Coton de Tulear

Trevor Nilsson
7 min readApr 16, 2021

... Or Coton de Tuléar, as their original French name should be written.

The perfect All-round Clown-dog.

The Coton de Tulear is a dog who loves people. They have a mischievous personality, and they can adapt to more or less all circumstances. Cotons like showing off and performing; they can be boisterous and enthusiastic, but they’re not demanding. They are happy just being around you. They have a distinctive cotton-like coat, which inspired their name: Coton from French, meaning cotton, and de Tuléar from Tuléar, a city in Madagascar now known as Toliara.


According to legend, the lively little Coton de Tulear forefather, a Bichon-type breed, landed in Tulèar, on the island of Madagascar after a shipwreck. Since the ship’s occupants could not survive, the beached dogs were left to fend for themselves. According to another version, the breed started when Bichon Tenerife’s were mated with local dogs from Madagascar.

The Bishon is surely one ingredient in the breed, but we can’t say for sure how it came to develop into the Coton de Tulear. Today the name of the Madagascar port is Toliara and it was once an infamous Pirate town. Maybe these dogs were kept on ships to catch rats, but more likely they were just companions on long and dangerous voyages on the open sea.

The rich families of Madagascar prized them for their beauty and loyalty. Because of their links to Malagasy and Merina tribal nobles, they were labeled “Royal Dog of Madagascar.”

Courtesy of Canarian

The Coton de Tulear was recognized by the French National Kennel club in 1970, by Fédération Cynologique Internationale in 1972, but in America, it was not recognized until 2014. The reason was disputes about the breed standard… European and American breed is somewhat different from the small dog found on Madagascar. Its cottony coat has been preserved, though.

Character and Personality

Jovial and people-oriented, the Cotons de Tuléar are intelligent dogs that love to please their owners. They’re playful, with a clownish, and maybe a little rambunctious personality. Still, they’re usually easy to get along with. When it comes to attention, Cotons aren’t demanding. They’ll play when you’re available, but they won’t bother you if you need to concentrate on something else. They suffer greatly if abandoned, though, so you should keep your dog close. They love to play games, but they also love not to, as long as they’re not left alone.

Though this breed is friendly and compassionate of others (humans and other pets), he has a strong bond with his family and can be suspicious of strangers. Since exercise is an option, socialization is important for cultivating a confident, outgoing personality.

Because of his small size and friendly temperament, the Coton is ineligible for guard dog service. The breed is too nice and friendly to serve as a guardian. He can bark alertly when a visitor approaches, only to welcome him with a wagging tail when the door is opened.

They are moderately energetic and don’t need anything more than a daily stroll and a few rambunctious play sessions to keep them entertained.

Coton de Tulear — The White snow-ball.

Coton is French for “cotton”. There many different registered standards but they all include soft voluptuous hair. This characteristic fur should be called hair rather than fur. This also contributes to their almost hypoallergenic status. They are normally low-shedding, but their puppy coat can shed before their adult coat grows in.

Courtesy of Sudhindranath

The chest should be well balanced and extend all the way to the elbows. The feet are narrow and slightly arched, and the back is strong and slightly arched.

Cotons have dark, round, wide-set eyes.

The nose should be black rather than pink.

According to Fédération Cynologique Internationale standard the Coton’s coat should be white. It may have “tan” or “lemon” color on its ears and body, but it must be mostly white, with no black hairs. Puppies can be considerably darker, even black, but they normally lose the dark colors when growing. The breed has a “fade gene”. This allows the colors if they are very dark when the dog is a puppy, to fade and become white at the base of the fur as the hairt grows longer.

Other colors

The Coton de Tulear Club of America accepts three colors, white, black-and-white, and tri-color. This last one is still mostly white with markings of black, brown, or light brown on the head and body. The colored Coton de Tulear loses much of their colors as they grow. This is in particular the case with the tri-color pattern.

Weight and Height

Height Dogs 9.8–11.8 inches (25–30 cm)

Bitches 8.7–10.6 inches (22–27 cm)

Weight Dogs 8.8–13.2 lbs (4–6 kg)

Bitches 7.7–11.0 lbs (3.5–5 kg)


This lovely breed necessitates regular, committed grooming. Coton de Tulears should be bathed every one to three weeks and brushed two to four times a week. The ears, nails, and teeth should be thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis.

When brushing the Coton de Tulear, you would need to get as close to the skin as possible (very gently, of course). The hair nearest to the skin is more likely to get matted and requires special care. Pay careful attention as their adult coat starts to develop at about the age of one year, as it is particularly vulnerable to matting. Groom your Coton de Tulear with a metal comb or pin brush. Traditional ball-end brushes will hurt your pup’s delicate hair.


The Coton de Tulear can be stubborn on occasions. That means training should be non-forceful and focus on collaboration. It is an intelligent breed and catches on fast if you can motivate it. He is more prone to learn tricks than formal obedience training. You should avoid being harch and reward rather than punish (… something that should be considered in all dog training,)

They can sometimes be slow on housebreaking. Persistence is required, and it can be a long process. A doggy door can be a help. That way the dog can go out whenever he needs to. A covered area outside the house is another useful attribute. The Coton de Tulear doesn’t like to get wet.

Some lines of the breed are overly anxious or can be protective. They should be properly socialized and acquainted with other people and environments. They can also be somewhat vocal if bored or not properly trained. If barking is a problem for you or where you live, maybe this isn’t the breed for you.

Courtesy of Jurriaan Schulman

Is it a healthy race?

The Coton de Tulear is regarded as a healthy and unproblematic race. They are sturdy and strong and don’t have many health issues. Still, a thorough check of the puppy as well as of the breeder should be done before deciding on the new family member.

These health problems are associated with the breed:

  • Luxating Patellas is a condition in which the kneecap gets dislocated. It’s a common defect in smaller breeds, especially Cotons.
  • Hip dysplasia happens because the thigh bone does not fit well in the hip joint. This can cause pain and lameness in the back legs.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). It’s a genetic eye disease. It can progress to total blindness.
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Allergy. Coton de Tulear can be allergic to fleas, grass, pollen, etc.

Coton de Tulear — The perfect Family dog

The Coton de Tulear is a small breed that is adaptable. From all accounts, he gets along wonderfully with other family pets and children of all ages. Socialization is important, and if done correctly, the Coton de Tulear is a perfect companion to your kids. The dog loves the attention he gets and will keep up with any child’s playful endeavor for hours.

A potential owner with a demanding work schedule may want to rethink this breed. Since they form strong bonds with their families and need a lot of affection and caring to be content.

If you are willing to spend time with him, If you have the patience to adequately groom him as well as prepare and care for him. And if you don’t mind a little barking. Then the Coton de Tulear undoubtedly is beautiful, loyal, friendly. and the almost perfect companion.