November 18, 2019

Breed Profile: Coton de Tulear

With a name like Coton de Tulear you would expect a dog as fancy as their name, and they are! Favored by the royals and wealthy upper-class of Madagascar, Coton de Tulears, or “Cotons”, have been living lives of luxury in France and Madagascar since the 16th century. They are known as the “Royal Dog of Madagascar,” but don’t let their aristocratic roots fool you—Cotons are a happy and playful breed of dog without airs, who love nothing more than spending a fun day with the family (wealthy or not).

Physical Traits

Size & Weight: Cotons typically stand between 10-12 inches tall, making them small dogs. They should weigh between 12-15 pounds. Male Cotons are typically larger than females.

Coat & Color: The Coton’s coat is their most distinctive characteristic, and is where their name derives from. They have medium to long, flowing coats that are actually hair, rather than fur, that is very soft and fluffy, like cotton. Cotons can be white (sometimes with tan markings), white and black, or tricolored.

Life Expectancy: 14-16 years


Cotons are happy dogs that are full of energy, with witty, lighthearted personalities. They are known for their expressive “joie de vivre” faces, which always seem to be smiling. Highly intelligent dogs, they love learning new commands and tricks. Cotons are not always clowns though—they also have a serious side, and possess a striking sensitivity and awareness to those around them, often expressing this with unique vocalizations. They develop strong attachments to their home and family, making them surprisingly great watchdogs. Because they get along with everyone, human or animal, Cotons make great family pets.

Something to Bark About: Cotons are full of tricks and entertaining behaviors—one of their trademark traits is to jump and walk on their hind legs. Perhaps they learned this from the court jesters during their time with the Madagascan royals?


  • Because they have hair instead of fur, Cotons have little to no shedding and are considered hypoallergenic.
  • Cotons do well with apartment living, as they are fairly active indoors.
  • Cotons love people and other animals, and do well when meeting new people.


  • Grooming is a daily task when it comes to Cotons. Their hair mats easily, and needs to be carefully brushed every day.
  • Cotons can be a little stubborn without proper training and leadership.
  • Because Cotons are still a fairly rare breed, it’s unlikely that you will find one through a rescue organization or shelter. Cotons can be expensive when purchased from a breeder, reaching up to $3000 per dog.

Want to welcome a jovial Coton de Tulear into your home? Try finding one at one of your local small dog rescue groups at



  1. I simply love Coton de Tulears! I train toy breed dogs and Coton de Tulears are some of the sweetest dogs I have the privilege to meet. And it truly is a privilege to meet a Coton. There are only a few thousand of these rare dogs in the United States.

    So how does one go about finding a Coton de Tulear puppy?

    There are several breed clubs for Coton de Tulears. One club recently joined the American Kennel Club. Other clubs are opposed to joining the AKC, fearing that doing so will increase demand for their precious dogs and that Cotons will fall into the hands of puppy mill dealers.

    There may be other differences between the clubs, such as whether Cotons can have coat colors or whether they must be all white. This can have health implications for a breed, so coat color is not always just about a pretty face!

    If you want a Coton, do your research. Talk to each club’s officers. Talk to your vet. Speak with pet parents who have Cotons! Cotons are worth the trouble. They are friendly, affectionate, beautiful smart little dogs.

    I am not stating which Club’s position is right or wrong, simply that pet parents should be aware that there are several breeder clubs for Coton de Tulears and that they have widely differing opinions about whether Cotons should be AKC shown and registered.

    If you want to invite a Coton de Tulear into your home, never, ever buy one from a pet store. You will never find a puppy who has been properly bred or cared for in a pet store. This is especially true for Cotons, which are a rare dog breed. They will never, ever be placed in a pet shop by a responsible breeder. Anyone who tells you this is lying.

    To find a Coton de Tulear and to learn more about them, visit these websites:

    American Coton Club (against the AKC registration of Cotons)

    Coton de Tulear Club of America (against the AKC registration of Cotons)

    United States of America Coton de Tulear Club (this the AKC club)

    North American Coton Association (United Kennel Club registry club)

    Kennel Club USA (German based registry – United States affiliate, I think!)

    There may be more clubs – this list is not intended to be exhaustive. Do be careful. Sometimes commercial breeders will post websites which appear to be “kennel clubs” but which are actually scams!

    The only way to know where your puppy came from, who he was bred by, what his parents looked like, how friendly and healthy they are, etc. is to visit the breeder in person, obtain veterinary records for your pup’s relatives for several generations and so on. References from other well known breeders, veterinarians, dog trainers, groomers, the pet parents of your prospective pup’s relatives – all of these contribute to a breeder’s resume.

    Happy researching and all the best to you and your Coton de Tulear!

    Diane Podolsky, CPDT-KA, CTC
    The Cultured Canine, LLC

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