Everything You Need to Know About The Coton de Tulear

Every dog owner years for the day that they receive a new dog, whether it is as a puppy or a full-grown adult.

The truth is that every dog deserves this kind of attention and care.

This means that, as a responsible dog owner, it is your duty and responsibility to know what you must do to care for them properly.

Not just for your benefit (no one wants to be accused of animal abuse, after all), but also for your dog too.

A healthy and happy dog is less likely to misbehave and act out in aggression and frustration, which will make both you and your new dog more comfortable with your surroundings.

Take the Coton de Tulear, for example. This breed of dog is as demanding as it is rare.

As such, having little information on your side before owning one is sure to save yourself a lot of heartaches.

If you have recently acquired your first dog, and it is this fluffy little ball of love, then you need to know about the Coton de Tulear breed.

This article will help you learn more about this wonderful canine companion.

In addition, you are going to find out what makes these dogs so special.

By reading this article, you are sure to gain an understanding of all there is to know about the Coton de Tulear.

Read on to discover everything you want to know about this unique breed of dog.

General Information And Appearance On The Coton de Tulear

To start this guide, let’s begin with some basic information surrounding this breed of canine. 

The things this dog breed is best known for are its relatively small size and its soft and fluffy white fur.

Its fur is so soft, it is often compared to balls of cotton, so much so that its fur is often referred to as hair, rather than dog fur as many other breeds are.

Generally speaking, the hair of a Coton de Tulear comes in three colors: White, black, and tanned.

The white coloration can vary from cream-colored to light tan. Black hairs are mostly solid black fur that, when well-maintained, is thick and soft to the touch.

And finally, the tanned type features dark brown hairs that are speckled with lighter tones.

In terms of size, Coton de Tulears are considered a small dog breed by most kennel and dog breed associations.

They typically weigh between 10 and 15 pounds, although some larger specimens do exist.

Typically speaking, however, it is unlikely that you will find a Coton de Tulear purebred that is heavier than 18 pounds.

Their height ranges from 18 inches to 23 inches tall at the withers.

While not massive, they usually have short legs and stocky bodies that are surprisingly muscular.

Their body structure includes a relatively long muzzle, small head, large flopped ears, large eyes, slim shoulders, strong chest muscles, and thin waistlines.

Unlike many other breeds, their tails are docked completely during their lifetime.

It should be noted that this process does not remove any hair, nor do they affect the length of the tail at all.

Rather, it simply removes the tip of the tail’s growing point

As far as facial expressions go, the Coton de Tularean tends to have a very expressive face.

They appear to smile easily and are typically seen wagging their tails when excited.

Their body types tend to be short and compact.

However, although the Coton de Toularean has smaller proportions, they still possess a large head relative to their size.

When it comes down to it, the Coton de Tularean is a beautiful little dog.


The Coton de Tulear is most associated with the Island country of Madagascar.

Indeed, this breed was originally bred in Madagascar and is currently the island’s national dog breed, as it has been for several centuries at this point.

It is thought that the Coton de Tularean originated from dogs brought to the island by European colonizers.

The earliest accounts of them date back to the 17th century.

It is widely believed that this breed is a combination of the Tenerife dog, as well as an older native dog breed to Madagascar, though what exactly that other breed of dog was seems to have been lost to the sand of time.

The original Tenerife stopped there on their way around Africa. It may also be possible that these dogs were introduced into Madagascar by sailors who had already arrived at the island.

Either way, the Coton de Tulareans today bears more similarity to the Tenerife than to the old native Malagasy dogs, although that has been hard to prove over the last few years, without a good example of the other parent breed.

The trait that gave the Coton de Tulear their distinctive soft fur appears to have been a happy accident, as genetic research has indicated that it as only a few, or even a single genetic mutation that gave the Coton de Tulear its signature cottony textured hair.

This, and its small size and docile nature, made it a popular breed for Malagasy royalty.

Indeed, the Merina people of Madagascar, the ruling family of the native Malagasy people before the arrival of the majority of European colonists, were the only people on the island officially allowed to own this pet.

