Coton de Tulear

Written by:

PetMD Editorial
Published: September 05, 2012

Developed in Madagascar around the 16th century, the Coton de Tulear was regarded as royalty almost immediately. Even after being named the “Royal Dog of Madagascar” by a tribe in the past, this breed remained a popular dog among the rich long after and is gaining popularity as a loving companion.

Physical Characteristics

The Coton de Tulear is a small dog with the most striking feature being it’s long, cotton-like coat. The average height of the Coton de Tulear is 9 to 11 inches, and it weighs anywhere from 8 to 13 pounds. The dense, soft coat comes in pure white, and any large dark markings are considered a fault.

Personality and Temperament

Regarded as royalty from the start, the Coton de Tulear is a perfect companion. This dog breed is friendly with other dogs and people as well. The Coton de Tulear is a playful and happy dog well suited as a family pet.


Known for its long coat, this dog breed requires more than an average amount of grooming. In fact, it is important to start this early on with the Coton de Tulear so the dog becomes used to grooming and to maintain the coat. The Coton de Tulear also requires a regular amount of exercise.


The Coton de Tulear is a generally healthy breed with no known inherited diseases and lives an average of 14 to 16 years.

History and Background

Although the exact history of the Coton de Tulear is unknown, it is believed the decedents of this breed were brought over to the island of Madagascar by ship during the 16th century. These dogs are said to have bred with the terriers on the island, resulting in today’s Coton de Tulear.

Shortly after the Coton de Tulear developed in Madagascar, the ruling tribe of the island, the Merina, took possession over the breed allowing only royals to own one of these dogs. Even after this tribe was overcome, the Coton de Tulear remained popular in Madagascar and was named the official "Royal Dog of Madagascar."

The Coton de Tulear was introduced to other countries beginning in 1974, quickly gaining popularity abroad. 

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