If anyone told me that I would end up breeding dogs a few years ago I would have looked at them cross eyed. Although I did know people who have bred and breed dogs I always found dog breeding quite mysterious. What prompted me to first investigate and then commit to this labor of love started because of a sorrowful event, my second dog passing over the rainbow bridge.
First the backstory. Growing up we had a dog. We had a dog, for approximately one month……Because within that month our beloved Bichon Friese ripped my mother’s wallpaper in our modest home while they were at work and we were at school. Unfortunately my parents didn’t have the knowledge or patience to raise a puppy. So Lizzy was quickly adopted by a couple who owned a farm. It was better for her but horrible for me. I remember thinking that some day I would have my own dog and I would never give up on it.
Fast forward to my first job, my first house, with my first husband. Soon after getting married and moving into our first home, we walked into the Mall with it being just the two of us, and we walked out as new pet owners. We knew nothing about the breed we chose, it’s health, or much of anything at that time. This adorable Border Collie was a NIGHTMARE. However I refused to give up on him. After he nipped, ripped and practically destroyed everything in sight, we hired a trainer, read books, and finally had the best dog (after about 2 years.) Because of my childhood experience, I refused to give up on him and I’m glad I didn’t!
Many years passed and circumstances changed. I was divorced, remarried. We had 3 children. I changed careers. After Ubu passed over the rainbow bridge, shortly after we brought Marley home. Marley was a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel. This time, I did more research regarding, temperament, health and researched how to find a reputable breeder. Marley was the most wonderful companion to us. When he left us after 9 years, it left a hole so large that I didn’t think it would ever be filled again. Marley was especially bonded to me and he followed me everywhere. We were all grieving, however I couldn’t stand walking downstairs each day and not seeing a wagging tail to greet me. My husband handled his grief differently and was not ready to even contemplate adding another dog to our family then or in the near future.
To try to fill the void after Marley passed, I volunteered for rescues but I didn’t find what I was looking for. I visited shelters to no avail. My husband would find me on my computer late at night and would tell me to stop looking at “puppy porn.” After a few months, he finally relented and agreed that we should have another dog. My heart was still reeling when I began researching dog breeds to consider adding to our family and I wanted a breed that lived longer and was generally healthier.
It was at this time that I discovered the Coton de Tulear. I had never heard or met one before that internet search. What led me to them was searching up dogs that were “non-shedding, small but sturdy and a healthy breed.” I was instantly smitten. Over the next few months I visited and spoke with breeders, as well as researched the heck out of the breed. I also quickly became aware of the recent advances in health testing and preventative testing that can be performed in dogs. I found a wonderful mentor, Aisha from the American Coton Club, who entrusted me with one of her pups and graciously guided me on evolving from owner to breeder and the rest is history. One Coton became three and we became breeders.
I have degrees in both Genetics and Human Health and practice as a Nurse Practitioner. My husband has his PhD in Animal Science. Our unique background in both human and animal health plays a major role in the formation of our breeding philosophy. It is our goal to be the best preservation breeders possible and stewards of this wonderfully unique breed. That means that all of our dogs have had Embark DNA testing, that tests for over 100 genetic diseases. Although it doesn’t guarantee health it does stack the cards in the right direction. In addition, our dogs have had their eyes examined by a Veterinary Ophthalmologist (CERF tested), blood work, cardiac exam, wellness exam and have had their patellas and elbows examined. We do other tests such as hip testing when necessary. I have also taken advanced courses through the Canine Institute of Biology, such as Preservation Breeding. The Coton is considered a rare breed, and it is important to understand and maintain the genetic diversity of the breed, as well as the health and temperament. All of this coupled with carefully researching pedigrees worldwide has established the foundation of our breeding program.
I hope you aren’t falling asleep at this point. My point is that many little avenues led me to this road. If I can drive one point home, it is to find a breeder that actually performs relevant health testing. Getting a Coton puppy from a pet store or puppy mill will most likely end in heartbreak and large veterinary bills in most cases. Look for a Code of Ethics breeder. Ask your breeder if they DNA test for the six most common diseases found in the breed. Ask to see copies of all health tests. Ask if they have their dogs eyes tested. Don’t believe a breeder who says, “I have never had any problems in my lines, so I don’t need to.” They are either unknowledgeable or unwilling. An ounce of prevention is worth it!
So I became a breeder to provide families with a wonderful companion Coton that has had proper health testing and has been ethically raised in loving environment.
Good Luck with your search for a Coton de Tulear. You can go to our puppy availability page and see when we are expecting our next litter. We are a small family breeder located in Connecticut, convenient to New York and Boston, therefore there can be a wait.