Named for its cottony-soft coat as well as the city of its origin (Tulear, Madagascar), the Coton de Tulear is the island’s national dog. The breed is closely related to other small dog breeds like the Maltese and Bichon Frise. The Coton de Tulear referred to as a “Coton”.
History and Origin of the Coton de Tulear
The Coton de Tulear has a colorful history, complete with pirates, shipwrecks, and royalty. It is commonly thought that the Coton de Tulear’s forebears were brought to Madagascar via ships in the 16th or 17th centuries, but their function aboard those vessels varies from being used as ratters, to being companions of ladies traveling by sea, or being taken from other ships by pirates as “booty.” Some even speculate that the Cotons were the only survivors of a shipwreck, washed upon the Madagascar shores. Many stories of the Coton’s island adventures – such as hunting alligators or wild boar, or running feral on the island – are untrue, but nonetheless add to the Coton’s enchanting history.
It is said that the Coton de Tulear quickly became a popular pet of royals and distinguished nobles. Much later, in the 1970s, a Frenchman brought the Coton back to France to establish the breed; the Coton came to North American soon after. The American Kennel Club (AKC) currently registers the Coton de Tulear as Foundation Stock Service.
Appearance and Size of the Coton de Tulear
The Coton de Tulear is approximately 9 to 11 inches in height and weighs approximately 8 to 13 pounds. Although the most preferable breed standard coat color is white (which may include tan markings), the Coton may also be tri-color or black and white.
The Coton possesses a “fade” gene that causes the hair to lighten at the roots as it grows, fading the originally darker colors. The Coton, like the poodle, has hair, not fur. They do not shed, although they can lose a few hairs here and there. The breed possesses large, dark eyes (usually covered by bangs) and a black nose.
Personality of the Coton de Tulear
The Coton de Tulear is an intelligent, friendly, playful, loving, and easygoing companion. A boisterous playmate, the Coton often shows a desire for evening games such as fetch or tug of war. The Coton adapts easily to routines and craves socialization with his humans.
Cotons are known for their unique vocalizations and enjoy “talking” to their human family members. They do not have excessive exercise requirements and are completely content to do nothing but spend the day in the company of their humans.
Home and Family Relations with the Coton de Tulear
The affectionate and playful nature of the Coton makes him an ideal family member. The Coton de Tulear is good with children and other household pets, and enjoys being a part of a family. Generally, they travel well. When well-socialized, there is hardly anyone (stranger or not) the Coton doesn’t like.
Training of the Coton de Tulear
The Coton de Tulear is generally easy to train, as they are willing to learn and please. Positive reinforcement during short and frequent training sessions is recommended.
Grooming of the Coton de Tulear
Daily brushing of the breed’s cottony coat is recommended to reduce the chance of matting. Dirt typically falls out easily with regular brushing and baths approximately once every week or two will help keep the Coton’s hair soft and easy to manage.
Special Care of the Coton de Tulear
Due to the risk of hair matting (thus requiring a shave), it is important to brush the Coton’s coat daily. Also, some say the Coton can be more of a challenge to housetrain; however, a regular schedule, use of crate training, and frequent potty breaks can help him learn quickly.
Common Diseases and Disorders of the Coton de Tulear
Although the Coton de Tulear is a generally healthy breed, the following conditions have been observed:
- Hip dysplasia
- Luxating patellas
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (a progressive hereditary disease that causes degeneration of sight, leading to possible blindness)
Life Span of the Coton de Tulear
The life span of the Coton de Tulear is approximately 14 to19