Breed Infos

Breed Infos

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*What kind of breed is the Coton de Tuléar?

The coton belongs to the „Bichon“ family.  This family includes the Maltese, the Havanese, the Loewchen, the Bichon Frisé and the Bolognese.  These breeds come under the category of companion dogs and are members of the FCI-Group 9.

*How big does a coton get?

Let’s take a look at the FCI standard:


Height at withers :
Males:      26-28 cm, tolerance of 2 cm above and 1 cm below.
Bitches:    23-25 cm, tolerance of 2 cm above and 1 cm below..

Weight :
Males:      From 4 kg to a maximum of 6 kg.
Bitches: From 3, 5 kg to a maximum of 5 kg.

My own experience has shown me that cotons (males and females alike) generally weigh between 4.5 and 7 kg (9.9 and 15.4 lbs.).

*What is a breed standard?

A breed standard is the definition and description by the FCI of all the characteristics and qualities of a perfect example of the breed.  At expositions it is this standard which forms the basis for the judges’ decisions.  Breeders should strive to breed as closely as possible what is prescribed in the breed standard.  The FCI-standard for the Coton de Tuléar is Nr. 283.

*Can I take my coton with me in the cabin of the plane?

In most cases this is possible.  It depends a lot on the airline.  You must have a carrier for the dog which fits under the seat.  The limits on weight vary considerably from airline to airline.

*What is the life expectancy of a coton?

Cotons who are optimally cared for have a very high life expectancy.  The oldest known coton in history reached the age of 19 years!

*What is the temperament of a coton like?

Let’s go back to the FCI standard:

BEHAVIOUR / TEMPERMENT : Of a happy temperament, stable, very sociable with humans and with other dogs; it adapts perfectly to all ways of life. The temperament of the Coton de Tuléar is one of the main characteristics of the breed.

The happy and balanced temperament of the Coton makes it an ideal family dog.  It is an agreeable and affectionate companion for the whole family.  Not only is it eminently suited to Agility (popular, well-known sport with dogs), it is also a faithful companion on walks and hikes.  Weather resistant, the coton usually feels well everywhere.  Due to all these positive characteristics, the coton was awarded the title of „Anti-depressive Dog“ in France!

*Is the coton always white?  I would like a coton with color.

We return to the standard once again:

COLOUR: Ground colour: White. A few slight shadings of light grey colour (mixture af white and black hairs) or of red-roan (mixture of white and fawn hairs) are permitted on the ears. On other parts of the body, such shadings can be tolerated if they do not alter the general appearance of white coat. They are however not sought after.

New-born cotons are sometimes pure white, however they are more likely to be born with some spots in brown or black or both.  It is possible that some coloration will remain visible in the coat throughout life, however, even though born chocolate brown or coal black, most cotons will eventually have a basically white coat.

 *Should I take a male or a female?

One often hears the opinion expressedthat females are easier than males.  My experience has not substantiated this at all.  Coton males are just as affectionate, cuddly and trainable as females.  But if you already own a male dog, then I would advise you to take a female in order to avoid the possibility of dominance problems between two males, although two females can also occasionally develop dominance problems. These „problems“ are, however, fairly easy to manage.  Your own inclination will also play an important role in deciding whether a male or a female is right for you.  I have experienced more than once, however, that someone who was totally convinced that only a female would do fell hopelessly in love with a little male and lived happily ever after with him.

*Castration:  yes or no?  What can you tell me about this?

This is an issue which arouses many opinions and strong feelings.  If there are real health issues at stake which indicate that castration would be the best solution, then you can, of course, have your coton castrated or spayed.   The ideal age for this procedure is debatable.  It is always best to discuss such issues in detail with your vet.

*Does the coton bark a lot?

In certain situations the coton can be quite „turbulent“.  This is usually shortlived, however.  When the doorbell rings, a cacophony of delirious barking breaks out until the visitor is greeted or the postman has gone on his way, and then peace returns.  The coton is not a yapper, but it does bark if there is a reason for it.

*Does the breed suffer from congenital diseases?

It wouldn’t be right to claim that heritable diseases or conditions have never occured in the breed.  It is mainly PL (Patellar Luxation), cataract and PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) which concern breeders the most.  However, in comparison with many other breeds, the incidence of heritable disease is very low.  Serious breeders are involved in trying to preserve and improve the health of the breed.


*How does the coton interact with children and other house pets?

Cotons get along very well with dogs as well as with other house pets, and they make wonderful playmates for children.  It should be noted, however, that very young children are not yet able to understand how to treat a puppy or even an adult dog.  Therefore it is advisable never to leave children under 10 years old alone with an animal.

That having been said, I have sold puppies to highly-motivated parents of very small children who successfully assumed the responsibiliy of making sure that puppy and child were supervised at all times.  And be sure not to forget that the puppy will probably remain with you long after your children have grown up and left home!  Therefore it is imperative that it is first and foremost the parents who want the dog and secondly the wish of the children.

*How much daily exercise does a coton need?

Cotons are always ready and eager for short as well as long walks.  They are not particularly concerned with the weather.  I recommend a good hour’s walk per day.

*Can I go hiking with my coton for hours?

