Royal Dog of Madagascar – Coton de Tulear

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
The Cotton de Tulear dog breed is sweet and cuddly, with a strong need to entertain his humans. Here is what you should know about the breed's history, temperament, and grooming style. Read on.
Dog Breed Group:
Companion Dogs
8 to 12 inches tall at the shoulder
8 to 13 pounds
Life Span:
Starts at 14 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

The Coton de Tulear is often described as a dog with a happy-go-lucky personality companion dog, with a bit of clownish personality. This dog is also known as “Royal Dog of Madagascar.”

If you are thinking about welcoming the Coton de Tulear to your home, you might consider visiting the local shelter first and see if you can find there this small and sturdy dog.

Quick Facts

Real name: Coton de Tuléar
Other names: Coton, Cotie
Origin: Madagascar
Breed type: Companion Dog
Weight: Male 4–6 kg (8.8–13.2 lb), Female 3.5–5 kg (7.7–11.0 lb)
Height: Male 25–30 cm (9.8–11.8 in), Female 22–27 cm (8.7–10.6 in)
Lifespan: 14 – 16 years
Litter Size: 14 – 16 years
Color: White, gray, black, or with tri-colored markings
Coat: Medium-to-long, fluffy, cotton-like coat

Coton de Tulear History

The Royal Dog of Madagascar is a long-established breed that takes its name from Tulear, a port town on the south-west coast of the island. Coton de Tulear was the preferred lapdog of the nobles of Madagascar.

Historically, Madagascar’s island was under French colonial rule, which is why this dog’s name comes with a French accent. The island’s aristocrats were very much in love with this small size dog. Aristocrats were acting like jealous guardians of their little fluffy comedians.

They were so protective over the breed that they had even pass laws that prohibited Coton ownership to commoners. They were also very strict on dog’s leaving the island. They wanted them isolated from the rest of the world. Due to this unusual practice, they kept the breed purebred until today.

The Coton de Tulear’s AKC breed standard begins with a tantalizing assertion: “In Madagascar, the Coton de Tulear survived in packs in the wilderness, later to become a companion dog of the native Malagasy and Merina tribal nobles.”

Some historical tales and documents claim that these small dogs lived in isolation until the 1960s when French tourists discovered the breed.

This breed was an instant hit in Europe, where generations of selective breeding further refined the breed into the Coton we now know. The AKC registered its first Cotons de Tulear in 2014.

Fun Fact: The breed’s name is pronounced KP-Tone Dih TOO-Lay-ARE

Coton de Tulear Physical Appearance

The Coton de Tulear is a small and sturdy small white dog. A naturally long and cotton-like coat often characterizes this breed. The head is short and triangular when seen from above.

The length of the body is in balance with the length of the body. The overall expression is a lively, alert, and intelligent dog with a high level of happiness.

Eyes are rounded, dark brown or black in color, and set wide apart. The rims of the eyelids are completely pigmented in black.

The neck is arched, of moderate length, while the withers are slightly pronounced. The chest is long, well-developed, and well-let down to elbow height. Shoulders are muscular, while the legs are upright.

Lower arms are well-muscled with good bone, while the lower arm’s lengths correspond approximately to that of the upper arm. The hind legs are muscular from hip to hock. The main characteristic of this breed is its coat.

The coat is very soft and supple, whit the texture of cotton. It’s very soft and supple, never rough or hard. The coat is dense, profuse, and can sometimes be slightly wavy. In puppies, the coat is much softer. Tulears’ with atypical hair or even curled hair cannot join the dog show.

Coton de Tulear Personality

The Coton is a playful, lively, and intelligent companion eager to please and entertain. This breed is known for its affectionate side and calm nature. Your Coton will get along perfectly with children, other pets, and children.

Make sure that you educate your children on how to behave around the dogs, and never to disturb while they are in their space (such as a crate), and in moments of eating and drinking water. When a dog approached his bowls others should stay away from that area.

Toddlers sometimes see small dogs as toys, so accidental pulling and grabbing may occur, but it can be prevented as long as you educate your children on how to treat dogs the right way.

As a true playful breed, your Coton will get along great with other pets as well, and he will even be nice toward strangers. This is why it’s important not to leave your Coton in front of a store when you are inside shopping.

