The Coton de Tulear known as the "Royal Dog of Madagascar," made their first appearance in the Mascarene Islands. History speculates that the initial stock arrived from France, probably via a ship wreck. They were principally found in the port city of Reunion. As a valuable trade commodity, they were taken to nearby Madagascar. Eventually the dogs of Reunion became extinct. The dogs imported to Madagascar thrived as they were embraced by nobles of the Merina tribe. As the tribe operated on a caste system of nobles and freeman, the Coton was restricted to nobility for many years. This is one of the reasons why the dog is so rare today.
The Coton de Tulear is bred and raised to be strictly a companion dog. Because of their delightful personalities, small size, dark eyes, long lashes, and super charm, they are said to sometimes actually smile. The breed is not known to be vicious, but needs to be socialized at an early age due to shyness in some puppies. They bond easily to the humans in their life and are often known as "little clowns" and "little puppets" due to their playful demeanor.
The Coton de Tulear is a fluffy little, white ball, sometimes with patches of color. They usually stand from around 10 to 12 inches and weight from 10 to 13 lbs. The body is rectangular and the backline should be slightly convex. The head is triangular and rather small. The coat is long, dry, oil and dander free and has no doggy odor, so it is a good choice for allergy sufferers. It is kept tangle free by bushing and/or combing several times a week. Shedding is minimal.
Coton puppies are often born with color that fades as the puppy reaches adulthood. Patches of yellow and black, notably on the ears and allowed usually on no more than 1/3 of the body hair, are often seen and are permissible. However, the Coton should be predominantly white by the time it reaches adulthood. Black spots that do not fade are not permitted in the adult dog in the show ring.