For the smart and sweet-natured Coton de Tulear (Coton for short), the perfect day consists of nothing more than being with his person, whether it's lying at her feet while she works, following her from room to room — not even the bathroom is sacred — or going for a ride to Starbucks.
This small, longhaired, cottony-coated dog was never bred to be anything but a companion, and to this day, that's what he does best. He cocks his head intently when spoken to and will even try to answer back.
The Coton de Tulear takes his name not only from his cottonlike coat but also from the seaport city of Tulear (now known as Toliara), located on the African island nation of Madagascar, where the breed originated. He's related to the Bichon Frise and Maltese but has his own distinct style.
People who love the Coton praise his intelligence, sociability, and easy-care coat. He's an observant dog who quickly learns routines and adapts to his person's needs. He sleeps while you're busy, one eye cracked so he can follow if you leave the room. He's known as a good and flexible traveler, perhaps a remnant of his seafaring days, when he accompanied ladies making long journeys by ship.
When it's playtime, the Coton will grab his favorite toy and bring it to you for a rousing game of fetch. He loves to go on walks, but his exercise needs aren't excessive. Playing inside or in a fenced yard will just as easily satisfy his need for activity, as long as he has plenty of human companionship. Because of his desire to please, he excels in activities such as obedience and agility.
The well-socialized Coton loves everyone. When your doorbell rings, the Coton may bark once, then politely accompany you to the door to greet your guest. The only risk a housebreaker faces is being licked to death.
He likes to "talk" to his people, using his own special language of unique vocalizations, including grunts and growls. He'll love it when you talk back to him.
His soft, shaggy white coat may look difficult to care for, but once the adult coat has grown in, dirt falls out easily with brushing. Brushing three or four times weekly, plus bathing as needed, will keep your Coton clean.
The Coton aims to please, and whatever makes you happy makes him happy — as long as it doesn't involve being apart from you. Consider this breed if you're a stay-at-home parent, empty-nester, or retiree who has lots of time to spend with a canine best friend and will enjoy taking him places.