Country of Origin: The Coton de Tulear is the official dog breed of Madagascar. Its ancestors were brought to the port city of Tuléar (now Toliara), for which the breed is named, by French and Portuguese sailors. The Coton de Tulear likely descended from the Bichon Tenerife and later developed its cotton-textured coat (‘Coton’ is French for ‘cotton’), which is believed to have developed from a single gene mutation. Cotons were imported to America in 1974. Today, the Coton de Tulear has a devoted fan base but is still a relatively unknown breed amongst the general American public. PLEASE NOTE: This breed has been accepted for recording in the AKC Foundation Stock Service (FSS). This is simply an avenue to maintain reputable records regarding the breed’s development. This breed is not eligible for AKC (American Kennel Club) registration.
Size: The Coton de Tulear has a shoulder height of 25-30 cm (10-12 in) and weighs 5-7 kg (12-15 lbs). It has a black nose, tight, black lips, and round, dark, wide set eyes. The Coton de Tulear has thin, triangular ears and a scissors or pincer bite. It has a strong, arched neck and long legs with a deep chest, small, arched feet, and a low set, feathery tail which hangs over the back. It has a pleasant, inquisitive expression.
Coat: The Coton de Tulear has a breed-distinctive medium length, cotton-textured coat which is composed of hair rather than fur, with a long topcoat. The Coton de Tulear is pure white, or white with lemon, black, grey, or brown markings. Some standards allow black and white, tricolor (white and cream with black markings on the head), ‘honey bare’ (black spots fading to brown or lemon), ‘ferret’ (dark brown mixed with black), or all black. The Coton de Tulear sheds little and is a good breed for those with allergies.
Character: The Coton de Tulear is gentle, affectionate, loyal, and friendly. It is very playful and grows highly attached to its family, even to the point of developing separation anxiety! The Coton de Tulear is lively and enthusiastic, making frequent vocalizations. Cotons make good watchdogs.
Temperament: The Coton de Tulear is very sociable and gets along easily with children, dogs and other animals. Some are cautious or shy around strangers, but most are affectionate towards everyone. The Coton de Tulear is full of surprises; some Cotons like to amuse their owners by walking around on their hind legs.
Care: The Coton de Tulear’s unique coat requires a substantial time investment. It must be brushed thoroughly each day and bathed several times a year. It should not be clipped. The Coton de Tulear is generally healthy, with few of the genetic problems that plague many breeds due to inbreeding, though some Cotons have stomach problems. The Coton de Tulear has a life span of 14-18 years.
Training: The Coton de Tulear is intelligent, making it a quick learner, but it can be a bit stubborn. It thrives on its master’s approval, so a praise-based approach, rather than punishment, should be employed.
Activity: The Coton de Tulear requires only a moderate amount of exercise, though it has a surprising amount of stamina that enables it to come along for very long walks or even horseback rides. The Coton de Tulear can get its exercise from playtime in the yard, but if not given outdoor exercise it will become more active indoors. Most Cotons like to swim. They are well suited to apartment life.
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