Sunday, November 8, 2009

PostHeaderIcon About the Coton de Tulear Breed


Show/Breedable Cotons versus Pets or Companions: Dog showing is a sport, and for some it is an expensive hobby. Some dogs and some breeders love the sport. Winning at the shows does not necessarily mean a superior dog in terms of passing on desirable traits to offspring. The current trend for the show dogs is to have profuse coats that can even trail on the ground (this makes sense; a beautifully groomed bouffant coat is very showy). Larger dogs are showier and so some of the winning champions are over the standard in weight since the dogs are not weighed at the shows. There is no requirement for show dogs to be genetically healthy (although reputable breeders regularly test their dogs for various problems). Showing can be a wonderful social experience for dogs and owners alike, and many show dogs although not all, have good temperaments. Some show dogs love all animals and people and love to show. Others are shy or somewhat fearful of strange dogs and people and prefer the comfort of their own family.




Every puppy in a litter has a different temperament. A good breeder is keenly aware of the difference in the puppies' personalities and tries to match the personality of the puppy to what the new owner wants and needs. Only a small fraction of the puppies in a given litter should be considered truly potential show quality and worthy of carrying on the genes of the breed. Question any breeder who tells you the entire litter is show quality. Puppies can be considered show quality because they can compete and win in conformation shows in the baby class when they are only three months old. It is quite possible to gain a championship in the U.S. before reaching one year of age. However, the puppy continues growing until at least a year old. Upper and lower jaw can continue to grow at different rates. The long bones of the legs are just beginning their growth, and no puppy should be considered breedable quality until at least a year old and meets all conformation and health tests.




What should you expect from a Coton: As has occurred in nearly every other breed, as the breed matures, the phenotype diverges from the original purpose of the breed to that which is popular at the shows. In a number of the working class breeds, the show dogs are not fit any more for what they were designed to do. The Coton de Tulear is designed to be a wonderful, clownish, happy, adaptable, boisterous Companion dog. It should be an integral part of the family, content to sit on your lap or at your feet, and yet instantly ready for rough house play or to read your mind when you are thinking of a walk or a hike or a ride in the car. The Cotons with extremely thick, profuse and long hair do well with owners whose primary hobby is showing, but may not be suited for the rough and tumble play of ordinary life. Sometimes the show dog puppies are not allowed to play with each other or with other dogs because their hair may get mussed or even pulled out. They can't walk on grass or play in the dirt while they are campaigning in the shows, and some spend considerable time confined to cages (certainly during the show weekends and perhaps the days of preparation before the shows). The ideal Companion Coton has a relatively easy to care for coat without the necessity of getting a "puppy cut". Don't be put off by Cotons with long and thick hair. Coats are variable and sometimes even this is relatively easy to care for. Many Coton de Tulear owners do opt for a "puppy cut" during the "blowing coat" stage between 6 and 18 months of age when it seems all the under hair comes loose at once. Your Coton will still look adorable with a puppy cut. Remember, however, that most of the mats and knots in the underhair form close to the skin, so you will still have to do some brushing and combing. Many owners easily get by with an overall combing once or twice a week although for many families it is an enjoyable social experience to brush or comb every day.




Most but not all Coton de Tulear have undercoats. This is the fine, downy hair that mats as it loosens from the skin. It's held in by the coarser and longer outer hair. The loose stays locked in the coat instead of being shed all over the house. Frequent brushing or combing are required to keep the coats mat free. However, if you are not trying to maintain every hair in place to impress the judges at the shows, it is quite feasible to thin out this underhair to alleviate much of the matting. These Cotons may not look quite like the poufy, bouffant photos but it's hard to tell the difference. There are still Cotons available with appropriate length hair that is well within the standard, but does not drape on the ground.