Thanks to its royal connections, many rumors around the dog started to circulate amongst both islanders and foreigners over the years.

Tales of it being a feral breed that was accepted into Malagasy culture are unfounded, as are the stories of it this animal having survived on the island by hunting crocodiles and wild boars.

In reality, everything from the small size of the Coton de Tulear, to its lightweight, to its gentle and approachable disposition, means that it has next to no drive to act as a predator does, and would likely be a terrible hunting dog even if it did.

Regardless of how exactly the Coton de Tuluarean came about, it is now one of the most popular dog breeds in Madagascar, particularly amongst urbanites.

This is especially true since the mid-1980s when the government began making efforts to increase the number of registered pets, and since its official recognition by the French National kennel club in the 1970s, and the kennel clubs of the United Kingdom and the United States that followed soon after it.

Attitude And Temperament

As we have briefly touched on in the previous section, the Coton de Tulear naturally has a naturally kind and friendly disposition, which is one of the reasons this breed has historically made such a great companion pet.

They do not have much of a natural desire to chase or attack anything larger than themselves, and they will often seek out affection from those they come across.

Because of this, Coton de Tulears are generally considered very intelligent and affectionate, as well as being a very playful species.

As such, when it comes to training and socializing them, their intelligence makes them relatively easy to train for new tasks and commands, but also means that they require a lot of stimulation, as many intelligent breeds of dogs do.

Whilst largely a very quiet breed, these dogs will typically show their excitement at a situation by vocalizing, such as by barking or grunting.

Make sure to keep this in mind if you find your Coton de Tulear is yapping quite a lot during a play session!

Overall, the Coton de Tulear is an excellent breed for a family that wants an intelligent and friendly dog, and that has enough spare time to give it the attention that they deserve.

General Health

General health

Coton dogs are generally healthy, as far as purebreds generally are. They can still have a few conditions that owners must keep an eye out for.

One of the conditions noticed most often in small dog breeds, including the Coton, is luxating patellas, also known as trick knee, where the kneecap dislocates or moves in ways that it otherwise shouldn’t.

It’s important to be careful when you let your puppy jump up and down because he might injure himself.

Cotons are also quite smart, but they are also excitable and eager, and they may try to make large leaps.

You need to protect them from themselves by keeping them away from furniture or other objects.

Dogs with hip dysplasia, a common heritable condition in purebreds, can be a relatively common occurrence with this breed.

Their bones aren’t fitting properly in their hips, and this causes them pain.

This disease is hereditary, but it can be made worse by environmental factors.

Progressive retinal atrophy is a hereditary degenerative disease that causes blindness and is a condition that has been known to affect breeds like the Coton de Tulear.

Dogs with this condition can still live normal lives even though they’re blind, however, so try not to stress too much over this detail.

Blind dogs can be trained to walk and play normally using other senses, it just takes more training.

Grooming And Care For Your Coton de Tulear

As the Coton de Tulear’s fur is its most striking feature, you’re going to want to take good care of it.

Bathing your dog, and brushing your Coton’s fur several times a week, will help keep the general condition and appearance of it looking fresh and healthy.

Being a small breed, long hair can get in the way for this dog as well, so make sure that it is kept cut short to avoid this exact issue.

The ears on the Coton de Tulear should be cleaned regularly and brushed occasionally to maintain their smooth look of them.

The coat on the body needs to be trimmed closely every two weeks, as it tends to grow quickly for some dogs.


So there we have it: the Coton de Toular is a relatively niche purebred, and might be a little less popular breed in the world of canine companionship, especially when compared to breeds such as the Labrador or Golden retriever, or the Corgi for another relatively small premier breed.

However, those who love their families and friends will find that this little ball of fluff is exactly what they’ve always wanted.

In our opinion, the best part about the Coton de Tulear is its intelligence, which allows it to learn things fairly easily.

And once you’ve met one of these dogs, you’ll also see that soon enough!

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