The Coton de Tulear is a very old breed originating on the Island of Madagascar, which lies in the Indian Ocean, south east off the coast of Africa. Tulear is a port city on the southwestern coast of Madagascar.
It is said that around the 15th Century, this little white dog survived a shipwreck off Madagascar - all the sailors perished but these dogs 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. 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.
The Coton de Tulear earned its name from its unique cotton-like hair, which is dry to the feel. There is no shedding and seldom effects people with allergies, however regular brushing is necessary. The coat should maintain it's wind-tossed look. A trimmed coat is fine for low maintenance of older dogs or pets but never for a showdog.
The Coton de Tulear has the most endearing personality. It has a very happy and affectionate disposition and is extremely loyal to its owner. It is very intelligent and quite a clown and will 'play to the crowd' if given the opportunity. When happy it has an unusual characteristic of 'grunting'. At the moment there are only a handful of Coton de Tulears in the United Kingdom, but in America and Europe it is one of the fastest growing breeds.