The Coton de Tulear
Otherwise known as 'The Royal Dog of Madagascar' - The 'Anti-Stress' dog of the 21st Century. They have the most endearing personalities and lend themselves to play the role as the 'professional pet'. They are loyal and devoted to their owners - the perfect companion! So inevitably they make excellent family pets and because of this are extremely good around children and other family pets. They have a very happy and affectionate disposition, 'laid back' and 'easy going' and very responsive to training. The Coton de Tulear is very intelligent and quite a clown and will 'play to the crowd' if given the opportunity because it is a natural exhibitionist. When happy it has an unusual characteristic of 'grunting' and a comical ability to 'smile'.
They love to play, meet new people and worship their owners. They will adore your children and your grandparents (see the picture). Many Cotons are trained as therapy dogs to visit nursing homes, sit on laps and provide unending adoration. While that may sound a bit sedate, do not be fooled. When appropriate, Cotons will show unending stamina for playing. While they are a small dog, they are incredibly sturdy and muscular. Cotons are highly intelligent and intuitive. Trust me; do not try to sneak a new toy or treat into the house. It won't happen. You will be found out before you get the package to the kitchen table. Do not get the leash out of the drawer until you are ready to leave because your Coton will already be at the front door waiting for you.
The Coton de Tuléar is a clown and plays to the crowd, walking on his hind legs, sitting up like a teddy bear with legs out in front of himself and would you believe it, the Coton talks and smiles when happy! Because of their happy and affectionate personality, the Coton is often referred to as "The Anti-Stress Dog". With few known genetic or hereditary illnesses, Cotons generally live a very healthy and long life, often in excess of 15 years. Cotons have dark brown, round well space eyes, rimmed in black, that sparkle with expression. Cotons have a medium length muzzle with a black nose. Their lips are thin, also rimmed with black. The ears are dropped, thick, triangular and covered with long hair. The Coton averages between 10 - 12.5 inches in height and between 9 - 14 pounds in weight. The Coton de Tuléar has a slightly curved topline, which in part differentiates them from other members of the Bichon family.
The coat of the Coton is very thick, long and soft as cotton (Coton is French for cotton; Tuléar refers to the city of flowers on the west side of Madagascar ). The amount of care given to the coat will reduce matting that typically occurs between 9 to 15 months when the adult coat is coming in. Although gentle brushing 3-4 times a week is often recommended as enough daily brushing will keep the coat beautiful and guaranteed free of tangles. Give the Coton a bath every 4-6 weeks with a good shampoo. Remember to always rinse well with a conditioner afterwards.
The Coton is unique in that when the puppies are born they usually possess heavily colored markings. These markings normally fade with maturity, quite often to white. The Coton earned his name from its unique cotton-like hair. The hair is about 3 to 5 inches long, dry and soft to the touch, oil and dander free and has no doggy odor. The Coton is a non-shedding and hypoallergenic. If you have allergies, this is the companion for you.
The Coton de Tulear is a very old breed originating on the Island of Madagascar which lies in the Indian Ocean, southeast off the coast of Africa. 'Tulear' is a port city on the southwestern coast of Madagascar. The Coton de Tulear can be traced back to the 14th century. It is said that this little white dog survived a shipwreck off Madagascar, all the sailors perished but these dogs (the Tenerife/Bichon type, now extinct, and later known as the Coton de Reunion) made it to shore around the southwest coast of the island, became wild and bred with the local terriers. The Coton de Tulear resulted from this relationship. The natives fell in love with these little white dogs and offered them to the king and Malagasy nobles. Malagasy society was divided into nobles and free men. Coton ownership was restricted to the nobility. A law was enacted making it a criminal offence for anyone other than nobles to own the breed, anyone else found possessing one could be sentenced to death. Even today there is a law restricting the ownership of a Coton to anyone other than the very wealthy in Madagascar. It quickly became known as 'The Royal Dog of Madagascar'. The Coton is the 'official dog of Madagascar' and has been honoured on a postage stamp.