The United Kennel Club - Companion Dog Group
Coton de Tulear Breed Standard
Recognized January 1, 1996 -
Revised July 1, 2007
The Coton de Tulear originates from the island of Madagascar, off the
coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. The breed derives its name from the
French word coton, meaning "cotton," and from the Madagascan port of
Tulear. Tulear was once a popular port of merchant ships sailing the
Indian Ocean, and it is believed that around the 15th or 16th century,
European merchants introduced various Bichon-type companion dogs to
Madagascar. It is probable that the breed evolved from the interbreeding
of those Bichon strains. It is presumed that because of their beauty and
affectionate personality, these dogs were offered to the King and
Malagasy nobles. In the 17th century, the Coton de Tulear was adopted by
the ruling "Merina" tribal monarchy, and it was forbidden that anyone
other than royalty own the breed. Thus became the breed's prevalent
title of "Royal Dog of Madagascar."
The Coton de Tulear is a small dog, with a long, cotton-like coat and
round, dark, intelligent, expressive eyes. The ratio of height (measured
at the withers) to body length is 2:3.
Happy, stable and sociable with people and with other dogs, the Coton de
Tular’s only purpose is to be a charming companion. This excellent
temperament is a hallmark of the breed.
The head is short, measuring approximately two-fifths (2/5) the length
of the body. When viewed from above, it is triangular in shape.
Skull - the skull is rounded on top and rather broad in
relationship to its length. There is a slight stop and no prominence of
either occiput or crest. Zygomatic arches are well developed.
Muzzle - The muzzle is short, just over half the length of the
skull. The nasal bone is straight, and the lips are fine and tight,
matching the nose in color. Serious Fault: Bridge of nose
convex (Roman nose).
Teeth - A full complement of small, strong, white, perfect teeth
meet in a scissors, level, or slightly undershot bite (reverse scissors,
with no gap between the upper and lower teeth). The absence of the first
premolars is not a fault. M3’s are not taken into consideration.
Disqualification: Undershot or overshot (no contact between the upper
and lower incisors). Absence of teeth other than the PM1 or M3.
Eyes - The rather round, dark eyes are bright and lively. They
are set well apart. Eyelids are fine, with dark pigment that matches the
nose. Serious Faults: Light eyes. Almond shaped eyes. Entropion.
Ectropion. Disqualification: Wall eyes. Bulging eyes that
show signs of dwarfism.
Nose - The small nose has open nostrils. It is black or dark
brown in color. Serious Faults: Pigment of the nose, lips or
eye rims that is too pale or any of those areas partially lacking in
pigmentation. Disqualification: Lips, nose and eye rims completely
lacking in pigmentation.
Ears - The thin, triangular, dropped ears are set high on the
skull and are fine at the tips. They are carried close to the cheeks and
in length reach to the corner of the lips. Serious Faults: Ears
too short. Ears lacking sufficient hair. Rose ears.
Disqualification: Prick or Semi-prick ears.
Neck - Well-muscled, slightly arched and free of dewlap. The
ratio of neck length to body length is 1:5. Serious Faults:
Short, stuffy neck. Thin neck.
Forequarters - The shoulder blade and upper arm are approximately
the same length, and meet at an angle of 120 degrees.
Forelegs - Are straight and parallel, with good bone. The
pasterns are strong and slightly sloping. Dewclaws may be removed.
Body - Rectangular in appearance, with a slightly convex topline.
Withers are only slightly pronounced. The chest is well developed and
deep to the level of the elbow. The ribcage is long and well sprung. The
loin is well muscled and the croup is short, strong and sloping. There
is a moderate tuck up.
Hindquarters - Strongly muscled and well angulated at the hip.
Hind Legs - Straight from hip to foot, with a dry, well defined
hock joint that is moderately angulated. The presence of dewclaws on the
rear legs is not penalized.
Feet - Small, round, with tight toes and pigmented pads.
Tail - Set low, with the length reaching below the hock joint. At
rest, the tail is carried low with the tip curved up. On the move, it is
carried gaily over the back with the tip pointing toward the neck,
withers, back or loin. Very Serious Faults: Ring tail. Short
tail, not reaching to hock joint. Tail carried flat on the back. Tail
absolutely straight, like a candle. Disqualification: No tail.
Coat & Skin - Proper coat is a hallmark of the breed. It is very
soft, supple and cottony in texture, never hard or harsh. The coat is
dense and profuse, straight or slightly wavy. Skin is fine and tight,
and may be pink or pigmented. Disqualifications: Any atypical coat
such as wooly, silky or extremely curly.
Color - Ground color: White. A few slight shadings of light gray
color (mixture of white and black hairs) or of red-roan (mixture of
white & fawn hairs) are permitted on the ears. On the other parts of the
body, such shadings can be tolerated on 10% of the entire coat as long
as they do not alter the general appearance of the white coat. They are,
however, not sought after. Disqualifications: Any black marking
on the coat or any shading covering more than 10% of the body.
Height - Desirable height for males is 10 to 11 inches with a
tolerance of 1/2" (half an inch) below and 1" (one inch) above.
Desirable height for females is 9 to 10 inches with a tolerance of 1/2"
(half an inch) below and 1" (one inch) above. Serious Fault:
Any departure from the above measurements.
Weight - Acceptable weight is 9 to 13 pounds for males; 8 to 11
pounds for females, with a tolerance of up to one pound below and above
the specified weights. Disqualification: Males weighing less
than 8 pounds or more than 14 pounds. Females weighing less than 7
pounds or more than 12 pounds. The minimum weight requirement is not
applicable to dogs in the puppy class.
Gait - Free and flowing, but somewhat short strided. The convex
topline is maintained on the move.
DISQUALIFICATIONS: Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid. Extreme
viciousness or shyness. Wall eyes. Bulging eyes that show signs of
dwarfism. No tail. Males weighing less than 8 pounds or more than 14
pounds. Females weighing less than 7 pounds or more than 12 pounds. The
minimum weight requirement is not applicable to dogs in the puppy class.
Any atypical coat such as wooly, silky or extremely curly. Any black
marking in coat or any shading covering more than 10% of the body. Lips,
nose and eye rims completely lacking in pigmentation. Undershot or
overshot (no contact between the upper and lower incisors). Absence of
teeth other than the PM1 or M3. Prick or semi-prick ears. Albinism.