You bet! With virtually no-shedding, low dander, and slobber free—it’s an ideal hypoallergenic pooch!
The Hypoallergenic Coton de Tulear
You have enough to worry about, without suffering coughs, sneezes, and skin issues caused by your doggie. It’s not that pooches are inherently troublemakers—well actually, some are—but many breeds’ natural drooling, shedding, and dander characteristics can induce some icky side effects.
The Coton de Tulear is different.
Ok, I’m not saying these phenomenally cute fur babies are completely allergen-free. If someone tells you that about any dog family, they’re telling fibs. Theoretically, you can have a reaction to anything—from your doggie to your moggie.
But, the Coton de Tulear is something of an allergy angel.
Its fluffy white coat, although appearing quite dense, is remarkably fine, with a texture more reminiscent of the hair on your body than typical canine fur. It’s this aspect—combined with its non-shedding and low-dander count—that makes it highly hypoallergenic.
What’s more, the Coton de Tulear, or Cotie, isn’t a slobber monster. Hence, saliva-related allergic reactions are uncommon.
|Hypoallergenic Dog: You betcha!||Shedding: Extremely low||Drooling: Low|
|Size: Small||Breed Group: Non-sporting/Toy||Lifespan: 14 to 17 years|
|Energy Level: Moderate||Trainability: Easy||Family Dog: Yes!|
While amazing with kids, loving, and as cute as a button, the Coton de Tulear also seems to be the perfect furry softie. Yet, with a history packed full of shipwrecks, piracy and tribal one-upmanship, these doggies have an adventurous nature lurking within their genes.
The Story Behind the Coton de Tulear
The Coton de Tulear hails from Madagascar. But no-one is exactly sure how they arrived on this Indian Ocean island.
One theory—and the version I’d rather believe—is that they, or rather their ancestors, were pirate dogs (that is, dogs owned by pirates, not pooches who stole and pillaged and wore eye patches).
Originally, these pooches were most likely Tenerife dogs—related to the Bichon Tenerife and Tenerife Terrier. The pirates, wanting to protect their food stores from rats, took these dogs on board to seek out the vermin.
However, the story goes that during a conflict at sea, a pirate ship suffered heavy damage and began to sink. These doggies, having a strong survival instinct and wanting to escape their criminal lifestyle, swam to the shore of Madagascar—possibly the port of Tulear (now Toliara).
Now on land, the dogs decided to enjoy life to the fullest—and began to mate with local terriers—their offspring becoming the Coton de Tulear.
(The other theory is that traders brought them to the island to sell—but that’s a rather dull story.)
What’s known for certain is that these pooches became the canine of choice for the ruling Merina tribe—considering the canines as status symbols. Over the centuries, the Coton de Tulear lived an insular life—happily scampering around Madagascar—until the arrival of French tourists in the 1960s. These continental vacationers immediately fell in love with the Cotie’s lovable nature—and began to take them home.
Physical Characteristics and Coat of the Coton de Tulear
With their fluffy, long, and dense fur, it’s no surprise that these pooches are also known as a cotton dog (quick language lesson—Coton is French for cotton. You’re welcome). By the time these doggies reach adulthood, their coats are around four inches in length.
Unlike similar-sized breeds, such as the Maltese, which only have pure white coats, the Coton’s light fur is often accentuated with tricolored, black, or gray markings.
As adults, these small pooches weigh between 13 and 18 pounds, measuring 10 to 12 inches high. They have black or grey noses, giving many of the whiter types an almost baby polar bear appearance.
However, for many Coton de Tulear enthusiasts, it’s the wide set and dark eyes that hold the most appeal. Frequently, these devotees will describe the Coton’s normal expression as intelligent, smiling, merry, and witty.
Most often, their ears are high-set and triangular—but have that enchanting up-and-down flopping movement when the doggie is running. Cotons are distinctly longer than they are tall—giving a compact and streamlined appearance.
When on the move, their tails characteristically curve over their backs—and when resting, the tail lays downward with an upward hook. In short, it’s an aesthetically pleasing pooch that shouts fun with its face, yet carries a dignified physical outline.
Coton de Tulear Temperament
If a Coton de Tulear was human (as some owners believe they are), she would be a social butterfly.
