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Coton de Tulear - Breed Profile, Characteristics, Cost, and Fun Facts

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Coton De Tulear

On This Page

  • Coton de Tulear - More About the Breed
  • History and Origins - Coton de Tulear Breed History
  • Coton de Tulear vs. Maltese vs. Havanese - What are the Key Differences?
  • Coton de Tulear Size & Weight - What is the Accepted Breed Standard?
  • Personality - Is Coton de Tulear a Good Family Dog?
  • Health Conditions - What Health Problems do Coton de Tulear Have?
  • Coton de Tulear Care and Grooming Needs
  • Recommended Food and Feeding Schedule for a Coton

Want a furry dog but not the allergies? A Coton de Tulear is a perfect fit for you. These small and sturdy dogs are gentle, playful, affectionate, and a treat to bring home. These canines are best known for their cotton white and soft fur, which is considered ‘hair’ rather than fur, and their hypoallergenic quality.

They have originated from Madagascar where they are known as the ‘Royal Dog of Madagascar’. These intelligent and playful dogs are from the family of other furry dogs, Bichon Frise and Maltese. They get along with everyone and make great companions for families with kids.

They can live anywhere, thanks to their compact size, but they are not the right choice for the people who stay out of home for long hours. Like many other dog breeds, these dogs could not live alone for long and could suffer from separation anxiety.

They are quite low-maintenance and being hypoallergenic, they make an ideal choice for people with allergies.

Know more about this happy-go-lucky breed in the blog.

Coton de Tulear - More About the Breed

For a small, sweet-natured, and loving Coton, no day is better than the one that he spends with his favorite person. These dogs are true lap and companion dogs as they want to be with their favorite person all the time. They love to follow the family around and no fence could keep him away from his beloved person.

They are very expressive and love to ‘talk’ with the people around them. They are very alert and they make sure that you have their attention all the time.

They got their name from their cottony coat and from the seaport city of Tulear, Madagascar. The breed was bred and originated in the respective place and they are closely related to Maltese and Bichon Frise.

However, they have their own style and recognition. Coton lovers love and value the dog for its intelligence, social manners, and ease of grooming.

He learns the routine really quickly and would prefer to sleep while you get some work done. However, even then he stays alert and watchful that you do not leave the room without him. They love to play but being small in size, they do not have extensive exercise needs.

A game of fetch inside a fenced yard or a daily walk at a slow pace will be enough to keep a Coton happy and healthy.

They are people pleasers and due to this, these dogs do very well in obedience and agility activities. He loves everyone and because of this, they do not make good guard dogs. For a guard dog, check the list of the best guard dogs that excel at watching over your household and property.

Their coat is easy to care for, especially after they grow their adult coat. All they need is regular grooming and the dirt falls out easily. Brush your dog at least three to four times a week and bathe him as needed.

This breed will make the best companion if you work from home or a retired person who has loads of time to dedicate to him.

Highlights of Coton de Tulear

The Coton de Tulear was bred on the Madagascar island and they belong to the same family as the Bichon Frise and Maltese.

These canines love to be around people and could suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for long.

The Cotons are intelligent canines that are easy to train.

Apartment living is the best option for these dogs but they could adapt to any environment and place.

Cotons love their playtime and they love to accompany their owners to long walls but they are quite adaptable and could adjust themselves as per their owner’s routine.

They will need brushing a few times a week to avoid hair mats and tangles. Bathing is occasional and could be either weekly or monthly.

Coton puppies need more grooming than adult dogs as the coat becomes quite easy to clean once the dog grows its adult coat.

To make sure that you get a healthy puppy, adopt and if buying, make sure that you buy it from a reputable breeder only.

History and Origins - Coton de Tulear Breed History

The dogs are named after the seaport town or city of Tulear. These dogs used to be beloved lap dogs and companions of the noblemen and gentry of Madagascar. The said island is situated about 250 miles away from the southeastern coast of Africa.

But the population who loved these dogs belong to Indonesia, instead of Africa.

Madagascar built strong ties with the French nation of western Africa and because of this, French remained the widely spoken language of the place. Due to this, the breed also has a French name.

The nobles of the island nation were quite possessive of their dogs and did not allow the commoners to have any of these.

A dog historian wrote, “They were also extremely reluctant to allow any of their pets to leave the island, with the result that these dogs remained isolated from the rest of the world and were breeding true for centuries.”

How these dogs actually originated is still a thing of debate. Some say that these dogs traveled with the noble ladies on a sea voyage and some of these dogs ended up on a beach on Madagascar. Others say that some small white dogs swam ashore on the island and mated with the feral dogs.

It is a known fact that small white dogs like Maltese were treasured as luxury items and some of them could have landed on the island and mated with other dogs, creating the Cotons that are so prized today.

