The history of the Coton de Tulear is poorly documented. But, the most common belief is that they are descendants of dogs who survived an ancient shipwreck near the Madagascar coast. Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island, and lies in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa. The little white dogs who swam ashore to the port of Tulear were the now extinct Coton de Reunions. The dogs settled on the island and bred with the local terriers resulting in what we now know as the Coton de Tulear.
During the 17th century, the Merina, who were the ruling tribal monarchy in Madagascar closely controlled the breed. They forbid both coastal tribesmen and non-noblemen from owning the dog. The Coton became known as the “Royal Dog of Madagascar.” Later, conquering French colonists adopted the dog as well, and only those persons in the top echelon of society were allowed to own a Coton de Tulear. Political and economic crises in Madagascar now threaten the dog with extinction in its own native land. The Coton was honored on a Madagascar postage stamp in 1974.
Also in 1974, Dr. Robert Jay Russell, a biologist studying Madagascar’s lemurs, sent Coton breeding stock to America. Three years later they were introduced in Europe. The dogs were enthusiastically received, and are quickly becoming one of the fastest growing rare breeds in America and Europe.
Multiple registries with differing standards describe the Coton de Tuléar, but in general, it has very soft hair, comparable to a cotton ball, a prominent black nose, large expressive eyes (usually covered by bangs) and somewhat short puffy legs.
Coat and color
Coton de Tuléar has a medium- to long-hair, fluffy, cotton-like coat that is hair rather than fur. Since it is a non-shedding breed with low dander, there is no such thing as a
hypoallergenic dog however, like the poodle or his cousin, the Havanese has no “doggie smell”, though it still smells like wet dog after a bath. The Coton de Tulear comes in different colors, white, white with light brown spots, black and white , and black . The beauty of the Coton is that as it gets older the color spots on it usually fades away, so eventually most will be pure white.
This breed has little to no shedding. Just like other dogs, if you brush them, hair will come out. Mats can usually be removed with gentle use of a slicker brush. But this will take time. You need to cut out mats if they get them because the groomer might shave them..
The Federation Cynologique Internationale standard specifies that the Coton’s coat should be white but may also have lemon color on their ears and body, but the coat must be primarily white with no black hair allowed. The US-based Coton de Tulear Club of America http://www.cotonclub.com 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 de Tulear has a large dog personality much like the lab. The Coton de Tulear has a medium size bark, and they are very easy to train.
The Coton is a playful, affectionate, intelligent breed. It is a very vocal breed, grunting, barking 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 usually 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. Cotons are great with kids and love to play.
The Coton is in general a healthy breed. The Coton de Tulear has many fewer disorders than many other breeds due to little inbreeding, the Coton is a fairly rare breed. The fact that they are rarer breeds means the Coton de Tulear has faced very little inbreeding, the source of many canine health disorders. The average life span of a Coton de Tulear is 16 to 18 years.
Height: 9-10 inches for females 10-11 inches for males
Weight: 12-15 pounds
CKC, FCI, NKC, APRI, ACR, DRA, NAPR and AKC