The Coton de Tuléar: Everything You Need to Know

The Coton de Tuléar is a small white dog with a personality described as bright, charming, and happy-go-lucky. The hallmark of the breed is its soft, almost cotton-like coat. 

In this article, we will talk about the Coton de Tuléar breed’s fascinating history, appearance, personality, and health issues so you can decide if it is the right dog for you. 

History and Origin of the Coton de Tuléar

The Madagascar Connection

The Coton de Tuléar originated on the island of Madagascar, located off the coast of Africa. The exact ancestry of the breed is unknown, but members of the breed used to live in the wild before becoming popular lapdogs.

The name was derived from the French word for cotton because of the dog’s fluffy and cotton-like coat and the breed’s hometown – the seaport town of Tulear in Madagascar. 

The Royal Dog of Madagascar

The Coton de Tuléar was highly prized by Madagascan royalty and nobility. In fact, in Madagascar, there were laws prohibiting commoners from owning breed members. 

Additionally, the breed was not allowed to be taken away from the island. The isolation had a positive impact on the breed, which was developing and evolving on its own. 

Arrival in Europe and America

It wasn’t until the 1970s that Cotons were brought to Europe and later to the United States. The breed quickly gained popularity among dog enthusiasts due to their affectionate and playful personality, as well as their unique appearance.

Today, the Coton de Tuléar is recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and classified in the Non-Sporting Group. Despite the recognition, the breed is relatively rare. 

Physical Characteristics and Appearance

Size and Weight

The Coton de Tuléar is a small dog. Males weigh 9 to 15 pounds and stand 10 to 11 inches tall at the withers. Females weigh between 8 and 13 pounds and stand 9 to 10 inches tall at the shoulders. 

Despite its small size, the Coton de Tuléar has a sturdy and compact build. Breed members make excellent lapdogs but are also surprisingly athletic and love to play and run around.

Coat and Colors

The Coton de Tuléar has a unique, white, and fluffy coat that is made up of soft, cotton-like hair rather than regular fur. The coat is hypoallergenic, making the breed a great choice for people with allergies.

The Coton de Tuléar’s coat requires regular brushing and grooming to keep it from matting, but many owners find that the extra effort is worth it for the soft and fluffy feel of their dog’s coat.

Distinctive Features

In addition to their unique coat, Cotons have a number of other distinctive features that make them stand out from other small dogs. They have large, dark, and expressive eyes that seem to sparkle with intelligence and curiosity.

Their floppy ears are another charming feature that contributes to their adorable appearance. When excited, Cotons often wag their curly tail rapidly, which is a sight to behold.

Personality and Temperament

The Coton de Tuléar is a great family pet and thrives on human interaction. Members of the breed are eager to please their owners and enjoy snuggling. They are also clownish and love being the center of attention. 

Intelligence and Trainability 

Cotons are intelligent dogs and are easy to train. They respond well to positive reinforcement methods and enjoy learning new tricks and commands. They are also great at problem-solving and can figure out how to get what they want.

Exercise and Curiosity 

Coton de Tuléar dogs are also playful and energetic dogs. Despite their small size, they have a lot of energy and love to play fetch and go for walks. They are also very curious and enjoy exploring their surroundings.

Adaptability and Friendliness 

Cotons are also known for their adaptability. They can adjust to new environments and situations quickly, making them great travel companions. They are also good with children and other pets, making them a great addition to any household.

Health and Lifespan

Common Health Issues

The Coton de Tuléar is a fairly health dog breed. However, like all dogs, it can be prone to certain health issues, such as: 

  • Orthopedic Issues: Breed members are prone to patellar luxation and hip dysplasia, which cause pain and limping 
  • Eye Problems: Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), cataracts, and glaucoma are common eye issues in the breed
  • Periodontal Disease: The breed’s teeth are at risk from plaque and tartar build-up, which results in periodontal disease 

Preventative Care and Regular Checkups

Regular dental cleanings, vaccinations, and parasite prevention are essential for keeping your Coton de Tuléar in optimal health. Frequent vet visits help catch any health issues early on. 

In addition to care, it’s important to provide your Coton de Tuléar with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. Cotons are an active breed that loves to play and run around.

Expected Lifespan

The Coton de Tuléar is a long-lived breed with an average lifespan of 15 to 19 years. With regular veterinary checkups, preventative care, and plenty of love, you can ensure your dog lives a happy and healthy life.


The Coton de Tuléar is a remarkable dog with a happy-go-lucky attitude and a strikingly beautiful cotton-like coat. Despite its small size, the fluffy Coton de Tuléardog has a huge personality. 

If you are interested in owning a Coton de Tuléar, research the breed and ensure it is the right choice for your lifestyle. Find a reputable breeder and keep in mind that the breed is relatively rare. 

Scroll to Top