Although originating in Madagascar, how the Coton de Tulear (pronounced "co-TAWN day two-LEE-are") came to be is still unclear. Experts believe that they arrived on the island due to a shipwreck and mated with native dogs to produce a small fluffy canine. The word Coton means "cotton" in French, the native language on Madagascar, referencing their unique cotton-like coat. They were a preferred lapdog for the wealthy nobility of the city Tulear, now called Toliara, on the southern part of the island, earning them their title of the "Royal Dog of Madagascar." These fluffy dogs are also one of several breeds that belong to the Bichon family which also includes the Bichon Frise, Bolognese, Maltese, and Havanese. Although they almost became extinct, Coton de Tulears are still owned by upper-class families on the island and are now becoming more popular in the United States.
Even though the Coton de Tulear was a prized companion for the wealthy, they are a sturdy breed that can stand their own. One of the breed's main characteristics, they are named for their dense, slightly wavy, cotton-like coat that comes in the colors of solid white or white with colored markings. Thanks to their moderately large, dark-colored, slightly oval-shaped eyes, the Coton sports a lively and enduring expression that is loved by all who know them. Their medium-sized ears are covered in white hair or may be seen with traces of light gray or tan once they reach adulthood if they were born with black or fawn markings. The breed's straight muzzle is proportionately sized with a black or brown nose. The tail of the Coton de Tulear is carried curled over the lower back during movement.
The lovable Coton de Tulear tends to be affectionate, sociable and will form a strong bond with the ones they love. A breed that retains their puppy-like demeanor well into adulthood, these cotton-like coated dogs have a clownish and lively personality. Small but sturdy, they are considered to be more durable than some of the other breeds in the Bichon family. Due to their intelligence, the Coton is an overall people-pleaser and is generally easy to train but they can be a little stubborn during house-breaking. These great listeners can be easily persuaded with positive reinforcement, patience, and affection to make an obedient family companion. Although many small breeds have a reputation for being yappy, this is not the case for the Coton de Tulear who tends to only bark when necessary. They get along extremely well with children and other pets as long as they are treated respectfully, not roughly. With the Coton's sweet and gentle temperament, paired with their hypoallergenic coat and low energy level, these fluffy fuzzballs can be a delightful family companion who loves to cuddle and fits right in with individuals who live in apartments or small homes.