top of page

Brief Introduction to the Breed

The Coton de Tulear, pronounced "coe-TAWN day TULE-ee-r," means "cotton of Tulear." The Coton is a rare, ancient pure-breed that originated on the island of Madagascar more than three centuries ago.

The Coton was exclusively the dog of Royal Malagasy nobles earning it the title "Royal Dog of Madagascar". See Brief History of the Coton for more information on the History of the Coton.

Cotons are very intelligent, easy to train, and uncommonly gentle and laid back. They get along well with children and most pets. Cotons are calm, sturdy dogs, most of whom enjoy the well-intentioned rough-housing of children. Cotons retain their puppy-like joy throughout their long lives. 

Cotons are hearty dogs and, with acclimation, frolic in desert heat and winter snow.  However, the Coton is strictly an indoor dog.  The breed is extremely healthy and long lived in the North American population of Cotons.  They live about 16 years (15.7 years onaverage); the oldest survived for almost 19 years.  This breed, like any dog breed, has known genetic defects.  The CTCA has studied, catalogued and published them for many years.  Through our program of genetic triage and information sharing as well as our restrictions on inbreeding -- the ONLY such restrictions in any Coton club -- we have maintained genetic defects in low frequency in our population.  This is a sound population with health management found nowhere else.

Probably the most outstanding characteristic of the Coton de Tulear is its behavior.  The Coton is a "companion dog," bred for the pure delight of its intelligent and loving attention to its human family. It is 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 seldom bark although some will act as alarm clocks and guard dogs.  A Coton usually snuggles in the lap or rests close-by like a small, elegant, mohair rug.


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

The Coton stands between about 9.5 and 13-inches (24 to 33 cm) tall at the withers (shoulders).  (Note: a taller variety of Coton is known, 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 magnificent Tall Cotons.).  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 de Tulear averages about 14 pounds.  They have dark, engaging eyes, blacklips, and a medium-length muzzle tipped with a black nose.  Their heads are not rounded, but are elongate and somewhat flat.

There are three handsome color varieties: White (often with champagne color patches); Black-and-white; and Tri-color.  A Tri-color adult is mostly white with champagne patches and a faint, irregular "dusting"of black hairs. Black & White Cotons retain their beautiful color throughout their lives.  


bottom of page