Rare Breed Spotlight: The Coton de Tulear
Although historians argue its origin, fans agree that the Coton’s charisma is irresistible.
One of the most interesting aspects of the Coton de Tuléar’s history is that there are so many versions of it. Some are fact. Some are fantasy. Were the dogs really companions to pirates, sole survivors of a shipwreck, wild scavengers or revered pets of royalty? How about all of the above?
Place of origin
To investigate the Coton’s origins, one must first know the relevant geographical locales. Madagascar, the world’s fourth-largest island (slightly larger than France), is located just off the southeast coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. Tuléar, a busy seaport at the island’s southern tip, was renamed Toliara after the country became the independent Republic of Madagascar in June 1960.
In its volatile history, Madagascar had been a French protectorate and was later annexed by France in 1896. Five percent of the world’s plant and animal species are found in Madagascar; many of these species are not found anywhere else in the world. Its lemur population, endemic to the island, includes 99 species and subspecies of this wide-eyed primate. The lemurs, as you’ll learn in a moment, are partially responsible for the Coton’s initial introduction to the United States.
One accepted fact is the Coton de Tuléar is a member of the bichon family, which probably originated in the Mediterranean area and includes the Maltese, Bolognese, Havanese and Bichon Frise. Coton (pronounced like “coat-on”) means cotton in French, and refers to the breed’s dry and silky coat.
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