

Physical Environment

The Coton de Tulear thrives in environments where they can enjoy the companionship of their human family and participate in daily activities.

Due to their adaptable nature, they can comfortably adjust to various living situations, making them suitable for both city apartments and suburban homes with yards. However, it’s essential to provide them with a secure, comfortable space where they can retreat when needed.

Climate Adaptability

The Coton de Tulear is adaptable to various climates but does have some specific precautions regarding temperature extremes. In cold weather, their thick, cotton-like coat provides some insulation, but they are not built for prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures. It’s essential to limit their time outdoors during winter months and provide them with appropriate clothing or blankets to keep them warm.

On the other hand, the Coton’s dense coat can make them more susceptible to overheating in hot climates. To prevent heat-related issues, ensure they always have access to fresh water and shade, avoid exercising them during the hottest parts of the day, and consider using cooling mats or vests to help regulate their body temperature.

Ideal Owner

These affectionate dogs are well-suited for pet parents who can devote time and attention to their furry companion. Cotons are known to be sensitive and prone to separation anxiety, so they may not be the best choice for individuals who are away from home for extended periods.

Families, singles, and seniors who can offer a loving, attentive environment will find the Coton de Tulear to be a delightful and loyal companion.

Other Pets

When it comes to cohabiting with other pets, the Coton de Tulear generally gets along well with other animals. They tend to be friendly towards other dogs and can even live harmoniously with cats if properly introduced and socialized. Nevertheless, it’s important to monitor your Coton’s interactions with other pets, especially smaller animals, to ensure a safe and positive experience for all.

coton de tulear running in a meadow
Photo: Andreas_Zerndl/Getty Images

Grooming

The Coton de Tulear’s luxurious, cotton-like coat requires consistent grooming to keep it looking and feeling its best. Regular grooming not only helps maintain the beauty of their coat but also promotes good hygiene and overall health.

Coat Care

One of the most significant aspects of grooming a Coton de Tulear is brushing their fur. Their long, fluffy coat is prone to tangles and mats, so it’s essential to brush them thoroughly at least two to three times per week.

For some Cotons with exceptionally thick coats, daily brushing might be necessary. Using a slicker brush or a comb with both wide and narrow teeth will help remove loose hair, prevent matting, and keep their coat in top condition. Be gentle when brushing, as the Coton’s skin can be sensitive.

Bathing your Coton de Tulear should be done every three to four weeks or as needed, depending on their level of activity and how dirty they get.

Use a gentle, hypoallergenic dog shampoo to avoid irritation and ensure their coat remains soft and fluffy. After bathing, it’s crucial to dry their coat thoroughly, as dampness can lead to skin issues. You can use a hairdryer on a low-heat setting and a pin brush to gently dry and fluff their coat.

Dental Care

Regular dental care is vital for maintaining your Coton’s oral health. Brush their teeth at least two to three times per week using a dog toothbrush and dog-specific toothpaste. Regular dental checkups and professional cleanings are also recommended to prevent dental issues such as plaque buildup, gum disease, and bad breath.

Ear Care

The Coton de Tulear’s ears should be checked weekly for any signs of redness, irritation, or infection. Gently clean the outer ear with a damp cloth or a cotton ball moistened with an ear-cleaning solution specifically designed for dogs. Avoid inserting anything into the ear canal, as this can cause injury or push debris further in.

Nail Trimming

Trimming your Coton’s nails is another essential aspect of their grooming routine. Depending on their activity level, nail trimming should be done every three to four weeks to prevent overgrowth and discomfort. Use a dog nail clipper or grinder and be cautious not to cut the quick, the blood vessel within the nail, which can be painful and cause bleeding.

Professional Grooming

Some Coton de Tulear owners opt for professional grooming services to maintain their dog’s coat and overall appearance. If you choose this route, it’s essential to find a groomer experienced with the breed and discuss your preferences regarding coat length and style.

coton de tulear sitting on green grass
Photo: SimonSkafar/Getty Images Signature

Exercise

The Coton de Tulear is a moderately active breed that requires regular exercise to maintain their physical and mental well-being. Although they are not as high-energy as some other breeds, Cotons still need daily physical activity to keep them fit, happy, and mentally stimulated.

Exercise Amount & Types

Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, which can be divided into two or more sessions. This can include leisurely walks around the neighborhood, playtime in a securely fenced yard, or indoor games like fetch or hide-and-seek.

The Coton de Tulear enjoys spending time with their family, so engaging in activities together will not only help meet their exercise needs but also strengthen the bond between you and your furry companion.

In addition to physical exercise, the Coton de Tulear also benefits from mental stimulation. Puzzle toys, treat-dispensing toys, and interactive games can challenge their minds and help prevent boredom, which can lead to unwanted behaviors.

Dog Sports

The Coton de Tulear’s intelligence and eagerness to please make them well-suited for various dog sports and competitions. They can excel in activities such as obedience, rally, agility, and even canine freestyle dancing. Participating in dog sports not only provides additional exercise but also offers an opportunity for socialization and bonding with their human family.

