21 Questions to Consider Before Getting a Coton de Tulear
The Coton de Tulear is a toy breed that is distantly related to the Bichon Frise and the Maltese. Named for its cottony-soft white coat, this breed is popular among experienced and novice owners alike for its happy-go-lucky personality and the fact that it is low maintenance.
Have you been wondering whether a Coton de Tulear would be a suitable companion for you and your family? Here are 21 questions to consider before getting one of these dogs.
1. Where did they come from?
The Coton de Tulear is a rare breed that has almost become extinct at several points in time. Its name comes from the city of Tuléar (or Toliara) in Madagascar, and because of its roots, it is often referred to as the “Royal Dog of Madagascar.”
The Coton de Tulear has origins in pest control, but it has been bred to be a companion dog for centuries. For this reason, it thrives when it is in the company of its owners and does not like to be separated from them.
2. How long do they live?
The American Kennel Club lists the Coton de Tulear’s life expectancy as 15 to 19 years. Before getting any dog, it is important to ensure that you can commit enough time and money to care for them. This includes spending time playing with them and walking them each day, as well as having sufficient finances to pay for dog food, grooming, yearly veterinary check-ups, annual vaccinations, and regular parasite prevention.
3. How big do they get?
On average, male Coton de Tulears are 10 to 11 inches tall and weigh 9 to 15 pounds. Females are slightly smaller. These dogs are quite small and tend to follow their owners everywhere, so it is important to always keep an eye out for them so that you do not accidentally step on them!
4. What colors do they come in?
The Coton de Tulear is usually mostly white, but they can also have brown-, grey-, yellow-, or champagne-colored markings on their ears and sometimes other parts of the body. They tend to have darker coats as puppies that lighten with age.
5. What are their personalities like?
The Coton de Tulear has a bright and bubbly personality, making it popular with all types of owners. These dogs are intelligent, gentle, lighthearted, and playful, and they can sometimes be stubborn when it comes to training. They make excellent lapdogs and usually form very strong bonds with their owners.
Because of its strong relationship with its owners, the Coton de Tulear is prone to separation anxiety, and these dogs do not like to be left alone for several hours of the day. They are happy to travel around with their owners so long as they are not by themselves. When left alone, they can become distressed and be prone to unwanted behaviors such as barking, chewing, and using the bathroom inside the house.
6. Where can I get a Coton de Tulear?
Coton de Tulears can be obtained from breeders, rescues, and shelters. Since they are a rare, desirable breed, however, it may be difficult to find one to rescue. If going through a breeder, it is crucial to ensure that they are reputable and that you are not supporting a puppy mill. Because this breed is highly sought after, puppies typically cost between $2,000 and $3,000 from responsible breeders.
7. How do I know if a breeder is reputable?
Reputable breeders will be upfront about their puppies’ lineage and should provide health certificates stating that the puppies have been examined by a veterinarian and were deemed fit to sell. They often get their puppies initial vaccinations and microchip done, and puppies should be treated for fleas and worms before going home with their new owners. Responsible breeders also test their breeding dogs for genetic diseases and aim to produce puppies with good temperaments.
If a “breeder” will not allow you to see a puppy’s living area, its littermates, or its mother, or if they would like to meet you in a place other than their home to hand over the puppy, these are signs that they may be running a puppy mill. In addition, if the puppies appear to have dull coats, bloated bellies, cloudy eyes, runny noses, or any other signs of ill health, it is best to run in the opposite direction!
8. Do they get along with children?
The Coton de Tulear is a good choice for homes with children because it is a gentle and easy-going breed. Like with all dogs, however, it is important to teach young children to be gentle and to respect their dog’s boundaries, including leaving the dog alone while it is eating or sleeping. Younger children should always be supervised when interacting with your Coton de Tulear to make sure they do not pull the dog’s ears or hit it while trying to play.
9. Do they get along with other pets?
The Coton de Tulear tends to do well with other pets, including other dogs and cats. Every dog is different, and socializing these dogs from a young age with other pets in the household can prevent any conflict.
