Where Is the Coton de Tulear From?
The Coton de Tulear is thought to be a close descendant of the Bichon Tenerife, the Maltese, and an extinct breed known as the Coton de Reunion. Their ancestors were brought to Tulear (in Madagascar) from Reunion, another island in the Indian Ocean, via trading ships in the 17th century. It is believed that they bred with local dogs, eventually developing into the Coton de Tulear we know and love today.
The attractive breed caught the eye of Tulear nobles and quickly became their preferred animal companion. Nobility enjoyed their company so much that they outlawed possession of the breed by commoners to keep the blood lines pure. This method worked for centuries and the breed remained isolated in Tulear until the mid-20th century when a few dogs were legally exported to Europe.
The breed arrived on U.S. soil in 1974 by way of American biologist Robert Russell. In an effort to improve breeding stock, a male Coton de Tulear was imported from Madagascar as recently as 1999.
The Coton de Tulear remains one of the rarest dog breeds in the world.