About Coton de Tulears
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Kendra, Bo and Bebe Oct. 2003 Coton de Tulear's (pronounced co-tawn-day-two-lee-are) are a rare breed originating in Madagascar. The Coton earned it's name from it's cotton-like coat and from the port city, Tulear, in Madagascar. They are companion dogs and are extremely devoted to their families. Cotons are small, weighing about 13 pounds. They are typically all white, but can also be black and white, or tri-colored. Cotons make terrific lap dogs, and are great at cuddling. Their overwhelming desire is to please their humans which gives them their devoted nature. For this reason, I would not recommend a Coton as an appropriate breed for a family that is away from home most of the time. The exception would be if there are other pets in the family to keep him company.


A Coton's coat is hair, not fur, and fairly easy to groom although it does require frequent brushing. The coat stops growing at about four to six inches in length, and so theoretically your dog may never need a hair-cut. However, a short cut is nice during the summer months, or if you are too busy for daily grooming. Brushing usually takes between 15 minutes to an hour depending upon how often you do it, and the thickness of your dog's coat. Because the coat is hair and not fur, there is the added benefit of very little or no doggy odor from your pet. You can also bathe them less frequently than a normal dog. And, many people report they are not allergic to Cotons when they are to other breeds with fur. One of the most fabulous characteristics of a Coton's coat is that they shed very little. I rarely if ever find dog hair in my house. Even though a Coton has a long coat, under no circumstances should a Coton become an outdoor dog, they are not suited for this.


Personality and Appearance

Cotons are very intelligent dogs and are easy to train. They have round, expressive black eyes, and clownish personalities. Their lips and nose are black, and they have a medium-length muzzle. Since they are a rare breed, there aren't many reported problems with health issues that plague many pure-bred dogs. Cotons are known for their wonderful temperament, with humans and other animals, although they can become territorial, like any other dog. They do bark at people coming to the door, noises outside, etc. but usually calm down on command. The key is that any breed can develop bad habits in certain circumstance without proper guidance, but an intelligent owner can easily train their dog or puppy to adapt well to their particular living conditions. I mention this here because people have all sorts of unreasonable expectations for their pets. I know of one woman in my neighborhood who has taken three mixed-breed dogs to the pound because "they barked." In my opinion, Cotons are the perfect dog, but they still are a dog, and one shouldn't have unreasonable expectations.

Christmas 2004
Bo July 4 in grass


Cotons are somewhat expensive. But, I am a firm believer that you get what you pay for. They are well known for their fabulous characteristics and at times can be hard to find as they are rare. An important thing to remember is that your dog will be an integral part of your family for 16-19 years. Cotons live very long lives, and since health problems are not typical, the price is justifiable. In effect, you can not put a price on the joy you will receive from your Coton and the many years he or she will add to your family. Buying a cheap Coton from an disreputable breeder could very well cost you more in the long run if health issues arise.


Breed Clubs

There are several different breed clubs that you can belong to upon acceptance of your Coton. Most of the breed clubs offer a combination of newsletters, magazines, and chat groups that are interesting and informative, and much of the information is free online. Carolina Coton puppies carry certified pedigrees from the United States of America Coton de Tulear Club, Inc. (USACTC) and the American Kennel Club's Foundation Stock Service (FSS), which is their registry for rare breed dogs.You can also belong to the UKC after registration with the AKC, unless their registration procedure changes. I would be happy to mail you a copy of our dogs' pedigrees, but I will not post them online for fear of someone using them fraudulently.

Brie, Bo and Bebe in DC
Brie and dogs Father's Day 2004


The following is a copy of the history of the Coton de Tulear that I wrote for the AKC's web site. I revised it only slightly to update it:

The history of the Coton de Tulear is poorly documented. But, the most popular 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 are believed to have swum ashore to the port of Tulear were Coton de Reunions; a breed that is now extinct. 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.


Another version is that Cotons walked ashore on gangplanks in Saint Augustin’s Bay near Tulear during the pirate and slave trading days. Cotons are rumored to have been regular cargo between Reunion and Madagascar, along with other exotica.
The Coton was honored on a Madagascar postage stamp in1974. 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.

Coton Book

There is a really good book that was published in Italy but also written in English by the Eli De Luca, the breeder of our dog Bébé. Our dogs are pictured on pages 59 and 126. Here is the link: Coton's World. There are also two other books about Cotons, please contact me privately for updated links.


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