Coton de Tulear Colors

The Coton de Tuléar is a small breed from Madagascar, standing no more than 11 inches tall and weighing about 12 pounds.

Its name means “cotton” in French because of its very soft and fluffy, cotton-like coat. Their coat length ranges from medium to long, and it is thick and profuse.

Their most notable color is white, and many Kennel Clubs only accept white as the official color of the breed.

What Colors Do Coton de Tuléars Come In?

Coton de Tuléars come in three distinct color patterns, although these colors tend to fade with age. However, the different colors are not all equally accepted by Kennel Clubs.

Official Colors

1. White Coton de Tulears

White is the color most often associated with Coton de Tuléars. Many of them do have pure white coats, and these are the most sought-after examples of the breed, especially in Europe. However, many of them have patches of champagne or even light grey in various places on the head and body. These are most frequently found on the ears or the face.

A White Coton de Tulear

Champaign or light gray ears are permitted by many Kennel Clubs that technically accept only white coats. They are frequently tolerated on other parts of the body as long as the patches do not detract from the appearance of an overall-white coat. Such dogs are generally not sought after by breeders and people who want show dogs, though.

2. Tri-Color Coton de Tulears

Many Coton de Tuléars have what is called a “tri-color” coat— a coat made up of three different colors.

A Tri-Color Coton de Tulear

The most common kind of tri-colors are mostly white with some black and brown markings on the body and the head. They are referred to simply as tri-colors.

Honey bear tri-colors, the rarer type, have light brown coats with black tips, fading in places to an off-white or even lemony yellow color.

Dilute Genes

Tri-color Coton de Tuléars have powerful color dilution genes. Over time, their distinctive coats will fade away. Eventually, they may even end up mostly white or off-white color, perhaps with a dusting of champagne or black here and there.

3. Black & White Coton de Tulears

The other major Coton de Tuléar coat pattern is black and white.

A Black & White Coton de Tulear

The coat is predominantly white, but it also has prominent black markings on both the head and the body.

This type also has color dilution genes, with the black patches fading to grey in time.

Not all colors are equal

The MCTCA, the Madagascar Coton de Tuléar Club of America, is the only Coton organization that considers the black and white to be fully acceptable, and just as desirable as the other two coat types. All other Coton organizations consider persistent black patches as disqualifying. As a result, black and white Coton de Tuléars are not sought after by breeders and people who want show dogs.

An unpopular opinion

Although the MCTCA is in the minority for its acceptance of coat colors other than white, it is the oldest Coton organization there is. Founded in 1976, it is called the Coton de Tuléar Club of America.

Unofficial Colors

Despite what Kennel Clubs’ breed standards may say— Coton de Tulears (and any other breed) can come in virtually any color!

Now for some of these colors to be found in a Coton de Tulear, it is likely that the dog was mixed with another breed at one point to introduce the genes for these colors.

Unofficial colors include:

  • Blue
  • Merle
  • Black (all black)
  • Brindle
  • Lilac
  • Fawn
  • Blue Fawn

Kennel Club Recognition.

Each Kennel Club has its own definitions and standards for what constitutes acceptable Coton de Tuléar colors.

The major clubs all default to white.

American Kennel Club (AKC) Colors

According to the AKC’s published breed standards, the color of the coat must be white.

A slight shading of light tan or light grey is accepted on the ears, but is not desired.

More than 5 percent of the body coat being black or tan is counted as a serious fault by the AKC. The ears do not count toward this total.

However, even 5 percent or less will be counted as a fault if the appearance of the markings destroys the effect of an overall white coat. These standards do not apply to puppies, who may have more color, as long as it looks like it will fade when the puppy reaches adulthood.

Officially accepted colors:

  • White

Canadian Kennel Club Colors

The base color must be white. Slight shadings of light grey or red-roan on the ears are acceptable. Similar slight shadings are acceptable on the body if they do not detract from the appearance of a white coat— these are not considered desirable traits though.

Officially accepted colors:

  • White

Federation Cynologique Internationale Colors

The Federation Cynologique Internationale uses exactly the same standards as the Canadian Kennel Club does for color.

Officially accepted colors:

  • White

Coton De Tulear Club of America

Officially accepted colors:

  • White
  • Black & White
  • Tri-Color