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Coton de Tulear earned its name from its unique, cotton-like hair, and for a port city in Madagascar, Tulear. Its dry, wind-tossed coat is probably the easiest to maintain of any long-haired breed, but it still requires regular grooming. The hair is about four-to-six inches long, dries quickly when wet, and requires relatively little brushing. It sheds very little, and rarely bothers people who suffer from chronic allergies. The coat should NOT be shiny, nor should it touch the ground from the chest or abdominal region.

There are three handsome color varieties: White (often with champagne color patches); Black-and-white; and Tri-color. A Tri-color adult is mostly white with champagne patches and a faint, irregular "dusting" of black hairs.

Probably the most outstanding characteristic of the Coton de Tulear is its behavior. The Coton is a "companion dog," bred for the pure delight of its intelligent, loving attention to its human family. It is very intelligent, and studies its human family with great care. The Coton is an alert, lively companion, but it is slow to anger. Most Cotons bark seldom, although some will act as alarm clocks and guard dogs. A Coton usually snuggles in the lap or rests close-by like a small, elegant, mohair rug.

Cotons are calm, sturdy dogs, most of whom enjoy the well-intentioned rough-housing of children. Cotons enjoy most household pets including other dogs and cats. A Coton may cock its head attentively when spoken to, smile, and stand or walk on its hind legs to please its human family. Cotons are easily trained.

They often use the Cotons for therapy dogs because of their sweet, easy going personalities, and are often referred to as the anti-depressant dogs. They love people and easily put a smile on their owners faces. 


The Coton de Tulear has a wonderful, lively and intelligent personality that makes them ideal for any type of home or family situation. They are a great dog to interact with children or the elderly and can adjust to the amount of exercise that the home can provide. They are also very easy to train, very willing to please, and enjoy being with their families as much as possible. Not a toy dog, the Coton de Tulear, despite its fluffy and somewhat toy like appearance is a very sturdy small breed that loves to play, fetch and romp around with the family.

The Coton de Tulear is an excellent companion dog for either smaller or larger breeds. When properly socialized the Coton de Tulear will accept other dogs into their area without being overly protective or dog aggressive. Of course intact males are more likely to be problematic with aggression especially in the presence of females that are in heat. Neutered males and spayed females are typically the calmest of the breed when interacting with other dogs. They are also excellent with non-canine pets and tend to interact very well with cats and other household pets.

The Coton de Tulear is a very happy breed. They seem to constantly be smiling, wagging their tails and wanting to be around the family. They do best when they are left alone only for brief periods of time. The Coton de Tulear is not a good breed for a family that will be gone more than they are home or that don't have time to spend with their pet on a regular, daily basis.

Coton de Tulear puppies are:

 Submissive but not to the point of being shy or anxious.

Eager to greet new people and will approach without fear or uncontrollable enthusiasm.

Very calm and have a laid-back personality and is comfortable in most situations.

Are comfortable with being touched all over and enjoy being held.

Is confident and doesn't cower or hide when there are several people in the room who are talking loudly. He also doesn't cower when someone goes to pick him up.

Very people-oriented and enjoy meeting new people. They will choose people over other dogs, etc. They are still playful with the other puppies and dogs, but when there is a person in the room, they will choose them over the other dogs.

Very attentive and listen very well -- they watch you and are aware of their surroundings.

When they see you come into the room will come prancing to see you and want your attention.

They want to be loved and recognized by people, but not one that is overly aggressive or demanding about it.

They are very gentle when playing. 

They are very nurturing and affectionate. They are very sweet and loving with their parents and the other puppies, often giving them kisses.

They are not independent or stubborn. They just want to please. They are very intelligent and eager to learn.

They are not startled easily by loud noises.   


With the that being said, it is also very important to socialize your dog/puppy. Cesar Milan recommends that your puppy meet 130 new people by the time they are a year old, and to introduce them to children, other adults, and other dogs once they have had all their puppy vaccinations. 

Taking them to puppy classes, advanced classes, and obedience classes can be a great way to introduce your dog to people and other dogs. They are very smart and soak up everything you teach them, and exposure to new places, new people, and new dogs is important for their early development. They are a very social breed and enjoy meeting new people.  

Don't forget to take them in the car. They might not like it at first, but the more you take them, the less likely they will be anxious when riding in the car. Getting them in the car starting at 8 to 9 weeks old is good for them.   

For additional information about the Coton standards and genetics go to:


There is very little information on the background of the rare breed Coton, it's origin is somewhat unclear. There are a number of interesting tales about how these dogs came to inhabit Madagascar several centuries ago but they are mostly unsubstantiated. So keep this in mind about the Coton de Tulear history on the below timeline:

  • 15th or 16th Century – It is thought that the Coton de Tulear originated in the port city of Tulear in Madagascar (currently named Toliara). One account is that their ancestors (thought to be related to the Bichon family of dogs) were shipwrecked during storms steered by Spanish and Portuguese sailors and they washed up in Tulear.
  • 17th Century - France claimed Madagascar and these dogs became very popular with the new French aristocracy. It became illegal for commoners to own this rare breed and today they are known as the "Royal Dog of Madagascar".
  • 1970-71 - The breed gained official recognition from the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) when they accepted them into their registry.
  • 1974-The first Cotons came to America when Dr. Robert Jay Russell sent breeding stock over from Madagascar
  • 1975- The first Cotons appeared in Europe
  • 1976– The Coton deTulear Club of America was formed by Dr. Jay Russell to maintain the original Malagasy breed standard, pedigrees, and Registrations
  • 1992– The Madagascan government imposed an export stop to prevent the threat of extinction of the breed
  • 1994– Four Coton clubs were formed in the U.S.and Canada

Check out this website for valuable information about the Coton De Tulear

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