The ancestry of the Coton De Tulear is as exotic as the breed itself. Cotons are not a “man-made” breed. Cotons are domesticated dogs originally found running feral on the Island of Madagascar. Although not much is known, legend states that Pirates in the 15th century brought small dogs on board their ships as ratters. These dogs were humble beginning of what eventually became the “Royal Dog of Madagascar”. Other types of now extinct dogs, such as a wild South African dog and a small type of terrier are also credited as part of the history of this breed.
As with many of the animals found wild and isolated on this island, gene mutation may have played a part of its unique cottony textured coat. The native Malagasy people soon became enamored with their happy temperament and unique vocalization. They domesticated them and began giving them as gifts to the King and the Marino Nobles. Only nobility where allowed to own these gems of Madagascar.
When the French arrived on the Island they immediately fell in love with this little dog. Selectively breeding for size and color, the French developed the standard for the European white Coton. It was recognized officially in France in 1971. In 1973, Dr. Jay Russell brought the first coton to the US. He coined the phrase the “Royal Dog of Madagascar”. He is credited for developing the first US Coton registry and national breed club. Full AKC recognition of the Coton occurred in 2014 when Cotons were admitted into the Non-Sporting group.