Last Updated on January 3, 2023 by Becky Roberts
Quick Summary: The Coton de Tulear is a rare breed, but their unique personality deserves a lot of attention. Their funny antics will ensure that his family will be in for many laughs day in and day out. If you wish to exhibit your Coton in a show ring, it must meet a set of standards. However, you can deviate from the standards if they’re just family pets. With a long life expectancy of 15 to 19 years, you’ll spend many happy years with your canine friend.
The Coton de Tulear is a tiny white bundle of fluffy joy from Africa. This exotic and rare pup is growing in popularity in America.
This small package of pooch is charming and bright. There isn’t much to dislike about him. However, there are some things you should know about him before you allow him to live in your home.
This breed information guide contains all the details you need about this dog, including his possible pirate-pooch background, happy-go-lucky personality, exercise requirements, intense grooming needs, and more. Let’s go on a journey into the world of this guy and see if we’re a match made in heaven.
- 1 Breed History
- 2 Appearance and Size
- 3 Colors and Coats
- 4 Temperament, Mood, and Demeanor
- 5 Exercise Requirements
- 6 Training and Socialization
- 7 Living Conditions
- 8 Nutrition and Food Guide
- 9 Grooming Needs
- 10 Health Issues
- 11 Cotons as Family Pets
- 12 Breeders and Puppy Costs/Prices
- 13 Conclusion
The Coton de Tulear hails from the island of Madagascar, namely the port of Tulear, which is 250 miles off the southeastern coast of Africa. This pup is an African breed, but he is closer to France – this is due to Madagascar’s colonial past. This is why the pup’s French name is “Ko-Tone Dih TooLay-Are.
The history of this cute dog is kept secret because the Madagascan elites were jealous guardians of their beloved doggos. They passed a law that prohibited commoners from owning a Coton. Many believe they arrived on the island over 100 years ago. Many stories are told about how and why they arrived in Madagascar.
One story tells how the little white dogs saved the island from a shipwreck. It is likely that these Bichon Frise-related pups accompanied wealthy ladies on their voyages where they eventually established roots. Some Cotons became street dogs, while others joined the royal household.
They were kept on an island in secret until the 1960s when a visiting Frenchman discovered these delightful pups and took them back to France. He promoted the breed and helped to standardize it. The story goes that Cotons first came to America shortly after this in 1973, thanks to Dr. Robert Jay Russell. He fell in love with this breed and brought them back to America.
He was the official Royal Dog in Madagascar and this title is still in use today. These wonderful dogs are proudly owned by famous celebrities like Barbara Streisand and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Appearance and Size
Females typically weigh between 8 and 13 pounds, and they measure between 9 and 10 inches tall, from paw to shoulder. Although males tend to be slightly larger, there are exceptions. They typically weigh between 9 and 15 pounds, and they measure between 10 and 11 inches tall.
Cotons are shorter than their height, which gives them a rectangular shape. Their tails reach their hocks and they can be seen moving with a long, straight tail. They have very round eyes that are often black and are always happy to express their happiness. Their ears reach the jawline and are long and pendulous. Indeed, they are a fluffy, happy bundle of doggy goodness.
If you wish to exhibit your Coton in a show ring, there is a set of standards that they must meet. All of these standards can be found on the AKC website. You can allow them to deviate from this breed standard if they are a family pet – this doesn’t affect their personality. Breeders will often price pups that are not in line with the breed standard lower than their parents.
Colors and Coats
Their coat is different from nearly all other dogs. Many believe that it is a result of a genetic mutation from many centuries ago. It is dense and long. Their coat is long and wavy giving them a Poodle-esque appearance. They are double-coated, and they are not hypoallergenic. They mature at four inches in length. Many owners tie their dog’s hair in a cute knot so they can see their gorgeous eyes.
The preferred Coton color for their coat is all white. Some people have light gray hairs around their ears, which is often light gray or light brown. They can also have these hairs all over their bodies. These shadings are common in puppies, and they usually disappear after one year. If you are looking to exhibit your dog in the show ring, however, all-white dogs will be preferred.
Temperament, Mood, and Demeanor
Cotons are very friendly and their never-ending antics will make their family laugh every day. They take their role as family entertainers very seriously, and they do it very well. They are a joy to be around and brighten everyone’s day with their happy-go-lucky personalities.
This breed is playful and not too boisterous at home. Coton lovers love them for this reason. They are also very in tune with their family and can tell when someone is just looking for a cuddle. These sympathetic dogs make great therapy dogs. They are balanced and can be trained to behave well.
