Coton De Tulear Dog Breed Guide: Facts, Health & Care

Coton De Tulear Dog Breed Guide: Facts, Health & Care

The Royal Dog of Madagascar

The Coton De Tulear originated from Madagascar where they were also known as “The Royal Dog of Madagascar.” Aside from their appearance, the breed is well-loved for their sweet personality, making them a favorite not only in the United States but throughout the world.

In this complete guide, we explore the breed’s history, appearance, personality, and more. Scroll down to find out why the breed has earned its place in The American Kennel Club’s official list of breeds.

Coton de tulear dog breed guide: facts, health & care

Breed Basics

Breed Group Non-Sporting Group
Temperament Charming, Bright, Happy-Go-Lucky
Life Span 15-19 years 
Weight 9-15 pounds (male), 8-13 pounds (female)
Height 10-11 inches (male), 9-10 inches (female)
Colors White
Origin Madagascar

Coton De Tulear History

The Coton De Tulear (KO-Tone Dih TOO-Lay-ARE) derived its name from its cotton-like hair coat and the seaport of Tulear in the Island of Madagascar where they came from. These charming dogs were highly favored by the island’s nobles and elites.

Much like Havanese dogs who traveled to Cuba,  Cotons arrived in Madagascar several centuries ago. A Frenchman visiting the island in the 1790s brought some of these white dogs back to France and fine-tuned them to develop the breed. The introduction of the Coton De Tulear to North America soon followed. However, it was only in 2014 when the Coton was recognized by the AKC as its 179th breed.

Coton De Tulear Appearance

The Coton de Tulear can easily be recognized by their very soft thick hair. They have a short and triangular head with a prominent black nose, and their somewhat round eyes are brown or black in color.

Male Cotons are 25–30 cm (9.8–11.8 in) in height and weigh 4–6 kg (8.8–13.2 lb). Female Cotons are 22–27 cm (8.7–10.6 in) tall and weigh 3.5–5 kg (7.7–11.0 lb).
Coat & Color

Their voluminous, white, cottony hair coat is one of the hallmarks of the breed. The dense hair coat promotes air circulation and insulates the dog from temperature extremes.

Cotons are considered hypoallergenic because they are non-shedding and have low dander. Shedding generally occurs in puppies to give way to adult hair.

Their hair coat comes in 3 colors: all white, sometimes with tan or gray markings in the ear. There are also black and white, and tricolor Cotons. However, black color in any age is a disqualification based on AKC standards.

Puppies may be born all white or with yellow, tan, roan, or black spots on their head, ears, and sometimes their bodies, but these spots usually disappear with age, leaving behind light shadings of gray or light tan.

Coton de tulear dog breed guide: facts, health & care

Grooming & Maintenance

The Coton’s dense long hair coat is prone to forming mats and tangles. Daily brushing using a pin brush with uncoated metal pins can help prevent this issue. Special attention should be made when brushing behind the ears, elbows, and legs. A spray conditioner may be applied to lessen the possibility of hair breakage.

Use a fine-toothed metal comb for the hair on the Coton’s face. A cute topknot secured by a coated hair elastic can reveal the dog’s e eyes. Some Cotton owners keep their pet’s hair coat short for easier care.

Bathing depends on how dirty your Coton gets. A whitening shampoo can help keep his hair coat looking sleek and shiny. After a bath, avoid rubbing your pet with a towel to prevent his hair coat from knotting up. Pat him damp-dry and blow him dry while brushing his coat.

The ears should be checked several times a week. Any excess hair should be removed. Ear cleaning may be needed when there is excess wax or debris on the ear canal. Your Coton will also need a good home dental regimen and proper nail care.
Coton De Tulear Temperament & Personality

“Naturally clownish, boisterous, lighthearted,” These are just some of the endearing descriptions of the “Royal Dog of Madagascar.”

Cotons are always on the lookout for a chance to spend time with their humans. These dogs crave attention. They can form strong bonds with family members, which makes them prone to separation anxiety and develop destructive behaviors.

These dogs are very friendly even with strangers. They thrive well in a multi-pet household. Cotons benefit from early socialization so they would grow to be well-adjusted, confident, and happy dogs.

Female Cotons tend to be more independent compared to males and often dominate over them.

Although they tend to be quiet, they can become very vocal when excited and having fun. They can easily adjust to any kind of environment.