These outgoing pooches aren’t afraid to make friends. Introduce a new person into your home, and they’ll immediately begin to investigate and try to ingratiate themselves with the stranger.
And then, the showing off begins.
They clown around, make unusual vocalizations, and have a habit of walking on their back legs—without any encouragement.
However—while they adore other people’s attention—it’s not all me, me, me.
These playful pups give as much—if not more—love back to their pet parents. They are insanely affectionate and will follow you dotingly from room to room—just to be close to you all the time. They just want to please.
However, this dedication does have its downsides.
Coton de Tulears are known to suffer from separation anxiety—they hate being apart from their two-legged family members. Hence, if you leave them alone at home, they’re liable to bark and howl in an attempt to bring you back. So, they’re not great companions if you are frequently out of the house.
Gentle yet playful, these pooches are ideal for families and love being around kids, thinking that they’re a child themselves.
Looking After Their Coat
Unless you’re planning on giving your Coton de Tulear a short, ‘puppy-clip’, you will need to do a fair amount of brushing to keep their coat in top form—daily.
While Coton de Tulear shedding is rare, their lengthy and fluffy fur is liable to mat or tangle. And, if left unattended, it could mean having to shave the coat down to remove the tightly-meshed hair.
But daily brushing will prevent this issue.
Thankfully, being extremely willing to please, grooming a Coton de Tulear is simple. They’ll happily sit on your lap or on a cushion while you pamper them—often flopping down just like rag dolls and considering this essential maintenance as a form of bonding.
Ideally, use a spray conditioner to make the fur easier to work and to prevent coat damage or hair breakage. Ensure that you take your brush or comb all the way down to the skin, as this is where the hair is most liable to mat.
While some eager pet parents will bathe their Cotie weekly—for most dogs, once or twice a month will be sufficient to keep them in a clean-smelling and bright condition.
Teeth, Ears, and Nails
Coties have no more teeth issues than other breeds—hence, brushing about twice a week will be sufficient to prevent the build-up of tartar and plaque. It’s also a good opportunity for you to examine your pup’s mouth and check for other issues, such as missing teeth or gum disease.
As these dogs are quite fluffy, it’s highly beneficial to cut excess hair from inside the ears. This prevents debris and wax building up and reduces the risk of ear infections.
The nails on Cotons aren’t that rapid growing—although, as they’re liable to be somewhat boisterous at times, it’s worth ensuring that the nails are regularly trimmed.
As a fun-loving and adventurous pooch, a Cotie loves to exercise and play.
Luckily, due to their easy-going nature, they’re quite flexible in their activities. Meaning that—whether you’re sitting on a six-acre farm, or just have an apartment without a yard—they can still be perfectly happy and gain sufficient exercise.
You just need to adapt accordingly.
As with most dogs, Coties require exercise for two reasons—to keep them healthy and also to prevent these inquisitive fur balls from becoming bored. With a highly active mind, lack of physical activity can lead to frustration—and destructive behavior.
Here are my top tips for getting your Coton de Tulear’s blood pumping:
Going for a Walk
Yeah, I know. It’s somewhat obvious—what doggie doesn’t love venturing into the great outdoors?
However, due to their buccaneering spirit—Cotton dogs consider every walk as the ultimate adventure. Just pick up their leash or harness and you’ll be met with cute enthusiastic vocalizations and eager bouncing.
Out on your perambulations, you don’t need to break into a sweat. A steady 30-minute walk per day is perfectly adequate for these pooches. While the odd brisk jog or increase in walking tempo every 10 minutes or so will do them the world of good, they’re not great running companions as they can tire quickly.
A tried-and-tested favorite—but a Cotie’s incessant determination to please you means they relish retrieving balls or squeakies. Although, you may be met with an inquisitive look, questioning why you keep throwing such lovely toys away.
This is ideal exercise if you can’t get out for walks as much as you like but have a small yard or garden with enough space for this game.
Equally, this can be incorporated into your walkies—if you’re in an area where your Cotie can be safely off his or her leash.
But, be careful.
If you plan to release your little Cotton dog, only do so if you’re sure they’ll return to you if called. Otherwise, they’ll be using their party tricks and winning smiles to seduce every single stranger they meet.
Should you lack a yard or big enough space to throw toys, a perfect game for your Cotie is tug-of-war.
