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How Should a Coton Look and Act ?

What you need to know before you buy...


The Coton de Tulear breed was created in Madagascar during thepast three centuries. It is a combination of many breeds, but mostsignificantly the Coton de Reunion (now extinct) and the MorondavaHunting Dog (possibly extinct) contributed to its present appearanceand temperament. Cotons are muscular, sturdy and weigh between 9 and18 pounds. Most Cotons weigh about 12-15 pounds. Cotons stand about11-12 inches tall at the withers (shoulder). Cotons are within the"Bichon Dog Group," a related grouping of pure breeds similar to dogsin the "Terrier Group" or "Spaniel Group" or "Sight Hound Group."


There are three basic Coton de Tulear color varieties. Mostmatings can produce litters with all three colors. Most Cotons areWhite. There are two basic genetic variants of White Cotons:the Arctic White Coton and the Blue Dilute, White Coton. The formeris bright white, usually with dark black noses and eye rings. TheBlue Dilute Coton--a classic Malagasy look--is often marked with tanor champagne areas, especially the ears and the saddle region of theback. As adults, all Arctic White Cotons are white, but Blue DiluteWhite Cotons may show champagne, tan or even reddish-brown colorareas.

The Tri-color Coton de Tulear is born with dark brown areasdusted with black hairs on a primarily white background. As theymature, much or all of the brown coloration may disappear, leavingthe dog primarily off-white in color with a dusting of black hairs.Some Tri-color Cotons will show season darkening of their coat,primarily in response to an increase in testosterone (males) orestrogen (females).

A Black & White Coton de Tulear retains its black andwhite color from birth through the end of its life. Older Black &White Cotons may show some graying (don't we all?), but some remainjet black and bright white throughout their lives. Black & WhiteCotons are the rarest of the three basic color varieties--fewer than15% of all Cotons are this color variety.

Other colors are known. A former CTCA breeder on the West Coast ofthe US has bred Cotons that were virtually all black. Severalbreeders have Cotons that are all brown. These purebred Cotons deTulear are accepted without prejudice in the CTCA's gene pool.


While it is possible to buy a small white Coton from a CTCABreeder, if you heard that all Cotons de Tulear were toy-sized,all-white dogs (like a Maltese), then you were mislead. It is truethat the French version of this African breed issupposed to be all-white and no more than 9-to-11 pounds.European show fanciers as well as dog show fanciers in the US andCanada prefer these French/Euro Cotons (the "FCI Standard"), but theoriginal Malagasy version of this breed that the CTCA supports is nota toy white dog. Ironically, some of the largest Cotons we've seenhave been produced by breeders who claim to adhere to the French/Eurostandard. And breeders of FCI Cotons often produce colored Cotons inviolation of their own standard. Go figure.

There is a Tall Variety of Coton de Tulear known to be produced innormal litters in Madagascar, North America and Europe. The CTCA hascreated an experimental breeding program to understand the geneticsand morphology of these elegant, taller Cotons. To learn more aboutit and them, please see a CTCA web site devoted to this variety:TallCotons.


Cotons are very intelligent and can be conditioned well. Theylearn quickly and adapt well to families. They lack a well-developedprey drive and usually get along very well with other pets (cats,large dogs, even birds and rodents). Cotons are not especially barky(although some may bark in defense of their territory unless trainednot to). Cotons should not be aggressive. Cotons if properlysocialized are excellent companions to children. Once again, ifsomeone told you that Cotons are "aggressive, difficult to train,very barky," then you are dealing with the wrong breeder.


Cotons are not short-legged achondroplastic dwarves. They have alarge muzzle equipped with stout, well separated teeth. Cotons are inthe Companion Dog class, not Toy Dog, class. Cotons are muscular andathletic. They do exceptionally well in Obedience Training andAgility Competition. Cotons are very fast runners. Cotons aregenerally healthy. While there are almost than four dozen geneticdisorders known in the breed, all are in low frequency. Cotonsgenerally have large, healthy, easily whelped litters (4 to 7 pups).Within the CTCA, puppy mortality rates are exceptionally low (largelya result of our breeding regulations which eschew overbreeding andinbreeding).


To view the CTCA's Coton de Tulear Standard, pleaseclick here. For an in depth,understandable explanation of this breed's behavior, coloration andstructure, please refer to the "The Official Coton de Tulear Book,2nd Edition" CD ROM, available from the CTCA; to learn more,please click here.

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Title and contents of The Coton de Tulear News &Information Network © 1996-2005, the Coton de TulearClub of America, all rights reserved. Celebrating the CTCA's 30thAnniversary in 2006.