Training Your Coton De Tulear

Cotons are very easy to train because they are eager to please people. But they can be stubborn and possess strong territorial instincts. It may be difficult to get them to be housebroken, but with a regular potty regimen and lots of positive reinforcement, desired results can be achieved.

Training of puppies should start immediately after bringing them home. The first training regimens for your Coton puppy include housetraining and crate training.
Early socialization is very important to ensure that your Coton pup won’t have any problems meeting new people, dogs, and other pets as they grow and mature.

These dogs excel in agility and obedience events. They can also be trained to perform tricks.

Coton De Tulear Exercise Requirements & Energy Level

Coton De Tulears have moderate exercise needs. They will benefit from at least a 30-40 minute daily physical activity. These vivacious dogs are alert little lap dogs. They’re always on the lookout for a game. Daily walks or a game of fetch can help them burn pent-up energy.

Shorter walks are better over long distances which can be tiring for their small legs. Make sure that your pet’s preventatives and vaccinations are up-to-date before taking your pet on outdoor excursions.

Adequate opportunities for physical and mental stimulation can keep your Coton busy and away from boredom.

Common Coton De Tulear Health Issues

The Coton is generally a healthy breed with a very low percentage of genetic health issues. According to the AKC, known incidences are about one to five percent.

The most serious medical conditions that they can possibly develop include back problems, eye conditions, and liver shunts. It’s important to remember never to give your dog human medication when it’s in pain, consult a vet first.

Health Concerns

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy and other eye problems
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Luxating Patella
  • Spinal Disc Disease

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Patella Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • Hip Evaluation
  • Cardiac Exam

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Diet & Nutritional Needs: Feeding Your Coton De Tulear

High-quality pet food that is complete and balanced and appropriate for the dog’s life stage (puppy, adult, senior) can sufficiently meet all the nutrients that their body needs every day. Portion meals are better compared to leaving food out all day.

While treats are essential tools in training, they should be given in moderation as they are important sources of additional calories. Giving your dog human food and table scraps is not recommended.

But make sure that the food is free of ingredients that are harmful to dogs, such as high fat, artificial colors, and additives. If you have concerns about your pet’s diet and/or eating habits, consult with your veterinarian.

Tips for Adopting & Raising a Coton De Tulear

A Coton De Tulear puppy from a reputable breeder typically costs anywhere from $2000 to $3000 but a show or breedable quality pup may cost between $3000 to $4000. Make sure to ask the dog breeder for health certifications for the puppy and the puppy’s parents.

A much lower price for a Coton puppy can be available when you choose to adopt from a shelter or a rescue. The average cost of adoption is between $150 to $300 to cover dog care expenses before adoption.

A Coton De Tulear gets along well with people and pets, which makes them a wonderful addition to any family. They thrive with lots of attention from their owner as well as plenty of opportunities for physical and mental stimulation.

If you’re looking for a pup that’s hypoallergenic, these smart and affectionate dogs are a great choice.

Coton de tulear dog breed guide: facts, health & care

Coton De Tulear FAQs

Q: Do Coton De Tulear dogs bark a lot?
A: Cotons are average barkers. They usually bark when they see or hear something they are not familiar with. Persistent barking in Cotons must be addressed by finding the root of the problem and addressing it appropriately. 

Q: How many hours do Coton De Tulear sleep?
A: Cotons are not lap dogs. They usually sleep between 12-14 hours a day on average. They are always on the lookout for opportunities to interact and play with their humans. 

Q: Do Coton De Tulear like to cuddle?
A: Cotons are sweet and affectionate dogs. They love to spend time cuddling with their owners. They thrive with plenty of attention and a great deal of companionship. 

Q: Are Coton De Tulear easy to potty train?
A:  Potty training may be a breeze for some Cotons but there are those that are quite stubborn and will need consistent training coupled with positive reinforcement to achieve desired results. 

Official Breed Club: United States Of America Coton De Tulear Club
Rescue A Coton De Tulear: Coton De Tulear Rescue Of America
Official AKC Profile: Coton De Tulear Dog Breed Information
Breed Standard: Official Standard for the Coton De Tulear
Find a Puppy – AKC Marketplace: Coton De Tulear AKC Puppy Finder

Recommended Products for Coton De Tulear

Similar Dog Breeds

Related Groups & Characteristics