Why are there so many Clubs or Registries for the Coton de Tulear?

In order to understand why there are different Coton registries in the United States, you must first understand the history of Madagascar.  I’ll keep it brief….Madagascar was under French rule until June, 26, 1960.  From 1960 until relatively recent, Madagascar has had it’s share of difficulties both politically, economically and had it’s share of natural disasters.  Because of these reasons, the Malagasy people lost their Coton pedigrees.  However there are still purebred Coton de Tulear’s in Madagascar and some have FCI pedigrees.

Breed Recognition

The Coton De Tulear is considered a “rare” but fairly young breed, by comparison to other dog breeds. The Coton was first imported to the United States in the 1970’s by researcher, Dr. Jay Russell.  Dr. Russell was studying the lemurs in Madagascar and was the first to export Cotons to the USA. His Kennel, Oakshade run by himself and his father, were the first to breed the Coton in the United States.  Jay Russell is the founder of the CTCA and has written a Coton standard differing from the European FCI standard. Much of the CTCA breeding stock originates from the original Cotons brought over from Madagascar. Read more about the history of the Coton de Tulear here.

Prior to Dr. Russell, the French were breeding the Coton in Madagascar and exporting to France.  The popularity of the Coton de Tulear in Europe increased, and in 1970 Monsieur Louis Petit, President of the Canine Society of Madagascar, submitted a request to the FCI (Fèdèration Cynologique Internationale) for breed recognition of the Coton de Tulear. The original standard was developed and submitted but later revised in 1987, 1995 and 1999. The last revision is the current standard used today.  The Cotons exported to Europe were given the initial TI (Titular Initiale) by their names indicating they were the original Cotons and no further information is known about their ancestry, as pedigrees were not kept.


Today in the United States there are four different breed standards for the Coton de Tulear.

  • The Fèdèration Cynologique Internationale (FCI) standard, commonly known as the “European”  breed standard developed in France.  The American Coton Club (ACC) recognizes the FCI standard
  • The United States of America Coton de Tulear Club (USACTC) is the parent club for the AKC and created the AKC breed standard.
  • The United Kennel Club (UKC) standard, which the North American Coton Association (NACA), follows.
  • The Coton de Tulear Club of America (CTCA) breed standard was created in 1974 by Dr. Robert Jay Russell, PhD who first introduced the Coton de Tulear to North America.   The MCPC follows this standard which was recognized first in the USA.

All of these breed standards have two main differences: color and size. 

Please note that there are a few registries such as APRI and the Continental Kennel Club that are “registries,” however the dogs pedigrees are not validated.  These registries are used primarily by puppy mills and non reputable breeders.
The Malagasy Coton Preservation Club, which follows the CTCA breed standard, allows for more color and size variation which aligns with what the Coton de Tulears originally looked like.  The FCI or “French standard” typically is a smaller all white dogs, as that  is what was in fashion when the breed standard was established in France.  There is much debate amongst breeders that belong to different clubs, as to what is the “correct” standard, however as a breeder, it is of the utmost importance to me to maintain the health and happy go-lucky temperament of the Coton de Tulear by maintaining genetic diversity and breeding the “least related” Coton de Tulears.
 In order to show a dog in confirmation in the United States, or to perform in agility, a dog must be registered either AKC or UKC.  A criticism heard often of show breeders is that in order to “set a type”, oftentimes the dogs are bred closely or “line bred.”   It is a documented scientific fact that when this is done, the health of the individual dog and the overall genetics of the breed is negatively impacted.  The higher the Coefficient of Inbreeding or (COI) of a dog, the more likely that health will be impacted.  This is not to say that bad breeding (line breeding or inbreeding)  practiced by all show breeders or limited to show breeders.  In contrast, the goal of the MCPC is to embrace more diversity within the breed and maintain a lower COI.  This is accomplished by requiring  Embark testing of all registered Cotons, and then through the use of a breeder’s tool, dogs are selected that are both genetically and structurally matched, to maintain genetic diversity and lower COI.

Fairly recently the Malagasy people have established their official Coton Club (CTMC) and are collaborating with the MCPC.  Through this collaboration  to genetically sample,  their dogs through Embark.  The results will assist the Malagasy Coton owners to identify which dogs are purebred and assist with future breeding decisions.  You can learn more about this endeavor here.

courtesy of the MCPC
Remember to choose a breeder carefully and avoid purchasing a dog from a pet store or puppy mill.  Ask to see copies of the health testing and enjoy your new furry family member.
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