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The CTCA Coton de Tulear Standard

A Standard is the description of anideal representative of the breed. The CTCA standard, first publishedin 1974, is adapted from the original Malagasy breed type.

[NOTE: the huge French all-breed dog corporation, theFederation Cynologique Internationale, maintains a different standardfor dogs developed in Europe since 1977 and in 1999, the French Cotonde Tulear Club adopted--over the protests of most Europeanbreeders--a new standard that calls for a long-backed, short-legged,all white Maltese-like dog.]

Brief Description of the Breed

The Coton de Tulear is a hearty,lively, small companion dog with a friendly, engaging personality.Calm and intelligent, the "Royal Dog of Madagascar" is characterizedby its long, dry, cotton-like coat. There are three colorvarieties.

The Coton de Tulear is shown in Non-sporting Class in various NorthAmerican shows and the FCI Companion Class [FCI Group 9] in Europe.The Coton is not a toy dog. In the Western Hemisphere, the Coton deTulear is registered by the Coton de Tulear Club of America [CTCA].The CTCA was formed in 1976 to maintain the Official Breed Standard,Stud Book, Pedigree, History, and owner's Registrations. The CTCA'sregistry is the oldest, continuously active Coton de Tulear registryin the world.


Skull somewhat rounded withproportionate muzzle and slightly accentuated stop. Top-view,triangular. Tape measurement: muzzle to stop, 1.75-2.5" (4.5 to 6.4cm); stop to occiput, 4-5" (10.2 to 12.7 cm); total head length,6-7.25" (15.2 to 18.4 cm).


Large, dark brown, sparkling,expressive, with dark eye rings.


Black and pronounced.


Black, finely featured.


Level or scissors; incisors shouldtouch.


Dropped, 2.75-3.75" long (7 to 9.5cm), covered with long flowing hair approximately 4-6.5" total length(10.2 to 16.5 cm).


Rather long, 4-6.25" (10.2 to 16 cm),strong but gracefully carried, head erect.


Deep chest tapering slightly toabdomen. Ratio of thoracic to abdominal girth, 1.2-1.4 to 1. Topline(withers to base of tail) straight to somewhat convex, 12-16" long(30.5 to 40.6 cm). Height at withers less than 13" (33 cm). Bodyweight less than 18 pounds (8.2 Kg). Little or no sexual dimorphism,but males may appear more muscular than females.

Legs & Feet

Forelimbs mostly straight and strong.Hindquarters slightly angulate with well-muscled thighs. Feet smallwith black pads.


Carried straight or curled over dorsum(no preference), 5.5-8.5" long (14 to 12.7 cm); covered by flowinghair.


Long (4-6.5"; 10.2 to 16.5 cm), dry,"wind-tossed" flowing hair. Texture of cotton, not silky. Prominentbeard and moustache. Well-haired limbs, tail, and ears. Eyes may beobscured by hair which must not be scissored in show dogs, but may betrimmed for pets.


Three color varieties are recognizedwithout preference. White: all white, often with champagne (cream-biscuit)highlights on ears and dorsum.

Black-and-White:pure white with prominent black patches on head and body. Norestriction on the ratio of white-to-black

Tri-Color:mostly white and cream, but tinged with beige areas; black hairs dustportions of the ears and sometimes the body and head. Tri-colors areusually heavily marked as neonates and juveniles, but as the adultcoat appears, these Cotons may appear almost white.

White is the most frequently seen color variety, but aBlack-and-White male won the coveted Championship of Madagascar in1974. The Tri-Color has been honored on an official postage stamp ofthe Repoblika Demokratika Malagasy (Madagascar).


Well-brushed but not scissored. As forany long-haired breed, eyes and ears should be kept clean. The showdog's coat must be natural. Adulteration of the coat (e.g., powdering) is notpermissible. Owners are encouraged to insure that hair is kepttrimmed on the feet (between pads and toes), in the ears, and aroundthe anus. Since few Cotons are shown, owners should consider trimmingthe hair that falls down over the eyes if it is apparent that theCoton's vision is impaired.


Free, balanced, effortless. Good reachin the forequarters and good drive in the hindquarters. Slightlateral roll at low speed. Legs move straight fore and aft along theline of travel; as speed increases, there is a slight convergence oflegs toward the center line.


Undershot or overshot bite. Poorpigmentation. Body weight greater than 18 pounds. (8.2 kg; **formerly: "Body weight greater than 15 pounds" -- revision 10/96).Height at withers greater than 13.0" (33 cm; NB: no revsion has yetbeen adopted on the lower limits of the breed's linear dimensions,but such a limit is needed).


Silky (oily) hair. Cryptorchidism. Eyecolor other than dark brown. Any trait that indicates unsoundstructure or poor health.

Other Standards and the Destruction of Breeds by the Show Game

Some of the French-speaking people in Europe haveasserted that the Coton de Tulear was developed by the Frenchfollowing the breed's importation into France in 1977. The Frenchhave created a standard for the breed that reflects their desiresbased upon one Frenchman's opinion (Federation CynologiqueInternationale Standard, published 1971 by M. Petit). They prefer asmaller dog (toy-sized) which is all white with a brownish-colorednose. In North America, some Coton breeders and exhibitors, new tothe breed, have adopted the FCI Standard in opposition to theoriginal CTCA Standard.

In almost every case, a Coton de Tulear that meets the FCI Standardwill also meet the CTCA Standard. In contrast to the FCI's standard,the CTCA Standard, designed by professional biologists, reflects adesire to maintain the breed's natural genetic soundness bypreserving and protecting a controlled amount of variability. TheFrench standard strictly bans color in Cotons; the CTCA welcomes thebreed's three color varieties. The CTCA does not promote a "cookiecutter look" for this breed. Such conformity inevitably results in abreed that is highly inbred, that has no genetic variability andhence poor viability and health. The CTCA promotes the original threecolor variaties of Coton de Tulear -- a position that preservesessential color-producing genes that may also be responsible for theCoton's calm, laid-back demeanor. In contrast with the Malagasy andthe North Americans, the French despise Cotons that have persistentcolor on their coat and as recently as 1996 have asserted again thatthe Coton is a "pure white breed."

It should be noted that excessive inbreeding is required to create abreed in which every dog looks and acts exactly like every other dogin the breed. Excessive inbreeding to conform to the currentlyfashionable "show ring" look has, in our opinion, ruined the geneticsoundness of many AKC breeds. The CTCA remains determined to protectthe soundness of the Coton de Tulear.

For more than two decades, the CTCA has been preserving andprotecting the wonderful Malagasy Coton de Tulear from the excessesof the show game, overbreeding, and excessive inbreeding. We inviteyou to join us. For additional information about this subject, pleasesee the illustrated chapter about the Standard in
"The Official Coton de Tulear Book, 2ndEdition" (goto: 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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