Coton de Tulear

AKC Group: Non-sporting

The Coton de Tulear originates from the port of Tulear in Madagascar. Known as the “Royal Dog of Madagascar,” these small dogs resemble the Maltese breed, though they descended from mutts left behind after a shipwreck and native African dogs. The Coton de Tulear is a rare breed that is slowly gaining popularity and attention worldwide.

Size: 10 to 12 inches tall; 8 to 15 pounds

Color: Solid white; white and black; tricolor (white, gray and light brown or white, light lemon and black). Most dogs fade to solid white by age two regardless of their original coloring.

Life span: 15 to 18 years

Health problems: As a rare breed (and a breed that survived by natural selection), the Coton de Tulear breed doesn’t often have many health issues because all the purebred lines are closely monitored.

The Coton de Tulear are small, soft, fluffy-coated dogs. The breed has a round skull covered with cottony hair framing dark facial features. The muzzle is short and tapered. The ears are moderate in length and drop or fold over. Fringing makes them appear longer and fuller than they really are. They have a noticeable beard and mustache. As Coton de Tulears age, their eyes will be covered by the long hair on the forehead. A Coton de Tulear should look like a fluffy cotton ball pulled slightly apart.

A Coton de Tulear can do well with any type of family. They love kids and adore being spoiled by a single or elderly couple. Whatever amount of exercise you can provide, they can handle. They are easy to train, eager to please, love to be in the center of family activities and enjoy playtime. The Coton de Tulear does well with all other pets, though they make a much better companion to other dogs when they’re neutered or spayed (and socialized properly). A perpetually happy dog, their tail always seems to wag and they’re always smiling. They do need to have a certain amount of alone time each day to recharge their batteries. Unlike a lot of breeds, they’re okay when you go to work and won’t leave you a mess when you come home.

Grooming will need to be done daily, a Coton de Tulear has a lot of hair! Mats and tangles can easily accumulate and dead hairs can dull the coat when not removed. The good news is brushing should only take about 5 minutes each day. They typically only shed after grooming. Your Coton de Tulear will never have a sleek, lie-down coat so don’t worry about how it looks after brushing. He is supposed to look like he’s always in front of a fan. He should be bathed only once or twice a year, never any more than that. Trim the hair between the pads of their feet. Check, clean and trim ear hair as needed each grooming session.

Coton de Tulear respond to positive reinforcement and praise. You can even use small rewards. They quickly learn what’s acceptable and what isn’t (and what they can get away with). If they think they’re in trouble, they have a knack for “playing cute.” Mastering tricks is easy for them. They love competition and excel in obedience and agility circles. Coton de Tulears seem to housebreak themselves. They take after cats, they’re very clean animals. (Just make sure that they always have a way outdoors.)


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