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A Brief Introduction

to the

Coton de Tulear Breed

The Coton de Tulear, pronounced"coe-TAWN day TULE-ee-r," means "cotton of Tulear." The Coton is arare, ancient pure-breed that originated on Madagascar more thanthree centuries ago.

Cotons are very intelligent, easy to toilet train,and uncommonly gentle and laid back. They get along well withchildren and most pets. Please note that the behavior of any givendog is based upon the dog's heredity and its environment. Poor earlysocialization can lead to problems for any dog of any breed. Therefore, check withyour breeder to determine your particular puppy's genetic andbehavioral history. As the breeder what steps are taken to helpsocialize your pup prior to its delivery to you. And please recognizethat you will be the next step in this puppy's socialization andtraining. We at the CTCA are here to help you; ask us how!

The Coton was exclusively the dog of RoyalMalagasy nobles, but now this exceptional, elegant companion isavailable to a select few outside that legendary land. For historicaldetails, please click on: a BriefHistory of the Breed.

The Coton stands between about 9.5 and 13-inches (24 to 33 cm) tallat the withers (shoulders). (Note: a taller variety of Coton isknown, but has yet to be described with a standard,
see The Coton de Tulear News, Vol.9, No. 3, Fall, 1997. To learn more about these magnificentTallCotons, please click here.). A standard Coton is little more than two feet long (0.6m), and weighs between 9 and 18 pounds (8.2 kg). A Standard Coton deTulear averages about 14 pounds. They have dark, engaging eyes, blacklips, and a medium-length muzzle tipped with a black nose. Theirheads are not rounded, but are elongate and somewhat flat.

The Coton de Tulear earned its name from its unique, cotton-likehair, and for a port city in Madagascar, Tulear. Its dry, wind-tossedcoat is probably the easiest to maintain of any long-haired breed,but it still requires regular grooming. The hair is about four-to-sixinches long, dries quickly when wet, and requires relatively littlebrushing. It sheds very little, and rarely bothers people who sufferfrom chronic allergies. The coat should NOT be shiny, nor should ittouch the ground from the chest or abdominal region.

There are three handsome color varieties: White (often with champagnecolor patches); Black-and-white; and Tri-color. A Tri-color adult ismostly white with champagne patches and a faint, irregular "dusting"of black hairs. Black & White Cotons, like the pups picturedabove, retain their beautiful color throughout their lives. For adetailed description of the colors of Cotons,
see Breeding &Genetics, and; for a detaileddescription of the breed, see: The Standard.

Cotons are hearty dogs and, with acclimation, frolic in desert heatand winter snow. However, the Coton is strictly an indoor dog. Thebreed is extremely healthy, long-lived, and, in the North Americanpopulation of Cotons. They live about 16 years (15.7 years onaverage); the oldest survived for almost 19 years. This breed, likeany dog breed, has known genetic defects. The CTCA has studied,catalogued and published them for many years. Through our program ofgenetic triage and information sharing as well as our restrictions oninbreeding -- the
ONLY such restrictions in any Coton club -- we have maintainedgenetic defects in low frequency in our population. This is soundpopulation health management found nowhere else. For hundreds ofpages of details about Coton health and genetics, please refer to theCTCA's 1,100-page breed handbook, "TheOfficial Coton de Tulear Book, 2nd Edition" (for order information, clickhere).

Probably the most outstanding characteristic of the Coton de Tulearis its behavior. The Coton is a "companion dog," bred for the puredelight of its intelligent, loving attention to its human family. Itis very intelligent, and studies its human family with great care.The Coton is an alert, lively companion, but it is slow to anger.Most Cotons bark seldom, although some will act as alarm clocks andguard dogs. A Coton usually snuggles in the lap or rests close-bylike a small, elegant, mohair rug.

Cotons are calm, sturdy dogs, most of whom enjoy the well-intentionedrough-housing of children. Cotons enjoy most household pets includingother dogs and cats. A Coton may cock its head attentively whenspoken to, smile, and stand or walk on its hind legs to please itshuman family. Cotons are easily trained.

A Coton quickly becomes a family member and retains a puppy-like joythroughout its long life.


The CTCA does not warranty any breeder and cannot assure you that a puppy you purchase will be satisfactory. Please ask breeders many questions about their dogs, guarantee, sales policies, experience, veterinary practices, and facilities. Feel confident with the breeder and the pup you choose BEFORE you buy. Please see CTCA Breeders List for a list of breeders. Feel free to contact them all.

Kristen Moran and Coco of Alika Cotons

Kristen Moran and Coco of Alika Cotons at 12 weeks old.


