AKC Dog Breeds: Coton de Tuléar

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Foundation Stock Service® Breed
Height: 10-12 inches   Weight: 12-15 pounds  Color: White or White And Black

The Coton de Tuléar is a small breed of dog. It is named after the city of Tulear in Madagascar, and for its cottony textured coat. The Coton de Tulear developed on the Island of Madagascar and is still the island's national dog. The Coton's ancestors were brought to Madagascar in the 16th and 17th century on pirate ships. The cottony coat may be the result of a single gene mutation. This small, friendly dog caught the fancy of the Malagasy royalty and they were the only people allowed to keep Cotons. When Dr. Robert Jay Russell discovered the breed in Madagascar in 1973 and brought the first ones to America, he coined the phrase the Royal Dog of Madagascar and the name stuck.

General Appearance
Coton is the French word for Cotton. Like the name suggests the most conspicuous feature of the Coton De Tulear is its coat, which is cottony or fluffy rather than silky. It has a long topcoat. The fluffy hair covers the thin, lightly-muscled forelegs. Colors come in white & black and white and tri-colored. The Coton de Tuléar has medium-length to long hair, about four to six inches, fluffy, cotton-like coat that is hair rather than fur. Since it is a non-shedding breed with no dander, it is hypoallergenic, like the poodle and has no "doggie smell". The US-based Coton de Tulear Club of America allows for three different but equally favorable colorings: white, black-and-white and tri-color which includes "honeybear". White is described as nearly all white, sometimes with champagne coloring on the ears, face or back. Black-and-white is defined as pure white with prominent black patches on the head and body (no ratio of white-to-black is specified or favored). Tri-color is described as mostly white with some brown markings and dustings of black on the body and head. A honey bear tri-color has light brown with black tips which gradually fades to off white or lemon color. The tri-color loses the most color of any of the color varieties usually becoming mostly white with possibly some champagne markings and a dusting of black hairs on the ears and/or body.


The Coton is a playful, affectionate, intelligent breed. Some people consider it as a completely non-aggressive breed when given the proper love and care it deserves. It loves people and as a result can have separation anxiety. It loves life and is enthusiastic and lively. It is a very vocal breed, grunting and making other noises when having fun. Some Cotons have a habit of jumping up and walking on their hind legs to please people. Some Cotons may exhibit shyness or cautiousness in new situations, especially around strangers, but this can be overcome with training. Most Cotons love meeting new people and are very curious in new situations. The dogs are very trainable with praise, instead of punishment. They are great with other dogs. The Coton de Tulear is alert and territorial. They form strong attachments to both Master and family. They will alert to danger by barking, but only when it is necessary. They are extremely intelligent and love all of the attention they can get. The Coton is very social and enjoys outings and experiences. They get along well with other pets and children. The Coton de Tulear is bright and intelligent, but may be slow to mature. They may be difficult to housebreak.

This breed has little to no shedding. The Coton has a long coat which needs a thorough grooming almost everyday, and a bath about once a month. Cotons, like Poodles, are hypoallergenic; they have hair (a lot like human hair), which makes them very popular and compatible with people who have allergies.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy

The Coton is in general a healthy breed. However there are some health issues as there are in all breeds. The most serious of these would be heart problems, liver shunts, back (disc) problems or eye problems. Luckily, these are still relatively uncommon in the breed. The coton has a life expectancy of 12-14 years.

Activity Level
This breed is an indoor companion. They do not require high levels of exercise, but do need a short walk every day. They also appreciate play sessions as often as possible. They adjust and adapt well to apartment, condo, and urban living. They have the capability and endurance for long hikes. Cotons like to swim and play. They enjoy wide open spaces and can follow their masters on horseback for many miles.


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