Named the royal dog of Madagascar, the Coton de Tulear dog breed has origins dating back to the 16th century. It wasn’t until the 1970s that it was introduced into other countries, but its popularity soon grew from there. Known for their distinctive soft coats and friendly personalities, they are known affectionately as ‘Coties’. If you are thinking of bringing one of your own into your home, this blog post is all about the breed, giving you all the information you need.

History of the Coton de Tulear

The story of the Coton de Tulear dog can be traced back to the 16th century when their descendants were brought to Madagascar, breeding with the terriers who were already living there. The ruling tribe decreed that only royals could own one of these dogs, and they even retained their popularity after they were defeated. The ‘Coton’ part of their name was given due to their coats resembling cotton, as well as being soft to the touch.

For a long time, this breed could only be found in Madagascar, but it was in 1974 when this changed and it was introduced to other countries. To start off with, only a few people were permitted to take one off the island. It wasn’t until 1990 that they were first recognized by the Kennel Club. These dogs are still very rare, so you will need to declare your interest with a breeder and likely join a waiting list before you can get your hands on one of your own.

Portrait Cute little baby dog original Coton de Tulear

Quick Facts

In the breed’s name, the ‘Coton’ part is the French word for cotton. Have a feel of one of their coats and you will understand why! They have a unique soft texture which varies in size between three and six inches. Also, you will be pleased to know, they don’t have that ‘dog smell’ when they are wet! Of course, you need to make sure you give the coats the proper grooming attention that they deserve.

The main color of the coat is white, though you may notice some grey or red-roan shading around their ears. Sometimes they are born with black or brown markings, though these often fade after a couple of years.

Known affectionately as ‘Coties’, they are well-known as being great family pets as they get on with kids. Also, if you live in a busy household, you don’t have to worry about walking them as often as other dogs.

Many celebrities own and have owned Coties including Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jane Fonda and Barbara Streisand.

While they love clowning around, they are also intelligent and easy to train. In fact, they are so happy, some people know them as the ‘anti-stress dog’!

Genetic and hereditary conditions are not common, and Coties are known to live for 15 years or more. Relatively small dogs, they tend to range between 8 and 13 pounds in weight.

Things You Should Know

Training

You should have a relatively easy time training your Coton de Tulear. They are known for both their intelligence and eagerness to please – two highly useful qualities! But they are also sensitive, so avoid any negative training techniques. Positive reinforcement and consistency are two of the main characteristics worth demonstrating. Another great way of teaching them is playing plenty of interactive games together.

When you first get your Cotie, it is worth starting to train them straight away. This helps a lot in their initial education, as well as being an enjoyable activity for the two of you. A common trap to fall into is spoiling your new puppy as they are just so darn cute. You are not doing yourself or your dog a favor, so ensure that you establish clear boundaries. This helps to show the pecking order of the household.

Although training is relatively straightforward, you may have a little more trouble house-breaking your mutt. Crate training can be a useful technique to begin with.

Feeding

Most people tend to get their Coton de Tulear puppy from breeders. If you have chosen a reputable source, they should give you a clear feeding schedule to follow. Keep sticking to the same routine to establish a sense of consistency. If you decide to alter your puppy’s diet in any way, you should take a little by little approach to avoid causing any stomach issues. If you do notice that anything changes and discomfort, diarrhea or vomiting become a problem, go back to their original diet. It is also worth discussing your options with the vet before you make any major changes.

You should be able to expand your dog’s diet as they start to get older. It is worth experimenting to ensure that your pooch doesn’t become too fussy. Make sure that you stick to high-quality kibble or wet food to form the cornerstone of their diet. Check for the nutritional benefits that will be provided. As well as a good diet, you also need to ensure that your pooch gets enough exercise on a daily basis to help keep them in the right shape, as well as avoiding a range of common health issues.

Grooming

While there are plenty of positives involved in owning a Coton de Tulear dog, you need to know that grooming them properly is a time consuming task. You may not think this at first as these are non-shedding dogs, but they should be brushed regularly to keep tangles and knots at bay. You should try to schedule in a daily brushing session as this is best for their coat and skin. But as well as all the activity that you do on your own, you should also book your pup into the groomers for a professional session a few times a year.

As we have talked about earlier, their cotton-like coat is the reason that tangles and knots are easy to form. And when a dog doesn’t shed, it is inevitable that these are going to persist until they are worked out. At this point it is worth noting that the dander that gathers in their coats may cause an allergic reaction, which is obviously an issue in households with allergy sufferers.

