CTCA Cotons

by Robert Jay Russell, Ph.D.,
CTCA President


     We are very proud of Coton de Tulear Club of America Code of Ethics Breeders. They are following the toughest, most heavily-enforced Code of Ethics in the dog business. Breeding genuine Malagasy Coton de Tular requires considerable study, effort and expense. But it all comes together when we see large, healthy families of extraordinarily cute and intelligent Cotons -- a preserved heritage of their Malagasy ancestry.

     We have seen an increasing number of large CTCA litters. Seven pups and now eight are becoming remarkably common. Last year, for example, RiAl Cotons in NJ and Kolosky Cotons in California whelped eight pups each in single litters. The picture attached (please see: Kolosky8_1.04. 07.jpg) -- which is very hard to capture given the always-in-motion habit of pups -- is of the Kolosky pups. All these cuties are spoken for and heading for their new forever homes this month.

     This populational increase in mean litter size is most likely due to a drastic, enforced reduction of the well known genetic problem associated with improper breeding: the inbred depression of fecundity. Each and every mating within the CTCA's gene pool is required to meet a low level of inbreeding as specified by Wright's Coefficient of Inbreeding (see "The Official Coton de Tulear Book" First or Second Edition and the CTCA's Code of Ethics). We are the only dog organization anywhere in the world that we know of that has this requirement. A population that is consistently less inbred than others has fewer genetic problems and larger, healthier litters.

So in 2007, 33 years after the breed was introduced into North America from Madagascar, we are happy to announce that the State of the Malagasy Coton could not be better. The goal of the CTCA has always been to preserve (not "improve," whatever that means!) a remarkable, loving, intelligent Malagasy dog breed. And so far, thanks to the hard work of a small number of CTCA Code of Ethics Breeders over many years, that goal is on target. At a time in the world's life when it is difficult to be optimistic about almost anything (health, climate, safety, peace, reason, justice etc.), we are optimistic about the future of the rare Malagasy Coton de Tulear.

To see many other fine examples of pups currently available to qualified homes or merely to "talk Cotons," please visit the CTCA breeders at:

www.CotonClub. com

(c)2007 Dr. R. J. Russell & the CTCA
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By Robert Jay Russell, Ph.D.,

CTCA President

 Dr. Russell writes in his 8/29/05 e-ZINE article:

     To understand how the Malagasy and Euro Cotons differ you need to review the history and the standards of the breed. I cannot do that large topic justice in a short e-ZINE article, so let me refer you to "The Official Coton de Tulear Book, 2nd Edition" which contains 75 pages about the breeds history and 50 pages on standards. That caveat in mind, here are some brief comments about population differences...

     The original Coton de Tulear was a breed developed on the island of Madagascar during the last three centuries. That breed was exported to North America by me and Dr. L. W. McGeorge-Durrell in 1974 and 1975 and was exported by several colonial Frenchmen to France in 1977. My goal was to keep the population of Malagasy Cotons de Tulear [CTCA] as true to the original type as possible. The goal of the Frenchmen who exported their Cotons was to create a small, all white breed  almost identical to the distantly-related Maltese Bichon [this breed was described by a Parisian Coton Standard on file with the Belgian dog club, the FCI].

      Because one standard (that of the CTCA) strove to maintain the original Malagasy look and temperament and the other standard (the French, FCI standard) was written to change the original breeds look, it comes as no surprise that the two different populations differ in appearance and even behavior. Further, the President of the French CCCE (the exotic, multi-breed club that manages the FCI Coton Standard) noted that he and some other European breeders have bred their Cotons to Maltese Bichons and Bichon Frise breeds in order to, in the Frenchmans words, "stabilize" and "improve" the Euro Coton breed. That cross breeding (hybridization) is NOT allowed in the CTCA, so once again, the Euro Coton and the Malagasy Coton can differ from one another phenotypically (in appearance/behavior) and will differ genotypically (in their genes).

      Briefly, the Malagasy Coton is found in three color varieties as adults (White, Black & White and Tri-color). The Euro Coton is supposed to be all white. The Malagasy Coton de Tulear has long, mostly straight, dry, fly-away hair. Euro Cotons are supposed to have shorter hair and many have been bred to have extremely thick coats (show judges tend to be swayed by exaggerated features). The standard Malagasy Coton de Tulear can be as small as 9 pounds; they average about 14 - 15 pounds and especially muscular dogs can weigh as much as 18 pounds. The CTCA's standard does not encourage breeders to develop size differences between the genders.

      In marked contrast to Malagasy Cotons, standard FCI Euro Cotons are supposed to be toy-sized, with adult males supposedly between 4 kg to a maximum of 6 kg (8.8 to 13 pounds) and females a minuscule 3.5 kg to a maximum of 5 kg (7.7 to 11.0 pounds). Note, however, that despite years of trying to make Euro dogs this small, many Euro Cotons, even so-called show "champions"are considerably larger and heavier than their standard describes.

      There are many additional phenotypic differences between the two populations. For example, a Malagasy Coton has a large, somewhat flat and elongated skull with a robust rostrum (snout) and large, powerful, well-spaced teeth. The Euro Coton can have a gracile snout, small teeth and a rounded, globular braincase (like a Maltese Bichon).  In fact, there are more than enough differences between the two populations to warrant separate breed status for each of them. It all amounts to this:  Do you want a Malagasy Coton de Tulear or a Euro Coton de Tulear? Each of these two different breeds are rarely bred together and both are bred to well-published, quite different standards.

      Now then, I have not explicated here about the rise of multiple NEW standards that seem to cover or not cover a number of newly imported or newly puppy milled puppies sold with the name "Coton de Tulear." There are "Cotons" imported from Russia and the former Soviet Bloc countries that are not represented by a standard or club and that come to the US with utterly bogus papers. There are pups sold to pet shops by American farmers that are similarly not supported by any club or standard (but sold as "Cotons"). There are show fanciers who have set up new standards (such as the UKC) and even breeders who claim to make up their OWN, individual standards (i.e., they are creating a "breed of one"). The AKC will likely create yet another, new standard soon for its AKC-FSS registered dogs. Its a bad time for buyers and for the integrity of the "Coton de Tulear" name, that is certain.

     NOTE: in 2005, MOST dogs being sold in the United States as "Cotons de Tulear" are not Cotons and do not have legitimate pedigrees showing what they are. People who buy these pet shop puppies are being defrauded, but most of them do not seem to care. These dogs are most assuredly not the carefully bred, pure bred Cotons de Tulear whose ancestry has been carefully followed and whose gene pool has been nurtured through time.    

Copyright 2007 Dr. R.J. Russell & the CTCA

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