This charming breed is very sociable. He gets along with everyone. Visitors and strangers are not to be worried about being warned. This pup will likely lick them to death. That said, Cotons is not the best choice if you are looking for a guard dog. Cotons is a sweet, friendly dog who wants to make friends with everyone. He makes a great companion for travel.
They love their family and can’t bear to be apart from them. However, they are attracted to their primary caretaker, which is different from other companionship dogs. Similar to German Shepherds, Cotons can be described as one-person dogs. And once he has made the choice, he is set for life.
Cotons are sensitive dogs who crave human companionship. They will follow you everywhere. They are a prime candidate to suffer from separation anxiety. While some people love their neediness, it can sometimes be frustrating for owners who want a more independent dog. They are simply happy to be with you, unlike other needy dogs.
This breed is not your average small lapdog. He will not be content to sit still for long periods of time. Their exercise requirements are not excessive, however. They’ll need at least 30 to 45 minutes of exercise every day. But they could happily take up to 60 minutes if you have the time to give them. Playtime at home can count as exercise because of their little legs.
Cotons have a lot of cognitive energy, so they need mental stimulation all day. You can expect them to be unhappy, bored, and destructive if you don’t give them this stimulation. They love to entertain so why not get them a few toys that they can tug on and fetch? You can keep them busy with solo play by giving them a puzzle toy that releases treats.
Training and Socialization
These dogs are easy to train. These dogs are very eager to please their owners and are open to learning new tricks. Yes, they are suitable for new dog owners. You will need to teach them a few things because they won’t become happy pups without you.
Start your Coton’s training right away. Set up the house rules (are the dogs allowed on the couch? or upstairs?). Stick to the rules. This will simplify training and make it less stressful to change the rules every week. Although dog training takes patience, you will soon see results with consistency. Positive reinforcement is the best method of training. They will be motivated by praise, treats, and toys in equal amounts.
Socialization is an important part of dog training, even for polite dogs like this one. Good breeders will socialize their litters before you bring your Coton home. It’s up to you to keep the training going. You can mix them with other dogs, animals, people, and as many new experiences as you like. The crucial socialization period is 3 to 12 weeks. Doggy parks are an excellent way to socialize your dog.
Another recommendation for this breed of dog is crate training. Because they are sensitive dogs who are prone to separation anxiety, research has shown that providing them with a safe place and enough exercise can help calm their nerves. You can also rest assured that your dog won’t be chewing on your furniture when you’re not there.
This breed’s adaptability and versatility are some of its greatest appeals. He can live anywhere from small apartments in the city to large estates in the country and everything in between. He only wants to be with his family for the majority of the day. He cannot bear to be away from his family for more than a few minutes.
Cotons would prefer to have access to a private yard, but this is not necessary. You will need to dog-proof their private yard if they have one. A secure yard is vital for this friendly dog. He will often go off with anyone he thinks is his best friend.
The Coton’s friendliness means that he is able to live with any child. Although he may be small, he is strong enough to withstand the abuse of young children. Still, it is important that children learn how to properly interact with dogs to ensure safety and sanity for all.
Nutrition and Food Guide
Cotons will eat half to one cup of food each day. Divide this allowance into two meals. The amount you feed your dog will depend on their age, weight, and activity level. To avoid feeding them too much, make sure to follow the instructions on the packaging.
There are 3 important things you should remember about your Coton’s nutritional needs:
- Choose a food specifically designed for small breeds.
- Make sure they are fed a healthy diet, especially in the senior and developmental stages.
- Always feed them high-quality food that meets their nutritional needs. Low-quality dog food can cause nutritional deficiencies.
Start grooming your Coton from a puppy so that they can get used to you handling them. You might consider switching to a different breed if you don’t have the time or patience to care for their coat.
Cotons have a unique double coat that is similar to cotton. Your puppy’s puppy coat will be shorter and more manageable than an adult one. It can last from eight weeks to eighteen months. Your puppy will need to be brushed daily to avoid mats.
From 8 to 15 months of age, the adult coat will start to come in and the cotton texture starts to emerge. This coat is thicker and longer. This creates a problem for the Coton with matting and tangling. Daily grooming is therefore necessary, but it should only take around 15 minutes. Concentrate your attention on matt-prone areas like behind the ears, the legs, and the elbows.