Whether it’s a bespoke rope toy, a teddy, or an old shoe or sock—they will love battling with you for ownership.
With such a good nature, it’s rare for them to become aggressive or overly boisterous, which can occur with some other breeds.
What’s more—if you need a break—you can usually leave them with the toy. They’ll happily amuse themselves for ages, throwing and shaking it around, until you return.
It’s unsurprising that the history behind Coton de Tulears involved a swim for freedom—they seriously adore water.
If you’re lucky enough to have a pool, you’ll most likely discover your Cotie jumping in without any encouragement. Alternatively, taking them to the beach or a flat lake will give them the opportunity to try out their aquatic skills.
However, always ensure that the water isn’t flowing, there are numerous and easily accessible points of exit, and that you constantly monitor them while they’re splashing around.
Cotton dogs are lovable and eager to please—but this also makes them territorial and highly protective of the main pet parent and their two-legged brothers and sisters.
So, from day one, socialization is crucial.
Make an effort to introduce your fur baby to other human adults and children, from an early age. Equally, allowing them to interact with other canines (once they’re inoculated) will make them less aggressive or wary of them.
The key is positive reinforcement.
The truth is, Coties are extremely easy to train, and will adore the attention during their ‘classes.’ However, they respond poorly to negative training—so make sure not to administer punishment when something is done wrong. Instead, just heaps of praise and treats when they do follow your instructions.
Obedience training is perhaps the most essential—since they will want to meet and interact with every new person or pooch they meet. Being able to keep them by your side—or return immediately when called—can avoid difficult situations.
Furthermore, if you want to take their training a little further—they will excel in agility and obedience competitions.
However, there’s one strange anomaly—house training.
For some reason, house breaking your Cotie puppy can take longer than other breeds. Some experts suggest this is because they’re quite shy when it comes to bathroom issues—and would rather you weren’t involved in monitoring their toilet action.
That said, following the positive reinforcement method works best for most Cotton dog parents—giving him or her a reward when they’ve done their business in the correct location (the dog, that is, not the parents).
A little while ago, the gene pool of these pooches was becoming seriously restricted. The relative rareness of the breed, combined with many dishonorable breeders, was dramatically reducing their DNA variations—leading to Coton de Tulear health problems.
Luckily, determined efforts by Kennel clubs on both sides of the Atlantic—and breeders using genetic screening—have helped to address this issue. Coties now, on average, display genetic issues in one in every five pooches. Which, for a pedigree breed, is low.
That said, there are a few rare occurrences in which the following three conditions may rear their unwanted heads.
This genetic abnormality, also known as floating kneecaps, occurs when the knee slips from its securing groove (in the thigh bone). This is usually because this channel is too shallow to retain the patella.
A Cotie with this condition will often raise the affected leg when walking or running. Alternatively, they may bear weight on the limb, but bend it at a strange angle. In severe cases, you can visibly witness the kneecap sliding laterally.
If patellar luxation has been a long-term condition, the Coton de Tulear will display signs of pain—crying, licking at the knee, and being reluctant to walk are all common symptoms.
Depending on the severity, treatment is either medication or surgery. If it’s an intermittent condition that only occurs when say, jumping from a high-level, anti-inflammatories or joint drugs are sufficient. However, if it’s a chronic condition, your veterinarian may suggest an operation to secure the knee.
When your Cotie is growing as a puppy, her femur ball and hip socket should grow at an equal speed. However, in hip dysplasia, this doesn’t occur, meaning the leg isn’t secured into the hip joint.
In many cases, pet parents don’t notice that their pup has an issue until it reaches adulthood—when it develops osteoarthritis and, eventually, lameness.
It’s quite rare in Coton de Tulears, as opposed to other breeds, such as German Shepherds and Rottweilers, although it can occur.
If you’re concerned—especially if your pooch is displaying any symptoms, such as reluctance to walk or jump, or a bunny-hopping gait—speak to your veterinarian. They may suggest an X-ray to check the hip. If hip dysplasia is confirmed, they’re likely to suggest treatment such as medication, weight control, diet supplementation, or surgical intervention.
PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy)
Again, highly unusual, but PRA is still known to affect Coton de Tulears.
In PRA, a genetic abnormality causes the pooch’s retinas to degrade over time—eventually leading to blindness.