Exercise Precautions

When exercising your Coton de Tulear, it’s essential to consider the weather conditions. Due to their thick coat, they may be more susceptible to overheating in hot weather. On particularly warm days, schedule exercise sessions during cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening, and always provide access to fresh water and shade.

coton de tulear walking outdoor
Photo: Lunja/Getty Images

Training

Training a Coton de Tulear can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience, thanks to their intelligence, eagerness to please, and affectionate nature. These qualities make Cotons generally easy to train and responsive to positive reinforcement techniques.

Start Early

When training your Coton de Tulear, it’s essential to start early, ideally during the puppy stage. Early socialization and exposure to various environments, people, and other animals will help shape their behavior and ensure they grow up to be confident and well-adjusted dogs.

Positive Reinforcement

Cotons respond best to positive reinforcement methods, which involve rewarding good behavior with treats, praise, or playtime. This breed is sensitive and thrives on praise and affection, so harsh training methods or punishment should be avoided, as they can cause fear or anxiety and hinder the training process.

Consistency in Training

Consistency is key when training a Coton de Tulear. Establish clear rules and boundaries, and ensure all family members are on the same page when it comes to enforcing them. This will help prevent confusion and contribute to a more harmonious household.

Preventing Boredom

Due to their intelligence, the Coton de Tulear may become bored with repetitive training exercises. Keep training sessions short, engaging, and varied to maintain their interest and enthusiasm. Incorporating fun activities or tricks into your training routine can also help keep your Coton mentally stimulated and eager to learn.

Advanced Training

The Coton de Tulear’s sociable and friendly temperament makes them well-suited for participating in dog sports, such as obedience, rally, and agility. These activities can provide additional mental and physical stimulation while reinforcing the bond between you and your furry companion.

coton de tulear at an agility course
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Diet & Nutrition 

What to Feed & How Much

A well-balanced diet is crucial for maintaining the overall health and well-being of your Coton de Tulear.

When choosing a suitable food for your dog, look for high-quality dry, wet, or raw food options that adhere to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines. These guidelines ensure that the food meets the nutritional requirements necessary for your dog’s age, size, and activity level.

The amount of food your Coton de Tulear requires will vary depending on their age, weight, and activity level. Puppies typically need more frequent meals, usually three to four times a day, to support their growth and development.

As they mature, the number of daily meals can be reduced to two. It’s essential to follow the feeding recommendations provided by your veterinarian or on the dog food packaging, adjusting as needed based on your dog’s individual needs.

Treats

When it comes to treats, moderation is key. While treats can be an excellent tool for training and rewarding good behavior, they should not make up more than 10% of your Coton’s daily caloric intake, as excessive treats can lead to obesity and other health issues. Opt for healthy, low-calorie treats and avoid those with artificial additives or excessive amounts of sugar and salt.

Water

Fresh water is a vital component of your Coton de Tulear’s diet and should be available at all times. Ensure that your dog has constant access to clean, fresh water in a clean bowl. Check and refill the water bowl regularly throughout the day and clean it frequently to prevent the buildup of bacteria.

coton de tulear running and playing in the meadow
Photo: Andreas_Zerndl/Getty Images

Health

The Coton de Tulear is generally a healthy and robust breed, with a life expectancy of 15 to 19 years. However, like all breeds, they can be predisposed to certain health conditions. Responsible breeding practices and regular veterinary checkups can help detect, manage, or prevent many of these issues.

Here are common health issues associated with the Coton de Tulear:

Hip Dysplasia: This genetic condition occurs when the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to arthritis and pain over time. Hip dysplasia can be managed with weight management, medication, or surgery in severe cases. Responsible breeders should screen their dogs for hip dysplasia before breeding to reduce its prevalence in the breed.

Luxating Patella: Also known as a dislocated kneecap, luxating patella is a common issue in small dog breeds. It can cause discomfort, limping, or an abnormal gait. Treatment options depend on the severity of the condition and may include pain management, physical therapy, or surgery.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA is an inherited eye disease that causes gradual deterioration of the retina, eventually leading to blindness. There is currently no cure for PRA, but early detection and genetic testing can help identify affected dogs and prevent the condition from being passed to future generations.

Allergies: The Coton de Tulear can be prone to allergies, which may manifest as skin irritations, itching, or gastrointestinal issues. Identifying and eliminating allergens, along with appropriate medications and dietary adjustments, can help manage allergy symptoms.

Dental Issues: Like many small breeds, Cotons can be prone to dental problems such as plaque buildup, gum disease, and tooth loss. Regular dental care, including brushing, dental chews, and professional cleanings, can help maintain good oral health and prevent dental issues.

In addition to knowing these common health issues, regular veterinary checkups and a well-balanced diet, exercise, and grooming routine can help ensure your Coton de Tulear remains in optimal health throughout their life.

Always work with a reputable breeder who conducts health screenings and genetic testing to minimize the risk of inherited health conditions in your Coton puppy.

coton de tulear sitting in a garden
Photo: Lunja/Getty Images

History

The Coton de Tulear’s history can be traced back to the island of Madagascar, off the southeastern coast of Africa. The breed is believed to have originated in the port city of Tulear, which is where it gets its name.

