Coton de Tuléar – Breed Profile

The Coton de Tuléar is a small breed of dog. Their most distinctive feature is their soft coat, which is considered to be hair, rather than fur. To find out more about the breed, and if it is a good fit for your family, read on below.

Coton de Tuléar Nero

Coton de Tuléar


The Coton de Tuléar is a small breed, with males weighing between 4 – 6 kg and females between 3.5 – 5 kg. The coat of soft, cotton-like hair, rather than typical dog fur means that the breed does not have a normal dog smell. This also means that they can be a good breed for those allergic to normal dog fur. This hair does, however, require daily brushing to prevent matting. The coat comes in three colours, white, black and white and tricolour. Many multi coloured examples do later lose their colour as their adult coat grows in. A black nose and large, dark eyes beautifully contrast this light colouring. The tail is usually of medium length and curls over the back.


The Coton de Tuléar is a playful and intelligent breed. They are an excellent family dog and are very affectionate towards their owners. This attachment to the family means that Cotons do not typically do well if left alone for long periods. Their playful nature often presents itself most prominently in the evening, so they can be very excitable once children get home from school. One of their favourite tricks is to hop about on their back legs, which can be an entertaining thing to watch. Cotons are usually eager to please, which makes them easily trainable. They are a curious breed and love meeting new people, but as always, we advise socialising at a young age. While they may bark occasionally, they are not typically a vocal breed.


Coton de Tuléar have a life expectancy of 14-16 years. They are a generally healthy breed but can be prone to heart problems, liver shunts and back problems. As with many small breeds, they can suffer from luxating patellas. They also have an above average rate of Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), which results in blindness. Responsible breeders will not breed from examples that display early signs of PRA, which helps minimise the problem.


The Coton de Tuléar takes its name from the Madagascan city of Tuléar and is the national dog of the country. The breed developed in Madagascar from Bichon Frise dogs that came to the island in the 16th Century. There is some suggestion that they entered the country as ship dogs from pirate ships. These dogs began cross-breeding with a local breed, which produced a dog similar to the modern day Coton. This new breed caught the eye of the Malagasy royalty, and for a time, they were the only people allowed to own the breed. Cotons only made their way out of Madagascar as recently as the 1970’s, when Dr. Robert Jay Russell brought the first examples to America. The breed only became recognised by the Kennel Club in 1990 and is still considered to be a fairly rare breed.

The Coton de Tuléar in the attached photo is Nero. We recently had Nero staying with us for neutering at our Morley surgery.

Yorkshire Vets Heart