Coton De Tulear

Country of origin:
Height (cm):
Weight (kg):
Life span (years):
white with light-grey or red-roan shadings
Hair length:
Recognized by:
FCI code:
Good with kids:
Pros Cons
  • forms strong bonds with its family
  • friendly
  • loves children
  • excellent companion
  • very active and energetic
  • needs a lot of grooming
  • difficult to housebreak


The Coton de Tulear was invented in Madagascar where it served as pleasant and affectionate companion dog for centuries. This playful and pretty dog has found its way to the United States and Europe only in the 70s of the XX century but its outgoing personality has already earned much following there. The breed will become an excellent family pet, sweet-tempered and extremely devoted.

The Coton de Tulear is a Bishon-type dog, which arrived to Madagascar (to the port of Tulear to be precise) few centuries ago. There are several theories as to how the dog came there. Some dog experts believe that resembling dogs were the sole survivors, which were washed ashore after the shipwreck. Others suggest that small variations of the breed were on board of many European ships heading to this port and they were presented to the local people or just abandoned for a number of other reasons. It’s speculated that these cute white dogs either escorted ladies on prolonged sea voyages or were used as exterminators of rats on board.

The exact ancestry of the Coton de Tulear can hardly be traced with any level of certainty but it’s known that the history of the original Bishon-type breeds extended back for almost millennia. Among most probable predecessors of the breed are French Bichons and the Italian Bolognese. It’s also highly likely that some native African dogs participated in the creation of the Coton de Tulear. The modern version of the dog characterizes with small size, exuberant energy and unique coat.

Gradually the Coton de Tulear earned well-deserved popularity and was especially preferred as a companion dog by the Madagascar affluent people. At the same time many breed members were simply street animals. This dog is also known in its native country as the «Royal dog of the Madagascar» and it was granted a status of the Official Dog Breed.

The breed made its way to America and European countries in 1974. The Coton de Tulear quickly became a trendy and desirable family pet and its popularity in America and Europe never ceases to increase. In recent decade the dog has proved to have excellent faculties in a number of canine sports including conformation show, agility, and obedience contest. It was fully recognised by the United Kennel Club (UKC) in 1996. In 2012 the American Kennel Club (AKC) has given the Coton de Tulear its partial acceptance.


The breeders have been honing the qualities of a company dog in the Coton de Tulear for several centuries. They developed a good-natured, mischievous and amiable dog, which strives for nothing more than to always stay in the presence of beloved humans. This breed is prone to be remarkably faithful to its master and it’s almost fawningly affectionate with every member of its family. It usually bonds especially tight with children and treats them with gentleness and patience. However puppy of the Coton de Tulear can be easily hurt by some clumsy toddler so it would be reasonable to supervise them closely during the play.

When the Coton de Tulear has been correctly introduced to the company of unfamiliar people it’s very tolerable and even affable with them. This dog is apt to treat every stranger as prospective friend and play buddy and it must be taught to respect one’s private boundaries. It will constitute a good watchdog, which will always be alert enough to notify its master about some unwelcomed guest. However the breed is too kind and friendly to become an effective guard dog.

The Coton de Tulear gets along well with other dogs and won’t show any form of aggressive behaviour even in the presence of an unfamiliar dog. It will definitely prefer to co-habituate with another canine, particularly another Coton de Tulear. It also doesn’t have prey drive strong enough that it couldn’t be eliminated with proper socialisation. In order to ensure peaceful co-existence of this dog and other home pet it’s crucial to introduce them to each other in the early age.

Health Problems
The most common problems for the breed include:

• patellar luxation;
• heart problems;
• liver shunts;
• back problems;
• arthritis;
• deafness;
• eyes problems.

The long and dense coat of the Coton de Tulear has extensive grooming requirements. It should pass through brushing procedure a few times a week preferably every single day. The owner of the dog should regularly take time to work out any tangles and matts that are prone to appear in gorgeous hair of the Coton de Tulear. The regular bath is a must for this breed.

You can manage without a service of a groomer although it’s more convenient to have your dog systemically and professionally groomed. Vast majority of the breed’s owners prefers to keep its hair short like in puppyhood. The Coton de Tulear sheds insignificantly so it can be recommended for allergy sufferer (although there is no such thing as hypoallergenic dog).

The Coton de Tulear is a highly obedient and smart dog, which can be taught to fulfil incredibly complicated tasks with minimal efforts from its trainer. This dog will willingly follow all your commands but only if you treat it fairly and respectfully and doesn’t apply cruel training techniques. The breed excels in various canine sports especially in obedience and agility trials.

Unfortunately there is one disadvantage in owning of the Coton de Tulear: it presents a substantial challenge to housebreak. Puppies of this dog has tiny bladder and can’t restrain their natural needs for any period of time. Furthermore the puppies are so small that their accidents can go by undetected and uncorrected. That’s why you should be prepared that you dog will mature few months longer than it usually happens with other breeds.

Despite its small size the Coton de Tulear is a highly active and energetic companion dog and requires daily vigorous walk of at least 30 minutes long. This breed can endure great deal of nasty weather and actually likes snowy winters. Most specimens will much enjoy swimming, jogging or even gladly join you in your cycling.

Without proper amount of exercise the dog tends to misbehave destructing your possessions, barking without any reasons, and being hyper active. Although the Coton de Tulear is going to need some outlets for its buoyant energy it can be easily adapted to a big city life especially if your family prefers to spend its day-offs in an active manner and usually include the pet in its occupations.