While the breed’s exact origins are uncertain, it is thought that the Coton de Tulear descended from various small, fluffy dogs brought to Madagascar by sailors and merchants during the 16th and 17th centuries.

These early Cotons were likely a mix of various European breeds, such as the Bichon Frise, Maltese, and possibly the Barbet. Over time, they adapted to their new environment and developed into the distinct Coton de Tulear breed we know today. The breed quickly gained popularity among the Malagasy people, particularly the Merina, the ruling tribal group at the time.

The Coton de Tulear became known as the “Royal Dog of Madagascar” due to its association with the Merina nobility, who considered the breed a status symbol and often presented them as gifts to visiting dignitaries. For many years, ownership of the Coton de Tulear was restricted to the Merina nobles, which helped preserve the breed’s purity and unique characteristics.

It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that the Coton de Tulear began to gain international recognition. In the 1960s and 1970s, a few specimens were brought to France and the United States by travelers who had encountered the breed in Madagascar. These imported Cotons became the foundation for breeding programs in both countries, which aimed to preserve and promote the breed.

The Coton de Tulear’s charming appearance and delightful temperament quickly caught the attention of dog enthusiasts, and the breed’s popularity grew steadily over the following decades.

In 1976, the Coton de Tulear Club of America was established to protect and promote the breed in the United States. The American Kennel Club (AKC) first recognized the Coton de Tulear as a breed in 2014, and it now competes in the Non-Sporting Group.

In popular culture, the Coton de Tulear has made appearances in various films, television shows, and even on the laps of celebrities. Some notable Cotons include Charlie from the movie “Good Boy!” and Figaro, the beloved pet of fashion designer Valentino Garavani. The breed’s charming looks and engaging personality have made them a favorite among dog lovers worldwide.

Today, the Coton de Tulear continues to be a beloved companion breed, known for its affectionate nature, intelligence, and adaptability. Although they remain relatively rare compared to other small companion breeds, their numbers are steadily increasing as more people discover the joys of sharing their lives with a Coton de Tulear.

Parent Club

The official parent club for the Coton de Tulear in the United States is the Coton de Tulear Club of America (CTCA). Founded in 1976, the CTCA is dedicated to preserving and promoting the breed, as well as providing education and support to Coton de Tulear owners and enthusiasts.

The club’s website offers a wealth of information about the breed, including history, breed standards, and resources for finding reputable breeders.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed. 

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

Check out the Coton de Tulear’s breed standard as set by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

coton de tulear puppy
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Acquiring

Ready to embark on the delightful journey of owning a Coton de Tulear? Get yourself set with a comfy bed, high-quality food, stimulating toys, grooming essentials for their cotton-like coat, and a trusted vet.

If you’re leaning towards buying, make sure to choose a reputable breeder to ensure your fluffy friend is happy and healthy. But have you considered rescue? Many Cotons are waiting in shelters, eager to bring joy to a new home. The American Kennel Club and the United States of America Coton de Tulear Club can guide you through this life-changing process.

Whether you decide to adopt or buy, you’re not just getting a pet. You’re inviting a cheerful, loving companion into your life. With a Coton de Tulear, every day is an adventure filled with laughter, love, and endless cuddles!

FAQs

Do Coton de Tulear dogs bark a lot?

Coton de Tulear dogs are not known to be excessive barkers. However, they may bark occasionally to alert their owners of something unusual or when they’re seeking attention. Proper training and socialization can help keep barking under control.

Why are Coton de Tulear dogs so expensive?

The price of a Coton de Tulear puppy can be relatively high due to factors such as the breed’s rarity, the cost of responsible breeding practices, and the expenses associated with raising healthy, well-socialized puppies. It’s essential to work with a reputable breeder who prioritizes the health and well-being of their dogs.

Are Coton de Tulear dogs rare?

While the Coton de Tulear is less common than some other small companion breeds, their popularity has been steadily increasing in recent years. The breed’s unique characteristics and charming personality have attracted a growing number of enthusiasts worldwide.

Are Coton de Tulear dogs hypoallergenic?

While no dog breed is truly hypoallergenic, the Coton de Tulear is considered to be a low-shedding breed with a hair-like coat that produces less dander than many other breeds. This characteristic makes them a better choice for people with allergies, although individual sensitivities may vary.

How often should I groom my Coton de Tulear?

Coton de Tulear dogs require regular grooming to maintain their coat’s health and appearance. It’s recommended to brush your Coton’s coat daily to prevent matting and tangles. Regular baths, nail trims, and ear cleanings are also essential aspects of their grooming routine.

Can Coton de Tulear dogs be left alone for long periods?

Coton de Tulear dogs are known for their strong attachment to their owners and may experience separation anxiety if left alone for extended periods. It’s essential to gradually acclimate your Coton to being alone and provide mental stimulation, such as puzzle toys, to help them cope with your absence.

Are Coton de Tulear dogs good with children and other pets?

Cotons are generally friendly, gentle, and affectionate, making them suitable companions for families with children and other pets. However, it’s important to supervise interactions between young children and dogs to ensure the safety of both parties. Early socialization can also help your Coton become more comfortable around other animals.

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