Coton de Tulear

You should brush your dog outside of the bath, taking care to never brush a dry coat as it can break and become brittle. Instead, you should use a hydrating spray. You can use a special detangler to get rid of the more stubborn mats. Remember, this is not a process that should be rushed as you are more likely to hurt your dog.

When you give your Cotie a bath, you should use a technique that minimizes tangling problems. Apply shampoo to their wet coat and squeeze it through in a downward motion. Make sure that you are thorough to get the shampoo through their whole coat. Do the same with conditioner as well. Rinse the coat through thoroughly to get rid of any lasting products. Cooling the temperature down on the final rinse will help with this. You can then dry your dog using a downward motion which prevents more tangles from occurring. When your dog is dry, they should be free of tangles. You can check this using a metal comb, which should glide through their coat rather than getting stuck.

Beyond looking after their coat, Coton de Tulear grooming consists of checking your pooch’s ears regularly, giving them a good cleaning when you need to. The build up of wax can end up leading to infections which are difficult to clear. Make sure that you dry the area after a bath. Also, you should get into the habit of brushing your dog’s teeth as this will help to prevent periodontal issues in the future.

Health

A big plus for owners of Coton de Tulear dogs is that this is a generally healthy breed with fre inherited diseases. Their lifespan averages between 14 and 16 years with proper care and access to a high-quality diet and enough exercise. You shouldn’t find this to be excessive – a daily walk should be enough. But you should supplement this with some active playtime sessions.

There are a few hereditary Coton de Tulear health problems which are worth knowing about in more detail. Some of the most common issues include Canine multi-focal retinopathy (CMR), Bandera´s neonatal ataxia, Primary Hyperoxaluria type 1, and Von Willebrand’s disease (VMD – Type 1), which can all be screened for with a DNA test. And there are also other conditions that your dog can be screened annually for including cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and luxating patella.

Temperament

Coton de Tulear dogs are known to be beloved companions, friendly with both dogs and people too. Their playful and happy nature has made them an extremely popular choice of family dog. You may find your pooch walking on their hind legs or cocking their head cutely to one side when they are trying to listen to what you are saying.

When you bring your new Coton de Tulear puppy home, you may be overwhelmed by just how cute your new canine companion is. However, this doesn’t mean that you should always let them get what they want. You should start socializing and training your pup at an early age to lay down the groundwork for a happy future. If you have kids in the house, you need to be especially careful in ensuring that they know how to play safely and gently with the new addition to your household.

While they are active dogs, they can also have a placid streak from time to time too. Due to their high intelligence levels, Coties love playing interactive games with you, so it is worth varying up their regular exercise regime. If you live anywhere near water, you will notice that your Cotie enjoys going for a dip, and they are well-known for being strong swimmers. But you need to take extra care anywhere they could be at risk of drowning. Also, you could invest in some interactive puzzle toys for you both to enjoy together.

After you have brought your new dog home, you will start to form a close bond that will continue for life. Coton de Tulears are known for wanting to please their owners, so training is more straightforward than with other more stubborn pups. Teaching your dog new tricks and behaviors is a good way of forming a closer bond, as well as ensuring they fit into the household well. On the downside, if you are not careful, your Cotie can start to pick up bad behaviors as well.

Cute Coton de Tulear sitting in grass

Now it is worth noting that Coton de Tulears are people dogs, which means that you should be wary about leaving yours alone for a long time. Ideally, they will always have some sort of company at home, which will prevent them from becoming lonely. Having said that, Coties are quite sensitive and don’t like things to be too noisy. But they can make a fair bit of noise on their own! Another more negative point to bear in mind is that they may be more wary of strangers, which can end up manifesting itself as aggression. You will probably notice that your dog barks and stays away until they know someone better.

If you have never owned a dog before, a Cotie is a good choice as they are so friendly and happy, but these pooches need plenty of attention and are high maintenance in terms of their upkeep.

Final Thoughts 

Coton de Tulears are big loveable balls of fluff who make fantastic pets. Their temperament and personalities are lovely, while they don’t have too many health concerns to worry about. However, they are at the upper end of the scale in terms of the amount of grooming required, so you should prepare yourself for this. Also, as these are such rare pooches, you are likely to have to wait to get your hands on Coton de Tulear puppies. But for many, the wait is well worth it!

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