Do you recognize the breed of a little dog that walks down the street with its long white coat? Are you referring to the playful Maltese or the happy-go-lucky Coton de Tulear (pronounced Kotone Dish TOOLay-ARE)? While both breeds are charming and adorable, their personalities and histories are very different. Learn more about these adoptable dogs and how to distinguish them.
Long White Coats
Both Maltese and Coton de Tulear breed standards state that dogs have black noses, eyes, and toe pads. They are different in size. Male Cotons de Tulear, which can weigh between nine and fifteen pounds, and measure 10 to 11 inches at the shoulders, are larger than Maltese, which weighs seven to nine pounds and stands seven to nine inches tall. The Maltese are a member of the Toy Group, while the Coton is a member of the Non-Sporting Group.
Eileen Boyer Narieka is a Coton owner who has been a breeder, teacher, judge and breeder for over 22 years. She says that the most common trait between the breeds is their long white coats. Narieka says that the two breeds have very distinct appearances. The Coton is unique in its soft, cotton-like coat. It is also larger and has a distinct rectangular silhouette.
Tammy Simon, who has been showing and breeding Maltese for more than 34 years, is a board member of the American Maltese Association. She agrees that there are many different breeds, including their coats. The Maltese has a long, white silk coat that hangs flat against their dog. The Coton’s hair grows to the floor while the Maltese’s can grow up to their ears. The Maltese hair is usually tied with bows and topknots, while the Coton’s hair is left free on the head.
The adaptable Cotons can adjust to any lifestyle. They will adjust their energy and daily schedules to fit their owner’s needs. Cotons thrive on the attention of their owners, but they can also entertain themselves. They are happy to be with their human companions. Cotons are calm and happy. They will happily sit on your lap, go for long walks, hikes, or swim. They are versatile and sturdy dogs that excel in agility and dog sports.
Narieka describes them to be big dogs with small bodies. He is intelligent and trainable and enjoys interacting with his owners. Cotons have a unique voice and can make engaging, soft sounds that sound like they are telling you a story. You will be sure to smile when you hear the cotton head tilt.
The Maltese, lively and fearless, can protect their owners if they are not properly socialized. They are great companion dogs and can be very focused on their owners. They are great therapy dogs and medical service dogs, such as seizure response dogs or diabetic alert dogs.
Simon describes the Maltese’s sweetness as “sugary sweet” and says you won’t feel love as much from any other breed. She believes that once someone gets a Maltese, they will always return for another. “Maltese can be very playful and active. They will often be content to sit on your lap and follow you around the house in daily activities. They can sometimes be shadowy. They love to be with their owners and enjoy going on walks.
Cotons are relatively recent to the dog world. They arrived in America in 1974. However, it is possible to trace their roots back more than 500 years. These Royal Dogs of Madagascar are descendants of the Bichon family of dogs that accompanied sailors on their sea voyages. Narieka says that there is a common tale about a shipwreck occurring in the vicinity of Tulear (Madagascar). A few of the small white dogs on the ship’s crew swam to shore near Tulear. It is believed that they were the ancestors of the Coton de Tulear. They could keep their bodies warm in the cold and hot climates on this exotic island.
The history of the Maltese is even more extensive. The American Kennel Club registered the first Maltese on the island of Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea. However, they have been around since 1500 BCE. Simon states, “They are known as ‘ye old dog of Malta’.” They were originally bred as companion dogs and status symbols for Aristocrats. It was once believed that they could heal.
Although the Coton can alert bark, it is not known to bark excessively. Narieka believes that living with a Coton is a joy. “Cotons de Tulear has a special empathy and a strong bond with their owners. They are gentle creatures whose calm gaze will comfort you and melt your heart.
The Maltese need regular grooming. They thrive in a home with many families. Simon warns that puppies too young are not the best matches for them. Socialization is key to making sure they become great family pets. She is a big fan of the healing abilities of Maltese. “Maltese will always make your smile, lower blood pressure, and give happiness and contentment.”
One of these dogs is a great pet choice. Now you will tell the difference when you meet a small white dog with flowing hair.