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Coton Ownership

So you think you want one.  Here are some things to think about.

by Helga Lopatin

The phone rings. Rings again and again and again. Nothing unusual of course when someone on the other line carefully inquires: Do you have any Cotons? I never heard about this breed (or I do not know much about this breed). How do you pronounce the name? Can you give me some information about the breed? What a beautiful dog. I (we) just fell in love with this cute “thing!” I must have one! And… there we go!

All of these comments and questions are always, always coming up without fail!! I usually try to let people know two criteria about the Coton. One is the price tag and the other is the care. Cotons are and remain pricey. Companion dogs range between $2,000 to $2,500 and show quality dogs range between $2,500 to $3,000 (sometimes going as high as $3,500 or more depending if a dog is either an adult or a champion).

The second criteria is the coat care. The hair is soft, fluffy and non-oily, just like Coton. As a puppy, the hair is short and easily brushed; however between the ages of 7 to 9 months all the way up to 15 – 18 months the adult coat comes in and since the Coton is a minimal shedding dog, the combination of puppy and adult hair creates mats very easily.

Consequently, it is very important to teach the puppy good “grooming table” manners at an early stage so that when this critical period starts, your fluffy friend will cooperate fully during the brushing sessions. Daily brushing will be necessary to help alleviate the forming of deep matting. There are also different hair textures and the upkeep of some hair is easier than others.

Brushing time, of course, will depend upon the condition of the coat. It can be as little as 20 to 30 minutes, but could also go as high as … The hair is also “magnetic” and if your backyard needs raking, just send your dog out!!! Leaves, grass clippings, etc. do remain in the coat! Easy … wait till everything dries and then brush out.  Winter time sees us coming in with snowballs on the chest, paws, and face (yes, the Coton loves to tunnel the snow!). Easy … just gently blow dry the coat. If this sounds like work, yes it is; however, brushing offers quite a therapeutic for many of us and develops a solid bond between owner and dog.

Others also keep the Coton in a “puppy” clip, making the upkeep more acceptable to them and their lifestyle.

How often to bathe is a question also frequently asked. It depends upon many factors and whether you are a city or a country dweller! A good rule of thumb is usually every three to four weeks. Show dogs are usually bathed once a week. It is very important to use a dog shampoo since the pH factor is different from people shampoo. A good groomer can also be very helpful. Please refer to Grooming Your Companion on this site.

After this, let me now give you all the upsides of this great dog. The Coton is a “kissing” dog, very attached to its master, very sweet, affectionate, playful, “Velcro” type and a real clown.

He will cock his head to the side as you talk to him. He is coined overseas as the “anti-stress dog of the 20th century.” He also “talks!” He emanates a grunting sound when he becomes excited! He’s very intelligent, easily trained, housebroken and loves to travel. He gets along with children and other dogs and cats. Because of his keen hearing he also makes a good watch dog. He is a “fun” dog to own and there is not one day that goes by without laughing!

With all of the above, we still need to remember that each dog has its own temperament (just like people!).  We will see dominant ones (does not mean aggressive), more mellow ones, and also more reserved ones (not necessarily shy though).  It will be very helpful to both the breeder and you if you discuss what temperament you are looking for as well as your family situation, so that the right puppy can be placed in the right family.

Temperament testing (Campbell’s test) is a very valuable took for breeders. Submitting the puppy through the testing of social dominance, social attraction, following, restraint dominance and elevation dominance allows a closer insight to the dog’s personality.

Because of minimal shedding and no dander, the Coton is a good choice for people with allergies; however, it is not a panacea for all!  He is seldom sick and his lifespan is approximately 13 to 15 or even 17 years. The breed is still considered a “young” breed. The Coton originates from Madagascar, an island located southeast of the coast of Africa. It has been recognized only since 1971 by the European governing canine body, Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI), located in the small town of Thuin, Belgium.

So far, we do not know of genetic problems, but we have to keep in mind that, in the late, with the explosion in the Coton’s popularity and numbers, an increase in the discovery of genetic defects can be expected. Some of these defects could have been present at all times, but did not surface prior because of the smaller population of dogs.

Puppies are born either all white, champagne and white, tri-color (mixture of white, champagne, and black) or black and white mainly around the head and ears, but also sometimes on the body. As the dog matures, this mixture fades into a light grey coloring.

What makes a “show” quality versus a “pet” quality? Each breeder will have his/her own criteria in this subject. Two areas come to mind: pigmentation and teeth. Complete pigmentation of the eyes, nose and lips is needed for show quality. Teeth alignment is another. A scissors bite is required for show purposes, therefore if the dog has an overbite or underbite, it becomes “pet” quality. Males must have both testicles. Size, too much coloring, lack of coat, inferior bone structure are some other points of consideration.

Because of his swiftness and intelligence, the Coton also makes an excellent prospect for agility. This field can be lots of fun for the whole family!

On the whole, this lovely dog loves to love and be loved!

I hope this bit of information will be helpful to all of you if you are contemplating the purchase of a Coton. Please remember that it is always very important to communicate at length with the breeder or breeders. Do not hesitate to ask many questions. Visit the kennel and check the facilities and cleanliness. Ask to see the parents and all the other dogs. Puppies should look happy and content. Read the sales contract and discuss all the points so that everything is clear for both parties. Remember: a happy owner makes a happy dog and a happy dog makes a happy owner!!