Spray your dog with a doggy conditioner if you see any tangling. This will help to loosen the knots. Matting can cause severe skin irritations and may eventually lead to a complete shave. For those who want a simpler grooming routine, a short clip can make their hair easier. They will still need to be brushed daily, but it will take less time. This is not an option for show dogs.
A pin brush is the best tool to groom your Coton’s hair. It removes dead hair, tangles, and mats. The finishing comb can be used to give your dog a final touch and make sure they are clean. This will cause dead hair to get trapped in your dog’s coat. This is great news for people who don’t want excessive doggy hair. However, it also means that you must get it out. Before you bathe your Coton, it is important to untangle them. If you don’t, your tangles can get worse.
Most Coton owners bathe their pup at least once every four weeks. Show pups may need to be washed more frequently. It is important to thoroughly rinse and dry their coats. Damp coats can lead to infection and bacteria growth. Many owners choose to have their pets groomed by professionals. Make sure your groomer is knowledgeable about Coton coats.
You should brush your Coton’s teeth at least three times a week in order to avoid periodontal disease. Because their little mouths are so small, their teeth need extra care. Small white dogs can stain around their eyes and mouth. If this is something that you are looking for, many products can be used to remove staining.
Coton’s overall health is generally better than that of the average dog. It also has a long life expectancy. At 15 to 19 years, you’ll have many happy years with them. To ensure they live to the fullest, you must keep them healthy.
Regular health checkups and regular exercise are great ways to ensure your pet’s health. It is a great idea to work with a quality breeder that screens for health concerns.
Below are the most common health conditions that can be found in the Coton bloodline. Although it is not an exhaustive list, this is a good place to start your research. These conditions are rare, according to the AKC.
Eye problems are common in many breeds of dogs. Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is the most common eye condition in Cotons. PRA, a degenerative retinal disease, can lead to complete vision loss. It’s time to take your dog to the vet if they become more sensitive to light than usual or rub them more often.
This condition is the most common to affect most dogs. This condition can be passed down from their parents or can occur as a result of rapid growth. They may experience reduced mobility, pain, or difficulty standing, sitting, or climbing.
This is another common skeletal problem in small dog breeds. It affects the kneecap and can cause dislocation. It is a painful condition that can reduce mobility. You should look out for signs that your fluff ball is kicking out of place or walking unevenly.
Cotons as Family Pets
These white fluffy white puppies are generally:
- Super adaptable to most types of families.
- Comical little canines who love to make people laugh every second of every day.
- Very affectionate dogs, but they have a soft spot for their primary caregiver.
- Friendly and will welcome strangers and intruders in with open arms.
- Eager to please and super trainable, meaning they are also obedient pets.
- Good family dogs and love the company of children of all ages and other animals.
- Active and need between 30 and 45 minutes of exercise every day, so they need a moderately active family.
- High-maintenance and require an incredibly intense grooming regime compared to most other dogs, so this is something that will take up a lot of your time.
- Social and hate to be left alone, but thankfully, they aren’t too needy when you are home either.
- Happy-go-lucky dogs that are tons of fun for the whole family.
Breeders and Puppy Costs/Prices
Depending on where you live, you might need to travel to locate a reliable breeder. Research is key before you commit to working with any breeder. This can make the difference between buying healthy puppies or sick ones. A great place to start your search is on the AKC’s Coton de Tulear breeder page.
Responsible breeders will do all they can to produce healthy litter and promote the health of the breed.
This involves screening parents for health issues. They will continue to follow up on this by socializing the pups and performing regular health checks. Always meet your pups and their parents in person and request to see any health certificates.
The average starting price of a Coton puppy from a reputable breeder is around $2,000. But online sources show it can reach up to $4,000 or more for a pup from a quality show dog lineage. It is important to consider the ongoing costs associated with owning a dog. From setting up the home to taking care of them. They are smaller than a large doggo, so they won’t be as expensive.
A puppy mill or irresponsible breeder will offer lower prices for puppies. It might sound appealing, but you’ll likely end up with a sick or neglected puppy. You will end up paying more for training and vet bills. Many people don’t know that pet shops often source their pups also from irresponsible breeders. It is best to choose a responsible breeder.
The Coton de Tulear is a rare breed, but their large personality deserves a lot more attention. It’s clear to see why Coton lovers love these adorable little dogs after reading this breed guide. They are friendly, playful, affectionate, loving, well-balanced, and friendly. Consider yourself fortunate if you’re able to provide the companionship and basic needs that they need and provide them with the love and affection they deserve.