Coton de Tulear

The Coton de Tulear, named for his cotton-like coat, is a truly dashing little dog. Fun and loving, these are lapdogs with a personality. Years of breeding for companionship has made them into clever court jesters, capable of keeping the entire house entertained. With limited exercise needs and the option of a low-maintenance puppy cut, this breed can easily fit in to many different families. Read on to learn more about the Coton de Tulear.

Description of the Coton de Tulear

These dogs are like fluffy cotton balls, and all that hair hides surprisingly stout bodies. Despite their size and temperament, the Coton is not as fragile as you’d imagine.

Some say this tenacity comes from origins as shipwreck survivors. No one can prove the story, but it is curious that a breed suspiciously similar to the Maltese dog hails from Madagascar!

Regardless of where they came from, the Coton de Tulear spent many years as a favorite of Madagascar’s nobility. The small island off of Africa was able to keep hold of the breed for ages, creating a unique specimen. Their exotic title comes from Madagascar’s history as a French colony.

The Coton de Tulear is known for a soft, white coat, though some individuals may have faint grey or yellow markings. They have black skin peeking out at their noses and lips, with dark and sparkling eyes. The Coton’s carriage gives up its noble heritage. While the tail normally drapes elegantly to the ground, it arcs up and over the back as this dog prances about.

Life Expectancy and Size

This breed is remarkably long-lived. They have few serious health issues, and may live nearly twenty years. Normal life expectancy is between 15 and 19 years.

The Coton stands just 9 to 11 inches at the shoulder, but they can weigh between 8 and 15 pounds. They’re sturdy little things!

Protective Ability

This breed is friendly, funny, and small. These aren’t exactly the best adjectives for a guard dog. However, the Coton has been known to bark at birds and butterflies from his perch on the couch. He may alert you new activity on the premises, but it likely won’t be the kind you’re worried about.


The Coton de Tulear is a happy little dog who easily puts his can-do attitude toward training sessions. These dogs are very capable learners and they are not too difficult to train.

Most individuals especially like tricks and games. This can make them very amusing for children. Turn everything into a fun, low-pressure activity for the best results. The Coton is sensitive to harsh words. They easily become frightened, which is no fun for anyone. A scared pup will not be able to perform up to his full potential.

Get creative with rewards, so that these dogs have consistent positive reinforcement. Of course, they do love treats. Feed in small quantities or reduce meal size during training, as there is some risk of obesity with the Coton.

Energy Level

These are alert little lapdogs, but do not mistake them for couch potatoes. Although they do not need a great deal of exercise, they are always up for a game. Their vivacious personalities keep their families entertained for hours.

The Coton de Tulear does crave one thing: attention. These dogs prefer having a social aspect to their antics, otherwise, they quickly become sad and even destructive. These social animals feed off of the people around them. This means they are happy to go from cuddling one minute to showing off their new tricks the next.

What Living with a Coton de Tulear is Like

There’s a reason Madagascar’s nobles did not want to give up their canine crown jewels. This breed is a true joy to live with. Fun loving and yet easy to exercise, these dogs can fit in to many different environments.

These dogs tend to bond strongly with their family. Unfortunately, this can mean that they become distressed when left alone. Separation anxiety is a real problem for this breed.

The Coton is especially well suited to children. They are both jovial and sturdy, perfect playmates for well behaved kids. These little jokers may also bring joy to older owners.

Early socialization is important to keep the Coton from becoming timid with strangers. Their sweet personality needs extra care to let it shine. Make sure to introduce them to many different people and dogs while young.

Care of the Coton de Tulear

This dog is remarkably easy to get along with. Many say that the grooming regime is the most challenging aspect of living with the Coton de Tulear.

Environmental Needs

These are hardy enough dogs to get along well in most conditions. They can become cold in the wintertime, and may tell you so by refusing to go outside. This can easily cause accidents because of their small bladders. Ideally, make sure to have a sheltered place for the Coton to do his business. It may be necessary to provide supplemental clothing for the breed in extremely frigid temperatures.

Exercise Needs

The Coton de Tulear was bred as a companion dog. They do not have the exercise needs of many sportier canines.

Daily walks are usually all it takes to keep the Coton in good condition. These can be short and sweet. Remember that the breed has small legs. Long distances are usually much more tiring for these dogs than their owners! Keep the terrain and speed quite mellow.

Still, the Coton will always appreciate a game. They won’t mind racing around the yard or house after a ball. Performing tricks can be a great way to exercise their minds as well as their bodies.

Shedding and Grooming

Kept well-groomed, the Coton is quite the spectacle. However, his beauty is not easy to keep up. These dogs require daily grooming to remain shiny and clean. Their fine hair is especially vulnerable to matting.

Thankfully, there is another option. Many owners keep their dogs in a cute puppy cut. This will require regular clipping every couple months. However, it keeps daily care quite minimal. As with all dogs, it is important to keep the nails trimmed and the ears clean of excess debris.

These dogs do shed, but not profusely. They are better than most breeds for people with allergies.

Ideal Home Environment

This breed is perfect for apartment dwellers, families with children, and older owners. They can fit into any home that desires a loving companion. Of course, they are not well suited to athletic owners that want partners in crime. Their energy is better suited to clowning around.

The Coton does best in a home where he has near-constant companionship. Owners should not be at work all day. Most of these dogs are happy to live with other family pets.

Health Concerns

This breed is incredibly healthy. In fact, less than 5% of these dogs suffer from genetic issues.

In old age, they do deal with the typical joint and eye problems of most dogs. Perhaps their worst affliction is allergies. Some have significant trouble with dry and itchy skin.

Behavior Problems

This breed is notoriously difficult to housebreak. Some of this has to do with their small bladder size. Remember that they simply can’t hold it for too long.

The other major problem that arises with many Coton is separation anxiety. If left alone for too long, they often become bored and destructive. This might mean chewing or barking. Make sure to spend ample time with this sensitive breed.