- Activity Level: moderate
- Grooming Level: low
- Trainability: high
- Adaptability: high
- Kid/Pet Friendly: often
- Average Size: Small
- Average Lifespan: 14-16 years
- Prey Drive: low
- Watchdog: chill
- Registered?: aca, akc
Coton de Tulear Breed Profile
The Coton de Tuléar is the quintessential happy-go-lucky pooch. The Coton (pronounced kah-tone) is a bouncy little companion dog that is primarily valued for its adorable personality and cute, stuffed-animal-like appearance. The breed originated in Madagascar several hundred years ago and is named for a port city there. The Coton de Tuléar is the national dog of the island of Madagascar. It is related to the Bichon Frise and the Maltese, but has its own distinct character.
In the 1970s, the Coton was brought to Europe and to the United States, cultivating a history of living a life of luxury as a companion to the upper classes. Some have speculated that it was used as a ratter on ships, but its lack of a hunting instinct belies that characterization. In addition to its charming personality, a notable feature is its “cottony” coat and funny “mustache and beard” muzzle. Its coat, which is silky-soft to the touch, makes it a favorite accessory for owners – including certain celebrities – who find keeping this pet close more than they can resist. The dog breed was recognized by the AKC in 2014 as part of the Non-Sporting Group and is certainly recognized by the top European dog clubs.
The Coton de Tuléar breed is all about temperament; they possess an abundance of personality, which is the primary reason for the popularity of this little dog. They so thoroughly enjoy being the center of attention that they can become clownish and entertaining. A standout talent of the Coton is their ability to stand on his hind legs. They will do this little trick frequently for praise and attention and, perhaps, for their own amusement. The Coton will also tilt their furry head in response to being spoken to in a comical jerk that highlights their long mustache and beard. Adding to the Coton spectacle are their vocalizations. Cotons make some funny noises when they’re playing, including high-pitched, short barking vocalizations and a range of grunting noises.
The Coton is an easily integrated member of the family and they are also exceptionally friendly to visitors at the home and strangers on the street. They are enthusiastic about interaction with people and are a face-licker to display their affection. The Coton will carefully shadow you wherever you go, enjoying the sheer pleasure of being in your presence. The family, single, or older owner that fully appreciates the affable character of this dog will find their temperament to be simply perfect.
Perhaps the second best characteristic of the Coton de Tuléar, next to their temperament and trainability, is their adaptability. They can literally go anywhere with you, and will often be comfortable nestled in a handbag or happy to trail just behind you as you make your way about town. The Coton de Tulear a low-maintenance pet who is happy as long as they are near you. This makes them an easy and excellent traveling companion.
When it’s time for play, they are excited and playful, but when it’s time to chill out, they wait patiently for your instruction. The Coton is, as you may have guessed, a great pet for apartment dwellers. If the suburbs are where you call home, a nice yard and a short, daily walk is all they need to be well-exercised. Extreme temperatures – especially cold – won’t be suitable for this animal because their coat is not thick enough to provide much insulation.
The Coton, once properly socialized, gets along with everybody: kids, other dogs, cats, and other pets. The only extra care necessary for the Coton is ensuring that they have company; they do not tend to do well being left alone. These dogs can experience extreme separation anxiety if left alone for too long. Therefore, they make an ideal pet for the older owner or empty nester who can be with them around the clock.
The Coton de Tuléar is a very healthy dog breed. Yet, they are especially susceptible to a collection of manageable health issues. Minor health concerns include allergies that cause itchy skin. The Coton has especially large ear canals, which are vulnerable to infection. A relatively small percentage of Coton de Tulears develop heart disease. Eye and disc problems may be accelerating in frequency due to improper, small gene pool breeding practices.
Also rare, but worth mentioning, are urinary stones and hypothyroidism. Finally, the Coton de Tuléar, like many other small dogs, is prone to dental disease. Asking the breeder about the genetic history of the parents and to see any relevant health clearances or tests can help allay some of these health concerns. Proper care throughout your Coton’s life can also help prevent ear infections, skin conditions, and dental issues.
The Coton is exalted as a highly trainable pet and a good fit for owners of all experience levels due, in large measure, to their intelligence and eagerness to please. They excel at obedience and agility. They are also a quick study, learning the family’s daily or weekly routines and adapting their needs to them. Fans of the Coton de Tuléar are delighted by their spritely companion’s happy disposition and intelligence. Even for those dog owners, who were not formerly fans of small dog breeds, find this breed’s optimism infectious.
Their “portability” is another big plus for those who like to travel with their pet. The single dog owner will love the great company the Coton provides. For families, the Coton may be one of several pets, and one who is easily integrated into “the pack.” This is a low-maintenance dog with just the right amount of childlike energy for a lifetime of playful experiences. For the allergy-prone family member, the Coton’s hypoallergenic coat can be an added advantage.
The third best quality of the Coton de Tuléar might be its easy-to-groom fur. The Coton’s coat, though hairy and fluffy, doesn’t require much more than a little brushing to keep it tangle-free. An occasional bath, which can be performed in a sink instead of a bathtub or outdoors, is all that’s needed to keep your Coton’s coat clean and healthy. Many owners enjoy grooming their Cotons and experimenting with various cutesy hairstyles and even little costumes. The attention-loving Coton is fine with all of it.
Their ears must be inspected and cleaned regularly to prevent infection. Their skin should also be monitored for dryness, which can cause uncomfortable itching. Additionally, you should aim to brush your dog’s teeth every day. Because the Coton, like all small dogs, is prone to dental disease, it is important to clean their teeth regularly to prevent the tartar buildup that leads to gum disease and tooth decay. You also want to trim their nails regularly to ensure they do not become too long and start to cause your precious pooch pain while they move around. Trimming nails at least on a monthly basis should be sufficient. Getting your Coton used to having their ears, paws, and mouth handled as a puppy will keep the grooming experience a positive one and make grooming easier throughout their life.
The Coton de Tuléar can be highly active or easy-going, depending on what’s going on with their owners. They love to be a part of what you’re doing. So, if that involves long walks, the Coton can likely keep up. Although they are always ready for play, they can be at peace just sitting in your lap for hours.
However your Coton is trained is how they’ll display their activity level. The Coton should not be sedentary or hyperactive; these are signs that something’s not right. The Coton’s activity level overall is moderate and is appropriate to the environment, but it is most often marked by a measured, happy enthusiasm to engage.
The Coton de Tuléar is a small dog that usually stands between just 8 and 12 inches at the shoulder, with only about an inch of a height difference between males and females. Males generally weigh between 9 and 15 pounds and females generally weigh between 8 and 13 pounds.
The Coton de Tuléar enjoys a long lifespan of about 14 to 16 years with some living 19 years or more!
The unproven consensus is that the Coton de Tuléar dog breed was brought to Madagascar during the 16th and 17th centuries aboard pirate ships. It has also been featured on Madagascar’s postage stamps.