Sadly, there’s no cure.
The first symptoms include a decrease in night vision, constantly dilated pupils or a darkened optic disc. Seeing a vet immediately on suspecting an issue can help, with medications and supplements being able to slightly slow down the deterioration.
However, while upsetting for you and your fur baby, Coties adjust incredibly well and remain happy and boisterous even when their vision is severely limited.
Admittedly, it takes some conscientious effort on your part—such as avoiding rearranging furniture, or erecting protective barriers around swimming pools or balconies. Yet, your Cotton dog can still have a fulfilling and rewarding life.
The Coton de Tulear is a social butterfly, completely adorable, and hilariously comical—and will shower you with oodles and oodles of love.
With a history speckled with piracy, shipwrecks, and adventure—the Cotie is a pooch filled with character that will never want to leave your side, love playing with you, and make you laugh.
It’s true, they’re something of a cost investment.
However, the Coton de Tulear’s hypoallergenic coat, suitability for apartment living, and being excellent with kids and other doggies, makes it one of the best companions any future pet parents could want.
Are Coton de Tulears Expensive?
They’re definitely somewhat hard on the wallet.
A typical Coton de Tulear puppy will cost around $2000-$3000—mainly due to their rarity. A top-end show pooch will be more in the region of $4000.
A quick word of warning.
Never buy a Cotie puppy from a store or one that seems remarkably cheap. Disreputable breeders will not care for the health, wellbeing, or genetic makeup of their pups.
What’s the Coton de Tulear Size?
An average adult male Cotie ranges between 9.8 and 11.8 inches (25 to 30 cm) in height—while the females are 8.7 to 10.6 inches (22 to 27 cm).
How Long Do Coton de Tulears Live?
On average, the lifespan of a Coton de Tulear is between 14 and 17 years.
Is It Better to Own a Female Coton de Tulear or a Male?
According to Cotie pet parents, it makes very little difference.
Both girl and boy Coton de Tulears are equally loving and—being total softies—neither the males nor females display aggression.
When Should a Coton de Tulear Be Spayed?
You should get your Cotie spayed before she reaches sexual maturity—ideally, between six and nine months.
Do Coton de Tulears Shed?
With a hair-like coat, as opposed to fur, the Cotie has little to no shedding. This makes the Coton de Tulear hypoallergenic.
|Breed||Coton de Tulear|
|Other Names||Coton, Cotie, and Cotton dog|
|Height||Male: 9.8 to 11.8 inches (25 to 30 cm)
Female: 8.7 to 10.6 inches (22 to 27 cm)
|Weight||Males: 13 to 18 pounds (6 to 8 kg)
Females: 7.7 to 11.0 pounds (3.5 to 5 kg)
|Lifespan||14 to 17 years|
|Temperament||Friendly, humorous, witty, intelligent, lively, and playful dog that loves to be loved—and will love you back in spades.
Adores people and wants to be part of your family.
|Colors||Black, grey, white, and tricolor.|
|Coat||The coat is the Coton’s distinguishing feature. It’s more hair-like than fur. It is dense, long, soft, and thick, with a cotton-like texture. By the time the Coton is of adult age, its coat length is around four inches.|
|How much grooming?||Medium maintenance—daily care and brushing required to prevent matting.|
|How much shedding||Low—it’s not a dog that leaves a lot of hair around the home|
|Dander levels||Low dander|
|Saliva||Low—not a dog prone to slobbering or drooling.|
|Energy levels||Moderately energetic|
|How much exercise do they need?||At least one walk per day. Happy to run around your yard and play tug in the house|
|Health problems?||Generally excellent health. but some issues can include patellar luxation, hip dysplasia, and eye issues|
|Good for an apartment?||Excellent, due to size|
|Suitable for kids?||Excellent with socialization|
|How much do they bark?||Occasionally—mainly when separated from their pet parents|
|Can they be left alone?||Not often—Coties love being around people and can suffer from separation anxiety|
|Intelligent?||Excellent—a fast learner and eager to please.|
|Trainable?||Easy—ideal as a first dog and performs well in obedience and agility classes.|
|How popular as a pet?||Somewhat popular—ranked 85th by the AKC. Due to the Coton de Tulear hypoallergenic nature, they’re favored by people who are affected by pet hair and dander.|
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