Coton de Tulear is one of five breeds in the Bichon family, which includes the Bichon Frise, Bolognese, Havanese, and Maltese. The ancestors of these five breeds were popular companions and barter items for sailors in the Mediterranean. The dogs that would one day become the Coton eventually landed in Madagascar, where they became the favorites of royalty.
This is a small breed, standing 8.5 to 12.5 inches tall and weighing 8 to 12 pounds. The eyes are round and dark, the ears are dropped, and the nose is dark. The coat is long, soft, and dense. Although the white coat is the most popular, the Coton de Tulear may also be black and white or tricolored. The breed standards vary slightly between registries, both as to size and weight and as to coat colors.
The Coton de Tulear dog breed should be thoroughly brushed and combed daily, as the coat can mat. Many pet owners keep the feet and under the tail trimmed short for cleanliness. The Coton can be quite playful but is generally a calm dog. He prefers snuggling to playing in the backyard. Walks are always welcome, though, as every walk turns into a social event; people are drawn to this adorable dog breed.
Training should begin early. Although this breed is bright and intelligent, housetraining can be a challenge. However, with a good schedule, patience, and consistency, housetraining will happen. Obedience training is also a good idea for both dog and owner, as this breed is easily spoiled.
The Coton de Tulear needs an owner who wishes to have a canine shadow. The owner should also enjoy grooming the dog. This breed is good with children, as long as the kids treat him with respect; he will not tolerate rough handling. He can be good with other dogs, although playtimes with larger dogs should be supervised to prevent injuries. He is usually good with smaller pets, as he has a very low prey drive. Health concerns include knee problems and thyroid disorders.