This applies to any other situation as well, because smaller dogs are more prone to being stolen than larger breeds who’s massive appearance usually keeps strangers away.

This breed is calm inside, which is why training can be easy. The Coton isn’t a big barker, but he can still produce a significant level of strong vocalizations.

Coton de Tulear Grooming

Grooming your Cotton sounds like a nightmare? Fear not, because grooming this bundle of joy will be a breeze.

It would be best if you groomed him regularly to ensure that he learns to see grooming time as a positive thing and time of bonding with his favorite person.

You can always choose to keep your Coton in a short ‘puppy clip’, but your dog will still need a great deal of brushing.

Have the right brushing tool on you and be careful when grooming your Coton, and always be gentle. You don’t want to hurt your dog.

To avoid breakage, you should use a spray conditioner. Check the ears a couple of times a week, and remove – if needed, any excess wax, hair, or debris. This simple practice is a great way to avoid ear infections.

Check gums weekly and if you notice anything strange, contact your veterinarian. If you need help with grooming your Coton, think about taking your Coton to the groomer.

Coton de Tulear Training

Like any other dog breed, having a well-behaved dog is easy when you know how important training is. Training starts as soon as you Coton comes to your home.

Your Coton will be naturally territorial, like any other dog, so you provide Coton his place. If your Coton is a puppy, think about getting him a blanket, or leaving the light on if he is scared of the dark.

Always check if your company offers pawternity leave. Early socialization is the key when it comes to a well-behaved dog.

As soon as vaccinations are done, and your veterinarian gives you the green light, you should expose your puppy to new smells, sounds, and new people.

Extra attention should be put on meeting other dogs and pets. By carefully monitoring your dog’s behaviors while puppy you will be able to spot early any signs of aggression, anxiety and even an underlying health issues.

Teach your dog house rules and restrictions. Never apply any force on your dog. Keep training sessions lively and interesting, because this lively dog can easily get bored.

As you may know already, bored dogs are dogs prone to destructive behavior. If you want the best training results, keep training sessions interesting and short.

Again, never use negative training practices. Think about dog-sport activities and implementing positive methods properly. Famous Coton does well in agility and obedience.

On top of that they are superb therapy dogs.

Coton de Tulear Exercise

The Coton is a fairly active dog, although some would say that Coton is extremely active for a small size dog. All in, the Coton is an active dog, and as such, he needs a moderate amount of exercise.

Regular daily walks can do needs for his health and activity level. The walk should be at a slow speed to keep him in good weight and condition. Small size dogs are prone to obesity if you give them more food than needed.

A bored and unhappy Coton can become destructive, so always provide toys and enjoyable engagement time. You can always enhance indoor time with extra games, and keep a backyard – if you have one, well secured.

Coton de Tulear Health

The Coton de Tulear is overall a healthy breed. So far, this breed has remained free of genetic health issues. It’s not that they don’t exist in this breed, but they are present in a low percentage.

Coton breeders are working continually working to keep the breed as problem-free as possible by doing genetic screening to all breeding stock. This is why it’s crucial to find a responsible dog breeder and get the healthier Coton de Tulear possible.

Occasionally, eye problems may appear in the breed, and as with all small breeds, there is a chance of luxating patellas, and even spinal disc disease.

Coton de Tulear Nutrition

Your Coton should do fine on high-quality dog food that appropriate to his age. You won’t feed a puppy with food for senior, right? There is a reason why puppies eat different food than senior dogs do.

It’s similar to babies and adult humans since puppies are growing, they need ingredients that will support puppies growth.

Mind how much you feed your Coton because some dogs are prone to obesity. Avoid giving him table scraps, and use treats only to enhance training. Learn which human foods are safe for dogs, and which should be avoided.

Always check with your veterinarian if you have any concerns about the dog’s weight or diet.

The Bottom Line

Dogs are very simple beings. They need love, good food, and outdoor time to be happy. In return, they will provide more than enough love, loyalty, and some silly moments.

So, if you are up for an adventure of a lifetime, you should let a small, but sturdy dog in your life, known as Coton de Tulear. The famous Coton is perfect for you if you have enough time to entertain him or watch him entertain you.

If you don’t have enough patience to deal with dog’s separation anxiety, frequent brushing, and barking following with housebreaking difficulties, then a Coton de Tulear may not be for you.

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