The Coton de Tuléar dog: origin, characteristics and care

The Coton de Tulear, originally from Madagascar, is a dog with white and silky hair and affectionate character. We tell you everything you need to know about this breed.

Everything you need to know about the cotón de Tuléar, the dog with the cotton hair

The cotón de Tuléar, sometimes called Malagasy dog, is a beautiful dog from Madagascar that stands out both for its attractive physical appearance – its body is covered by a very soft cottony mane to which it owes its name – and for its loyal and affectionate character.

This small dog is also very versatile and can become the ideal companion for both families and people who live alone, even in small flats or urban environments.

In this article we are going to tell you everything you need to know about the cotón de Tuléar so that you become familiar with this curious breed and decide if it could fit with your lifestyle. Origin, characteristics, education, health and more: it’s time to get to know the Coton de Tuléar better.

Coton de Tuléar

Origin of the Coton de Tuléar

The Coton de Tuléar is a dog native to Madagascar, an island country located in Southeast Africa.

It is believed that the ancestors of the cotón de Tuléar were dogs of the family of the bichones that arrived on the island between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries aboard pirate ships or perhaps brought by Portuguese or English sailors and traders.

Coton de Tuléar

It is unclear whether the ancestors of the coton traveled on ships as companion dogs or if they were used for vermin control. Be that as it may, they stayed in Madagascar and the breed began to develop there.

Tuléar is, in fact, a Malagasy city, which today is called Toliara. The breed was first described by Étienne de Flacourt, French governor of Madagascar.

Little physically gifted for hunting or protection, the Coton de Tuléar was always a companion dog for both the Malagasy (especially for the upper classes and the nobility of the main tribes) and for the Europeans who lived on the island, and who later took it back to Europe.

Of course, the main characteristic of the coton de Tuléar and the one that gives it its name (coton means “cotton” in French) is its mane, with a soft and fluffy texture similar to that of cotton and that seems to have its origin in a genetic mutation.

Coton de Tuléar

By the mid to late twentieth century, the Coton de Tuléar was already considered the national dog of Madagascar.

In 1970 it was accepted and registered by the French Societé Centrale Canine and only two years later, in 1972, by the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI). At that time also began the spread of the race in America.

The Coton de Tuléar remains a relatively unknown dog today, but its popularity is growing little by little as more people discover all the virtues of this charming animal.

Coton de Tuléar

What is the Coton de Tuléar like?

Physical characteristics of the Coton de Tuléar

The Coton de Tuléar is a light and small dog. These are its measurements:

  • Height: from 26 to 28 cm for males, from 23 to 25 cm for females.
  • Weight: 4 to 6 kilos males, 3.5 to 5 kg in the case of females.

Coton de Tuléar

Cotons have a body slightly longer than tall, shapely and more robust than it might seem. They are compact, strong and well-developed dogs.

The head of the coton is triangular, with the truffle always black. The eyes are also black, but large, sweet and very expressive. The ears, high inserted, are triangle-shaped and fall slightly. The tail is short, thin and completely covered with hair.

The mane is, without a doubt, the most characteristic feature of these dogs. They usually have a long, dense coatbut very fine and soft and pleasant texture, like the cotton that gives them their name.

Coton de Tuléar

Colors of the coton de Tuléar

According to the FCI, the main color of the cotón de Tuléar is always white, although gray or red touches are accepted in the ears.

However, other cynological organizations collect different standards and it is possible to find cotons that combine the white base with other color schemes: gray and brown on the head and ears, black spots on the tail and back, etc.

Thus, although the iconic image of a Coton de Tuléar is that of a completely white dog, the breed presents a certain diversity.

Coton de Tuléar

Character of the Coton de Tuléar

We already said at the beginning of this article that the cotons of Tuléar not only stand out for their curious physical appearance, but also for their easy and bearable character.

Cotons are very sweet and affectionate dogs that love to play and spend time with their family.

In fact, they are even a bit dependent, so they are not suitable for people who spend a lot of time away from home. The cotons of Tuléar have a very bad time spent alone or not receiving enough attention.

Coton de Tuléar

With proper socialization (something that is really important for any dog), cotons are safe, confident and able to get along with both people they know and strangers and, of course, other animals.

Because of their small size and their tendency to trust even people they don’t know, these dogs are not good guardians: if they see an intruder, they are more likely to want to petter than alert them to their presence.

Cotons are active dogs, but they do not need much exercise (just 30 minutes a day of walking) so they can live without major problem in small apartments, with older people, children, etc.

In addition, as they are intelligent and eager to please, their training is very simple. They are, therefore, highly recommended dogs for people without previous experience.

Coton de Tuléar

Education of a Coton de Tuléar

The Coton de Tuléar has a great natural intelligence and also, as we have just commented, is a dog of affectionate and accommodating nature.

Thus, it is easy to train these dogs and, with a positive approach and a little patience, they can learn all kinds of commands and tricks.

Coton de Tuléar

All dogs can benefit from regularly practicing obedience exercises and physical and mental stimulation, and coton is no exception. They can even easily excel in canine sports such as Agility.

However, and as we explained, the main need of these dogs is the company.

They are real lapdogs, as they say, and there is a risk that they will develop stress problems or separation anxiety if they are forced to spend a lot of time alone.

Coton de Tuléar

Health of the Coton de Tuléar

Tuléar cotons are healthy dogs and, because they are not yet too well known, they have not suffered from irresponsible breeding problems or inappropriate crosses.

There are no health complications specifically associated with this breed, so the risks and precautions are similar to those of other dogs.

Always remember to take your dog for regular veterinary check-ups (every 6 months or at least once a year) and strictly follow the vaccination schedule.

In addition to being healthy, the Coton de Tuléar is a long-lived dog that, with the right care, will accompany you for a long time: its life expectancy is between 12 and 14 years.

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By Lee Chun Hei