The coton is always ready for action.  It loves to go hiking and seems never to tire.  It is curious and eager to learn about everything and everyone.  However, with a very young dog (under one year) you must restrict the length of the walks.  It is advisable to discuss this issue with your vet.  Climbing up and down stairs is forbidden during the first year as this can be harmful to the joints.

*Does the coton chase wild animals in the woods?  Will it run away from me? 

The coton has no hunting instincts.  This makes walking with a coton a real pleasure.  It will usually remain fairly close to you.  However, if it sees a cat….

*Is the coton sensitive to the cold?  How does it manage in the  snow?

Cotons regard snow as something wonderful!  Snow becomes a problem, however, when it is really sticky.  In such snow, the coton is covered in no time by heavy balls of snow and soon can no longer continue to walk.  In this case it is advisable to give up and go home.  The best method to remove the balls of snow is with warm water.  Dry snow, on the contrary, is loads of fun for the coton.   Snow is not the best thing for the coat, as it tends to cause matting very quickly.

*Does the coton like to swim?

My female „Lily“ is a real water rat and would be happy to go swimming the whole day long.  She loves it above all things when I throw a stick into the water for her to fetch.  But other cotons are not so fond of the water.

*Do cotons enjoy riding in the car?

Because the coton likes being part of everything, it also likes going in the car.  I have the impression that my cotons would also prefer to wait for me in the car than at home.  It is very important that you have a safety system for your coton in your car.  As for people, it is highly dangerous for a dog to travel in a car with no safety precautions.  Seek the advice of professionals in choosing which arrangement is best for your dog and your make of car.

*What should we do if we are going on a vacation and cannot take our coton with us?

Situations will always occasionally arise which prevent a coton from accompanying its owner somewhere. Not only situations concerning travel and vacation, but also, for example, a stay in the hospital. Therefore it is imperative to know beforehand where your coton can be placed during your absence.

Entrust your coton only into experienced hands.  The kindly neighbor, who never owned a dog, is probably not the best solution for your beloved coton, and the danger that something could happen to it through the inexperience and poor judgement of such well-meaning persons is very real.

As a breeder, I am naturally pleased when I hear that new owners wish to plan their holidays so that they can include their coton.  Your coton will never be happy when it is separated you.


*Is the coton easy to train?

Training your coton is not especially difficult because the breed is intelligent and wants to please its owner.  What your dog needs is friendliness, love and, above all, consistency right from the beginning.  Although the coton is small, it is exceedingly trainable and eager to learn.  Puppy classes and training courses are essential and only to be recommended.

*How difficult and time consuming is the grooming of a coton?

The coat of the coton is the principal characteristic of the breed.  In French, the word „coton“ means cotton.  The coton originated in Madagascar and therefore possesses a coat suited to heat and sun.  Its white color reflects the sun’s rays, and the light-weight coat allows the cooling breeze to circulate through it with ease.

During the past few decades, it would seem that the coat of the coton in Europe and North America has acclimatised and become thicker and heavier.

Regular but not exaggerated grooming is necessary.  Daily brushing does not require much time and avoids matting of the coat.  Shampoo and other grooming products should be of the highest possible quality.  These are often not available in the usual shops for house pets.  You may have to speak with breeders and go to shows in order to find out what products to use and where to obtain them.

*Does the coton have to go to the groomer’s?

It is not difficult to groom your coton yourself.  Ask breeders to show you what brushes and combs they use.

*Does the coat need to be cut or trimmed?

The coat of a show dog must never be cut or trimmed.  Personally, I always find it a pity when a coton’s coat is cut short.  However, there are owners who prefer this.  In any case, NEVER cut the coat yourself.  Always take your coton to a professional groomer.


*How can the coton see?  Should I cut  the hair away from the eyes?

As I have already mentioned, a show-dog’s coat may never be cut.  It is true that there are cotons who see next to nothing through the thick fur over their eyes.  One can bind the hair with little rubber bands (as for poodles) up and away from the eyes.  If you are not going to show your coton, of course you can cut away the hairs around the eyes.  But then you must check your dog regularly, because as the hairs begin to grow back, they can protrude into the eyes.

*Can a coton be happy living in an apartment in a city?

No problem.  But remember that you will have to take your coton out several times a day to relieve itself, also in the rain and snow.  Some owners find an alternative arrangement on the balcony.

*How long can I leave my coton alone at home?

Few cotons enjoy being alone, and they should never be isolated from people.  Of course you can teach your coton to stay at home alone for a few hours.  An absence of four consecutive hours is, in my opinion, the absolute maximum.   Those who live alone and work all day should not have a dog in any case.

As I mentioned before, my cotons seem to prefer waiting for me in the car instead of at home.  (Naturally not everyone has a car!)  When you leave your coton in your car, you MUST be SURE that it cannot become too hot in the car.  It is life-threatening for a dog to be left in a car in the summertime.  In only a few minutes the temperature can rise so much that the dog will die!  Parking the car in the shade is not the solution, as the shade will wander, and the car is suddenly in the full sun again!  It is legal for anyone who discovers a dog in this situation to break open the windows of the automobile.

*What if I or members of my family suffer from allergies?

Cotons shed very little.  They also have little undercoat and no odor.  This is why the breed is suitable for some people with allergies, but definitely not for all.