Exotic dog breeds are sure to turn heads, but few are as cute and exotic as the regal Coton de Tuléar. Few puppies are as adorable and cuddly as this small, white canine companion. Charming, lovable, and playful, Coties (as they’re sometimes referred to) are also ideal for first-time owners for a variety of reasons. Cotons de Tuléar are gaining popularity in the UK due to their appearance and gentle temperament, so they make an excellent puppy choice that’s still relatively rare. The Kennel Club of Great Britain classifies Cotons as a toy breed, but they’re also recognised as companion dogs elsewhere. Regardless, this little breed is able to become a loving companion when purchased and raised from puppyhood.
Some highlights of Cotons de Tuléar:
Adaptable: this breed can live comfortably in small apartments as well as large, open spaces.
Allergies: for those suffering from allergies, Cotons are an ideal choice since they shed very little with low dander.
Loyalty: Cotons are compassionate and loyal to owners and their families.
First-time owners: aside from their maintenance requirements, Cotons tick all the right boxes for first-time puppy owners.
Intelligent: Cotons are an intelligent breed with big hearts and big brains despite their small size.
Some downsides to the Coton de Tuléar:
Isolation: as with many intelligent and sociable breeds, Cotons don’t tolerate being left alone very well.
Training: Cotons may often exhibit stubbornness and can require substantially more house training than other breeds.
Grooming: frequent brushing and professional grooming will be necessary for any Coton owner.
Barking: some Cotons like to bark, sometimes excessively. Proper training can mitigate compulsive barking, but frequent barking is still common.
Many legends and myths surround the exact origins of the Coton de Tuléar, but it is widely recognised as having its origins on the island of Madagascar. Some say that the Coton’s ancestors were kept aboard pirate ships (pirates thrived on Madagascar) and made their way to Madagascar after a shipwreck in the 17th century. Another compelling theory stipulates that the Coton was originally brought aboard ships from Tenerife, as modern breeds do bear similarities with the Bichon Tenerife breed. For whatever reason, they may have subsequently been introduced to Madagascar due to shipwreck. In any case, the Coton de Tuléar’s name can be traced to the port city of Tuléar (now known as Toliara) in Madagascar. It was widely regarded highly by Malagasy royalty, from whence its cottony coat may have been selectively bred. In the 20th century, it was discovered and exported to the United States and to Europe under the name “the Royal Dog of Madagascar.” Since then, the Coton de Tuléar has seen recognition by kennel clubs and societies worldwide, corresponding with its growth in popularity.
The Coton de Tuléar is recognisable by its small, lively appearance as well as its signature white coat of a cottony texture (hence the name). Other colours are permissible, but white is the most common. They resemble a Bichon Frise in many regards. Cotons have round, dark eyes that contrast nicely with their cuddly white coats of hair. Their hair is medium to medium-long in length and sheds very little.
Coton de Tuléars are small-sized dogs. Males and females grow on average to 25-30 cm in height.
Fully-grown adult male Coton de Tuléars weigh approximately 6 kg on average, whereas females weigh approximately 5 kg.
This breed has the following commonly-accepted coat colours:
White and Black
White is the preferred colour by many kennel clubs, which can be complemented by another colour behind the puppy’s ears. These colours include brown, grey, lemon, and tan.
Cotons have a happy and sociable temperament that should be immediately recognisable. They love being around owners and families as companions but can adapt quite well to many different living conditions, including small homes and apartments. As an eager breed, Cotons can often be seen jumping continuously or walking on their hind legs around owners as well as being energetic and playful in the evening. They love attention and can arouse laughter and joy. It helps that they’re intelligent, as well. This makes them an easy breed to train, although they may at times show signs of stubbornness.
The Coton de Tuléar is a poor choice for a guard dog. They can, however, make excellent watchdogs since they are alert and can bark to alert owners of suspicious activity.
Some Cotons enjoy barking a little too much. If raised properly as a puppy, some compulsive barking behaviours can be mitigated, but they will nevertheless generally bark more than most other breeds.
This breed can be trained fairly easily due to their high intelligence, but they can also show signs of stubbornness. If a puppy can quickly learn commands and good behaviour, they may also quickly learn bad habits as well.
Coties sure love to play and are known for performing tricks to impress their owners such as jumping repetitively or walking on their hind legs. They can also show a mischievous side, however, so ensure that he is well-raised as a puppy.
This breed gets along very well with children and is an ideal puppy choice for families with children of all ages.
This breed generally gets along well with other dogs, provided that it’s socialised and introduced to the other dog(s) gradually. They also tend to get along well with cats and other small pets since they don’t have a strong prey drive and are unlikely to aggressively chase.
Coties are able to be left alone for a moderate amount of time, but owners should never neglect them or make a habit of leaving them alone for too long, especially as puppies.
Most Cotons tend to enjoy swimming and will jump in any body of water without much hesitation. Always ensure that your puppy is gradually introduced to the water, however. Puppies may be afraid of water at first and forcing them in may traumatise them.
Generally, Coton de Tuléars are expected to live anywhere from 14-16 years. Some may live up to 19 years.
Coties don’t require too much exercise. Budget for a good half an hour’s worth of walking and off the lead play time. This breed is energetic in the evening, so try to take advantage of this with an evening walk or play session.
This breed is less prone to disease and health problems than most other breeds due to its small but pure gene pool. Some common health issues include:
This breed is highly adaptable and is therefore an ideal pet for apartment dwelling and large homes alike.
A fully-grown Coton de Tuléar should be fed ½ to 1 cups of high-quality dog food every day, divided into two meals. If your Coton puppy is putting on too much weight, reduce consumption to prevent overfeeding.
Cotons require frequent grooming and are a high maintenance breed. The reason they should be groomed professionally multiple times per year is that their cottony fur tends to become tangled and matted easily. Use this opportunity to also have their ears inspected for any possible infections.
This breed does not shed, despite having long hair. This makes it an ideal puppy choice for those suffering from allergies. Few puppies are as hypo-allergenic as Coties, but accumulated dander due to lack of grooming and brushing may trigger allergies regardless. Brush them every day to remove knots, tangles, and dander.
As a rough guide in pricing: Cost to buy: roughly £1,000 or more for a well-bred Coton de Tuléar puppy Other costs (Vet, Food etc): £50-80 per month
You can read our general buying guide here, with the most important thing being going to view your Coton de Tuléar puppy, seeing it with its mother, and checking the quality of the breeder. More specifically, here is some Coton de Tuléar puppy buying advice:
Coties are a rare breed that’s in high demand. This means unscrupulous dealers abound, engaging in unethical breeding practices and offering undesirable puppies for sometimes exorbitant prices. Always ensure that your desired puppy has been bred according to Kennel Club breeding standards and that any documentation available is reviewed before purchasing the puppy.
Although America recognises coat colours other than white, the UK Kennel Club only recognises white coats with some colour being permissible around the ears. If some colours are present on the coat of the puppy, they may (and should) go away as the puppy ages. Significantly large spots on the coat should be a sign to avoid the puppy.
A big thank you to the following sources who helped to shape this article: Coton de Tuléar Club of the United Kingdom: https://www.cdtclubuk.org/ Kennel Club of Great Britain: https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/services/public/breed/display.aspx?id=6252 UK Dog Trust: https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/ Blue Cross: https://www.bluecross.org.uk/rehome-pet Federation Cynologique Internationale: https://www.fci.be/Nomenclature/Standards/283g09-en.pdf