Coton De Tulear

Playful, Affectionate and Intelligent; the Royal Dog of Madagascar

Coton De Tulear

Coton De Tulear Dog: Playful, Affectionate and Intelligent, This Little Dog Is the Royal Dog of Madagascar

"Coton" is French for "cotton," and the Coton de Tulear certainly lives up to its name. This little fluff ball is quite rare and is named after the port city of Tulear in Madagascar, its home country. When you see a Coton de Tulear, you'll see why it has the name it does. This little dog looks just like a cotton ball, and its very special coat isn't the only thing you'll love.


The Coton de Tulear originated from the island of Madagascar, off the southeastern coast of Africa, where, the climate is mild, and the temperature never drops below 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Coton de Tulear puppies were originally found at the port of Tulear, which is where the dog gets its name. Because Madagascar was a popular port of trade for merchants and seafarers, it is assumed that the Coton de Tulear evolved from native dogs there, which looked much like the Bichon. These dogs have history dating back more than 1000 years, although those native ancestral dogs are now likely extinct. Nonetheless, the Coton de Tulear was honored in 1974 as the official dog of Madagascar on one of the country’s postage stamps.

The "Dog Of Royalty"

The French claimed Madagascar in the 17th century, which thereafter became home to the French aristocracy. Fashionable ladies wanted rare treasures like the Coton de Tulear, and it soon became illegal for so-called "common people" to own one of these prized little dogs. Only those of noble blood could have one. Because of this, Coton de Tulear puppies were often gifts for island regents, and the Coton de Tulear became known as the "dog of royalty."

Coton de Tulears survived on the island of Madagascar often fending for themselves while living "in the wild." The crocodile was the natural enemy of the Coton de Tulear, but the clever little dogs could avoid them with a trick: they would simply get all of the crocodiles to come to one area by luring them with incessant barking. Once all area crocodiles had assembled in anticipation, Coton de Tulears simply ran some distance down river and swam across to safety, having duped their predators with guile. It is obvious that Coton de Tulears are very intelligent dogs, in spite of their beauty and petite size.

The Coton De Tulear In Europe And The United States

The first Coton de Tulears came to Europe and the United States around 1974 or 1975. Breeding stock was originally imported directly from Madagascar to the United States, but the dog continues to be rare today even though it's gaining in popularity. Some eligible registries include UKC, CKC, ARBA, FCI, United States of America Coton de Tulear Club, Coton de Tulear Club of America and American Coton Club.


This adorable little dog lives up to its name, with a coat as fluffy and soft as cotton. Its topcoat is long and it covers four legs that are thin but muscular. Common colors are white, black and white, and tricolored. Most often, the Coton de Tulear's preferred color is white if it's going to be a show dog. It weighs just 12 to 15 pounds in adulthood, standing 10 to 12 inches at the shoulder.

This smart little pet will charm you with his or her expressive, dark eyes and quizzical expressions. One of the best ways to describe how this little charmer looks is that it is always "cheerful," even merry, in expression. The ears are set high and are triangular, with a thin, leathery feel.


This breed has a "large dog personality" in a tidy little package. Your new family member is playful, affectionate, and extremely bright. That so-called "merry expression" on its face isn't just a fluke of appearance; it is how most Coton de Tulears really are. Life is just a jolly good time, and they want to share it with you! With a personality defined by pleasure and good cheer, your little pet will love to play games with you at every opportunity.

Coton de Tulear puppies and adults alike are very sociable dogs behaving well with other animals and children, as long as the children are taught to be gentle. Although these dogs are small, rarely weighing more than about 12 to 15 pounds, they're not particularly fragile and can take some rough play. However, children should be careful with the Coton de Tulear, as this gentle, alert and affectionate little companion truly wants tender loving care.

Because these dogs are so perceptive, and since they are, after all, dogs, they still need a firm hand from you, the owner. They can develop so-called "Small Dog Syndrome" if not given consistent direction. This syndrome is actually a personality disorder that can develop if you treat your little dog like a baby or small child, with too much pampering. This will transform your lovely, adorable little dog into a holy terror and a spoiled brat. Therefore, make sure you set clear boundaries and establish your role as the alpha dog so that this doesn't happen. These loving and gentle creatures are wonderful as long as they're properly and gently disciplined. This means that you will truly be doing your little pet a favor if you give him or her some boundaries so that he or she remains well behaved.

Proper Environment

The Coton de Tulear can tolerate any environment small or large, whether an apartment with confined space or larger home with plenty of room to run and play. These dogs love to swim and romp, and adore the wide open outdoors. Coton de Tulears are known historically, in fact, for following their owners for miles when those owners were on horseback and the little dogs were on foot. They adapt to most any situation but have a strong need for a daily walk. They will fit into just about any lifestyle with ease.


The Coton de Tulear is a sturdy little dog with few health problems as compared to most other dogs. It's still a pretty rare breed for most people to adopt. Having only just been rescued from extinction, it has a relatively small gene pool. Nonetheless, with proper veterinary care, your little pet should live a long time, a lifespan of 14 to 18 years.


Grooming is one area to which you'll need to devote your attention. Your pet's lovely coat is long and fluffy, requiring careful daily grooming. It should be brushed and combed out on a daily basis. These little dogs don't shed, and will need to have regular professional grooming sessions in addition to daily brushings. If they don't get regular brushings, the fur can easily become matted so that your pet will need to be shaved. Other than that, bathing once or twice a year should be sufficient, as these are very tidy, hygienic dogs. They may be suitable pets for people who cannot otherwise have dogs, since they don't shed and are largely hypoallergenic.


Coton de Tulear.

Retrieved April 5, 2012.

Coton de Tulear.

Retrieved April 5, 2012.

Meet the Coton de Tulear: A rare dog that will steal your heart.

Retrieved April 5, 2012.

Questions people often ask about the Coton de Tulear...

  • +Does the Coton de Tulear bark a lot?

  • +Is the Coton de Tulear easy to potty train?

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