10. What do they eat?
The Coton de Tulear should be fed a good-quality, nutritionally balanced diet. Commercial dry and wet foods contain all of the nutrients your dog needs, and they often make small-breed formulations with smaller kibble that is easier for a toy dog to ingest.
If you want to feed your dog a homecooked diet, this should be done under the supervision of a veterinary nutrition specialist to ensure that it contains all of the required nutrients and is fed in an appropriate amount to prevent malnutrition or obesity.
11. Are Coton de Tulears hypoallergenic?
The Coton de Tulear is considered hypoallergenic because it sheds very little, if at all. This breed does shed its puppy coat as its adult coat comes in, however, usually around 7 to 15 months of age. These dogs only shed small amounts of dander, making them unlikely to trigger a reaction in allergic humans.
It is important to note that no dog is truly “hypoallergenic” because all dogs have dander, or dead skin. For this reason, it is recommended that people in allergies spend time around different Cotons to see if they trigger their allergies.
12. Do they require a lot of grooming?
Because the Coton de Tulear does not shed, it has a naturally medium-to-long coat that is approximately 4 inches long when not trimmed. This breed should be brushed at least every other day, however, daily brushing is ideal. These dogs should be brushed with a metal comb or pin brush because these are less damaging to their delicate hair than ball-end brushes. When grooming at home, these dogs should be rewarded with praise and treats so that they do not become averse to brushing out tangles and mats.
Many Coton owners opt for puppy clips since these are much easier to maintain than their natural long coats. This requires regular grooming every 4 to 6 weeks to keep their coat at a manageable length. Your groomer can also trim their nails at the same time to keep them short and healthy.
13. Do they bark a lot?
The Coton de Tulear is known for its unique vocalizations, and they like to “talk” to their humans. Although they can be chatty and vocal dogs, they are not huge barkers besides a woof or two when the doorbell rings or when they see a wild animal.
14. Are they easy to train?
The Coton de Tulear is an intelligent dog breed that is easily bored and can be stubborn. They do well when trained with positive reinforcement methods because they live to please their owners. They learn routines and tricks quickly, and training should be varied because repetitive training can lose their attention.
15. How do I socialize them?
Coton de Tulears should be socialized from an early age to make them friendly and well-behaved with strangers. You can socialize your Coton by taking them to obedience classes and introducing them to a variety of people and other dogs on walks. You can also consider doggie day camp during the days if you will not be home to allow them to meet other dogs and to prevent them from becoming bored or lonely.
16. Are they easy to housetrain?
Unfortunately, the Coton de Tulear can be notoriously difficult to housetrain. This is not to say that they cannot be housetrained—with a regular walk schedule, frequent potty breaks, praise and treats when they use the bathroom outside, and lots of patience, this breed can be housebroken.
17. Are they destructive?
Coton de Tulears only tend to become destructive when they are left alone for too long because they become bored and anxious due to being away from their owners. These dogs should be given enough exercise and attention, and a variety of toys should be provided to keep them busy at home.
18. How much exercise do they need?
As a toy breed, the Coton de Tulear requires about 30 minutes of exercise per day. This includes walks and playtimes. Tiring them out with walks and play has the additional benefit of preventing destructive behaviors.
19. What dog activities can Coton de Tulears take part in?
As an active and intelligent small breed, the Coton de Tulear has the potential to excel in obedience competitions and dog sports such as agility. They also make outstanding therapy dogs due to their friendly and loving personalities.
20. Can they live in an apartment?
Yes—the Coton de Tulear’s small size allows it to live and travel anywhere! They do not feel restrained by living in small apartments, and they are active enough to navigate a larger home with a yard. They can live happily both in the city or in the countryside.
21. Do they have any health issues?
The Coton de Tulear has a fairly low rate of hereditary diseases, which are seen in 1-5% of these dogs. The main health issues seen in Cotons are skin allergies to food or environmental allergens, eye problems such as progressive retinal atrophy which can cause blindness, and orthopedic conditions including hip dysplasia (where the femur does not fit properly in the hip joint) and luxating patella (where the kneecap pops out of its groove).
These were 21 questions to consider before getting a Coton de Tulear! These dogs make excellent companions and family pets for those willing to put in the time and effort to keep them happy.