Coton de Tulear

The Coton de Tuléar is a small dog breeds. It is named after the city of Tulear in Madagascar, and for its cottony textured coat. The Coton de Tulear developed on the Island of Madagascar and is still the island's national dog. The Coton's ancestors were brought to Madagascar in the 16th and 17th centuries aboard pirate ships. Madagascar was a haven for pirates, and pirate graveyards can still be seen there. Pirates established the only democratic kingdom for themselves on St. Mary's Island, Madagascar and took Malagasy wives. Whether the dogs were brought along to control rats on the ships, as companions for long voyages, or were confiscated from other ships as booty no one knows. Tulear is a port now also known as Toliara. The Coton is of the Bichon dog type, linked most closely to the now-extinct Bichon Tenerife, and Tenerife Terrier. There have been many stories circulating about the history of the Coton in recent years. Most of them are untrue. The Coton de Tulear was never feral on Madagascar. It did not hunt wild boar or alligators, as its size, strength, and demeanor can disprove easily. It was a companion dog of the Merina (the ruling tribe) in Madagascar. It has very little prey drive, and is not a hunting dog.

Coton de Tulear Appearance

Multiple registries with differing standards describe the Coton de Tuléar, but in general, it has very soft hair, comparable to a cotton ball, a prominent black nose, large expressive eyes (usually covered by bangs) and somewhat short puffy legs.

Coton de Tulear Coat and color

The Coton de Tuléar has medium-length to long hair (about four to six inches), fluffy, cotton-like coat that is hair rather than fur. Since it is a non-shedding breed with low dander, it is hypoallergenic (like the poodle) and has no "doggie smell".

The Fédération Cynologique Internationale standard specifies that the Coton's coat should be white but may also have lemon color on their ears and body, but the coat must be primarily white with no black hair allowed. The US-based Coton de Tulear Club of America allows for three different but equally favorable colorings: white, black-and-white and tri-color which includes "honeybear". White is described as nearly all white, sometimes with champagne coloring on the ears, face or back. Black-and-white is defined as pure white with prominent black patches on the head and body (no ratio of white-to-black is specified or favored). Tri-color is described as mostly white with some brown markings and dustings of black on the body and head. A honey bear tri-color has light brown with black tips which gradually fades to off white or lemon color. The tri-color loses the most color of any of the color varieties usually becoming mostly white with possibly some champagne markings and a dusting of black hairs on the ears and/or body.

Coton de Tulear Size

The international Fédération Cynologique Internationale standard gives the Coton's weight as from 4 to 6 kg (about 9 to 13 lb) for males and 3.5 to 5 kg (8 to 11 lb) for females. The Coton's height (including tolerance) is from 25 to 30 cm (about 10 to 12 inches) tall for males and from 22 to 27 cm (8½ to 10½ inches) for females.

By contrast, the Coton de Tulear Club of America standard specifies the weight as no more than 18 lb (8 kg) with the average being between 11-15 pounds. The standard height is 9 to 13 inches (33 cm), except for the rare Tall Coton, which is 14 to 16 inches (43 cm) high.

The Tall Coton shows up in all three colors, and can be born to a litter with normal sized parents that carry the appropriate genes. These long-limbed dogs are exceptionally agile and graceful.

Coton de Tulear Detailed description

The nose is black in colour in the Coton de Tulear Club of America standard. However, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale standard, which does favor a black nose, states that brown is tolerable as well. A pink or partly pink nose is not accepted in either standard. The lips are tight and of the same colour as the nose, specifically black in the Coton de Tulear Club of America standard. The teeth are in a scissor bite or pincer bite. The eyes are round, dark in colour and wide set. The expression should be lively, intelligent, bright, and merry. The ears are triangular and set high. The leather of the ear should be thin. The neck is strong, without a dewlap and slightly arched.

The chest is well developed and reaches below the elbows. The feet are small and arched. The back should be strong and slightly arched. The pads of the feet are usually black. The body is of moderate length and should have a moderate tuck up. The loin is muscular and not too long. The hind legs are strong and straight. The hind feet similar to the front feet. the Dewclaws may be removed. The tail is low set and tapering, carried over the back when in motion or excited, relaxed otherwise.

Coton de Tulear Temperament

The Coton de Tulear is a playful, affectionate, intelligent dog breeds. It loves people and as a result can have separation anxiety. It loves life and is enthusiastic and lively. It is a very vocal breed, grunting and making other noises when having fun. Some Cotons have a habit of jumping up and walking on their hind legs to please people. Some Cotons may exhibit shyness or cautiousness in new situations, especially around strangers, but this can usually be overcome with training. Most Cotons love meeting new people and are very curious in new situations. The dogs are very trainable with praise, instead of punishment. They can be great with other dogs.

Coton de Tulear Care

The Coton de Tulear has a long coat which needs a thorough grooming almost everyday, and a bath about once a month. Cotons, like Poodles, are hypoallergenic; they have hair (a lot like human hair), which makes them very popular and compatible with people who have allergies. Because they have hair rather than a coat of fur, they don't shed. Instead, they lose a small amount of hair. Cotons need a short walk every day for exercise, but will appreciate a play session as often as possible and have the endurance to go on a long hike.

Coton de Tulear Health

The Coton de Tulear is in general a healthy breed. However there are some health issues as there are in all breeds. The most serious of these would be heart problems, liver shunts, back (disc) problems or eye problems. Luckily, these are still relatively uncommon in the breed, but are becoming more so as irresponsible breeders in the US and Europe have discovered the dog breeds.

The Coton de Tulear Club of America has listed in their CD ROM book 43 disorders that have been seen in the breed. Most health issues are still rare. They are currently known to be long-lived and healthy compared to more popular breeds, normally living between 14 and 16 years.

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