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Coton De Tulear: Dog Breed Info, Pictures & Facts

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

coton de tulear

Height: 13-28 inches
Weight: 8-15 pounds
Lifespan: 15-19 years
Colors: White, sometimes with a small amount of darker markings
Suitable for: Active families, those looking for a small and companionable dog
Temperament: Fun-loving, intelligent, and happy, easy to train, territorial, gets along with children and other pets

If you’re looking for a smart little dog breed, then you need to check out the Coton de Tulear. Coming from the island of Madagascar, this breed was kept secret for many years. Madagascan royalty and nobility kept them as a status symbol, and they were only accepted into the American Kennel Club in 2014.

These little dogs have a sense of humor and will keep you entertained for hours with their funny antics. While this alone might be enough to convince you that the Coton could be the perfect breed for you, they’re also a little territorial, so they will need plenty of socialization when young.

As a relatively unknown breed, you might not know as much about the Coton de Tulear as some other small breeds. Read on to change all that! By the end of this article, you’ll know everything you need to about these charismatic little dogs with their cottony soft coats.

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Coton de Tulear Puppies




Be warned that as soon as you lay eyes on a tiny Coton de Tulear puppy, you might be tempted to bring that puppy home right away. But Coton pups will do best with an owner who fully understands the characteristics of this breed.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Coton de Tulear

1. No one quite knows where they came from.

While the Coton de Tulear’s presence as a breed favored by nobility and royalty is well documented, just how they ended up on the island of Madagascar in the first place is a mystery. It’s thought that shipwrecked dogs of another small breed ended up swimming ashore and lived in the jungles with other local wild dogs. It’s safe to say we’ll never know exactly what happened!

We do know that once the nobility of Madagascar discovered the Coton, they guarded their new dogs fiercely and even had laws prohibiting most people from owning this breed. Cotons weren’t allowed to leave the island, which protected the integrity of the breeding.

Cotons are still the national dog of Madagascar and are sometimes called the Royal Dog of Madagascar.

2. Their name is French.

Coton is French for “cotton” and refers to the soft coat of this breed, with its cotton-like softness and color. Tulear is a Madagascan port town, now named Toliara. Their name is pronounced “ko-ton dee too-lee-are.”

3. They were discovered by Europeans in the 1960s.

It wasn’t until the 1960s that this little breed was discovered by Europeans. Up until then, they had remained a closely guarded secret of the Madagascan nobility. When French tourists discovered the breed, they brought a few to Europe, where they soon became popular. The breed was accepted into the Federation Cynologique Internacionale in 1972. They became accepted into the American Kennel Club in 2014.

Coton de Tulear sitting on grass
Image Credit: JacLou DL, Pixabay

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Coton de Tulear 🧠

Coton de Tulears are extremely loving dogs who keep their owners entertained with their funny personalities and zest for life. They have plenty of traits that make them wonderful pets, but there are also a few things to be aware of.

While Cotons absolutely love their families, this can edge into being over territorial. If left unchecked, this can develop into excessive barking, being a little aggressive with visitors, and generally becoming a bit difficult to handle while you’re out and about. For this reason, puppy training classes and as much socialization as possible while your Coton is a puppy is important.

While they’re clever, they also have a short attention span. This means you need to find ways to keep them entertained and amused.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

Cotons have been bred to be around people as a companion dog, and your new puppy will bond tightly with their family. Cotons don’t enjoy being left alone for long periods of time and will never be happier than when surrounded by their families. While they may be small, they’re also an active breed, so they will enjoy plenty of walks and training sessions.

Unlike some small breeds, Cotons don’t tend to become nippy around small children, so they make wonderful companions for children of all ages. Remember that a well-socialized Coton will be happy to allow friends and strangers into their homes without becoming overly territorial.

They are a vocal breed, so bear that in mind if you live in an apartment or with neighbors close by. Again, this is something that good training can help control.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets? 🐶 😽

Cotons are sociable little dogs and will enjoy spending time with other pets. Just make sure introductions between new pets are made in a controlled environment, where each animal is supervised and allowed to retreat if they want to.

This breed doesn’t have a high prey drive, so you should find that they manage fine in a house with smaller pets such as rabbits or hamsters.

Coton de Tulear close up face
Image Credit: Chica de Tulear, Pixabay

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Things to Know When Owning a Coton de Tulear

Deciding to add a Coton de Tulear puppy to your family is going to need time, money, and attention. Before you make up your mind, we have more information about what these little pups require.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Cotons need a high-quality dog food, one that’s been designed specifically for smaller breeds. Whether you choose to feed wet food, kibble, or a mixture of both will depend on your personal preferences, as well as that of your Coton!

