Coton de Tulear – The Rare Cotton Dog from Madagascar

The small Coton de Tuléar (in English “Cotton from Toliara”) from Madagascar belongs to the Bichons. The small dogs with white cotton fur are delicate and soft to the touch because they have no undercoat. They have only been increasingly bred in Europe and the USA for the past 20 years. There are many things to consider when choosing a breeder.

The Appearance of the Cotton Dog

The cotton hound, like many bichon dogs, is white or white with a slight tinge. The cotton-like fur is particularly soft and slightly wavy – like a cotton flower. Since the undercoat is completely missing, the lapdogs with dark noses are happy about dog jackets on long walks in winter. So that the hair on the head does not cover the eyes, many owners use a braid or regularly take their four-legged friend to the dog groomer. Muscles, facial features, and body shape are barely recognizable under the fluffy cotton fur.

Size and proportions

Males reach a height at the withers of between 26 and 28 cm, bitches are even smaller and measure a maximum of 25 cm at the withers. Thus, the Coton de Tuléar is a real Teacup Dog. Nevertheless, bitches can weigh up to 5 kilograms and males up to 6 kilograms. The withers are in the ratio of 2:3 to the total length of the body.

It is to these breed characteristics that breeders of cotton dogs pay attention

  • Viewed from the front, the head is slightly arched with a slightly accentuated stop and a well-developed zygomatic arch. The round, widely spaced eyes are striking. The edge of the eyelid matches the nose, which ends straight with the bridge of the nose and is black or brown. The fluffy hair on the face grows medium to long hanging down to the bridge of the nose.
  • The triangular floppy ears are set high on the skull and are relatively thin. You can hardly see them for all their fur. According to the FCI breed standard, a greyish or fawn color tinge of the hair is permitted.
  • The body is characterized by a slightly arched backline and a well-muscled neck. The crest is short and muscular and the lower profile line is tucked up. The entire body is wrapped in fluffy cotton hair.
  • The tail is also long and hairy and is usually carried “happily” bent over the back.
  • The fore and hind legs are vertical and heavily muscled. The long trousers also cover the paws of many animals, which can lead to problems when walking in snow and ice.

The white cotton dress of the Coton de Tuléar

The basic color of the fur must always be white, only slight markings with a few fawn-colored or black hairs are permissible for breeding. On the ears, the greyish or fawn-colored stitching may be a little denser. The fur is never rough or hard, but it grows very dense.

Small “blemishes” inbreeding

Inbreeding, small deviations from the breed standard are significant, but purely visual features are not a problem for private owners. You can usually get puppies with breeding errors a little cheaper than animals suitable for breeding. With the Coton de Tuléar, many medically irrelevant breeding errors are noted in the FCI:

  • Light or almond-shaped eyes
  • Short hairy ears
  • Mottled pigmentation of any kind
  • Generally too short, silky or curly hair
  • Lightly pigmented lids, lips, or nose

Differences between similar dog breeds

  • Lowchens come in all colors and are traditionally shaved on hind legs, tail (to the tip), and front legs down to the knuckles.
  • The Russian Bolonka Franzuska wears his white coat curly.
  • Bolonka Zwetna and Havanese are bred in all coat colors (except white).
  • The Bichon Frize is also white and has small corkscrew curls.
  • Bolognese is also white and has curly hair. They are slightly larger and more delicately built than cotton dogs.
  • In Maltese, the silky white coat falls down smoothly.

History of the Coton de Tulear

Rumors are circulating on the internet that direct ancestors of the cotton dogs came to the island from Madagascar in the Middle Ages by pirates and shipwrecks in the area. In fact, similar dogs were kept as companion dogs on medieval ships to offer as “freebies” to merchants and nobles. More Bichons came to the island with French sailors and stewards in 1883 when France declared it a colony.

A late breakthrough

Up until two decades ago, a purebred cotton dog was still a rarity in Europe and the USA. There are now numerous breeders and two German clubs that deal with breeding the breed. Due to the large population boom in the last 20 years, breeders have to pay special attention to a pedigree with a large gene pool and often even search internationally for suitable breeding animals.

A Lap Dog with a Surprising Amount of Strength

The small cotton tufts are always cheerful, never suspicious or aggressive, and very well tolerated. They adapt quickly and get along well with new members of the pack after a few days. Cats, small animals, and strangers quickly take the dogs to their hearts. The Coton’s peaceful and happy nature is one of the most important characteristics of the breed.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

Leave a Reply


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *