Information on the Coton de Tulear
TopicsWhat is the Coton de Tulear?
What about Genetic Defects and Life Span?
What about Grooming?
What about Color?
A Brief History
What is the Coton de Tulear?The Coton de Tulear (pronounced coTAWN day two-LEE are) is an extremely rare, ancient, purebred. The Coton is a small delightful cotton ball, with round dark eyes, rimmed in black, and sparkling with intelligence. The lips are also rimmed in black, and are most often smiling. With a medium length muzzle, which is tipped with a prominent black nose, the Coton stands about a foot from the shoulder and is about a third longer than tall, and weighs no more than thirteen pounds. In France, the Coton is called "petite marionette" (little Puppet) owing to its brilliant liveliness. A happy, alert companion, they quickly bond with their masters, and are quite content to sleep on your feet or snuggle in your lap.
What about Genetic Defects and Life Span?Cotons are hearty dogs with a life span of sixteen to nineteen years. They are rarely sick and few genetic defects have been reported. Health is always important in breeding animals, therefore all of my breeding stock have yearly blood panels done as well as being OFA cleared for hips, patellas, elbows and thyroid. Their eyes are cleared by CERF. Although he is very resilient and likes to play in the rain or snow, he is still an inside dog.
What about Grooming?The Coton de Tulear earned its name from its unique cotton-like hair. Its dry, wind-tossed coat is probably the easiest to care for of long hair breeds. The hair is about four inches long, and when wet, dries quickly. There is no shedding, and seldom bothers people with allergies; however, brushing is necessary, as the hair will mat. Brushing three or four times a week should prevent matting. There is no haircut (like the Bichon or Poodle). The coat should maintain its natural wind-tossed look. A puppy cut is fine for low maintenance of older dogs or pets, but never for a show dog.
What about Color?The delightful Coton de Tulear is predominately white. "A few yellow or grey more of less dark patches. Notably on the ears is tolerated." The ears can be tipped with yellow patches more or less dark, a mixture of yellow and black, or black hair giving the impression of grey. According to the FCI Standard, a coat strongly marked with brown or pure black is a disqualification for a show Coton. Some puppies are born with heavy markings, these markings fade, as the Coton reaches adulthood.
A Brief HistoryMadagascar, the world's fourth largest island, lies in the Indian Ocean, southeast off the coast of Africa. Its capital is Tananarive. Tulear is a port city in the southwestern coast of Madagascar.
The breed's history is poorly documented, but there is a tale in which it is said that this little dog survived a shipwreck off Madagascar around the 15th century, reached the harbor of Tulear and became a new breed whose name was the name of the town, Tulear. The truth is that during a violent storm, a ship wrecked near Madagascar. No one knows the name of the ship or its flag but all the sailors perished in the ocean. But little white dogs (the Tenerife, now extinct, and later known as the Coton de Reunion) made it to shore around the southwest coast of the island. These dogs settled on the island, became wild, and bred with the local terriers. The Coton de Tulear resulted from this relationship.
Later, the natives fell in love with these little white dogs and offered them to the King and Malagasy nobles. Malagasy society ran on a caste system, with the people divided into nobles and free men. Coton ownership was restricted to the nobility. A law was enacted, making it a criminal offense for anyone other than nobles to own the breed. Even today there is a law restricting the ownership of a Coton to anyone other than the very wealthy in Madagascar. It quickly became known as "The Royal Dog of Madagascar." The Coton is the "Official Dog of Madagascar," and has been honored on a postage stamp.
In 1970, the world wide French Kennel Club [FCI] recognized the Coton de Tulear as a rare pure-breed. Unfortunately, political and economic crises in Madagascar now threaten the Coton with extinction in their native land.