Coton de Tulear Overview

Dog Breed:
Coton de Tulear
Breed Group:
Charming, light-hearted, bright, clownish and gentle
9-11 inches
8-15 pounds
Life Span:
15-19 years
Coat Colors:
Area of Origin:
Best For:
Where someone is at home most of the time/Owners who are looking for a constant companion/Homes where the dog will live inside the home.
Adult Food:
Best Dog Food for Coton de Tulears
Puppy Food:
Best Puppy Food for Coton de Tulears

Coton de Tulear Characteristics

Good for First-Time Owners
Good with Children
Easy to Train
Exercise Requirements
Ease of Grooming
Amount of Shedding
Amount of Drooling
Tendency to Bark

About The Coton de Tulear

  • Sweet-natured breed

  • Very people orientated

  • Perfect breed for someone who is at home most of the time

This smart and sweet-natured breed adores being with their person, if allowed, they would follow you absolutely everywhere. They were bred to be a companion and nothing else, and that is what they do best! Now having a dog who could be considered to be a little ‘needy’ might not appeal to everyone, and caution is needed to ensure that your Coton can cope when being left alone for short periods.

The name Coton de Tulear comes firstly from their cotton-like coat and secondly from the seaport city of Tulear, which is located on the African island of Madagascar, which is the breeds home. The breed is known as the Coton, for short.

This is a breed that loves to please, and for someone who works from home or is retired, they can be a perfect companion.

Coton de Tulear Breed History

  • Developed in Madagascar

  • Arrived in the US in the 1970s

  • Fully recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2014


It was in the 15th century that the Coton arrived in Madagascar. The waters around the island were a busy route as the ships sailed on to the West Indies. The sea voyages were, however, long, tedious, and with a very poor quality of life, so the ladies who often traveled on the ships brought with them little white dogs to keep them company. The dogs also took n a hunting role, keeping the ship free of rats and mice.

With their easy to train nature and offering better company than cats, they soon became a popular sight on the ships in the region. The Cotons arrival in Madagascar is often explained by the tale of a violent storm, which resulted in a shipwreck close to Tulear. Despite all the sailors perishing, some of the little white dogs swam ashore and survived the disaster.

These dogs then bred with the local dogs resulting in the Coton de Tulear.

The native Malagasy’s fell in love with these little dogs, and they soon became favorites with the nobility. In fact, for many years, you could only own a Coton if you were a member of the ruling caste.

In the early 1970s, Robert Jay Russell arrived on the island as he carried out research for his Ph.D. While there, he fell in love with the breed and arranged for two Cotons to be sent to his father in the US. Jijy and Jael were the first Cotons in the country and became the foundation dogs for the breed in America.

It wasn’t until 2014 that the American Kennel Club formally recognized the breed. They currently have a popularity of 81 out of 195, not bad for a little white dog who really hasn’t been on the scene for very long!

Coton de Tulear Size & Weight

  • A small, sturdy dog

  • Males 10 to 11 inches and 9to 15 pounds

  • Females 9 to 10 inches and 8 to 13 pounds


The ideal height for females is 9 to 10 inches and for dogs, 10 to 11 inches. For dogs to enter the show ring, the AKC allows variations in height of just ½ inch below the minimum and 1 inch above the maximum height.

Despite their small size, the Coton de Tulear is a sturdy dog and shouldn’t look as if they’re fragile. So, the ideal weight for females is 8 to 13 pounds and for males, 9 to 15 pounds.

Coton de Tulear Personality & Temperament

  • Bond quickly with their family

  • Good choice for families with children

  • Can get on well with other dogs and cats in the home.


The Coton is a happy and boisterous little dog who is absolutely at their best when surrounded by the people they love. They quickly form strong bonds with their family, and they do not like to be separated from them.

While the Coton can be a good alarm dog, they will then welcome any stranger into the house with the affection most breeds reserve for long lost friends.

This can be an excellent choice for a family with children. Care will, though, need to be taken to ensure that handling is gentle and that pups, especially, do not get caught underfoot or played with roughly. The Coton also gets on well with both other dogs and with cats. As with the caution needed with children, the same applies to other dogs, especially if they are a larger breed.

The Coton de Tulear copes with most moderate weather climates, and many are happy to go out for their daily walk no matter the conditions. They are, however, generally better suited for more moderate temperatures.

Many owners talk about their females Cotons being more independent than the males, so this might help you when thinking about selecting a puppy. That said, do meet at least the mum of the pups and ideally other relatives, their personality will give you a good idea of how the litter may develop.

Coton de Tulear Health & Grooming

  • A healthy breed with few genetic problems

  • Responsible breeders will test their dogs to keep their breeding lines free of problems

  • Daily grooming needed to keep the coat mat and tangle-free


The Coton de Tulear is relatively free of genetic health issues. The breeders work hard to keep the breed as problem-free as possible by ensuring that all the dogs they plan to breed from going through genetic screening. The tests which are recommended by the National Breed Club are:

  • Patella Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • Hip Evaluation
  • Cardiac Exam

Despite their long coats, grooming the Coton puppy is not as challenging as it is with some other long-coated dogs. Daily brushing, ensuring that you comb right down to the skin, helps prevent tangles from forming. When this isn’t done regularly, Cotons can end up needing to be shaved to free them of the painful mats. It’s recommended that a spray in conditioner is used to help prevent the coat from breaking when being groomed.

Coton de Tulear Training

  • Intelligent and quick to learn breed

  • Enroll in puppy classes to help with socialization and learning the basics

  • Many Cotons have a strong hunting instinct


With their love of being with their people, the Coton de Tulear is quick to learn. Making the training a game ensures that it’s a fun process that your Coton will be keen to join in with.

Enrolling in a well-organized puppy class can really help with socialization and for your pup to learn basic obedience behaviors. Do check with the trainer to ensure they have procedures in place to ensure the safety of small dogs in their classes.

Cottons can have a strong hunting instinct, so do ensure that yards are safely fenced to prevent them from escaping.

Coton de Tulear Exercise Requirements

  • Intelligent and quick to learn breed

  • Enroll in puppy classes to help with socialization and learning the basics

  • Many Cotons have a strong hunting instinct


The Coton is a reasonably active dog who requires a moderate amount of exercise. Twice daily walks with his human at a slow speed is often enough for most adult dogs. Younger dogs may appreciate the chance to chase a ball or run around the yard to get rid of some youthful energy.

Even small dogs need the stimulation which comes from getting out of the house; a bored Coton will find their own fun, and this may involve becoming destructive!

The Coton is a very playful dog, and they will love the chance for the interaction with you as much as for the game itself.

Coton de Tulear Diet & Feeding


For specialist nutritional advice for your Coton de Tulear chat with your vet or pet nutritionist.

Generally, most dogs start off on a specially formulated puppy food. This ensures that your pup gets all the nutrition they need for their developing bodies. At around 6 months, your dog will move over to an adult food selected for their age, size, and exercise intensity.

Many food companies now produce food specially designed for smaller dogs. The kibble size is smaller, and it ensures that the dogs receive all the nutrients they need in the correct portion size.

You may also be interested in:

Coton de Tulear Rescue Groups

There will be times when a Coton de Tulear finds themselves in need of a new home. In the US, rescue for the breed is mainly organized by the breed club, which provides more information on the process of adopting a Coton in need on their website –

For American Coton Clubs website is also a great source of information on the breed –