Dog Breed Info Center(R) DBIC

Coton de Tulear

Information and Pictures

Jonah the white Coton de Tulear is standing outside. There is a shoe in front of him. Jonahs mouth is open and he looks like he is smiling

Jonah the Coton de Tulear at 4 years old—"I love to smile. Today I am at the dog park. I love to play ball, Frizbee and take daily walks. I am a very good boy."

Other Names



“Coton” is the French word for cotton. Like the name suggests, the most conspicuous feature of the Coton de Tulear is its coat, which is cottony or fluffy rather than silky. It has a long topcoat. The fluffy hair covers the thin, lightly-muscled forelegs. Colors come in white and black, and white and tri-colored. (White is preferred by show breeders.) Some have slightly yellowish markings on the ears.


This is a typical Bichon-type dog. It is very friendly, gentle, affectionate and alert. Cotons are very sociable dogs that get along well with children, other dogs and animals. It is very attached to its home and master, wanting always to be in their presence and trying its best to please. The Coton makes a great watchdog. Full of tricks and surprises to fulfill his master's every wish. One of their most endearing traits is a tendency to jump and walk on their hind legs. Their teasing expressions enhance any home willing to spend a few moments a day in the necessary play and grooming routines. The Coton learns quite quickly, but can be a little bit stubborn without the proper leadership. They are intelligent and eager to work. Make sure you are this dog's firm, confident, consistent pack leader to prevent Small Dog Syndrome, human induced behavior problems. Always remember, dogs are canines, not humans. Be sure to meet their natural instincts as animals.

Height, Weight

Height: 10 - 12 inches (25 - 30 cm)

Weight: 12 - 15 pounds (5.5 - 7 kg)

Health Problems


Living Conditions

The Coton is good for apartment life. They are fairly active indoors and will do okay without a yard.


Cotons like to swim and play. They enjoy wide open spaces and can follow their masters on horseback for many miles. They do well in various areas of dog sports, such as agility skills trials and catch. As active as they are, they will adapt well to the family's situation, so long as they are taken for a daily walk.

Life Expectancy

About 14-16 years.

Litter Size

About 4 to 6 puppies


The long, light-textured hair requires daily, careful grooming. The dead hair should be brushed and combed out. Excess hair between the pads of the feet and in the inner ears should be removed. They do not need a bath more than once or twice a year which will be adequate to keep them clean. The coat should not be scissored. Cotons shed little to no hair. This breed is good for allergy sufferers.


The Coton is a Bichon-type related to the French Bichons and the Italian Bolognese. It is even possible in some cases that native dogs of other types were crossbred. It most likely arrived in Madagascar with French troops, or with the administrators who followed. The breed was virtually unknown until it was reintroduced to Europe and America in the last 20 years. For centuries, the Coton was a favored companion of the wealthy residents of Tulear, in southern Madagascar, where it continued to breed to type. A dog with similar origins was popular on the French island of Reunion, off the east coast of Madagascar, but became extinct. The original Bichon-type extended back possibly one thousand years ago or more. Although still rare, it has enjoyed considerable popularity with the Madagascar upper-class for some years and is becoming increasingly popular in the United States. The breed was recognized by the FCI in 1970. The Coton is the "Official Dog of Madagascar," and a tricolor Coton was honored on a postage stamp in 1974. The Coton de Tulear was officially recognized by the AKC in 2014.


Gun Dog, Companion Group

  • ACA = American Canine Association Inc.
  • ACR = American Canine Registry
  • AKC = American Kennel Club
  • APRI = American Pet Registry, Inc.
  • CKC = Continental Kennel Club
  • DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.
  • FCI = Fédération Cynologique Internationale
  • NAPR = North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • NKC = National Kennel Club
Two adult Coton De Tulears are sitting at the top of a set of outside steps. There is a Coton De Tulear puppy sitting one step down from them.

Photo courtesy of Chesterfield Coton de Tulear

Reno the Coton de Tulear has an orange frisbee in her mouth. She is standing in a bush

"This is our dog, Reno. She is a three-year-old Coton de Tulear and the joy of our home. Reno is the reason we decided to breed the Coton. Her friendly, calm and smart demeanor is unlike any dog we have ever owned. She is truly a big dog in a little dog body.

"Reno is content to lie on our lap or at our feet but the minute we mention the word "outside" she is eager to play. Reno LOVES to play Frisbee. So much so that we have to spell the word F-R-I-S-B-E-E or she will run in circles and dance on two feet until we get our jackets and shoes on to go and throw it for her.

"Another favorite pastime for Reno is riding on the lawnmower with my husband. She somehow knows when it's time to cut the grass and waits for him to start the mower. She eagerly jumps on and will ride with him the entire two hours it takes to cut our lawn. We call her "Captain Reno"" Photo courtesy of Cotons of Adam's Eden

Reno the Coton De Tulear is sitting in a bush with her tongue out looking content and happy

"Reno is one of three Cotons that we own and is definitely the "Queen" of the dogs. She is a very kind leader but if one of the others gets out of line she lets them know. When her puppies are young she guards them well, allowing the others only a little sniff or two but she NEVER gets upset when one of her human family members or their friends pets and snuggles them.

"We have watched the Dog Whisperer on occasion and have found it very helpful in finding balance in our home with our dogs. I am the pack leader and all of our dogs have found their place in the pack. I continually strive toward consistency and a calm atmosphere in our home to maintain good, positive behavior in our dogs. It really works!" Photo courtesy of Cotons of Adam's Eden

A Coton De Tulear is standing on a blue blanket with its eyes covered with its white coat and its tongue is out

Photo courtesy of Chesterfield Coton de Tulear

Coton De Tulear Puppy is sitting on a green frisbee and looking up

Puppy, photo courtesy of Chesterfield Coton de Tulear

Ami the Coton De Tulear puppy is sleeping on her back on a tan carpet inside of a house

Ami, a female Coton de Tulear puppy

Furio the Coton De Tulear is sitting on a sidewalk. There is a barrette holding his hair back out of his eyes.

Furio, a male Coton de Tulear all groomed up

Anya the tri-colour Coton de Tulear is standing outside in a field. The wind is blowing her hair

Anya, a tricolor Coton de Tulear at 7 months old—"I have submitted photos of Anya at 12 weeks, 5 months and 7 months. You can really see how her colour has faded as she's gotten older (especially after she's had a haircut at 7 months). She's the perfect puppy and is very well behaved. She has a very sweet nature and was bred by a fantastic breeder! Anya and I have been going to puppy school since she was 10 weeks old. When she first came to me she was a little bit demanding and would bark at me when she wanted food, but very quickly she stopped because whenever she would bark at me I'd turn my back on her and walk away. Now she hardly ever barks! We've recently been promoted to adult class and she's doing fantastic!"

Anya the tri-colour Coton de Tulear is laying down on a brown with white pattered dog bed and looking up

Anya, a tricolor Coton de Tulear at 7 months old after a haircut

Anya the tri-colour Coton de Tulear puppy is laying on a hardwood floor and looking up.

Anya, a tricolor Coton de Tulear at 5 months old

Anya the tri-colour Coton de Tulear puppy is sitting on a harwood floor. There is a table behind her.

Anya, a tricolor Coton de Tulear at 5 months old

Anya a tri-colour Coton de Tulear Puppy is laying on a green flower stuffed baby mat

Anya, a tricolor Coton de Tulear puppy at 12 weeks old

Anya a tri-colour Coton de Tulear puppy is laying on a green flower stuffed baby mat under a baby mobile

Anya, a tricolor Coton de Tulear puppy at 12 weeks old