Devoted and affectionate pets that are very faithful to their owners. May suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for long periods. Need a short walk each day, but being small will not be suitable for long hikes. Playful dogs that can be very vocal, particularly when excited. Ideally require daily grooming to prevent their coats becoming matted and tangled. Has a dense soft coat textured like cotton which is typically all white. Dark grey or red roan shadings on the ears or body are permitted by the FCI standard.
The Coton de Tulear comes from the island of Madagascar and is named for the port of Tulear which is now called Toliara. The breed is thought to have come to the island with pirates and may have been used as a companion or to hunt rats on their ships. Being a Bichon-type breed, there are many island communities where the breed may have initially descended from, including the now extinct Bichon Tenerife and possibly the Havanese, as the Havanese was often seen on merchant ships. The breed has historically been favored by the ruling family of Madagascar and Madagascan royalty. It was only in the 1970s when the first dogs were imported to America by Dr. Robert Jay Russell. The breed is currently an American Kennel Club Foundation Stock Service breed.