Expect a dog you can take everywhere, one that has little or no shedding, little or no dander (a cause of allergies in people), little or no doggy odor, a dry hairlike coat that sheds dirt, a dog clean enough to sleep in your bed, and a dog that has no significant genetic disease built into the breed. The Coton de Tulear is still remarkably free of genetic disease. There are perhaps 45-55 known genetic diseases in Cotons (compared to hundreds in other more common breeds). The known incidence of any particular genetic problem is low, in the 1-5% range. Often in other breeds, the incidence of one or more diseases can be greater than 50% in the population and presents a real problem to long term breed vitality. The known incidence of any particular genetic problem is still quite low. It is good to be aware of possible health problems but health information which appears on this web site is not meant to convey that there is a particular health problem in the breed. You can learn here about eye health, a recently discovered blood disorder, von Willebrands Disease which is common in some breeds but still rare in Cotons, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), which is still rare in Cotons, and a variety of problems reported by Coton owners in the Coton Community Health Survey. Recently, a DNA test has been developed for Canine Multifocal Retinopathy. This exciting development was reported in a series of articles in the March 2007 American Coton Quarterly, and you can also read about it here. ACC breeders maintain a lifelong educational commitment to learning as much about the breed as possible. It's always a good idea to ask the breeders you approach for puppies if they health test their dogs and what they can tell you about any potential problems in their lines. Although "bad" dogs can come from good breeders, you should expect a healthy, long lived Coton if you carefully select your breeder.




How to choose: ACC embraces all reputable breeders. It's fine to breed specialty dogs bred to type for the show and you can find wonderful examples from the ACC breeders if showing is your hobby. You can find Cotons of color if you like color in the breed. You can find different phenotypes, from the snub nose, round face Cotons to the longer aristocratic faces reminiscent of earlier generations of the breed. All ACC breeders, however, place an emphasis on health and temperament. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and you need look no further than ACC to find the puppy of your dreams.




Coton Temperament: The Coton de Tulear is an alert dog and naturally territorial. You won't find a Coton sleeping on the threshold of an open front door while the burglar steps over the dog. Cotons will bark at the doorbell to let you know something is happening. They are highly intelligent and some love to watch TV, particularly Animal Planet, where they react to pleasant and unpleasant scenes in appropriate ways. They have the delightful habit of barking at the sound of a doorbell coming from a TV program. They will bark to let you know an intruder has entered the yard, whether it be a delivery person or a mailman. They bark when it is necessary, but they generally are not yappy like some toy breeds (Cotons are full size dogs; they have not been bred down). They adjust well to normal street and neighborhood sounds, and so are well adapted to urban living, even in an apartment or condominium.



As with all dogs, they must be thoroughly socialized at a young age to become good citizens. Puppies go through periods of confidence as well as fear periods, when they are cautious of new experiences. It is said that puppies are unafraid and open to new experiences until the age of 14 weeks. During this time is is crucial to expose them to hundreds of different people on the street, in stores, at the park, etc. -- children in strollers and roller blades, riding skateboards, men with beards in uniform riding bicycles, women wearing floppy hats, anything and everything. If they are exposed to new experiences in a positive way during this period they will be comfortable with them for life. Similarly, this is the time to have parties in the home, to have dozens or hundreds of people over so the puppy will be comfortable with strangers in the home. It is essential that the puppy meet other dogs in a safe and controlled environment. Puppy classes are a requirement for new owners, who should be prepared to spend a big investment in time and energy with the puppy to ensure a happy and social Coton for the next 15-17 years.




Cotons want to be with you all the time, wherever you go, even to the bathroom. They generally love car rides and enjoy being taken into stores. They are usually accepted in any store where food isn't sold, and can accompany you to restaurants where there is outdoor seating. They thrive on attention from clerks and strangers. You will attract a lot of favorable attention with a well mannered and groomed Coton accompanying you.



Coton de Tulear are companion dogs. No dog thrives if left alone at home for long periods of time, for example, if the owner works 8 hours a day and spends another hour or two commuting. Please think again about getting a puppy if you cannot be a companion for it. If you can meet the puppy's requirements, a well socialized Coton de Tulear puppy will enrich your life beyond measure.

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