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Origins of coton

The origins of coton

Several legends circulate about the origin of Coton de Tuléar. The most common tells the story of a trading ship in the 16th century which was sailing off the coast of Madagascar and which was allegedly attacked by pirates. On board there was a lady who was traveling with her three beloved little babies: Belle, Bijou and Trésor. After a furious battle and a violent storm, both ships sank. Only the three babies and the “rat catcher” of the pirate ship, called Brigand, survived and swam to the island of Madagascar.

Once on the magnificent beaches of Madagascar you can imagine what happens next. Brigand managed to seduce these ladies and generate the Coton de Tuléar breed. It takes its name from the particularity of its fur which recalls that of cotton flowers and Tuléar which was the main port city of Madagascar. It is also called the little royal dog of Madagascar.

But we also know that at this time Europeans were settled on the island of Madagascar and the settlers came to settle with their pet dogs. We know that the Bichon was very popular at the time, so we suspect that Coton was born from the mixing of local dogs and Bichons. We see by its morphological characteristics that the coton is related to the bichon.

So we have an incredible mix of the qualities of these two breeds. Strains with white, long, cottony hair survived because the fur provided the thermal insulation essential in these climates. To face the harsh life of the island, the cotons had to have a strong survival instinct, be lively and intelligent, muscular and strong, and have iron health. Add to that an ability to charm and seduce, you have a good description of Coton de Tuléar. Over the centuries, only the most robust strains have been able to resist natural selection.

The export of cotons to France has become more and more frequent and cotons more and more prized, so much so that the Madagascar Canine Society submitted to the F.C.I. (Fédération Cynologique Internationale) a request for recognition of the breed.


In 1970 the first standard of the Coton de Tuléar breed was published under number 283. It was around 1975 that North America saw its first cotons arrive.

Unfortunately this recognition of a pure breed accentuated the exodus of cotons to France. Having become uncontrollable, it was no longer possible to export Coton de Tuléar from the island of Madagascar at the end of the 1980s.

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