Coton de Tulear Dog

Breed Category: Gun (U.K.), Companion (U.S.)
Country of Origin: Madagascar
Average Size: 25-30 cm (at the withers)
Average Weight: 5-8 kg
Average Life Span: 15-18 years
Grooming Requirements: High
Exercise Requirements: Medium


The Coton de Tulear is a dog that originates in the island of Madagascar, which is located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa. Coton de Tulear is French for “cotton of Tulear.” Tulear is a coastal city in Madagascar and is responsible for a portion of this breed’s name. The dog’s fur is soft and fluffy, much like cotton, which is how the rest of its name was derived.

The country of Madagascar was considered a part of France until the mid 20th century and the Coton de Tulear’s ancestors are thought to have been introduced to the land by the French in the 17th century. Others believe that the breed happened upon the shore of Tulear during a shipwreck, while another theory suggests they were aboard European pirate ships that sailed to Madagascar.

This breed remains popular in Madagascar, where it is the country’s official dog. The breed was brought to North America and Europe in the 1970s and though the breed has been around for hundreds of years, it is still not recognised by several major Australian and American dog registries.


As previously mentioned, the Coton de Tulear is known for its fluffy and soft coat, which is similar in texture as cotton. Its coat is predominantly white, though it may have tan or black markings, particularly around the ears and eyes. The soft fur is very prone to tangling if it is not regularly brushed, so grooming should be part of this breed’s daily routine. It does not shed like many other dogs, so this breed is one to consider for those with allergies.

The average Coton de Tulear weighs 5-8 kg and is 25-30 cm in height.  Males tend to be larger than females of this breed.

The Coton de Tulear is related to the Bichon family of dog. It has a short snout with a black nose and dark, round eyes. While its fur is long throughout its body, it is particularly shaggy around the ears, eyes, nose and tail. Its tail is full in length and typically curls upward.


This breed is as friendly and sweet as its appearance suggests. It makes a loving and lively companion dog for individuals and families. The Coton de Tulear is affectionate with people of all ages and also gets along well with other animals.

It is obedient and eager to please, always striving to earn praise from its owner. It enjoys spending as much time with its family as possible and prefers close contact in place of independence. This breed is intelligent and curious by nature, though it may be initially shy with new people.

The Coton de Tulear does not require a lot of time spent outdoors, so it makes a wonderful dog for city dwellers. Though a daily walk is recommended, this breed can be very playful indoors. It enjoys playing fetch and being taught new tricks. It may be prone to compulsive barking, but this behaviour can be discouraged with training.


Thus far in its history, this breed is not known to have many health problems. Most conditions that affect this breed are present in other dog breeds. These include hip dysplasia, heart defects, cancer and vision problems.

Small breeds tend to have a longer lifespan, so the Coton de Tulear may live to be 15-18 years of age if it is healthy.