Bichon Frise vs. Coton de Tulear: Which Breed to Get?

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Bichon Frise vs. Coton de TulearIf you are looking for a loving family member, you are in the right place. Small breeds like bichon frise and Coton de Tulear are energetic, lovable, and enthusiastic companions. To find out which pooch is best for you and your family, check out the following sections.

We will closely compare the two breeds, so you become familiar with their history, personality, needs, and temperaments.

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Bichon Frise vs. Coton de Tulear: A Detailed Comparison

Let’s jump right in.


Not unsurprisingly, many dog breeds nowadays do not have any clearly established origins. Bichons are one such example, although many people claim that they descended from a breed known as “barbet”. This is a medium-sized dog with a woolly appearance.

Based on terminology, the word “bichon” is derived from the “barbichon”, which is similar to “barbet”. Apart from bichons frises, the barbichon family now contains several other breeds, including the Coton de Tulear, the Bolognese, and the Maltese, among others. Bichons can be traced back to the 14th century. They are believed to have been brought from Tenerife (Canary Islands) by French sailors.

Although now considered to be part of the same family, the history of the fluffy Coton de Tulear is nothing short of exotic and mysterious. The charming little pup is sometimes believed to have traveled all the way from Central Asia on trade caravans. They ended up in the Mediterranean area, where all the barbichon breeds are now believed to have originated from.

Coton de Tulear and bichons have a history of association with royal families and nobles. In fact, Aristotle was one of the first to mention “small white dogs” that could perhaps be distant relatives of today’s barbichons. Back then, these small and white dogs were known as table dogs.

Multiple references in history exist – most importantly the “white dog” known as Meletei, which is perhaps a reference to the Sicilian town known as “Melita”. It was a fluffy white dog, believed to be a distant relative of today’s Maltese.

The popular belief is that the Meletei was mated with the barbet, a medium-sized breed with curly hair – thought to be the ancestor of the poodle and several other water-loving breeds. The result of breeding the Meletei with Barbet led to the barbichon family, which includes both the bichon and the Coton de Tulear.


The Coton de Tulear is a small and fluffy dog that can reach about 9 to 11 inches in height and weigh between 8 and 13 pounds. The name “Coton” is the French word for “cotton” as was used to describe the white, puffy, cotton-like appearance of the Coton de Tulear.

Bichons are similar in that they also have puffy, curly coats. Although most bichons are white, you can also find them in different nuances, including cream or gray. Bichons reach the same size as Cotons: about 9 to 11 inches in height and 7 to 12 pounds.

Aging Profile

Cotons are expected to live between 14 and 16 years, while bichons have a slightly lower life expectancy that ranges between 12 and 15 years.

Cotons need 1 to 2 years from birth until they reach adulthood. For bichons, specialists recommend switching to adult food at six months of age because most of the growth stops at this age. However, bichons are expected to gain a bit more weight and fully develop for the rest of the first year.


Bichons are active and energetic. They love to be in the center of your attention and are people pleasers. They do not enjoy long periods of solitude and they are prone to developing separation anxiety. Bichons may bark quite often as they are great watchdogs. However, owners who live in a flat or do not want to bother the rest of the household may opt for early training.

Cotons are also the perfect companions for people who want a loving dog. They develop very tight connections with their owners. They come across as boisterous and have a clownish attitude – for instance, they love walking on their hind legs! With a lighthearted attitude, Cotons are very gentle and sympathetic.


Bichons are exceptionally witty and quick learners. This means that even first-time owners will get along with them right from the beginning, although professional training is recommended.

Similarly, Coton de Tulears are intelligent, too. It is important to keep reinforcing manners and lessons and, similar to bichons, a bored Coton will not learn much. Bichons will not respond to negative training practices (with other than a broken heart), while Cotons are a bit more resilient – although they still respond better to positive methods.

Exercise Needs

Both breeds are small ones, but this doesn’t mean that they do not require daily exercise. If you want to have a healthy, happy puppy, you need to ensure that they enjoy a moderate amount of exercise.

Given their small bodies, daily walks with you at a slow speed are enough to keep them in good shape regarding weight and overall health. Bored Cotons may adopt destructive behaviors, so it’s important to keep them active and shower them with your attention.


Coton de Tulear is not a breed known for genetic health issues. They do exist, but the chances are quite low – ranging from 1% to 5% for your pup to suffer from a genetic condition. Coton breeders also play an important role in this, so make sure you take your pup from a trustworthy one. Knowing the pup’s parents is also great if you want to see if there are any health issues or temperamental problems.

Bichons frises are more prone to several health issues. They are known for skin allergies, diabetes, or liver disease. Since they are small dogs, both breeds have a chance of patellar luxation, canine hip dysplasia, and spinal disc disease. They are both prone to eye problems, such as cataracts (common with senior dogs).

Bichon Frise vs. Coton de Tulear: Which Should You Get as a Pet?

Both bichon and Coton de Tulear are small breeds recommended for their hypoallergenic coats. They are lovable, energetic, and great companions for owners of all experience levels and age groups. The best breed depends on your personal preference, but make sure that you can dedicate sufficient time to your pup as both breeds may develop separation anxiety and destructive behaviors when left alone for a long time.

Apart from being a good choice for people who suffer from allergies, both breeds are considered therapeutic dogs and watchdogs – they will alert you each time comes close to your home and are loving and compassionate.

They do not need much exercise to stay healthy, so they are often popular picks for senior people. Families with kids may want to consider them carefully as kids should be taught how to treat the small pups with care, and, ideally, you should never leave your small kids unsupervised with any dog.


All in all, bichons and Cotons are two breeds from the same family. This is why their appearance is quite similar, and they have similar attitudes and needs, too. Before you decide to adopt your new family member, make sure you consider all the aspects we’ve discussed above to find out which one is the right breed for you.

As a next step, you might also want to check out the Biton, a mix between the bichon frise and Coton de Tulear.

Considering Other Breeds Too?

See how bichon frise compares with: Beagle | Bolognese | Boston Terrier | Brussels Griffon | Cavachon | Cavalier King Charles Spaniel | Cavapoo | Chihuahua | Cockapoo | French Bulldog | German Shepherd | Golden Retriever | Goldendoodle | Havanese | Labrador Retriever | Lhasa Apso | Maltese | Maltipoo | Papillon | Pomeranian | Poochon | Poodle | Pug | Samoyed | Schnauzer | Scottish Terrier | Shetland Sheepdog | Shichon | Shih Tzu | West Highland Terrier | Yorkshire Terrier

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