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The Coton de Tulear is also known by the names: Coton, Cotie.

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The Coton de Tulear (pronounced co-tonne der two-lee-are) originated on the island of Madagascar and is one of the Bichon family. The name comes from the cotton-like texture of the coat and the Malagasy port of Tulear. Quite how the progenitors of the breed arrived on Madagascar cannot be ascertained as there is no reliable record of the breed’s early history. Whether Bichon-type dogs were deliberately introduced as trade goods and favours; whether they were fortunate survivors of a shipwreck on the coast; whether they accompanied French colonists or troops - all is speculation. While the truth may be elusive it does seem certain that the Coton de Tulear is the result of French Bichon types breeding with the native dogs of Madagascar. The appealing offspring of these matings caught the eye of the Malagasy nobility and in the 17th century ownership and breeding of the Coton was restricted to those of noble rank. It was not until 1977 that the Coton de Tulear was imported into Europe. Despite the fact that it is the Official Dog of Madagascar the Coton is not numerous in its homeland. It has slowly gained popularity elsewhere, particularly in the U.S.A., but is still considered to be a rare breed.


This charming small dog, renowned for his sweet nature, is an excellent companion for people of all ages. He forms a strong bond of attachment to his owners and his greatest pleasure is to be with his people, wherever they are and whatever they are doing. Solitude is anathema to him. He needs company and affection and must be regarded as part of the family and included in as many activities as possible. Playful and energetic he is a good friend for considerate children and will join in their games with delight and boundless enthusiasm. It is important that he is gently but firmly educated in acceptable behaviour as his captivating appearance and winning personality make him a good candidate for spoiling and he will be fast to take advantage of any indulgence, which may result in him believing that the household revolves around him and his whims. He is a very good watchdog as he is always alert to what is going on and he will bark to announce visitors or anything unusual occurring on his territory. Some Cotons de Tulear are more sociable than others who may be somewhat wary of strangers and not disposed to make friends without a good deal of consideration. Although he is a member of the Toy Group, and he does enjoy the role of lap-dog, the Coton is a hardy fellow quite happy to participate in vigorous games with other dogs and to get wet and muddy searching for rats and other small elusive creatures. He is a rather vocal dog when excited or happy. with an expressive vocabulary of grunts, sighs, rumbles and whimpers. Cotons are long-lived but, no matter his age, he never loses that puppy-like zest for life which, with his joyful heart, makes him such a pleasure to know.


The Coton de Tulear requires only a moderate amount of exercise and will get almost sufficient to keep him fit by playing and running around the house and garden. However, he does enjoy getting out and about and a daily walk, in any weather, will be much appreciated. It will provide him with the interest of new scents and sights to keep his mind stimulated as well as being the means of expending some of his energy. The fast and nimble Coton is well suited to the canine sport of agility.


In order that the Coton should be an enjoyable companion and acceptable to the community early basic obedience training is necessary. His intelligence, eagerness to please, and his love of food mean that training should present no major difficulties. Only positive methods using treats and praise as rewards for good work should be used. Rough handling and angry voices will only frighten and confuse him, undermining his confidence and eroding his trust and respect. It is important that the pup is introduced to as many new people, places, sights and sounds as possible during his formative months. This early socialization will prepare him for life in the world as a confident, friendly, well-adjusted adult.


  • Neo-natal ataxia
  • progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
  • patella luxation
  • hip dysplasia
  • elbow dysplasia


Some photographs of the Coton de Tulear...

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AKC not listed
ANKC not listed
CKC Toy Group
FCI Group 1
IKC Group 1
KC Toy Group
KUSA Toy Group
NZKC not listed





Expected Lifespan

13 to 16 years



25 - 32 cm (9.8 - 12.6 ins)


Smaller than dogs



3 - 4 kg (6.6 - 8.8 lbs)


Lighter than dogs


Cotton texture. Long, fine, slightly wavy


White. May have lemon or grey on ears

  • Companion Breeds
  • Pure Breed

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