Allow us to introduce you to the rare, ancient, and pure-bred dog called The Coton de Tulear (pronounced coe-TAWN day TULE-ee-r). The Coton de Tulear officially joined the American Kennel Club in 2014. Up until that time, we registered our Cotons with United Kennel Club. When news of the Coton's acceptance into the Westminster Dog Show was released, we received a phone call for Fox 10 Arizona Morning Show asking if we would bring some of our dogs to the studio the next day so they could feature the Coton on the show. What fun we had taking Eliza, Emma, and Fabien along with a puppy from one of our current litters to the Fox 10 studio the next day. We used to have a link to that segment of the show on our website but sadly, they have taken that link down and it is not available to us anymore. But for a while our beautiful Eliza, Emma and Fabien were STARS! (Someone called later that day and bought the puppy!)
This loveable, happy dog, indigenous to Madagascar on the continent of Africa, possesses a beautiful all-white coat that distinguishes it from most other breeds. Although documentation on the Coton is sparse and sketchy, it is generally accepted that the breed originated from Europe and Africa.
Today's Coton de Tulear is believed to have originated from these Bichon-like native dogs. Like the Bichon, the Coton is predominantly all-white. Unlike the Bichon, the Coton is noted for slight variations in color markings. It is believed that the native to Madagascar interbred with stray terriers indigenous to the island, which explains the Coton's insatiable curiosity and the "Coton's inability to resist going after the neighbor's poor chickens," (Coton de Tulear, by Wolfgang Knorr). According to Knorr, this terrier known as the Bedlington Terrier, brought along by French colonists, contributed to the Coton's characteristically arched back, longer legs and two distinct skin colors: gray and pink.
The history of the Coton de Tulear is poorly documented. But, the most common belief is that they are descendants of dogs who survived an ancient shipwreck near the Madagascar coast. Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island, and lies in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa. The little white dogs who swam ashore to the port of Tulear were the now extinct Coton de Reunions. The dogs settled on the island and bred with the local terriers resulting in what we now know as the Coton de Tulear. During the 17th century, the Merina, who were the ruling tribal monarchy in Madagascar closely controlled the breed. They forbid both coastal tribesmen and non-noblemen from owning the dog. The Coton became known as the “Royal Dog of Madagascar.” Later, conquering French colonists adopted the dog as well, and only those persons in the top echelon of society were allowed to own a Coton de Tulear. Political and economic crises in Madagascar now threaten the dog with extinction in its own native land. The Coton was honored on a Madagascar postage stamp in 1974.
Also in 1974, Dr. Robert Jay Russell, a biologist studying Madagascar’s lemurs, sent Coton breeding stock to America. Three years later they were introduced in Europe. The dogs were enthusiastically received, and are quickly becoming one of the fastest growing rare breeds in America and Europe. This “Royal Dog of Madagascar” became popular for its extraordinary connection to humans. The Coton is the ultimate companion dog, and lovers of the breed attribute to them almost human qualities when describing their dogs. This adorable ball of fluff is no fragile toy. The Coton is sturdy and versatile. Despite their small size, they're a lively, playful companion and are always ready for playtime or a good romp. Cotons de Tulears are remarkably agile and trainable. They excel at dog sports such as agility and are eager to learn new tricks. Fans of the breed will tell you that the Coton is unusually responsive to humans. They describe them as possessing “remarkably gentle, sympathetic awareness” and as being “witty companions.” When you talk to a Coton, he really does seem to be listening. The Coton de Tulear is known for his unique vocalizing. So when you talk to him, he may actually answer back. There is no such thing as too much love with a Coton. First and foremost he's a companion dog, thriving on human attention and affection.
The name Coton derives from the French word for cotton, thus, the name means "cotton of Tulear". The Coton de Tulear earned this name in part for a port city in Madagascar called Tulear and because the look and texture of their coat resembles a wad of cotton wool, a trait that causes it to stand out from almost all other dog breeds. Their coat has a wind-tossed appearance and, though it requires regular grooming, is probably among the easiest to maintain of any long-haired breed. Cotons shed very little, have little or no dander (a cause of allergies in people), qualifying it as a hypoallergenic dog. They have little or no doggy odor, a dry hair-like coat that sheds dirt-essentially this is a dog clean enough to sleep in your bed!
Ideally, the companion Coton has a relatively easy to care for coat. Many Coton de Tulear owners make a run for the groomer when their Coton is between 6 and 18 months of age for a "puppy cut". This is the "blowing coat" stage in their development when it seems all the under hair comes loose at once. Don't worry-your Coton will still look adorable with a puppy cut. Most, but not all, Cotons have undercoats. This is the fine, downy hair under their coat that mats as it loosens from the skin. These loose hairs are held in by the coarser and longer outer hair and stay locked in the coat instead of being shed all over the house. This sounds ideal, however, without regular brushing and/or combing mats and knots will form close to the skin and can be difficult (and painful) to remove. Coats vary and many Cotons have long, thick hair that may require a bit more attention to care for. Many owners easily get by with an overall combing once or twice a week although many families enjoy the social experience of daily grooming.
There are three color varieties seen: White (often with champagne color patches); Black-and-white; and Tri-color. A Tri-color often is born with a lot of color which gradually fades so that the adult is mostly white with champagne patches and a faint, irregular "dusting" of black hairs. Black & White Cotons retain their color throughout their lives.
white with champagne markings. black and white tri-colored