We now turn to a real life story of genetic research in action. The fascinating story of Tall Cotons de Tulear. There have been some exciting changes in the world of TALL Cotons since the book was published in January, 2002. These revisions are shown in red below...


Tall Cotons [1]

Picture a Coton with exceptionally long, graceful, gazelle-like limbs--first observed in Coton de Tulear litters in Madagascar, then America, then Europe. It is, without question, the rarest of all Cotons. It remains not described by any Standard, although both M. Petit, who wrote the original FCI Standard and myself, who authored the CTCA Standard, mentioned the variety in print more than a quarter century ago. Tall Cotons have been born in both genders and all three colors (White, Black & White, and Tri-color).

A Tall Coton, though larger than a standard height Coton, is not "big." There have always been standard Cotons that exceed the CTCA's maximum weight allowance, and there have been Cotons that are slightly larger in all dimensions than the CTCA Standard calls for. Instead, a tall Coton is lithe and normally lean--it appears especially light, graceful--even fragile in aspects. They are reminiscent of gazelles or antelopes. A Tall variety Coton stands between 15 and 17-inches at the withers (shoulder). Alika Cotons[2] placed seven tall Cotons during 26 years of breeding Cotons. Oakshade Cotons (1974-1994) produced two Tall Cotons. All have been devoted, healthy, happy dogs. They are confident and outgoing, but none have had a domineering personality. In short, Tall Cotons do not appear to suffer the "short man syndrome."

Make no mistake, the Tall Coton de Tulear is 100% a Coton de Tulear, not some hybrid creation. In fact, a Tall Coton is always born within a normal litter of Cotons, to parents of normal height. Since Tall Cotons are extremely uncommon, it suggests that they are the result of a mutation in the gene(s) that primarily controls the length of a Coton's limb bones--specifically a gene that controls the growth of the body's long bones. Such a mutation predates modern writings about the breed. Today, the allele(s) that create a Tall Coton de Tulear remain a mystery. But some cooperative CTCA breeders may soon solve the puzzle.



[1] This essay on Tall Cotons appeared originally in the Coton de Tulear News, Volume 9, Number 4, Fall, 1997, pp. 18-21. It has been modified for inclusion here.

[2] Alika Cotons ("Alika" is Malagasy for "dogs") is the breeding program maintained by the authors of this book.

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© 2003, Alika Cotons and the Coton deTulear Club of America