The Coton de Tulear, also known as the "Royal Dog of Madagascar," is a small happy-go-lucky breed named after the seaport city of Tulear in Madagascar. The breed’s origins can be traced back to the 17th century when dogs survived a shipwreck and swam to the island of Madagascar, where they interbred with local dogs. The descendants, characterized by a cottony coat ("Coton" is French for cotton), were eventually domesticated by local tribes and gained popularity among the nobility.
The Coton de Tulear is a breed may be affected by heart conditions, von Willebrand Disease I, primary hyperoxaluria (a rare inherited metabolic disorder), and degenerative myelopathy. Other genetic conditions for which they are at a higher risk include eye disorders such as multifocal retinopathy 2, an inherited eye disease characterized by multiple, discrete circular areas of retinal detachment. They may also suffer from the neurological condition called cerebellar ataxia, as well a itervertebral disc disease (IVDD), Type I, which can cause compression on the spinal cord after trauma or injury to the discs.
Cotons are known for their friendly and affectionate nature, making them excellent companion dogs. They are highly intelligent and trainable, though they can exhibit a bit of a stubborn streak. They enjoy being part of family activities and are good with children and other pets. Cotons are generally sociable and get along well with strangers.
Their behavior is often described as clownish, as they are known for their entertaining antics. They have a moderate energy level and require regular exercise to maintain their health and happiness. However, they are also quite content to cuddle up with their owners for some quiet time. Despite their small size, Cotons are relatively sturdy dogs. They are adaptable and can thrive in a variety of living situations, from apartments to larger homes with yards.
The Coton de Tulear is pictured on postage stamps in Madagascar.
French tourists in Madagascar discovered the Coton in the 1960s and brought them to Europe, where the breed's popularity skyrocketed and gave rise to a selective breeding program that led to today's modern Coton.
According to the AKC, Cotons are described as "naturally clownish and lighthearted", reflected in their ability to amuse with acts such as walking on their hind legs for periods of time.