The dogs stayed in isolation until 1960 and in 1970, a French merchant took some of these dogs back with him to his hometown. There, the breed was established and bred selectively for generations. This refined the breed further and made it into the breed that we know now.

The AKC registered its first Coton in 2014 but it is not yet recognized by the said club. However, it is registered in AKC’s Foundation Stock Service (FSS). Besides, the breed is also registered with the United Kennel Club and Europe’s Federation Cynologique Internationale.

The United States of America Coton de Tulear Club is the parent club of the breed. Besides, there are a number of other breed clubs that work to secure the breed’s natural form and recognition.

Coton de Tulear vs. Maltese vs. Havanese - What are the Key Differences?

Coton de Tulear shares a striking resemblance with Maltese and Havanese dogs. All three of them are small dogs and are loved for being affectionate lap dogs and ladies’ companions. Many people confuse them and think that all three of them are the same dogs.

Below is a comparison of all three breeds.

Coton de TulearMalteseHavanese
MadagascarMediterranean BasinCuba
Dog Groups
Companion DogsCompanion DogsCompanion Dogs
Other Names
Coton, CotieMaltese Dog, Maltese Lion DogBichon Havanese, Bichon Habanero, Havanese Cuban Bichon, Bichon Havanais, Bichon Havanês, Havaneser, Havanezer
Breed Type
Life Expectancy
14-16 years15-18 years14-16 years
Grooming Needs
Affectionate, lively, trainable, intelligent, playful, vocalActive, easygoing, intelligent, responsive, docile, gentle, playful, sweet-temperedAffectionate, gentle, playful, companionable, intelligent, responsive, sturdy, lively, amiable, charming

Coton de Tulear Size & Weight - What is the Accepted Breed Standard?

The Cotons de Tulear are small but sturdy dogs that have good substance and physical structure. The males stand at 10 to 12 inches tall and weigh between 9 to 15 pounds. The female dogs stand 9 to 10 inches tall and weigh between 8 to 13 pounds.

It is a small but hardy dog that makes a great companion and its happy and gay gesture makes him an ideal choice as pets and emotional support animals.

They are very easygoing and they do not demand a lot from their owners. They are very gentle and are very aware of the people and happenings around them. These dogs are identified with their soft, long, and cotton-like fur, and lively, expressive, and dark eyes. They have a smiling expression and a delightfully witty personality.

The dog is a bit longer than his height. The top line of the body is a bit arched while he carries his tail high in a happy gesture. Check the American Kennel Club’s Coton de Tulear accepted breed standard and know more about how the breed should look like.

Personality - Is Coton de Tulear a Good Family Dog?

The Cotons are true companion dogs that love to be around people and please them with their antics and clownish gestures. They love to spend time with their human family members and often form strong bonds with the people they like and love. Once they get attached to someone, they do not like to be away from him.

Cotons are very smart and they are very easy to train also. They love to play the clown and they love your guests as much as you love them, sometimes even more. But, due to this, they could not differentiate between the guests and intruders and are likely to invite them into the house.

The female Cotons are more independent than men and usually, they are the ones who dominate and rule the house. They love to talk and they are pros at walking on their hind legs. They do not bark unnecessarily and love spending time on the lap of their beloved person.

Due to their extreme attachment with their humans, they are also known as the ‘kissing dogs’. Being small in size, they do not like being held roughly and they like their handlers to be gentle and respectful with them. They study the family members intently and could adapt themselves according to their schedule.

Like any other dog, socialization is important for your dog also. Start the training as soon as you bring the puppy home and learn about how to train your dog to stay in the yard to make sure that your canine does not go out unsupervised. When young, he will learn quickly and soak up everything that you teach him.

Health Conditions - What Health Problems do Coton de Tulear Have?

Since these dogs bred and developed in isolation, they remain free from nearly all kinds of genetic illnesses. However, this does not mean that these dogs could not have any diseases but the chances of occurring those health issues are quite rare in the Cotons.

Despite being generally healthy and free from genetic conditions, below are some diseases that are seen in these dogs.

Luxating Patellas
The condition causes the slipping of the knees and it is quite common among the small breed dogs. To avoid the condition, do not let the puppies jump rigorously when their joints are still growing and forming.
Hip Dysplasia
It is a heritable condition that affects the hind legs of the dog. In it, the thighbone does not fit properly in the hip joint and causes pain and discomfort while walking. Dogs having the condition should not be bred and, to avoid the condition, the dogs must be screened before breeding.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
It is a hereditary eye condition that could cause blindness in dogs. In it, the photoreceptors in the eye of the dog lose sight. Fortunately, this does not stop them from living a happy and great life.

Coton de Tulear Care and Grooming Needs

‘How to groom a Coton de Tulear?’