Some dogs will put on weight easily, and as this is a small breed, it doesn’t take much extra food to pile on the pounds. Make sure they’re only fed the recommended amount, and try to avoid fatty table scraps! If you use food treats in your training, remember to account for these in your pup’s daily rations.

Exercise 🐕

You’ll find that your Coton puppy has plenty of energy and will enjoy at least one medium-length walk per day. If you miss a walk, your Coton can end up becoming bored and frustrated, and most of us know that a bored dog can create trouble! It’s best to keep to a regular walk schedule so your Coton is happy and relaxed.

Mixing in fun games is also a great way to keep your Coton exercised. While Cotons are quite tough for small dogs, you shouldn’t ask them to do anything that involves jumping from too high, as that can put unnecessary strain on their joints.

Training 🦮

Coton de Tulear dogs are clever and love the challenge of training sessions. With this breed, you definitely need to focus on getting them well socialized from a young age. They are a territorial breed and will want to defend their family with barks. By getting them used to a wide range of social settings, you can make sure your Coton is a joy to be around and not just with their owners, but with everyone!

While there’s no doubt that these are clever little dogs, they can get bored easily. If your training sessions aren’t sufficiently entertaining, they’ll lose interest quickly. Positive reinforcement is a great way to keep their attention, as it uses short bursts of training mixed up with a game of fetch or a short walk.

Coton de Tulear Green
Featured Image Credit: JACLOU-DL, Pixabay

Grooming ✂️

There’s no getting around the fact that the soft and cottony coat of the Coton de Tulear needs a great deal of attention when it comes to grooming. Here, you have two options. First, you can keep your Coton’s coat long and untrimmed. This will require daily brushing sessions as the hair closest to their bodies can quickly become matted if not brushed every day.

Secondly, the other option is that you can get a groomer to give your Coton something called a “puppy clip.” This is where most of their hair will be clipped off, leaving just a short layer. As well as being easy to maintain between clips (which you’ll need to schedule every 6-12 weeks), this style of clip is incredibly cute!

Once a week, make sure to check your Coton’s teeth, ears, and nails. You can easily train your Coton to accept these sessions without any fuss.

Health and Conditions ❤️

Coton de Tulears are a healthy breed, especially considering their purebred status. There are still a few conditions that you’ll want to be aware of. Some of these are relatively minor and others are more serious. We highly recommend speaking to any breeder with pups you’re interested in and asking them about the health conditions of the parents. They should be happy to talk to you about any of these conditions in detail, as well as provide evidence of health checks if necessary.

Minor Conditions
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Urinary stones
  • Eye problems
  • Luxating patella
Serious Conditions
  • Heart disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Diabetes
  • Blood-clotting disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Spinal disc disease

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Male vs Female

Now that you know more about the sweet and charismatic Coton de Tulear, you might already have decided that they’re going to be the perfect addition to your family. These little dogs are well known for bringing an incredible amount of joy to their owners!

The next thing you need to decide is whether you’d prefer a boy or a girl pup. First, we’d recommend leaving your decision until you’ve met the pups you’re interested in. You might find that while you’d expected to choose a male puppy, it’s a little female who catches your heart and ends up coming home with you.

Puppy’s personalities won’t be dependent on their sex, so it’s always best to pick the puppy who appeals to you the most, regardless of their sex. Also, remember that many hormonal behaviors will be removed if you decide to have your pup spayed or neutered.

The other possibility, of course, is that you might not get a choice! As a relatively rare breed, puppies are sometimes going to be reserved in advance, meaning that if you do want a puppy from a certain litter, you might not get the opportunity to decide their sex. Either way, your Coton will soon have you and the whole family under their spell!

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Final Thoughts on the Coton De Tulear

It’s true that the Coton de Tulear is definitely not as well-known as some other small dog breeds, but their popularity is definitely on the rise. These little puppies are charismatic and full of energy and will become devoted to their families in no time at all.

You’ll need to spend a significant amount of time making sure your new puppy is well socialized, because if left unchecked, the Coton dog does tend to become overly territorial. They are also a loud breed, so if you value your peace and quiet, be aware that your new pup may be vocal and love a good barking session at passing traffic. Again, this is something you can reduce with consistent training.

Cotons get along well with other pets and love to be part of a family unit. Their low-shedding coats make them a great option for families with allergies too. One thing that Cotons don’t enjoy is being left alone for long periods of time. All they want is to be involved with their families at all times.

You’ll never be bored with a Coton de Tulear in the house! In fact, you might just find you have a new, sweet and fluffy white shadow who never wants to leave your side.

Featured Image Credit: Public Domain Pictures

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