The Coton de Tulear is a lovable companion. It’s no wonder why it’s such a popular breed. But how did this cute little dog come to be? Much of the Coton’s origin story is a mystery, but there are some things we know.
The Meletei and the Barbets
Dogs have been our companions for thousands of years. During the Greek and Roman times, many aristocrats owned small white dogs, known as the Meletei. They may have come from the Sicilian town of Melita, but they were also found on the island of Malta where they eventually became the modern Maltese dog.
However, the Meletei were also bred with another dog breed known as the Barbet. Barbets were curly-haired, medium-sized dogs that are thought to be the ancestors of modern-day Poodles. The Meletei and the Barbets gave birth to a new breed, known as the Barbichon. The Barbichon was the ancestor of many Bichon breeds, including the Bichon Tenerife, Bolognese, Havanese, and, of course, the Coton de Tulear.
Sailors, Pirates, and Madagascar
The Coton de Tulear as we know it comes from Madagascar. During the 15th century, sailors and pirates brought the Bichon Tenerife to the islands of Mauritius and Reunion in the Indian Ocean. While on Reunion, the Bichon Tenerife mated with local dogs or experienced some form of genetic mutation that caused it to develop a longer, straighter coat. These dogs were then called the Coton de la Reunion.
From there the Coton de la Reunion was brought to Madagascar in the 16th century. Eventually, while on Madagascar, the Coton de la Reunion developed into the Coton de Tulear that we love so much.