Coton de Tulear

Temperament: Charming, Bright, Happy-Go-Lucky

  • Height: 10-11 inches (male), 9-10 inches (female)
  • Weight: 9-15 pounds (male), 8-13 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 15-19 years
  • Group: Non-Sporting G roup 

The Coton de Tulear, “Royal Dog of Madagascar,” is a bright, happy-go-lucky companion dog whose favorite activities include clowning, cavorting, and following their special human around the house. The Coton is small but robustly sturdy.


The Coton de Tulear, also known as the “Royal Dog of Madagascar”, is a hardy, sturdy small white companion dog. The Coton de Tulear is characterised by a natural long, white, dry, profuse, cotton-like coat, rounded lively dark eyes, black on white joie de vivre expressive smile and witty personality. The breed is somewhat longer than tall. The top-line is very slightly arched over the loin with a happily carried tail curved over the back on the move. At rest, the tail is down with an upward hook at the tip revealing the distinguishing outline of the Coton de Tulear.

About the Coton de Tulear

The Coton de Tulear (KO-Tone Dih TOO-Lay-ARE) is a small, immensely charming dog standing between 9 and 11 inches high and weighing anywhere from 8 to 13 pounds. Cotons are known for a profuse white coat that is as soft as cotton (or, as the French say, “coton”). Their primary job is to provide amusement, comfort, and companionship.

The bond between Cotons and their people is so tight that owners discuss it in human terms. Coton fanciers describe them as “witty” companions “at times boisterous but never demanding” and “naturally clownish and lighthearted,” who possess a “remarkably gentle, sympathetic awareness.” Amusing traits of these long-lived jesters include unique vocalizations and a knack for walking on their hind legs.

NUTRITION A high-quality dog food appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior) will have all the nutrients the breed needs. Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Give table scraps sparingly, if at all, especially avoiding cooked bones and foods with high fat content. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet.

GROOMING Grooming the Coton puppy is a breeze. During that time you should groom him regularly and ensure that he learns to see grooming sessions as positive times of bonding with his person. Unless you are going to keep your Coton in a short “puppy clip,” your dog will require a great deal of brushing. You must be careful to get your comb and brush all the way to the skin (gently) during daily brushing, or the hair next to the skin will mat and if this is too extensive your dog may need to be shaved down. You should use a spray conditioner while brushing to avoid breakage. A couple of times a week, check the ears and remove any excess hair, wax, or debris to avoid ear infections.

EXERCISE The Coton is a fairly active dog who requires a moderate amount of exercise. Daily walks with his human at a slow speed will keep him in good weight and condition. Chasing a tennis ball around his backyard can keep his mind active as well as his body. A bored and unhappy Coton can become destructive. He does best when provided with enough exercise, lots of attention from his owner, and plenty of interesting toys to keep him occupied.

TRAINING The Coton is an alert dog and naturally territorial. Cotons should be well socialised from an early age so that they will enjoy going with you wherever you go. Obedience training is a good idea, for socialisation as well as reinforcing lessons and manners. A bored Coton will be unable to learn anything. Keep your training sessions lively and entertaining for best results. Cotons respond poorly to negative training practices but will excel in most dog-sport activities when trained with positive methods. They do well in agility and obedience and make excellent therapy dogs.

HEALTH The Coton de Tulear has remained fairly free of genetic health issues. That is not to say that they do not exist, but that any incidences are of an extremely low percentage. In the Coton, known incidences are usually in the one- to five-percent range. Coton breeders are working diligently to keep the breed as problem free as possible by doing genetic screening of all breeding stock. Occasionally eye problems and hip dysplasia do occur in the breed. As with all small breeds, there is a chance of luxating patellas, and spinal disc disease has been known to occur.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  1. Patella Evaluation
  2. Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  3. Hip Evaluation
  4. Cardiac Exam

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