The Coton de Tulear is a small but sturdy dog that loves to play in all seasons. But, to make sure that they do not get hit or land into trouble, it is important to keep him indoors and with the family.

They have cotton-like hair that is dry and set with the wind. The hair is not shiny at all and it should not be too long in the chest and belly area.

Their hair is relatively easy to manage and groom but since they are considerably long, about 4 to 6 inches in length, you must have ample time to brush and groom them. The hair is naturally clean and when bathed, it dries really quickly and effortlessly.

It does not shed a lot and will need twice or thrice brushing sessions per week. It is one of the best and most hypoallergenic dog breeds that make an excellent choice for people with allergies.

When grooming, trim the hair between the toes and pads and from over the eyes. Keep the eyes and ears clean and make sure that they are not overly red or dirty. Though the coat is naturally clean, once the puppy reaches the age of 7 to 8 months, it starts to change and mats more easily.

Therefore. It is important that you start the brushing sessions earlier so that the dog is used to it once his adult coat grows. The grooming tools that you will need for the grooming include a small to medium-sized slicker brush to remove the mats and dead hair, a comb to remove food debris from the dog’s face, good quality dog nail clippers, coat detangler, and styptic powder.

Bathe the dog as needed but roughly, every two to three weeks. Remove the tangles and mats before you bathe him and use a mild and vet-recommended dog shampoo for it. For best results, use a whitening shampoo to keep the coat of your dog white and spotless.

Brush the teeth three to four times a week and use dental chews to keep the mouth and teeth clean and smelling fresh. Use a good quality dog toothbrush and toothpaste for it.

Recommended Food and Feeding Schedule for a Coton

‘What should I feed my Coton de Tulear?’

The recommended amount of food for a Coton is 3/4 cup of premium-quality dog food daily and divided into two meals.

To make sure that your dog stays healthy and happy, make sure that you feed him high-quality and age-appropriate food. Talk to your dog’s veterinarian and talk to him about your dog’s dietary needs. Vet recommended dog food will keep your dog healthy and happy. If the dog is very active, his dietary needs will be higher than a couch potato.

Like humans, dogs also have different structures and food requirements. The amount of food depends on several things including the dog’s age, build, and structure, size, metabolism, and the amount of playtime he has. Always buy high-quality food for your dog. Premium dog food will provide complete nutrition to your dog.

To avoid obesity, do not leave the food out all the time and measure the food before feeding your dog. This will help you keep a check on the amount of food your dog eats. Below is a list of the best dog food for Cotons.

  • Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Dry Food
  • Natural Balance LID Dry Dog Food
  • Merrick Grain-Free with Real Meat
  • Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free
  • ORIJEN High-Protein, Grain-Free, Premium Quality Meat, Dry Dog Food

For best results, feed vet-recommended dog food to your dog.

Coton de Tulear is a lovely dog that is small in size but has a larger than its size personality. To bring one home, you will need a valid ESA letter as a fake letter will only land you in trouble.

Fill our online questionnaire and see if you qualify.

Liked the Coton breed? Read about other dog breeds also.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the price of a Coton de Tulear?

FAQ Icon

Between $2,000 to $3,000. The show quality dogs cost even higher and would come between $3,000 and $4,000.

How long do Cotons de Tulear live?

FAQ Icon

Between 14 to 16 years. They are quite long-living dogs and since they do not have any known genetic conditions, they live a long and healthy life.

Is a Coton de Tulear rare?

FAQ Icon

Yes, the breed is still quite rare and it is on the verge of extinction in its hometown Madagascar.

Do these dogs shed a lot?

FAQ Icon

No, these are among some of those dog breeds that shed considerably lower than many other dogs. It has low dander but the puppies do shed their puppy coat.

Do they bark a lot?

FAQ Icon

Yes, like all small dogs, Cotons have a strong tendency to bark. Usually, they do it when they hear and see something new. If you do not want your dog to develop this habit, establish a clear understanding and relationship between both of you.

Make sure that your dog knows who the leader is and who should learn to listen.

Are Coton de Tulear easy to train?

FAQ Icon

Given their intelligence and willingness to learn new skills, these dogs are really easy to train and potty train. Some may be a bit stubborn but consistent training will help you train your dog better.

Male vs female Coton - which one is better?

FAQ Icon

Surprisingly, the female Cotons are more independent than their male counterparts. Other than being more independent, they also suffer from separation anxiety less than the male Coton. If you do not mind him following you everywhere then the male Coton will be better.

Harper Jefcoat


Harper Jefcoat

Harper Jefcoat is a dedicated pet enthusiast and expert author at the RealESALetter.com. With a deep-seated passion for animals, Harper brings a wealth of knowledge and personal experience to his writings. Specializing in canine behavior and wellness, he aims to help pet owners understand and care for their furry friends better.

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