Beginning with Cotons imported from Europe in 1995, a very few highly aggressive Cotons have been reported. The CTCA closed its registry to European imports shortly after this. Also, some Cotons may not do well with small children, but will prove wonderful companions. Please check with your breeder to determine the temperament history of their bloodlines. If a breeder has little knowledge of the bloodlines of the parents of his/her puppies, you may want to make further inquiries into their heritage. Note: ALL dogs of ANY breed can be territorial and protective, so ALL dogs should be socialized as a pup and trained as a juvenile. In general, a Coton de Tulear may be slightly reserved and may bark at the approach of strangers, but they are characteristically unaggressive and laid-back. They are characteristically wonderful companions for children

If you are seeing behavior in your Coton that troubles you in any way, please let your breeder know! The CTCA is conducting an investigation of Coton temperament. If you'd like to help us, drop us a line:



At present, there are more than about 100 breedersselling dogs they claim are "Coton de Tulear" in this hemisphere. Thebreed is now being bred in puppy mills, on farms and sold in petshops. Most of these dogs are not genuine, purebred Cotons de Tulear.Your only assurance of breed purity is purchasing a Malagasy Coton deTulear through a CTCA Code of Ethics Breeder. Note that some breedersassociated with the dog show fancy (and the AKC-FSS program) areselling European dogs that are bred to the French Coton de TulearStandard. This is a different breed than those sold by CTCA Breedersand registered by the CTCA.

The CTCA, created in 1976, is the original founding club and registryfor the breed in this hemisphere. Dr. Robert Jay Russell, a biologistworking on Madagascar and now President of the CTCA originally sentCotons from Madagascar to the U.S. in 1974 and 1975, thereby foundingthe breed outside of their native island home. Since the 1970s, theCTCA has maintained a sure control and guidance of the breed'sstandard, registrations, and stud book. Lifetime membership in theCTCA is conferred to your Coton when your Coton is registered by thebreeder in your name. Please note: in the CTCA, the Cotons are themembership! The owner receives an official Pedigree Certificate,suitable for framing. The CTCA has no annual dues, but has producedthe famed
Coton de TulearNews, a quarterly news magazine, since1989 and the very special 1,100-page book exclusively about thebreed, "The Official Coton de Tulear Book,2nd Edition," a CD ROM book readable onall Windows and Macintosh computers.

CTCA Coton de Tulear puppies are sold as either "Note Breedable"(must be neutered) or "Potentially Breedable" (not neutered andpotentially breedable if it passes the comprehensive CTCA HealthTests at one year of sage). Puppies go to their new homes at about10-12 weeks old (
see Not Breedable versus PotentiallyBreedable for detailed definitions).Note that Not Breedable Quality Cotons are wonderful companions butmay not be used for breeding. Prices range from about $2,000 for aNot Breedable Coton to about $3,000 for a Potentially Breedablequality depending upon subtle nuances of conformation, age, etc.Breeders, not the CTCA, establish kennel policy and prices, so pleasecontact them for specifics. The Coton de Tulear is one of the world'srarest pure-breeds. Introduced into the Western Hemisphere in 1974,today there are fewer than 2,500 CTCA registered Cotons in NorthAmerica. Expect to wait some time for a puppy. Breeding quality dogscannot be rushed.

The CTCA's Code of Ethics Breeders List presents breeders who, to thebest of our knowledge, adhere to the club's extensive code of ethics.The CTCA accepts no advertisements from breeders, helping to insurethat the recommendations remain an honest assessment of the breeder'smerit (
see How to Acquire aCoton). It is the only enforced Code of Ethics inthe Coton world. Before you interview breeders, you will profit byreading the following CTCA articles: Click Here to ReviewImportant Things to Know Before You Buy a Coton.

For additional information about the CTCA, other Coton de Tulearclubs, and the AKC, please
goto: a Brief History of theBreed. For a detailed description ofthe Coton de Tulear, go to: The Standard. For information about why multiple colors and othervariation is crucial to the healthy survival of dog breeds like theCoton de Tulear, go to: Hownarrow Standards and the Show Game harms breeds.

CTCA Publications are available to everyone, whether you own a Coton,are a member of our club, or just have an interest in rare breeds.The club's acclaimed newsletter, the quarterly
Coton de Tulear News, is perfectfor anyone who wishes to keep up with the latest information aboutCoton de Tulear health, grooming, training, genetics, storiessubmitted by owners, and the latest news in depth. The CTCA'slong-awaited, 1,099+ page "The OfficialCoton de Tulear Book, Edition 2.0" is nowavailable in CD ROM version ONLY for those who want to acquire aCoton and for Coton experts alike. It can be easily read on both MacOS and Windows computers and it will NOT be issued in hard copy sincecosts would be prohibitive. It is an important, beautiful,fully-illustrated, color reference and an exciting read (foradditional information, see THE Book & the CotonNewsletter).

Title and contents of The Coton deTulear News & Information Network © 1996-2005, theCoton de Tulear Club of America, all rights reserved. Celebrating theCTCA's 30th Anniversary in 2006.

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