Posts Tagged ‘dog grooming and training; purebred dogs’

The Coton de Tulear

April 18, 2019

3 Coton de Tulear in Specials coat.

About three years ago, I responded to a Craigslist post for a groomer to come to a home and groom five small dogs. I’m thinking Yorkies or Maltese. So, since the distance was not far from where I lieve, I responded.

The guy who placed the ad said they were Cotons. My gut reaction was, “Oh.”

For those who don’t know, Cotons are from the island of Madagascar. Off Africa—that’s right. Now, how would small, fluffy white dogs get there? Dig this: the ‘explorers’ and their crews from Spain and Portugal, where the generic (at the time—this is the ‘breed’ that all those who don’t know anything about dogs say ‘they all were at one time…and so it was…) small white dogs that later turned out to be Maltese, Bichon Frise, and white Toy Poodles, came from. The Teneriffes, and those that came from the Canary Islands. The Coton de Tulear are the ”National Dog of Madagascar ( http://caninechronicle.com/current-articles/royal-dog-of-madagascar-the-history-of-the-coton-de-tulear ).

Very cute, very smart, very sweet and outgoing. The problem is…their coats. Clearly, from the historical photos, one can see that the ‘foundation’ dogs (that is, the dogs everyone used 40 or so years ago to establish the breed in Europe and the Americas) had a coat texture that was a mix of silky and cottony . The coat draped. But the foundation breeders, for some reason (I think they really didn’t have any idea how this would play out) decided the ideal coat was a COTTONY COAT. A coat that is dry and stands off from the body.Certainly, the Cotons you see at the dog shows are magnificent as presented. They have big bushy coats. But it is not a coat you can scissor like a Bichon or a Poodle. It mats. The breed standard says that no clipping is allowed….not even ‘sanitary’ trims. You wash it, you brush it…& that’s what you get.

I know the handlers showing dogs for clients have their assistants bathe and brush the dogs out every other day. Othewise, just the static and dirt from living would cause them to mat. I know what causes matting. I’ve been grooming long haired dogs for over 50 years myself.

To their credit, these clients of mine with the Cotons do not have any carpets, and all their furniture is leather. That cuts static. But, the dogs still live. When I started working for them, they had just two dogs in specials coat, and one had an improper (meaning silky) coat. But they had a litter and kept one, and bought another bitch (she became the top winning Coton, (in terms of dogs she bested in the ring in 2018), had another litter and kept two, and are now up to seven dogs, with three in specials coat.

I am an experienced dog groomer, but I can see, now that these younger—just about one year of age—are going through the coat change, that it is overwhelming. In fact, both young dogs are AKC champions and ‘finished’ (as we say in the fancy—once the dog gets a title, it has finished) their titles in record time due to excellent structure underneath the coats, and good grooming/training/handling. There were several buyers who wanted the young male. Unfortunately, my client—the breeder—-thinks that none of these buyers who are willing to pay several thousand dollars for this dog, can handle the coat.

It’s an issue. Like I said—I’ve groomed long haired dogs for about 50 years, and these Cotons are challenge for me. My solution would be for anyone who wants the dog to come stay for a couple of days and help us groom. They then can decide if they really want to get into this. If not, no harm, no foul. After all, how are you going to get new fanciers into your breed?

This is the problem. The Coton de Tulear is one of those ‘low registration’ (AKC statistics) breeds actually in danger of dying out. Considering the low number of fanciers, and the genetic tests that those with the most integrity do, and the number of breeds anyone who might want to show a dog would consider for ‘getting into’, how are the current fanciers going to attract new fanciers to the breed?

The pragmatic thing to do—if they want to save the breed from extinction, is to either change the breed standard to allow a different kind of coat texture or allow the dogs to be shown styled like a Bichon.

Another thing that might help would be to offer grooming symposiums whenever the parent club has a specialty show. However, ther is so much arguing within the club that it is amazing they are able as a collective fancy, to maintain a gene pool. & that’s the fancy in a nutshell.

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